- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Roy Temple
- Location of story:
- Far East
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 December 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Three Counties Action, on behalf of Roy Temple, and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
My recollections are of VJ Day when I was a prisoner of war in the Far East.
I was a Caddington man, called up in 1940 and enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and finished up as a POW in 1942 at Singapore. We were sent to work in Thailand on the ‘Bridge’ and the ‘Death Railway’ and when that was finished sent to a camp called ‘UBON’ about 200 miles northeast of Bangkok near the Thai-Cambodia border when the end of the war came.
Then one August morning all the working parties were ready to go out when suddenly it was all cancelled and the war was over although we didn’t know it officially. So on August 18th we were told that the war was definitely over; every body was walking around in a sheer daze of happiness. After three and a half years of absolute hell, we were still alive to tell the story of those fateful years.
Para-troops came in to round up the Japs and planes came in to drop food to us, but we had to be careful not to eat too much as our stomachs had shrunk so much it could be fatal.
We couldn’t believe we were free at last after years of a starvation diet of Rice etc, not even a crust of bread, and only one Red Cross parcel between ten of us in all that time. Not only that but with all the bashings and beatings from the Japs we had to contend with all the tropical diseases like malaria tropical ulcers etc.
The so-called hospitals where I worked, especially along the ‘Death Railway’, defied all description.
We were very fortunate the war ended as it did as if it had gone on for a few weeks more we would all have been massacred. We learnt afterwards that the Japanese guards had orders to kill all allied prisoners of war if a landing was made in the vicinity by our troops, so that we wouldn’t have been any help to them, the next step being an advance into Thailand by our army in Burma. Machine guns were brought into the camp and trained on the PoW huts.
So the dropping of the atomic bombs undoubtedly saved our lives and also thousands more of allied soldiers had the invasion gone on and had the war proceeded indefinitely.
That is why I defend to this day the dropping of the atomic bombs after all the in-humane treatment that was meted out to my fellow prisoners and subsequent torture and death of them.
I think in all my war years and captivity I must have had a ‘Guardian Angel’ watching over me as I was close to death many times and I am still around sixty years on.
I will close with the words of this verse.
WE THAT ARE LEFT GROW OLD WITH THE YEARS
REMEMBERING THE SUFFERING , THE PAIN, THE TEARS,
THE PRICE THAT WAS PAID WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER
TODAY AND TOMMORROW
NOT JUST IN NOVEMBER…..
Royal Army Medical Corps
198 Field Ambulance
Prisoner of War Far East
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