Standing on the Shoulders of
Isaac Newton said ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ I have got further in life by Standing on the shoulders of my Grandfather, Nevil C.C.Benham. (1918-1999)
Compiled by Andrew Finn
I shall always remember August Bank Holiday 1945. I was a prisoner of the Japanese at Kuching, Sarawak, merely a skeleton weighing about 8 ½ stone (I am now over 13 ½ stone), with tropical ulcers, nephritis etc, hobbling around with one leg twice its size due to venous thrombosis. Most of my belongings had long since been worn out, or sold to the natives surreptitiously for food, but I still had a tattered pair of shorts and a tropical issue jacket which was in fairly good condition. Even in the tropical sun I needed these clothes to keep me warm and to move into the shade of a hut made me shiver.
On this Monday morning C.M.S. Haywood of our Unit received instructions from R.S.M. Sunderland, our Camp Commandant, to borrow the available jackets in our Unit for a funeral party. These jackets were now very scarce, most having been sold, and of course I was ordered to hand mine over at mid-day. I appealed to C.S.M. Haywood that I was in constant need of it, he was sympathetic and said he would speak to the R.S.M., but he returned later to say that I must hand it over. Later in the morning I chanced to meet C.S.W. Suthern, Deputy Camp Commandant, and was explaining my position to him, when, unfortunately for me, R.S.M. Sunderland came along. He enquired what the trouble was, and, to say the least, was very annoyed, and ordered that I should be put in the Detention Room. I was immediately escorted there, my jacket was taken from me, and I was guarded by Sgt. ‘Basher’ Vernon and three of his specially fed N.C.O.’s of the Corps of military police. I was really in the ‘Jug’, the only time during my six years in the Army. There I sat on the bare wooden floor, shivering all day until evening when my jacket was returned and I was released. I did get my bit of rice ration.
A few days later I was moved to the ‘Death ward’ in the Hospital Block from which there was no return ticket, but, thanks to the Atom bomb I am alive today.
This is my story.
Empress of Japan
Nevil C.C. Benham,
Glen View, Narberth, Pembs.
Army Particulars No. 231501, Rank. Bombardier
Regiment. 35th L.A.A. Regiment Royal Artillery.