Friday, 20 May 2011

14: Christmas, Red Cross Relief, Constant Illness and Death of a Friend - Part 3.

The next day on my return from work, I was taken to the Japanese quarters and given a box of Bill's ashes and was told to look after them as it was my duty at all times. The box was about six inches square. I went to work next day, my legs becoming worse and knew the guards were watching, waiting for me to move, ready to pounce. I was unable to stop myself, the pain was so intense, the blows rained down but this was just another pain somewhere else on my body. I realised I could not continue much longer in this manner and would have to see the doctor. Remembering Bill’s ordeal, I must confess to delaying this moment for as long as was possible, feeling apprehensive at the treatment that I would receive. I told myself at least he would not need to cut me to release the pus, as mine were all open running sores.

I waited outside the office until my turn came. I entered and he asked me what was wrong. I showed him my hands and pulled up my trousers, showing him my legs. He told me to remove my trousers and boots and placing a sheet of paper on his desk, told me to stand on it. He walked round the desk studying my legs, then went to a cupboard taking out a jar of ointment. He then went to a drawer in the desk and took out a palette knife, with this he scraped down my legs with the edge of the blade, how I managed not to scream out, I”ll never know. This he continued to do all round and down each leg, removing each scab and sore leaving holes about one sixteenth of an inch deep. I don’t know how I endured this, the pain was awful, the blood and pus ran down my legs, bloody mainly. The pain became a burning sensation, I had lost the feel of where my feet were. After the scraping which seem to last an eternity,he spread the gaping holes with the ointment which resembled lard. He then told me to dress, after which he spread some of the ointment on my hands. I returned to my room walking painfully slowly. I had some clean bandages ready which I had made from my pants and bandaged my legs hoping by keeping the ointment on and the dirt out, they would heal.

Soon after this, I recall one painful incident whilst working on a ship. Whenever possible I walked slowly, when walking normally the blood seemed to pump round my legs causing great pain and the march to and from work, was as much as I could bear. There were two Jap ship workers bolting something to a deck. I walked past them slowly and was about ten feet away, when I felt a blow to one of my legs, the pain was indescribable. I managed not to fall down and when I recovered sufficiently, saw a huge nut similar to the ones being use by the two workers I had just passed. I turned and stared at them with all the contempt and disgust I could put into my expression. I didn't move, just stood and stared. The one who had obviously thrown the nut, started shouting aggressively and threatening to come after me, I didn't move. At last, he could not face me any longer and turned his back on me, talking to his mate who had remained impassive throughout, trying no doubt to justify his actions.

With Bill gone I was now on my own which I didn't mind, I could be alone with my thoughts and feelings. The men spoke to me, but there was not the comradeship that one shares with a friend. Prisoners formed tight little groups of two, three, four or so and shared any small benefits one may have had with each other. They were unwilling to let someone who had been sharing his spoils with someone else into their tightly knit group. I wasn’t desperate for their company which I did have at times, but with only two hours maximum of free time out of twenty four, I had enough to occupy me.

Shortly after Bill died, my foreman came up to me smiling broadly and told me I was to be moved. He said men were needed at another camp to work down the mines. The dock foremen had been asked if they had any bad workers who they wished to be rid of,so my foreman had put my number Hyaku San-Juu Ni (132) down. It was not known where our destination would be but decided it could not be worse than this hell of a camp where there was nothing but heavy laden skies, forever cold snow and ice, bitter winds and the grey sea. Together with all the brutality and privation it was indeed a miserable depressing existence. At least, it would be warm in the mines. I must admit I never had any ambition to be a miner remembering pictures of coal mines at home and pit disasters. As always I could only go where fate or my captors chose to send me. A fortnight later we were told we would be moving next day. I packed my few possessions and Bill’s ashes and was ready to leave the next morning.

1 comment:

  1. Frank,

    The Ohashi camp must have seemed like heaven after this!