The following appears to be a transcript of a speech or announcement given in June 1944 when British POWs were moved from Singapore to mainland Japan. I’m sure that it has been copied from a printed or written version, as it’s unlikely my Grandfather wrote it from memory. When you read it you’ll realise why. Stylistically, it reads like an official document and not something written from memory and the tone is very different from the diary and also clearly not in my grandfather’s “voice.” It also reads like a direct, literal translation from Japanese into English. The language is unnatural and awkward in places and grammatically there are many mistakes that are common when translating from Japanese directly into English. There are many words, which I could not read from the original diaries and so I decided not to fill in the blanks in case I made misleading errors.
_____ was an admonition given at transferment of POW at Havelock Road Singapore June 17th 1944.
You are to be transferred from the jurisdiction of POW camp Thailand to that of Japan where you are to resume Labour duties. Since the opening of the Thailand POW camp you worked here diligently carrying out imposed labour duty for more than 20 months. Especially you were employed in Railway construction in which you’re discharged of duty attained, aimed (objected) as scheduled for which we appreciate warmly. On completion of the above mentioned you will be transferred to the Holy Land of the Rising Sun where scenery is simply superb. The Empire of Grt. Japan proper appellations Bas.J. Jasima D in Nippon _____ Kahen is populated with nationals of uprighteousness acts of morality brave yet courteous Humanious but strictly severe on vices. The proverb most common in use there of _____ a _____ himself will not stay a stray bird that seeks refuge on her lap will profoundly explain _____ of Japanese sentiment. The land has four distinct seasons. Spring with abundance of various blossoms where birds chirp peacefully everywhere. Evergreen summer with cool breezes easing the universe _____. Autumn sky with clement moon and with winter in which snow whitewashes the whole country purifying the inhabitants. These are nothing but the image and reflection of the August and Imperial Majesty’s greatest virtue to which nationals are bound to follow in loyalty towards the Imperial family and filial piety towards present creation of beneficial etc etc to effects. Now for the railway. Several times in the _____ of the unfinished 330m section between Bangkok _____ _____ but each time the idea was shelved because of the difficult terrain. Thailand is one of our spasmodic efforts a _____ 70/90km NW of Borneo while Burma stopped 80K’s South of mountain the _____ side. He said that the _____ _____. Presented a _____ more than 5000ft _____ with steaming Malaysian Jungle inhabited by wild animals, insects including giant bats _____ or more long leaches _____ _____ think as his index finger and monstrous big and _____ all these natural _____ to the _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ reports said Nippon _____ _____ and companies of engineers for a preliminary survey who reported that the task of building a rail ____ ____ Jungle was not impossible _____ allowing favourable _____ the authorities of both Thailand and Burma started prep _____ _____ scale construction _____ this ____ to sending _____ and building material the correspondent said he asked however that the actual work on the railroad would not start until September. End of the rainy season when Burma would employ hundreds of _____ elephants for while _____ Thailand _____ blasting for the railway route would begin as the _____ would require a vast number of _____ military. Railroad experts have planned the construction of _____ barracks to house labourers while fully equipped modern hospitals will follow the railroad as it extended into the jungle. He concluded that the railroad was estimated to be completed in one year.
Small section in here about the journey to Japan – the boat was torpedoed – ran aground on an island and they had to be picked up by another ship. One of the reasons my grandfather doesn’t like going on ships, apart from his seasickness is due to the conditions he endured on the boat during that time. I’ve read other accounts about the hellships as they’ve been dubbed and the conditions were awful – standing shoulder to shoulder unable to move, defecated where they were after a few days the floor was awash with urine and faeces and men were dying of disease, dehydration and exhaustion. They were left, if the man next to you died you were holding him up. My grandfather was looked after by Syd and Jimmy. There are stories that they stopped and opened the hatches and said to prisoners ok out you get for a walk, whereupon there was a mass clambering for the ladders, when they had enough men out on the beach, those left inside heard gunshots and then the hatches were shut again and they were left to guess what happened to the men who didn’t come back. Once or twice during the journey, food and water would be lowered through the hatches to the hundreds of men in the hold. It didn’t go very far. Standing in complete darkness for days unable to move, the stench of decay, disease, urine, faeces, and despair. Hellships indeed. But, again they survived, my grandfather thanks to those around him who looked out for him and helped keep him alive. The one thing that rings true is friendship and humanity. Again.