Sketch by Jack Chalker

Glimmer of Hope

Radio
The Radio

Les Becket was the brains behind the making of the illicit radio, which was to be known by the code word ‘Ice Cream’. This was hidden in different locations as the Japs had an idea that there may be a radio in camp, but they could never find it. If they did, an execution was most certainly to follow. Dennis’ involvement was in making the tools to make various parts.

One of the prisoners was a brick maker back home and with the clay in camp, he made bricks using a wooden mould. Mixed with straw and grass, they were tipped out and baked in the blazing sun. Now hardened off, they were used to make improvements to the cookhouse. A short tunnel was made under the fire with them and the surrounding ground strewn with ashes. This was to be the safest hiding place for the radio until liberation.

Batu Lintang camp prisoners hopes were one day lifted as they looked skyward, looking for the aircraft with the different sounding engines they were used to from the Jap planes.

Screaming low across the sky above them was an American Lockheed Lightening, with the star painted on its wings. The aircraft turned and circled a few times, most probably taking photographs of the area. The Jap guards ushered the prisoners back to their huts at bayonet point.

Spirits raised, the prisoners wondered the same question. How much longer?

Another day a roar of engines was heard and an American B52 bomber flew over at roof top height over the camp. Dennis remembers vividly seeing the tail gunner smiling and waving to them as he gave a salvo of automatic cannon fire from his guns. He gave the thumbs up sign and fired again as though giving a display. Spirits were now raised to bursting point, but once again the Japs herded them back to their huts.

Dennis became critically ill, suffering with ulcers, dysentery, malaria, dengue fever, pellagra and berri-berri. He was taken to a simple dilapidated bamboo framed hut with a thatched (attap) roof that was a hospital in name only.

Batu Lintang Hospital
Batu Lintang Hospital

Here he would linger for about four weeks before being transferred to another hut nicknamed “the morgue”.

Batu Lintang Morgue
Batu Lintang Morgue

This would be the last stop for the unfortunate patients before being taken to the cemetery.

Batu Lintang Cemetery
Batu Lintang Cemetery

He knew he was going to die as he had spent three weeks on his bed and could not now eat even the meagre offerings. But he stubbornly clung on to his wretched life.

      He would be dead within twenty-four hours unless a miracle happened.

 

Next Chapter

Liberation September 1945

 

 

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