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Burma Star

by wizzjones

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Raymond Jones (me) Timothy Jones (my dad) Alice Jones (my mum)
Location of story: 
Croydon Surrey
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 January 2006

When I was six years old I remember my father coming home from the war. It was early evening time and in our little kitchen in Croydon I was in my pyjamas ready for bed, my younger brother having been put to bed earlier. My Mother was washing my feet in a bowl by the fireside. There was a knock at the door and my Mother hurried to answer it, thinking she would only be a minute or two she left me sitting there with my feet in the bowl. As I sat there for what seemed like an hour I remember feeling frightened by hearing my Mother’s muffled crying coming from the front door step. I didn’t understand what was going on and being scared to move I just sat there as the water grew colder and colder. When finally my Mother came back into the room she scolded me for not drying my feet and carrying on with bedtime preparations and explained that this strange man with her was my Father home from the war.
It was over a period of many years that I learned of my Father’s experiences at the hand of the Japanese on the Burma Railway. Not from him as he never spoke of it, but as the years went buy and a few books were written by other ex p.o.w.s I began to understand.
I was to hear stories — I don’t know from where — of how at one time he was buried alive in a sack, how he escaped and was captured again in the woods - of how he pretended to be insane and was therefore spared his life. I remember my Mother dressing the wounds on his ulcerated legs. I remember hearing him waking screaming and sweating with recurring bouts of malaria. I remember my Mother telling me years later of how one day she served him some rice pudding at the dinner table and he threw it across the room in a rage shouting “Don’t you ever give me rice again!” (Apparently for four years a bowl of rice per day was all he had to eat.) It was no surprise then that my Father was unable to show any normal feelings to my brother and I and to fit in to an ordinary suburban life again.

My Father died in the seventies and although I never really knew him I somehow managed to feel a kind of peace in his memory. As a professional musician all my life I have travelled the world in a luxury he could never have dreamed of. I have played for enthusiastic young Japanese music fans in Tokyo, signed autographs and posed for photographs with them and their girl friends and finally wrote a song called “The Burma Star” which sums up my story.

Wizz Jones January 2006-01-25

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