When there is something written like this I had to read, and had to share this. Thanks Rebecca.
An affront to memory. Shame on you.
My Uncle George: He was an ex-POW relative I spoke of on Twitter tonight while decrying the actions of the EDL, thinking of how that would seem to him were he still alive. It's a subject I've been reluctant to bring up amid recent events because it's incredibly emotional. He had a massive effect on my life, my thinking, he was such an influence, and I still spend a lot of time fighting for recognition of what he went through.
He was part of the Navy, an Enfield regiment. He was my great, great uncle on my mother's side. He was captured by the Japanese in '42.
He was reluctant to share his experiences, they stuck with him until the end of his life, and knowing what they were to him I won't share them. I will say that upon his rescue from the camp, he witnessed the devastation of the bombs. That is something that he has never spoken of, to my understanding, beyond the fact he saw it.
The camp he was in didn't find out until months after the end of the war that it was over. A plane flew over the camp and, upon discovering it, dropped an issue of 'Reader's digest' which told the prisoners the news. They came back later to drop supplies (during the supply drop the plane crashed nearby). The captives within the camp overpowered the guards upon the news, taking control of the camp and then waiting for rescue.
They weren't taken back to the UK immediately, they were transported by Canadian troops back to Canada, as I mentioned previously, the route included much of the devastation within Japan. When they got to Canada they were given a meal - rather unfortunately the main part of which was rice. He collapsed upon before even taking a mouthful due to malnourishment and ill health as a result of his treatment in the camp. It turned out to be a good thing in a way. He was in such bad shape that he was told by doctors there that, had he eaten it, there was a good chance he would have died.
They brought him back to health at no cost and cared for him during the time it took to get him well enough to come home. The Canadian government gave each of the POWs from the rescue $5000 (or £5000, I can't remember) as compensation for what they went through.
They never received an apology from the Japanese government. In his lifetime there was barely even an acknowledgement of the atrocities that occurred.
In the years after his death I continued to fight for that acknowledgement and apology on his behalf from the Japanese administration.
A number of years ago I moved from London to the West Country. My Mother bought a poppy from a RBL man selling them near to where we lived in the street and they began to talk. They were in the same regiment, on the same ship. Small world, eh?
He fought fascists. He fought for freedom. For memorials of the fallen to be thrown salutes akin to those they fought against, and suffered for as a result of their fighting that fascism, is a disgrace.
Those whose names are on those memorials, who those memorials were erected for, who were in receipt of those salutes fought against fascism, they fought for democracy, for freedom. For it to be on our streets now, for those salutes to be used to the those such as my Uncle George and his fellow men, is vile beyond words. To any and all of you who took part in such an affront to freedom and dignity, an affront to history and the suffering within it, shame on you. Shame on all you stand for.
Posted by Rebecca You can find Rebecca on twitter @halfabear.