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CBI – British receive POW’s / Vietnam in the picture

Japanese POWs in Malaya

“From May onwards, prisoners in a terrible state came in daily,” recorded a British gunner unit in Burma, “many of them armed with nothing more dangerous than bamboo spears, trembling with a mixture of malaria and humiliation.”

British soldiers in Burma

But if some proved ready to quit, others did not.  To the end, most Japanese who lost their ships at sea deliberately evaded Allied rescuers.  On the deck of HMS Saumarez, destroyer Captain Martin Power was directing rescue operations after sinking a Japanese convoy off the Nicobars, when he suddenly heard a “clang” against the ship.

Andaman and Nicobars Islands

Peering over the side, he saw a bald, heavily built Japanese man clinging to a scrambling net with one hand, while hammering the nose of a shell against the hull with the other.  Power drew his pistol, leaned over and whacked the man’s head.

“I could not think of anything else to do – I spoke no Japanese.  Blood streaming down his face, he looked up at me, the pistol 6 inches from his eyes, the shell in his hand…  I do not know how long I hung in this ridiculous position, eyeball to eyeball with a fanatical enemy, but it seemed too long at the time.  At last he dropped the shell into the sea, brought up his feet, and pushed off from the ship’s side like an Olympic swimmer, turned on his face and swam away.”

*****          *****          *****

By this time of the Pacific War, the Vietnam area of Indochina was in dispute.  DeGaulle demanded that the current Vichy government take a firm stand, but this was a disaster.  The Japanese had staged a pre-emptive coup against the Saigon administration.  Frenchmen became POW’s and their future fate would cause Anglo-American arguments.  When US planes arrived from China to carry out evacuations, the French were furious that the aircraft did not bring them cigarettes.

London’s Political Warfare Executive sent a directive to Mountbatten that highlighted the political and cultural complexities of the CBI: “Keep off Russo-Japanese, Russo-Chinese and Sino-Japanese relations except for official statements.  Show that a worse fate awaits Japan if her militarists force her to fight on… Continue to avoid the alleged Japanese peace feelers.”

The Dutch, French and British owners of the old Eastern empires were increasingly preoccupied with regaining their lost territories – and they were conscious that they could expect scant help from the Americans to achieve this.  The British Embassy in Washington told the Foreign Office:

“If we prosecute the Eastern War with might and main, we shall be told by some people that we are really fighting for our colonial possessions the better to exploit them and that American blood is being shed to no better purpose than to help ourselves and Dutch and French to perpetrate our degenerate colonial Empires; while if we are judged not to have gone all out, that is because we are letting America fight her own war with little aid, after having her pull our chestnuts out of the European fire.”

Quotes taken from “Retribution” by Max Hastings

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bailey – Parma, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, KIA

David Cruden – Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # 422443, 460 & 582nd Bomber Command Squadrons

Fred Hermes Jr. – Villas, NJ; US Coast Guard, Academy Grad., Commander (Ret.)

William A. Laux – LaCrosse, WI & Arrow Lakes, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Moore – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, Captain (Ret.)

Ronald S. Richardson – Gisborne, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, Lt. Commander, pilot, KIA

Robert Stoner – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, minesweeper

Harry Thomas – Marlington, WV; US Army, WWII

Michael C. Ukaj – Johnstown, NY; USMC, Iraq (the NY limo crash on his 34th birthday)

Elwood Wells – Epsom, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Captain, 1337 A.F. Base, KIA

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