- Contributed by
- People in story:
- bert oliver miller[max]
- Location of story:
- Far East
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 June 2005
What shall be of tomorrow’ -Horace
Through the proverbial rumours we heard this was the ‘tomorrow’ we had been waiting three and a half years for, but with it had come orders for our execution. Fate had a strange way of rewarding those who, finally, were beginning to accept it for a certain benevolence and kindness. We should have known better, we had learned a lot about fate over the past few years. It granted favours, that’s true, but those favours had to be paid for with torment and anxiety; and true to form it made us sweat for a further two weeks before it relented in the form of a American B24 Liberator that swept in over the camp. Its belly opened and showered us with leaflets, bearing the message. “Your war is over. Don’t do anything daft. Obey the rules and you’ll make it.” or words to that effect.
The guards disappeared overnight, but if one put in an appearance, we demanded, and received our share of polite bowing. No more ‘tenkos’ and the days of the ‘currahs’ and ‘speedo’ had ended, but it did little to straighten the backs that had been bowed for so long. The Union Flag flew over the gaol and by ‘letting us out’ it let others in. Mobile film units arrived and against a backdrop of bamboo huts we saw in the cinema screen the first piece of true white we had seen for a very long time. We watched as how the desert victory was won, and learned the words of ‘Lili Marlene’. We listened as Kathryn Grayson sang ‘Daybreak’, and a more appropriate song to describe our awakening from a night so dark, and so long, would have been hard to find.
The highlight of those first days of freedom had to be the visit by Lady and Lord Mountbatten. Our parades, arranged in greeting, must have been seen like films in slow motion, and as they passed slowly along the ranks there very few words. Emotions sometimes make it difficult to say what is in the heart. Their gentleness, compared to the brutality we had lived with for so long, said more than hours of meaningless speeches.
We could only guess what the white clad marine band thought of us as they marched into the camp one evening. As we watched their discipline we wondered whether our natural bearing would ever return. We listened to excerpts from Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ to ‘Maggie,’ and excerpts from ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’ to the ‘End of a Perfect day.’ Singing softly the words of that song, we thought not so much of the perfect day but of the friends we had made, and of the souls of the friends we had lost. We were no longer ashamed of our tears; anyway, we were entitled. For that long dreamed of tomorrow had arrived.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.