I think we all need to be reminded occasionally, that the freedom we all enjoy has been paid for by the unimaginable pain, suffering and all too often death, of the many souls who fought for their country. My father, Frederick George Pye was one such soul, he was in the British Royal Artillery and sent to Singapore just before it fell to the Japanese and consequently was a P.O.W. for about three and a half years. The suffering and treatment he and others received from the Japanese is impossible for anyone else to comprehend.|
I did six years in the Australian Army in the infantry. In August of 1972, about a year after I returned from doing my time in Vietnam, my father passed away from a heart attack. Unfortunately for me, I did not understand then what I know now and I deeply regret not having talked to him about his time during the war. During his time as a prisoner he suffered malnutrition, malaria, beatings, forced labour and just about every tropical disease known to man, yet in all the time I knew him he never complained, rarely visited a doctor, didn't ask for a war pension, wouldn't accept his medals and didn't want anything more from life than to be left alone to work in his garden.
For quite a number of years I have been wanting to transcribe his diaries into a book, but as I'm a 'one fingered typist, I've kept on putting it off. Well, I finally decided to jump in with both feet (and one finger) and do it!
After he returned from the war he wrote 3 diaries from memory and scraps of paper he had hidden from the Japanese. I think it is a story that should be given to the world and not lost to obscurity.
Some of the pages in his diary are very faded and some words illegible, so there will be a few blank spots where I am unable to figure out the word.
There is a book called The Naked Island written by Russell Braddon, an Australian who was also at Changi and the Railway and signed a copy of his book for my father, this book describes in detail what it was really like. This is a short excerpt from Russel Braddon's book which in a few short words describes the horror that was the "Railway of Death".|
The Imperial Japanese Army were now confronted with the problem of what to do with the wreckages of humanity which were the survivors of their Railway. These did not look like men; on the other hand, they were not quite animals.
They had feet torn by bamboo thorns and working for long months without boots. Their shins had no spare flesh at all on the calf and looked as if bullets had exploded inside them, bursting the meat outwards and blackening it. These were their ulcers of which they had dozens, from threepenny bit size upwards, on each leg.
Their thigh bones and pelvis stood out sharply and on the point of each thigh bone was that red raw patch like a saddle sore or monkey's behind.
All their ribs showed clearly, the chest sloping backwards to the hollows of throat and collar bone.
Arms hung down, stick-like, with huge hands, and the skin wrinkled where muscle had vanished, like old men.
Heads were shrunken on to skulls with large teeth and faintly glowing eyes set in black wells: hair was matted and lifeless.
The whole body was draped with a loose-fitting envelope of thin purple-brown parchment which wrinkled horizontally over the stomach and chest and vertically on sagging fleshless buttocks.
That was what the Japanese and Koreans did to the men who went on Forces F and H and lived. Of the total number who left Singapore, about half had survived.