Sketch by Jack Chalker

Homeward Bound

After ten days we were told that transport was now arranged to go home, but in the meantime not to panic. Now in the camp one day, a large American plane circled the camp, made a run in and dropped about fifteen parachutes. On the end of these parachutes were canisters full of all sorts of goods: cigarettes, fins of fruit, soup, coffee, chocolate, you name it, it was there. We were being spoiled and really living it up, even to bottles of beer. This plane came over every second day, but unfortunately one day one of these parachutes failed to open and the canister fell on the roof of one of the huts, killing three men. What a time to die, after doing all that time as a P.O.W. and then being killed by an accident. After that accident we became very wary of the postman who dropped his parcels from the sky.

We were now beginning to put weight on and nature was taking its course. The female sex was beginning to come to mind - this type of feeling left us altogether, even as P.O.W.īs. Especially in Thailand, where the native girls used to bathe naked at the same spot on the River Kwai as we did, but our feelings were nil, we did not think anything of it, through lack of vitamins, etc., but now this sexual feeling was returning.

Now we were all ready for our journey home, which way, how long, we didn't have a clue, then one day we were told to prepare for departure in two days' time, that was two of the longest days I have ever put in, but eventually the great day came.

We paraded in the compound, had a good look round and waved goodbye, we were on our way. We marched to the railway station in Fukuoka and boarded the train, we did not know where we were bound, but at one stage of the journey, we came to a tunnel, at the time the Japs had steam trains and as you are probably aware caused plenty of smoke from its chimney, we went to put the windows up but they could not be moved. Well the carriage began to fill up with smoke and all sorts of things came into our heads, perhaps the Jap drivers were going to win after all and suffocate us. of course, there was nothing we could do about it, as no handkerchiefs or any materials were available, only the shorts we wore, so these had to come off to cover our eyes and mouths, etc.

Eventually we came to the end of the tunnel and only just in time. After we gathered our senses, we made sure that when we arrived at the end of this journey we would make a bee-line to the front of the train and apprehend the drivers. But they of course denied any acknowledgement of the open windows and the reason why they would not close. Well that was the first narrow escape and we had only just started, so we thought we must be aware at all times, at least until we left Japan.

Now news of the atom bomb had not got to us yet. Atom bomb, what is that, we thought, well we soon found out, we arrived at Nagasaki railway station and was told that this was the second city that had received the blast of the atom bomb and that this had caused the end of the war. What devastation, I have never seen anything like it. No wonder they surrendered, but of course it gave us our freedom, why didn't it come earlier and cut down our suffering?

So we arrived in Nagasaki. We were taken to the docks in our rags and tatters and found ourselves outside a large building. There we were escorted by American nurses to the entrance of this building. 'Strip off,' was the order. 'What everything?' 'Well there is not much to strip off, is there?' came the reply.

Now I became to feel real coy, but I said to myseff, 'What the hell, here goes.' Off came the shorts and there I stood in my birthday suit. 'O.k., in the bath,' said the nurse and she wasn't an old fogy either. My sexual feelings had come back. I could see her grinning at my discomfort, but then I thought she is a nurse and is used to this sort of thing, or was she? I didn't know and I never had the courage to ask. 'Start scrubbing.'

 

HOMEWARD BOUND

So, here I am, in the bath extremely conscious of eyes watching me, you must remember, it was three and a half years since we had made contact with a white woman and especially one so young, so one would have to excuse one for being embarrassed even though my attendant was a nurse. So my bath ended; a large towel was wrapped around me and then on to my next assignment or should I call it inspection. This was the eye testing, then nose and throat and so on. Americans didn't miss a trick and when they did something it was done in a big way.

Then we were examined for head lice or anything similar. The set up in the building was unbelievable, next the feet were examined, before we were through, every part, and I mean every part, was examined by a doctor. There were quite a few doctors carrying out these tests and a lot of medical questions were asked of us about what tropical diseases we had developed on the death railway.

When all these examinations had been gone through, army clothes were given to us, not just thrown to us anyhow, but really measured for it. When we were finished being kitted out, I must say we looked pretty smart, quite different to what we were two hours ago, then it was out the other door to a feed of coffee and doughnuts.

 

Next Chapter

Okinowa

 

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