Freeing the Demons
Alfred Edward Nellis
9th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery
Known as 'Pop' during his time on the Railway
When I first looked at my Dad’s Book, in 1966, I was shocked to see the pain, anguish and trials and tribulations, which he had gone through, as a Prisoner Of War on the Railway of Death.
It helped me to understand the turmoil he must have been going through, trying to adjust to what to us, was a normal, everyday kind of life.
Not only this but, he had returned to two children, who had not had a man to rule their lives for almost eight years. To find them turning up their noses at food, which would have meant life or death to ‘His Boys’ was enough to send any person who had been through what he and the other P.O.W.’s had been through into any kind of a rage.
It took me fifteen years to come to understand his position at this time – and 40 years to get it this far!
I know that he wanted the World at large to understand what they had all been through, and was foiled at the time by petty bureaucracy and what appeared to be a fear that – “This should not be made public – at least not without the removal of names and some of the events as detailed!”
I promised him that I would produce HIS book, for HIM, as a permanent record so that others may understand a little of what happened in the past, for their future.
What you read and see, are nothing to do with me, they are all his Words, Drawings and News Cuttings collected during that first traumatic two years after his return from Captivity.
All I have done is to translate, faithfully I trust, some of the Maps or Documents which may not be quite clear enough to publish by the media selected.
Left:- A page from the book
A Family is Born
Map of Wampo
Wampo South and North
Map of South Tonchan
Tarso and Chungkai
Map of Kanu No3
Searches and Valuables
Air Raids and Bombing
Mail and Correspondence
End of the War
On Pops return in 1945, he, like so many others, felt stifled by the lack of interest and the pressure applied to them, not to discuss their time as POW’s. He was unable to sleep, or mix normally with other persons, choosing to keep himself to himself and finding the behaviour of two young children, both baffling and frustrating. Especially, the problems of not liking the food, which was sometimes placed before them. (Rationing was still very much in force and money in short supply, so the choice of foodstuffs was often limited). The refusal to eat, especially by his son, Michael, led to bitter recriminations and resulting in violent beatings, the after effects on ‘Pop’ being to send him into deep, dark, threatening silences. (In my opinion we were not abused, we just did not understand anything about him, nor he, us). He could not bear to see the news on the Cinema and often had to leave before the end of a Film. The nights were often rent with cries from nightmares and ‘Pop’ could often be found sitting in the dark, shaking with uncontrollable tears as he fought with his innermost thoughts.
Eventually A local Vicar came to see him and started off on the wrong foot by telling him, “I know all about you being a Prisoner of War, I know all about them, I know how bad it was here and how tough they had it in Germany so you can not have had it anywhere as bad as that, after all you surrendered, they had been fighting!”
‘Pop’ virtually threw him out of the house.
But this was the catalyst he needed to free himself of his Demons. Much of 1946 was spent in various Military Hospitals and during this time, ‘Pop’ got hold of a thick, Black backed Exercise book and started to write of his experiences. After his return home he would gather up the pieces of paper he kept in a Red Cross shoe bag and started to compile HIS Book. (Often, in the still of the night we would hear the cries of anguish and the sobs as his Demons grew so near again).
When he was passed fit enough for work again, he became a County Court Officer, (Bailiff), a job which allowed him the solitude he sought, but kept him gainfully employed in order to keep his family.
In 1966 he was to die of Cancer, aggravated by the beatings he received as a POW.