Fourth Marines Band: "Last China Band"
 
GUEST OF HIROHITO
 

CHAPTER SEVEN - Epilogue
 

With rue my heart is laden,
For golden friends I had.
For many a rose-lipt maiden,
And many a light foot lad.

—Alfred E. Houseman, The Shropshire Lad

 
Now I must explain why this narrative began with me sitting in a 747 bound for Hong Kong, with my wife on one side and a Japanese lady on the other.
It was forty years to the day that I had left Japan, vowing not to return to the scenes of my wartime experiences. I had no desire for any nostalgic ventures into wartime memories. But such memories, like old sins, have long shadows.
My daughter, Marie, was responsible for the change of heart. At twenty-two she had already traveled around the world, through Asia, the trans-Siberian Railway and all those romantic places that I personally prefer to explore in the comfort of the “National Geographic”. She had just spent a few months in Japan going from the northern tip of Hokaido to the southern end of Kyushu.
She purposely went to NiiGata where I had been in a Prisoner of War Camp for two years. There she met a delightful young Japanese girl, Junko Suda, who invited Marie to stay with her family for a few days.
Together they went to the City Hall to inquire where Camp 5B had been.
In response to their inquiries, the civic authorities assured them that there had never been any Prisoner of War Camp in NiiGata but there may have been one further down the coast.
Marie wrote to me that perhaps I had been mistaken in thinking that I had been in NiiGata—a suggestion that I did not take too kindly. Surely I was not yet quite that senile.
I wrote to the Mayor of NiiGata explaining that, while I had no wish to resurrect old antagonisms, the past should not be so casually forgotten.
In a few weeks a letter arrived from the Mayor’s office expressing regret over the misunderstanding. He also added that if I would visit NiiGata every effort would be made to find the old campsite and work areas. I accepted the invitation and decided to go to Hong Kong and Japan.
I have an acute distaste for modern travel with the inevitable line-ups, discomforts, loss of identity and so on. To this now can be added the remote but nevertheless real threat of terrorism. On the other hand my wife is the complete tourist and was delighted and surprised that I would make the trip, especially one so long and tiring.
Finally the plane began its descent into Kai Tek Airport, Hong Kong. The many islands surrounding The Colony appeared below us. The city, bristling with high-rises spreading up the hillsides, was half hidden in the clouds, and I searched in vain for any familiar landmarks. The aircraft suddenly swooped down and we seemed to brush by rows of apartment buildings, which whizzed by the window. We landed with more of a bump than expects from the good pilots of Canadian Pacific Airlines and the braking engines roared their salute to another safe landing. Everyone breathed a little easier.
Watching the tarmac roll by as we taxied to the airport building I felt a certain sense of attachment, wondering if we were travelling over any of the part that I had helped build.
We stayed in a very posh hotel, not really my cup of tea, but it was all that was available. I was overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle and the crush of humanity. The Star Ferries remained as a reassuring contact with the past, but there was little else to remind me of 1941.
We decided first to trace the route of my platoon during the battle. We passed through Tai Tam and I could recognize none of the landmarks, that once I knew so well. No one had ever heard of Palm Villa, which I found hard to understand. I could not be sure which of the hills had played such unforgettable roles in December, 1941. I like to think of them as actors in the play, not just the scenery.
Failing to find any trace of Palm Villa, we continued our trip by taxi to Fort Stanley.
At the gate is a big sign forbidding entrance of civilians to the fort and the taxi slows to a stop. A corporal of the Scottish regiment stationed there snaps to a smart salute and to my astonishment waves us on. Does he know something that I don’t?
The fort seems to be empty except for the odd person in sports togs. I look in vain for any sign of our last struggle. There are no shell holes, no scars of war, not even places that I can remember. The old 9.2. guns, which were of little use pointing the wrong way, are gone as well.
My wife knows I am disappointed. Surely there must be some little part of the past still here, even a little plaque noting that the Canadians made their last desperate stand here on Christmas day, 1941. Perhaps it is hidden away from prying eyes.
I go over to Repulse Bay, and discover that the beautiful old hotel has been demolished.
The taxi now takes us to the War Cemetery on a slope in Saiwan, overlooking the harbour and Lye Mun gap, where we first met the Japanese. The white crosses, row on row, glisten in the morning sun. The Canadians are all together in the lower half. Together in death... something denied our force in battle.
The taxi driver asks me if we want him to wait. “No “, I reply, “I shall spend some time here with my friends.” I bite my lip for having been so maudlin; it had just come out of me spontaneously and now I was embarrassed.
Eileen leaves me to wander past each grave. At first I am simply curious and composed.
I wander slowly down the rows of graves, stopping longer at those from our platoon. I can see their faces as I remember them, young, laughing, full with the flush of youth,
and the understanding of “They shall not grow old. . . .“ takes on a deeper meaning.
WILLIAM BARCLAY
AGED 19 YEARS
Died October 9th, 1942
I remember that miserable night coming down from Notting Hill. He was a big handsome lad who always kept his cool, another victim of the diphtheria epidemic.
WILLIAM S.M.
AGED 19 YEARS
Died October 19th, 1942
I remember our great plans for an escape, the “great North Point Robbery”, what a great soldier he was an inspiration to rest of us.
Nearby is the grave of Joe Fitzpatrick, aged 20, who was decorated posthumously. Joe’s military career had been a stormy one, as he fluctuated between being a rifleman and higher ranks, once even being considered for promotion to warrant officer. It was impossible not to recognize his potential as a leader. He had the handsome Latin look of a black haired Irishman, and the personality and temper to go with it. He minced no words and suffered fools poorly, no matter what their rank. I last saw him in the hills, at the head of a platoon, much happier than most of the rest of us.
His younger brother, Charlie, was completely different, a happy go lucky wise cracking guy. He was in our platoon and was wounded after Notting Hill. He later was killed in a mine accident in Japan and is buried there.
The Fitzpatrick brothers grew up in Quebec City with me. I visited their mother on my return home, a sad day for her and a very difficult one for me.
Some of the dead have no graves as their bodies were never recovered. Their names are separately inscribed at the entrance. I come to Joe Delaney’s name and recall some of the times we had together... , the poker games in Gander and on the Awatea, the last night of his life in Palm Villa. Tears come to my eyes and I weep unashamedly, something I had not really done since childhood. The tears that had been held back so many years finally flowed freely. Fortunately the cemetery is empty.
We are silent on the return trip to the hotel. I wonder whether I should have returned to Hong Kong. I had not come without some misgivings. For many years after I returned to Canada, all my dreams, even the most pleasant ones, always had a Japanese guard overlooking the action. I wonder now if he will return.
We spend the evening with an ear, nose and throat surgeon, Tony Cheng and his charming wife. Tony had done his training at the hospital in Vancouver where I was on staff, and now has a busy practice in Hong Kong where he was born. They entertain us royally; indeed we have a meal such as I have never had elsewhere. It must be one of the world’s great restaurants.
I eat too much, drink too much, but sleep well, undisturbed by any dreams or any Japanese guards.
The next day Eileen and I take one of the old street cars that used to pass by North Point Camp, hoping to find just where it had been located. North Point is now a fashionable area crowded with highrises. I suspect there has been a good deal of land fill in the area. Only the old tram lines remain, and from their appearance, the same old trolley cars must be used. No one we question has ever heard of a prison camp having been in the area.
I inquire after Bowen Road Hospital as we go up on the Peak Tram, but again nobody has heard of it. Some years later, a neighbour who has moved from Hong Kong, tells me that it is now used as a kindergarten and her daughter had been a pupil there.
We have tea at The Peninsula Hotel, which still operates as it did in the days of the Raj, when the sun never set on The Empire. Outside are Rolls Royces, whose headlights glare at you for daring to enter the hotel in such casual clothes.
The Peninsula Hotel, Government House and The Hong Kong Shanghai Bank are the only pre-war landmark buildings that remain. Ninety percent of Hong Kong has been built since the war. Ironically, The Peninsula was built by a Japanese engineer.
Inside we luxuriate, admiring the silver service and plush surroundings. I can see the Japanese Commander, General Sano, sitting at this very table, as the hotel was his headquarters. Perhaps from here he ordered the final assault on the Island.
We both are quite delighted with these quaint and colourful trappings and are equally impressed by the size of the bill.
Returning to the hotel, Eileen decided to do some shopping. As we were crossing a narrow Street, a bicycle knocked me down. A very nice chap rushed over to me and helped me up. I thanked him profusely, but he was in a rush to leave. Very wisely, as I soon discovered that he had left with my wallet as well as my gratitude. I now felt quite sure that the Gods did not smile on me being in Hong Kong, as indeed they had not on my first visit.
The next morning we take off from Kai Tek Airport. We pass over North Point and its highrises, gain altitude over Lye Mun Gap and I just have a fleeting glimpse of the cemetery in Saiwan. It is my second good bye to Hong Kong. It is the site that Lord Palmerston, in 1841, dismissed as”... a barren rock with hardly a house on it.” What will it be like in 2041 after being in China’s hands for fifty years?
 
We landed in Narita, Tokyo’s International Airport. I was amused to learn that it is almost under a state of siege from the dispossessed landowners and an unlikely coalition of conservative environmentalists and political radicals opposed to its construction. This group, armed with scythes, rakes and wooden poles were making howling Banzai charges against the plastic clad riot police. The Japan of forty years ago would have dealt very quickly with that problem.
It seemed to take as long to get into the city as it had to fly from Hong Kong and was almost as expensive.
The last time I had seen Tokyo it was a depressing landscape of rubble punctuated by a few standing concrete structures. Now it is clearly one of the world’s greatest cities, a megapolis of skyscrapers, frenzied traffic and pulsating neon signs.
However did I spend two years in the country and never realize that they follow the English pattern of driving on the left hand side of the road? Of course, there were very few motor vehicles in war-time NiiGata, most of them operating from coal gas, with huge bags on the roof, giving them the appearance of giant june-bugs.
At the bus depot we apprehensively boarded a taxi to take us to our hotel. Tokyo taxi-drivers have an international reputation for their kamikaze tactics. Ours was a model of defensive driving decorum compared to some we had survived in Mexico City and Athens. Eileen was impressed that he wore white gloves. So did our guards and “honchos”, who would sometimes ceremoniously don their white gloves before beating the hell out of some luckless prisoner.
We stayed at a lovely hotel not far from The Emperor’s palace and gardens. Walking around the outside we admired the fastidiously kept grounds. I had always referred to my previous stay in Japan as being a guest of The Emperor, so I wondered if he would invite me in for a cup of tea. I guess he didn’t know I was in town.
The next morning we paid the obligatory visit to Nikko. I had heard so much of this famous tourist attraction cum shrine from friends who visited Japan. They always assumed I had been there. Perhaps, they thought Prisoners of War spent their weekends on guided tours.
I was quite disappointed, finding Nikko highly overrated. The temples are quite gaudy, more baroque Chinese if that can be imagined, not the beautiful stark simple lines of Japanese art and architecture. The crowds of tourists herded from shrine to shrine competed with regiments of black suited high-school boys to glimpse and photograph ugly, sometimes fierce, old Buddhas. The garish red that the Chinese so love was the predominating colour. It must be Tokyo’s Harrison Hot Springs (a watering hole for the wealthy of Vancouver).
An unexpected pleasant surprise was the evident clean air in Tokyo. I was told that only a few years ago it had a serious pollution problem.
Tomorrow, tomorrow would be NiiGata. I dreamt fitfully of the narrow streets of the old town, straining against a decrepit two-wheeled cart used to bring supplies into camp. I awoke tired, fretful, to see Eileen already dressed and anxious to go. It seemed only a minute before that we had sunk exhausted on the bed, but she was as excited as I was.
We had talked at dinner the night before of what we could expect. Would the old camp be there? After forty years what would all this mean to me? Here I was doing what I had sworn I would never, never do.... , coming back to NiiGata!
Early in the morning we left Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) for NiiGata. In 1945 the trip took many hours but now it is only 113 minutes as several long tunnels circumvent detours around the mountains.
It was a beautiful early autumn day. Rice was stacked in the fields and the multi-coloured roofs made it all look like a travel poster. The blue tiles stood out against the yellow fields. In contrast to the wide open spaces of Canada, there was always some evidence of humanity.
I stepped into the station with some trepidation, fighting back old memories. But surely this wasn’t NiiGata— NiiGata the primitive, over-grown village with narrow streets, many houses still having thatched roofs and only a few western style buildings.
Instead, the station opened into a Square surrounded by steel and glass buildings. Traffic pulsated to a steady rhythm of horns as smartly dressed men and women hurried by.
How silly of me to expect to find oxcarts, women in long bloomers, men in army style dress with the inevitable military cap. I wonder what happened to all those caps. Not one was to be seen.
A black limousine drew up to the station. The chauffeur stepped out and opened the door for a young man and woman to emerge.
The man came up to me: “Dr. Cambon, I am Maseo Ichioka of the Foreign Affairs Section and this is Miss Rieko Ishizuka, your interpreter. Welcome to NiiGata! “I was impressed.
We went to the “Friendship Centre” where we met Marie’s friend, Junko. After tea and photographs, we all went to a delightful restaurant where we were ushered into a private room upstairs. There was much too much to eat and drink and we soon were relaxed and comfortable with each other.
The Friendship Centre is a concept that we could well copy. It is a place where visitors can receive help, rest and perhaps meet some of the locals. It organizes trips to NiiGata’s sister city of Galveston, Texas. It is a coincidence that our elder daughter, Noreen, was born in Galveston. There were pictures on the wall of the University of Texas Hospital where Eileen and I trained for three very happy years and Noreen had entered our life.
It was a short walk to the City Hall and the Mayor’s Office. Here I was invited to sit in the Mayor’s chair. Sitting on the throne-like plush red upholstered chair, I was presented with the Keys to the city.
I suppose this should have made me think of my previous introduction to NiiGata but it did not. I was deeply touched. These young people had been born long after the war and I accepted their honouring me in all humility. Apparently I was the first member of Camp 5B to return.
The car, chauffeur and interpreter were put at our disposal to search for the RINKO coal yards where I once had worked. It is now a big company importing oil, wheat, lumber and aggregate as well as coal. The old trestles were gone but I could recognize some remnants as well as the abandoned railway tracks.
As described previously, in our time the system of unloading coal at RINKO was archaic. It was shoveled from the holds of freighters from Manchuria into big nets that were dumped into one ton cars, mounted on a circular railway trestle about thirty feet off the ground. The prisoners would push these around the trestle to either dump them into railway cars or on to storage areas if no cars were available. From there the cars were loaded by carrying basketfuls on each end of a bamboo pole—a technique still used in China, and some other parts of the world.
I thought of that first day when we had been marched to work in the darkness of the early morning. I could sec Whiskers giving his “welcome” speech, and for a moment could feel the rumble of the cars as we pushed them over the rickety trestle. It was eerie. It began to drizzle slightly and I wondered if anyone would offer me a straw raincoat.
Now the docks had huge automated cranes and there seemed to be scarcely any workers in sight. I walked to the crumbling remains of the trestle away from Eileen and the car. I tried to think again of “Whiskers” but all I could see was the gaunt coal blackened faces of my comrades, their huge eyes reflecting their desperate needs.
The Iron Foundry was more difficult to locate as no one had ever heard of SHINTETSU which meant New Foundry. It is now called NiiGata Tetsu, hence the confusion. With its modern equipment it is much more deserving of the prefix “SHIN”.
We had been in three different camps in NiiGata, the first two being make-shift temporary structures. The last had been located on a rise of ground just outside the city. This area has been absorbed by the most rapidly growing city in Japan. We located it without too much difficulty, hut no trace of the old camp remained, which was hardly surprising after more than forty years.
I could make out the rise where the high wooden fence had snaked up the hill to enclose the ugly long barracks. For a moment it all came back to life, those terrible first days in that camp.
So many memories rushed into view that I was overwhelmed. I especially thought of that New Year’s early morning, struggling in the snow to lift the timbers off the dead and injured underneath. The long nights with the dying and nothing to offer them. The faces of comrades long gone. The night we stole the Commandant’s chicken.
I was glad that nothing remained of all that, except in my memory. Strangely, none of the older Japanese we spoke to in the area could ever remember a prison camp being there. It seemed fitting that where I thought the guardhouse had been was now a kindergarten or school.
We spent the night in a very old and beautiful Ryokan Japanese Inn. After the ritual of a steamy hot bath, a fabulous meal was served in our room.
I was tired after a day of such a melange of apprehension, tensions of new relationships, discarding older prejudices, searching for the old world that no longer existed. Yet I scarcely slept at all. The futons were comfortable and it was not the rock-hard Japanese pillow that kept me awake.
Dawn, the merciful saviour of insomniacs, revealed the little garden outside our room. Quietly opening the sliding door so as not to waken the other guests, especially Eileen, who is definitely not a morning person, I ventured into the morning chill. Summer had gone, leaving the bright reds and soft gold leaves to mourn its passing.
I lingered in the morning chill stepping on the flat stones that formed the winding path to a small pool. Whatever was I doing here? The carp in the pool came to the edge, expecting to be fed and I had nothing to give them.
Breakfast was served in a common room with chairs and tables. After having rice, mizu soup and fish, we were served ham and eggs. Our first thought was that this was a special concession to the only gaijin (foreigner) but all the other guests received the same. It became increasingly evident the longer we stayed in Japan that the national diet has changed radically. No doubt they will soon, like us, be heir to all the undesirable legacies of western diet and culture.
While waiting for the car and interpreter to take us to the University we strolled along beside the river. Many small boats were tied up to the stone-walled banks. They were exactly the size and shape of the ones that were used to hunt turtle in Mexico and I wondered if this was just a coincidence. There has been some suggestion that shipwrecked Japanese sailors landed in Mexico hundreds of years ago, long before Cortes.
Students were streaming by on their cycles. Japan would be a great place for a cycle trip. In NiiGata cyclists were allowed to ride on the sidewalk. On pedestrian overpasses there was a centre aisle allowing bikes to be pushed while walking up the stairs.
I had specifically asked to go to the University to pay an old debt. I wanted to visit the University Hospital from where the brave doctor had come, who in the terrible winter of 1944 had recommended a quarantine of the camp.
That brief rest during such miserable weather saved more lives than did the treatment of the amoebiasis, which never was eradicated.
I was told that forty years ago the University Hospital had been a small set of buildings but now it obviously was a most imposing medical centre.
After the usual introductions, I expressed my gratitude. This brought evident surprise as no one had ever heard of the incident. It had taken some courage on the part of those men at that time to suggest what seemed like a logical solution. It was just not the thing to do, to in any way sympathize with or help the prisoners, who were the enemy. Any such support was given surreptitiously.
To withdraw the labour force from RINKO for two weeks was unthinkable and would have been considered to be a blow to the war effort. The Medical Professors really had guts. Unfortunately, none of the army medical personnel ever showed this devotion to the ethics of their profession.
We toured the Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology Divisions of the University Hospital, envious of the high-tech equipment available for both research and clinical practice.
That night was the highlight of our visit to Japan. Marie’s friend, Junko, invited us to her home for dinner. There we met her family, including her 85 year old grandmother who sat at the head of the table. Father and mother were gracious hosts; mother at first mistaken by me for an older sister of Junko’s. An added guest was a charming lady physician who had been a medical student during the war. She regaled us with stories of the difficulties of being a medical student. In those days they were required to work in an airplane factory between lectures. Japan was no doubt the most completely mobilized of any of the combatants in World War II.
The meal, which had been cooked by Mr. Suda, was simply fabulous. Seafood delicacies that I had never heard of were washed down with warm saki. Just when I thought I could not possibly drink any more, Mr. Suda produced a bottle of Courvoisier.
He then proposed a toast to the two prisoners of war, revealing that he had been a prisoner of war of the Russians for four years. After a few more brandies my Japanese of forty years ago returned—or, perhaps, it just seemed so. We shared experiences capping each story with another brandy. The evening ended with an empty bottle, with Mr. Suda singing a Russian song and me singing one of the Japanese Army’s marching songs.
I slept well and miraculously awoke in the morning with a clear head. We went to the station early Sunday morning. All our new found friends came to see us off. We exchanged small gifts and invited them all to come to EXPO. They stood on the platform waving good-bye as I left NiiGata for the second time.
The return had been a great success. I had come filled with doubts, fears and prepared for catastrophe. I left with renewed hope and warmth, happy to have come back.
We took the train down the west coast, pausing in beautiful Kanazawa to admire its fabled gardens, before continuing on our way to Hiroshima.
It is impossible not to be moved by the beautifully landscaped Peace Park built near the epicentre of the bomb explosion. The museum with its photographs and relics is an awesome warning to us all. I was particularly interested to read the American orders to the “Enola Gay”: “In the event of Hiroshima being clouded over, proceed to NiiGata.”
Eileen expressed some shame that such a bomb was ever used. My own reaction was more complex no doubt because, without it, I and other prisoners of war in Japan as well as millions of Japanese and allied soldiers would not have survived the war.
I could not help but recall Field Marshal Terauchi’s well documented order issued in 1945:
“At the moment the enemy invades Honshu, all prisoners of war are to be killed.”
There was no doubt that this was indeed the plan. The large hole in front of the camp that we had dug was not intended to be an air raid shelter, but was planned as our final resting place.
Furthermore, I had been most disappointed in the media’s approach to the fortieth anniversary of the end of the war. It seemed to focus entirely on the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No mention was made of the rape of Nanking, where more people were wantonly killed in a few days than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Nowhere did I read or hear of the Japanese brutalities to Asian civilians in captured territories, not to mention their record with Prisoners of War. It has been estimated that twenty million Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese. So much for “The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”. To repeat a slogan I saw in Hiroshima: “To forgive is not to forget.”
There has been much criticism over President Harry Truman’s decision to use the bomb. This invariably comes from people who had no direct involvement in the war, and by direct I mean in actual combat and risking getting their ass shot off.
Such academics are great on rhetoric but short on experience. I do believe the Japanese were prepared to fiercely defend their country.
Admittedly, some of the more rational leaders were pursuing peace attempts, but the real power still lay with the army. Even at the time of surrender there were strong elements in the army that tried to abort it. Without such an awesome demonstration of nuclear power, the Japanese Military and many civilians would not have accepted surrender.
In these days of anti-nuclear demonstrations and Hiroshima Day Peace Marches, this is not a popular view. I guess I am continuing my tradition begun as a young soldier of marching to a different drum.
Having said this I should make it clear that I am strongly in favour of nuclear disarmament, in fact all kinds of disarmament. If it were not for my temper I could be a pacifist.
On returning to Tokyo we visited the Yasukuni Shrine which, fortunately, was not far from our hotel. It is a magnificent memorial to all the Japanese servicemen who were killed in action since early Imperial days. I went up to the central temple to leave a small donation, knowing that I had made more sombre contributions many years ago.
At this very time the Chinese Press was castigating the Japanese Prime Minister for having paid an official visit to Yasukuni, the first since the war. This I cannot understand just as I cannot support the condemnation of President Reagan for visiting a German War Graves Cemetery. To pay homage to those who died for their country is not to condone the fascist ideology for which they fought. Better to draw attention to such unforgivable useless waste of precious youth.
Paradoxically, we next went to the British Commonwealth Cemetery outside of Yokahama where the Canadians who died in Japan are buried. It was most difficult to locate. The Canadian Embassy always seemed to be closed when we phoned and none of the local tourist offices had ever heard of it. By a stroke of luck we fell into the hands of a taxi driver who remembered that the Queen had gone there during the royal visit to Japan. Even then it was not easy to find, being poorly marked, almost hidden.
The cemetery itself is beautiful and well kept. There was a little old Japanese lady raking leaves who directed us to the Canadian Section. Maple trees had been planted and each grave had a metal plate inscribed with the soldier’s name, age, date of death and sometimes a short quotation.
I especially sought out the lads from NiiGata, each name recalling a young face—all so young. Truly they shall never grow old. I lingered longer beside Bill Knapp, who had gone to school with me in Quebec City, a very bright student, a L/Cpl in our platoon, a good soldier. One of the first to die of pneumonia.
We thanked the lady for her help and she returned to raking up the falling maple leaves.
Returning to Tokyo for our last night in Japan we strolled along the Ginza. It is a fantasy of Neon, a blend of Times Square, Nieman-Marcus and Disneyland, just bubbling with activity. It confirmed that I really am a small-town boy. Eileen and I had a coffee at an exorbitant price and felt very proud at navigating our way via the subway back to the hotel.
Our last morning in Japan we spent in the Tokyo War Museum. I remember as a young lad reading of the use of the human torpedo in China by Japanese Suicide Squads. There were models of these as well as pictures and mementoes of some kamikaze pilots. Outside were some old mortar pieces, the hull of the two man submarine torpedo used in Pearl Harbour and other World War II artifacts. A group of visiting students in their quasi-military uniforms were obviously most impressed with all this.
What especially attracted me was a fairly prominent display of pictures from Cone, Australia, 1944. Some Japanese Prisoners of War overpowered and killed their guards in an attempt to escape. Several of the prisoners were killed before all were recaptured.
I thought this would have been an appropriate place for the Museum to have some contrasting pictures and mortality rates of the Prisoners of War under Japanese Army care. Perhaps some mention could have been made how they dealt with any escapees, or even with those who planned escapes.
No doubt I still have traces of paranoia. It would be an exceptional country that could display its failings of this magnitude. Yet perhaps this would be the practical road to world peace. Let us raise monuments, stock museums and name parks after our stupidities, blunders and pointless bloodbaths that too often are disguised as glorious victories.
Back to the beginning and the end. For me, the reluctant traveler, the best part of any trip is the journey back to the rain forest and the gentle mist of British Columbia. In the plane winging home I was reminded of the words of Confucius:
“A man came to me with hostility and I let him keep his gift”.
 
Full Text of GUEST OF HIROHITO Please Click Below for:
CHAPTER ONE - Before the Battle Page 1
CHAPTER TWO - My War Page 18
CHAPTER THREE - Prisoner in Hong Kong Page 32
CHAPTER FOUR - No Geishas or Cherry Blossoms Page 54
CHAPTER FIVE - Fears, Hopes and Freedom Page 73
CHAPTER SIX - Another World Page 101
CHAPTER SEVEN - Epilogue Page 118
Appendices: Excerpts from War-Crime Trials Page 136
Return to GUEST OF HIROHITO Introduction Page
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