Sketch by Jack Chalker

Tribute

Remembrance Service at Gunton Hall, Lowestoft, Sunday June 4th 1995

 

A TRIBUTE

by Maurice Rooney

 

WHEN YOU GO HOME TELL THEM OF US AND SAY

FOR YOUR TOMORROW WE GAVE OUR TODAY

 

So reads the epitaph on the memorial at Kohima and we 'Fepows' assembled here today have surely had our fair share of tomorrow's. On a personal note, losing a very dear Brother as a Prisoner of War at the tender age of 22 has been a constant reminder of how fortunate I have been, though to have always felt worthy is of course another matter. For the last twenty years or so, many pilgrimages have been made to the Far East, not only to see the places where we were once held captive but to visit the various war cemeteries to pay homage and respects to those we lett behind. The spiritual presence, the aura of tranquillity and peacefulness which await the visitor to these cemeteries is an experience to behold. Yet I cannot help feeling for most of us, locked in the memory are the simple, but revered burial places of the camps we were in. There are a few men here today who spent time with me in the now notorious Copper Mine Camp at Kinkaseki, on the north east coast of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. They will no doubt recall, the cemetery was on the hillside of a mountain overlooking the camp. They may remember too, a prisoner, Trumpeter Arthur Smith, nicknamed the `Robbie Burns of Kinkaseki'. He had great literary talents and among other things, wrote a rather poignant poem of the camp cemetery, which respectfully captured much of its setting and atmosphere  Though locations may differ, the sentiments of this poem could likely apply to any of the camp cemeteries of the Far East. For those whose resting places they were and remembering all who are no longer with us, as a tribute and on behalf of you all, I recite this poem to their memory:

 

The Hill On Taiwan

 

There's a hill on Taiwan

That looks out across the sea,

Where hero’s graves with names thereon,

Forever frown on me,

Our comrades lie within thy breast

On yonder mountain steep,

Unafflicted, unoppressed

They sleep the blessed sleep.

 

Blow gentle winds I ask of thee

Upon their simple graves,

Be quiet. thou angry sea

Disturb not Britain's brave,

Oh willows droop thy heads and weep

Oh vagrants softly tread,

Disturb thou not the blessed sleep

Of Britain's glorious dead.

 

Oh frowning hill out in the East

The story shall be told,

Of those who lie in stately rest

Within thy bosom cold,

Has not thy hunger been appeased

With a hundred souls or more,

Upon them thou has quickly seized

Why hunger thou for more.

 

Oh frowning hill I'll see you still

When I am far away,

When shadows fall I'll oft recall

These dark and gloomy days,

When we began thy ascent steep

Bereaved and sore distressed,

To lay our comrades down to sleep

Within thy rugged breast.

 

    Written by Trumpeter Arthur Smith

 'Kinkaseki' Pow Camp Taiwan 1943

 

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD AS WE THAT ARE LEFT GROW OLD, AGE SHALL NOT WEARY THEM NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN, AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

 

Double Scroll Sharp 

 

 

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