- Contributed by
- Brighton CSV Media Clubhouse
- People in story:
- Fred Neale
- Location of story:
- Japan, Pearl Harbour, Canada and USA
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 September 2004
POW camp in Nagasaki, 1945. Fukoka No 2 Courtyard leading to Gallery, with wash place and tea tank in foreground.
They all went off onto the mainland and away, so we were pretty safe. We found a scribbled note saying they’d left. I went into one of their stores that was a funny thing. They had George 5th and Queen Mary jubilee mugs all packed in straw; of course Nagasaki was where they all came from. In a temple there was a silk painting, it looked good for a souvenir for mother but when I took it down, it all vanished into powder! However I managed to take a pair of Wies binoculars home, which my dad just gave to his old mate, a bookie!! “Come on dad” I said “they're my binoculars”. Anyway Dad had lost his arm on the Somme in WW1 so he could not use them. My dad asked me was I all there. “Yes,” I replied “but my arm’s not straight.” We used to march out, my dad one arm and me with my crock arm. He was as proud as punch I think.
We left Japan on the ’Chenango’ and set sail for Okinawa. We had to pull back out to sea as a hurricane cut us off. We were bolted down to the deck. It was really rough. There were sandwiches but no drinks, as the sailor just could not get them to us. The captain allowed us up to experience the eye of the storm. When we arrived in Okinawa, we were shipped on to land by invasion barges. They played ‘sentimental journey’ though speakers as we landed. We were to be dressed, as Seabees as we could not wear clothes, anything on the skin! We had not worn cloths for so long, we were burnt black. Later we were dress in natty infantry uniforms, all the girls fell for that uniform. ‘Coffee and Coke a Cola’. That’s how they went to War!
After chow we were taken down to the airfield and strapped into the bomb bay.
Looking down on to the waves, we flew onto Manila, Pear Harbour. The nurses dressed in their whites cried when they saw us. In the morning, we were taken down to our ship, the aircraft carrier ‘Chenango’. The American air force gave us a display! All manner of aircraft gave a real show around the ship and then when further out to sea the tremendous firepower of the aircraft carrier opened up. What a firework display. The firepower of that ship. Guns from the four point sevens to bazookas -- everything. I think they are still suffering from shock out in Pearl Harbour to this day.
From there we came across from to Vancouver. Off the ship, on to the docks to a train which took us over the widest part of the States and Canada to Nova Scotia on the other side. It was a terrific train journey; I had my twenty-four birthday on there! I was having about twenty-six pills to build me up. I could not eat anything, but these Pullman cars offered everything, sausages and bacon, turkey and roast potatoes. We were not use to food though. In Nova Scotia we were billeted in a disused air force camp, near the Debert. One day in the town I ordered salmon, which I could only taste and not eat. One night I flaked out in a bed in a furniture store’s front window, and had a long sleep! The town people did not care in the morning. You would not believe it - they were so nice to us. We stayed five or six days in Debert, and then they said, “Isle de France’ that will take you home to Southampton.”
Fred's story continues, read "Part 5: The last leg back to England."
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