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