My great grandfather was a signalman in WW2, serving with the 12th Indian Infantry Brigade.
Based in Singapore, his role was to set up, monitor and dispatch vital communications. But on 15th February 1942 the Japanese invaded and he became a POW (Prisoner of War)
He remained there in the Changi area and then was transferred to the Tanjong-Rhu Camp in the downtown area and put to work helping to clean up bomb damage and restore Singapore's infrastructure. In late October he was put on the hellship Dainichi Maru and sent to Taiwan arriving at Takao (Kaohsiung) on November 14th 1942.
He was first sent to Heito Camp where he was put to work picking rocks and stones to clear an old river bed so that sugar cane could be planted. It was hard, back-breaking work in the hot tropical sun and without enough food and proper medical care a lot of men died in this camp. Malaria was also rife and he may have had that at one time or another as well.
He stayed at Heito until November 12, 1943 when he was transferred to Kinkaseki to work down the copper mine. This too was a terrible job under the same conditions and if the men did not fulfill their quota of work each day, they were beaten with mining hammers at the end of the shift. Kinkaseki was one of the worst POW camps in the Far East, including those on the Death Railway.
He toiled with the other men down the mine until it closed in early March 1945 and then remained in that camp on half rations until June when all the men from Kinkaseki were moved to the Kukutsu 'jungle' Camp south of Taipei city where I live. This was basically just an extermination camp where the Japs sent all the prisoners to die. Once again there was little food and the men had to carry everything 6 miles from the city up into the mountains every couple of days just to survive. They started to plant sweet potatoes and peanuts but thankfully the atomic bombs were dropped when they were and the war ended when it did or none of the Kukutsu men would have survived.
Following the Japanese surrender the men were moved back to Taihoku (Taipei) and put in a temporary holding camp called Churon where they stayed until evacuated by the US and British navies on September 5th. On that date he was taken by train to Keelung Harbour and put aboard an American destroyer escort which took him to the aircraft carrier USS Block Island for transport to Manila in the Philippines. Once there he was put into a hospital run by the Australians for medical care and treatment until transportation could be found to send him home.
I am above thrilled to have found out this information but I want to do more for him and the thousands of men who suffered such terrible conditions. I want to follow in their footsteps and pay a proper tribute.
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