I was a Japanese prisoner of war

2 09 2007

Charles Cleal in The Guardian

Taking a chance, I leapt out and ran into the paddy fields by the side of the road. Bullets whistled past my ears and I was shot in the arm as the soldiers gave chase. I hid among trees at the edge of the paddy and for four days I lay there, in torrential rain, with animals and insects biting at my wounds, surviving on water dripping from the trees.

Finally, close to death, I was found by a Javanese girl who took me to her village. They were marvellous, patching me up and giving me food – until the Japanese authorities declared that anyone harbouring an escaped English prisoner would have their village destroyed. They had no option but to turn me in.

At the Japanese headquarters, the Kempetai (secret police) tried to find out what equipment the British had and how many aircraft. I was beaten up, had samurai swords flicked in my face, a pistol held to my head, and then the commandant had the idea that I should dig my own grave. I didn’t know the answers to their questions but, as I stood by that grave, at gunpoint, I decided to make up the numbers. I never gave away anything about the equipment we had, though, and for that I was tied to a tree in the blazing sun for the day, then left there most of the night.

More here.




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