Sketch by Jack Chalker

Going Home

Going Home

 

USS Mercy

The Russians arrived to liberate the camp on the 29th August 1945, but it was not until a month later, on the 21st September, that Dick and the rest of the survivors were actually allowed to leave. The Russians had been unwilling to allow the Americans in to move the men, despite the fact that they themselves did not wish the responsibility; so nothing happened. After a period of negotiations and waiting, an American unit finally arrived and the long process of repatriation was begun. The Americans had wanted to fly the men out, but the Russians would not allow this. Eventually the party left by train, a two-day journey from Kanko to Hinsen.

It was, therefore, early October by the time the next stage in Dick’s repatriation took place. The men were first embarked on an American Red Cross ship, Mercy. This subsequently then transferred the party to an aircraft carrier the HMS Colossus, which took them to a transit camp in Manila. After a short stay there it was back on ship again, this time the American troopship General Brewster, and on to San Francisco. There then followed a further stay in another transit camp, this time at Angel Island. Dick and his comrades then travelled by train to New York and then, finally and thankfully, home on The Queen Mary.

Photo of men on deck of unnamed Carrier found in Dick’s papers – presumably the HMS Colossus

Dick arrived back in Preston on Tuesday the 20th November 1945. He didn’t exactly slip back into Preston unnoticed, he and twenty-six other local men who had been prisoners in the Far East, were welcomed at Preston Station by the then Mayor, Alderman H.E. Rhodes, along with a crowd of several hundred relatives and friends. After an address by the Mayor, who shook hands with all of the men, they were escorted to waiting cars and taken home with their friends and relatives.

The following weekend, the 24th and 25th of November, both John and Pat, still serving in the Navy, got special leave and the whole family were re-united at Lower Bank Road for the first time since 1938. A happy, not to say riotous, party developed, the long awaited “binge” that Richard had promised his son. This went on well into the night. Dick had “liberated” two Japanese swords, one rather like a rapier and the other a two-handled, double-bladed executioner’s sword, which Mary, apparently, used to great effect as she chased Dick around the house at two o’clock that morning.

Lancashire Daily Post 21st November 1945

And so Dick was back home. As the crow flies it is a very short distance from Fulwood Barracks to Lower Bank Road; unless you make the journey via Singapore and Korea. Dick had been seven years away from Preston; it probably hadn’t changed that much. But Dick had. Perhaps his father Richard, who had come back from his war to find his wife dead and Dick and his brother Billy motherless, could understand some of what Dick had endured. So too could his brothers and sisters, who had also lived through those traumatic years. For those of us in this generation looking back sixty years it is almost impossible. We can but marvel and be grateful. 

 

The End

 

 

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[Swarbricks War] [Training] [Singapore] [Japanese Invade] [Singapore Falls] [Fukai Maru] [Fusan - Korea] [Jinsen Camp] [Konan Camp] [Going Home]

 

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