The Forgotten Army

The other day, I blogged some pictures of the Holocaust and commented how we must never forget this part of history.

I’d like to add to this. On 15th May 1945, Japan official surrendered and ended the second world war. We celebrate this day as VJ day. This moment in time may not be as famous to us in Britain as VE day, but it is just as significant in our history and the sacrifice on the par with the European soldiers.

A few figures for you (courtesy of Imperial War Museum, London):

  • The Japanese captured 190,000 Allied PoWs
  • 50,016 of these were from the UK
  • 12,433 UK PoWs were killed or died in Japanese captivity
  • 100,000 British troops fought in the Burma Campaign between 1941 and 1945
  • More than three million Japanese died
  • During the war in the Pacific, the Japanese were famous for total ruthlessness in battle and towards their captives. This can be put down to the Japanese culture of surrender being dishonourable (just what I’ve heard). However, the fact remains that PoW’s held in camps in Thailand and Burma (and others) were treated as sub-humans, brutally beaten and starved. Due to the tropical climate, disease was rife in the camps and little or nothing was done.

    Two emancipated soldiers liberated from a prison camp on Formosa, November 1945

    PoW being executed at a prison camp

    My mother told me of a story: One of her uncles (Billy) fought during the war based in Burma. According to him, his troop used to reccy through the jungle in single file due to the undergrowth and, as a precaution, they would tie a rope around themselves and use it as a guide to know no one got lost. One day, Billy’s friend was bringing up the rear of the column. when they got back to camp, he was no longer there. They went back into the jungle to find him. They found him dead, nailed to a tree. The Japanese had cut the rope and took him from the back of the column without anyone realising.

    Here is a piece by the BBC on the Forgotten Army. The effects of these prison camps became real to me when I tried speaking to an ex-PoW who my mum looked after for my school homework. He refused to speak of it. All he would tell me is that not one night has gone by in 50 years (when I spoke to him) where he has had a full nights sleep. Every night he has woken up suffering nightmares and will never forget. He passed away last year, still never having a peaceful nights sleep.

    During the japanese occupation, they used forced labour to construct a railway from Bangkok, Thailand to Rangoon, Burma. This railway ran for 258 miles through tropical jungles. About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied POWs worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians. this railway became know as The Death Railway

    My point of this is simple and ties in with my Holocaust post: we must study this, learn and evolve. We can never go back to treating people the way these PoW’s were treated. War is not acceptable. Diplomacy is the only way this world can become what we all want: a peaceful place were all can live together.

    *I’d just like to point out that I am in no way against Japanese or Germans. The sins of the father can NEVER be put on the sons and daughters.

    Pictures of Horror

    I’m reading an amazing book called Voices of Yesterday by Michael Yarwood. It is set in the Warsaw Ghetto during ’42-43 and the oppression and systematic extermination of the Jews by the Nazi’s. And the vivid words of the writer got me to thinking and imagining what these people went through, the suffering and brutality forced upon them by the Nazi’s (and not just Jews, but Romani, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and many more). The figures stand at around 6 MILLION Jews wiped out by the Nazi regime (2/3 of the European population of Jews). If you include the other  groups killed by the Nazi’s this figures rises to between 11-17 MILLION PEOPLE! All non-soldiers.

    So I’ve done some surfing and found some pictures I’d like to share with you. Next time you hear someone verbally abuse someone or say racist or homophobic comments, show them these photos and ask them to look into the people’s eyes and put themselves in their shoes:

    April 12, 1945: Lager Nordhausen, where 20,000 inmates are believed to have died.

    A member of Einsatzgruppe D is about to shoot a man sitting by a mass grave in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, in 1942. Present in the background are members of the German Army, the German Labor Service, and the Hitler Youth.[94] The back of the photograph is inscribed “The last Jew in Vinnitsa”.

    Jews captured and forcibly pulled out from dugouts by the Germans during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The photo is from Jurgen Stroop’s report to Heinrich Himmler

    A child dying on the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto

    Starving prisoners in Mauthausen camp liberated on May 5, 1945

    Romani children in Auschwitz, victims of medical experiments

    A grave inside Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

    I’m sure some people who see this will still stick by their disturbing views of racial and religious superiority, but these people have no soul. No human being can look at these images, think clearly about what is being done and still condone secular violence or hatred of any kind. Please, I beg you all, educate each other and the youth of today.
    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
    -George Santayana

    The Perfect Songs For The Perfect Moment

    You know how it goes, you hear a song and it conjures up a scenario in your head. Or you’re in a situation and you think “that song should be playing in the background right now”. Well, here is a list of my choices. Please feel free to give me your choices and opinions:

    1. You’ve just been dumped. They’ve dropped you real hard. They know it and they love it!

    SONG: Elton John – I’m Still Standing.

    Says it all I think….. “I’m still standing after all this time
    Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind”

    2. Somebody very close to you passes away. You feel lost and hurt. There is only one choice in my mind

    SONG: Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven.

    This song is perfect purely on the basis Eric wrote it following the death of his four-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a window of the 53rd-floor New York apartment of his mother’s friend, on March 20, 1991. Can more meaning and heart be put in a song?

    3. Let’s liven proceedings. You’re in the local pub. It’s karaoke night. People are singing terribly and no-one is interested. You need a tune to get everyone going and get them singing along.

    SONG: Don McLean – American Pie.

    Who doesn’t know this song? Who doesn’t love it? It’s one of those songs you cannot help sing and tap your foot too. Sing it at any pub karaoke and you’ll be a hero. Guaranteed.

    4. It’s a hot day. The sun is shining and you’re cruising in your car. Windows are down and life is good.

    SONG: Will Smith – Summertime


    The peak of summer songs. The music is chilled and laid back like a summer’s day, but a vibe to keep you nodding and grooving. The words reflect on everyone’s up bringing (American or otherwise) in one fashion or another.

    5. The most revolutionary (and I think hypocritical) song.  It instills a desire to change the world and man-kind for the better

    SONG: John Lennon – Imagine


    The words could have been wrote by Marx himself! I think the communist lyrics are there for all to hear “imagine all the people, sharing all the world.” “imagine no possessions” “imagine there’s no heaven” “imagine there’s no countries”. Amazing song, but if a man believed this, how come he had loads of money, possessions and didn’t practice what he preached?

    6. Car full of your friends on the way to a party and everyone’s bouncing. You need a tune it get all in the spirit.

    SONG: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody.


    Everyone knows and loves this song. In the top 5 greatest of all time. Without question. And if you’ve seen the Wayne’s World scene, you’ll know why it’s applicable to this situation.

    7. You’re friends hen do. The girls are all there and in walks the muscle-bound stripper. Only one song will do

    SONG: Madonna – Like A Virgin


    It’s girl power before the Spice Girls knew what puberty was. It’s a woman in control over the man in a way only women know how. C’est perfect!

    8. You’ve had a bad day. everyone’s been on your back and you’re feeling down. You need something to make you smile and cheer you up.

    SONG: Monty Python – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life


    The pure comic genius that is Monty Python cannot fail to raise a smile. The black knight scene in Holy Grail is hilarious. But it doesn’t come close to one of the funniest moments in film history. The crucifixion in Life of Brian. We will never have comedy like this again.

    Sleeping on the Job

    As I’m writing this, he’s snoring………….. AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

    Now, I’m not the sort to moan or bitch, but when work colleagues are falling asleep at their desk in front of you……… well, that’s just taking it a little too far.

    He started work with us about 3 months ago. Larger gentleman (to say the least), in his 60’s and talks incessantly about himself (when he’s not catching forty winks). His sleeping started about a week into the job. The company I work for is pretty relaxed, which is one of the appeals to working here. However, he’s been constantly falling asleep for periods of up to 20 minutes a day on numerous occasions throughout the day and they’ve done nothing about it! At first, my team and I put this down to his age and the fact he hadn’t been working for a few months prior, however, it’s now 3 months later and it’s beginning to smack of insulting. As he falls asleep, he reminds me very much of a Snorlax (off of Pokemon fame)

    We’ve broached the subject with our company secretary and also HR. They say an occupational health survey has been done on him, but no results have been published and no action has been taken. And he’s still sleeping. It got to the point today he went for a snooze in his car at lunch (as he always does, never socialises in the canteen), was late back for a meeting, so the company secretary went out and woke him up. AND STILL NOTHINGS BEEN SAID OR DONE!!!!!

    We’ve even spoke directly to him about it. He says he is on medication for his knee. They shouldn’t make him sleepy, but he’s taking triple doses because of the pain……….. And he’s still driving!!! Surely that’s got to be illegal if these drugs have even the slightest implication of making the taker drowsy?

    This is a real serious bone of contention for me. As you know, I’ve got a 3 month old girl. She’s starting to teeth and has a cold, so a nights sleep is thin on the ground in my house. So when I see this bastard snoring the day away and nothing being done about it, it rattles my cage me something chronic.

    Anyone have any similar experience or know of the UK legal situation relating to this matter?