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Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Dad and POW Years...............

I think I have talked about my Dad before. This time I am writing because I have had the great fortune to meet a lovely lady (Sanae) (via email) from Japan. How did this begin?Well one day, out of the blue, I was contacted by a reporter (Patrick Sawyer) for the Evening Standard newspaper in London. I think that's what I wrote about last time. Well, just in case, and so you don't have to look that up. Here is what happened. The reporter had been contacted by a lady in Japan who had done research into POW camps. She came across a story of a lady who played her piano and she had lived in a house overlooking a POW camp near Tokyo. That lady still lived in the same house and she is now in her 80s. She had found her autograph book with some names in it and had asked the researcher(Taeko) to find out if any of the POWs were still alive. So the researcher contacted the Evening Standard in London.
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This is Yoko at age about 16 when she was learning the piano.
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This is her house that overlooked the POW camp
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Well, for several years I have been trying to find out more about my Dad's POW years. As I have said before, he was writing it for me in a journal but died before he was finished. Oh how I wish I could share this with him now.
Dad was taken prisoner at Singapore. He originally was trained for desert warfare but was sent to Singapore when Japan came into the war.
I have learned that he spent time in Changi at first, in the very beginning life was not too harsh as the Japanese were too busy. Well that did not last. After being sent to another camp close by he was then sent to Formosa. Fortunately he did not work on the railway as some did but instead was sent to Japan. That meant being transported on the hell ships. Twice.
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No wonder he didn't like the sea or ships after that.
Well, the story was written about Yoko and her piano and a film producer picked up the story and did a short film on the subject.
An American Piano.
http://www.facebook.com/AnAmericanPiano
Well Sanae got my email from the reporter and we began to write to each other. She gave me quite a bit of imformation on the camps. Especially the one my Dad was in. I knew he was working in a factory at some point but finding the information was so hard. I did manage to get his POW card but alas it was in Japanese.
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Sanae told me about the lady who had done research and so I got in touch with her. She was so happy to help me. This whole experience has been other worldly. A great thrill for me. Taeko was able to translate the POW card for me. That gave me just about everything. I had not been able to prove that he had been in Omori but now I know that he was. I had this photo and yet was told he was not there.
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I have learned a lot, and will now be able to follow through on some of this. I can put it together with some of the things my Dad had told me. For example eating rats and snakes, stealing veggies from a neighbours garden. Yes it was Sanaes grandfathers garden. When the prisoners near the end of the war got Red cross parcels they took some supplies to Yoko's family. When they were released they went back with more food gifts. The Japanese people were almost as bad off as the prisoners. Yoko had an autograph book and the 3 men signed it for her. One was my Dad. I know this for sure because the address written in the book was my grandparents address. When Mr Sawyer began to read the address 7 ...... I finished for him 785 Dunstable rd Luton. So I know for a fact that my Father was there, he was blessed by hearing a young girl playing her piano every day. He would sit on the roof and listen. After the war he visited her family taking gifts and signed her book. Yoko wanted to know what their lives had been like and if they were still living. Well, now we have come full circle. I am so thrilled to have found all this out and to have met such lovely people. It all shows that war is the enemy not people. The Japanese people suffered great hardships, as did Europe and England because of men who send other young men to war. There is much more to this story but I will leave this for now with a picture of Dad on the ship that took him away from Japan.
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That is him in the front center with what looks like a towel, but I believe its what he wore in the camps.
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4 comments:

LV said...

What an interesting and fascinating story. There is, most of the time, something good to be found in most anything. So glad you were able to lean so much about your dad.

NanaDiana said...

Wow~ How interesting and it is unbelievable that you were able to make that connection. I am just shocked! That was certainly done because God wanted you to know the truth behind your Dad's life. What an amazing blessing- xo Diana

Kay G. said...

Oh my! How wonderful that you were able to learn so much more about your father! I hope to do a follow up about the post that I did where I linked to you, and I hope that will be okay with you.
God bless!

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, what an amazing story Janice!