My Grampa was a very proud man and a true gentleman. In 1939 he was called on by the army to serve his country leaving his wife and baby son at home.
A Corporal of the Royal Engineers, he left his home in Scotland for the Second World War. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving in Burma he was captured, along with his fellow soldiers, and taken to a Japanese war camp.
My Grampa spent almost 4 years as a Prisoner of War in various camps around Burma. He spent much of his time working on building the railway line which leads up towards the, now famous, bridge over the River Kwai. The line ran parallel to the river and was an exhausting never ending task which was forced upon many prisoners. He suffered immensely at the hands of the camp guards and dug out graves for many of his friends and colleagues who sadly did not survive.
Despite years of having no contact with his wife or son, and the mental and physical suffering experienced, my Grampa survived and on 2nd September 1945 he was made aware of the war ending by ladies working in the corn fields. Using hand actions, the ladies tried to show prisoners the cuffs are now off, trying to communicate with the soldiers that their fight was over. My Grampa could come home.
We can only imagine how relieved and proud my gran would have been to receive this message saying her husband was safe and returning home to his family.
He returned home to his then 5-year-old son and his wife after 4 long years. My Grampa returned to working with the Post Office and life carried on. They raised their son together and had a second, my dad. My memories are typical of a grandchild, happy and of a very kind man, I only wish I had learned more about his story. He wrote a diary of some of his experiences as a Prisoner of War when he got home, which will be kept and passed through the generations, and his story will be shared with his great grandchildren.
After everything he went through, my Grampa never complained, always smiled and didn’t want any recognition for his bravery. So many men sadly lost their lives and didn’t make it back home to be with their families, but all should be remembered as brave and courageous men. Of course, our family will always remember my Grampa for being the strong, caring, generous and most thoughtful man his sons, daughters in law and grandchildren could wish for. We couldn’t be more proud.
My gran passed away in 1981 and Grampa joined her in 1997. This was where he had spent the previous 16 years wishing to be, back with his wife.
Many prisoners did not live to tell the real story, we are so proud and grateful he did so the memories of all who fought can be remembered.
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