These pages are dedicated to my father Ken Heyes (Lance Corporal, 1st Aust Corps Troop Supply Column AIF, POW), his good friend, Ernie Badham and all the other brave soldiers who spent so many years in the hell-holes that were the Japanese P.O.W camps during World War II. My Dad is not with us to tell his own story although he did keep a diary of those times which is now in the Canberra War Memorial. I have used the story that Ernie wrote about his experiences in these camps as it also includes mention of my dad and is a wonderful, moving tribute to all those brave men.
Dad also did many drawings in the long nights after they finished 12 to 14 hours working on the rail and I have included some of them throughout these pages and at the end of Ernie's story. Click here if you would like to have a quick look.
I was prompted to publish their story by a news article that once again the soldiers who were prisoners of the Japanese in World War II, have had their claim for compensation rejected by the Japanese government. I challenge anyone to read the following and not believe that these brave men deserve the highest compensation for the inhumane way they were treated. My mother does not have her husband by her side in her old age, my sister and I do not have our father and our children never had a chance to know their grandfather because of the treatment he received in the P.O.W camps, which ultimately resulted in his death some thirty-five years later.
Soon there will be none of these brave men left to seek compensation, only their loved ones who are still suffering from their absence. For my dad and his mates - Lest we Forget!!
LEST WE FORGET - 25/4/21
On this Anzac Day, here's a poem Dad wrote while on the Middle East. No offence to anyone meant but this poem potrays the way Dad felt about where he was.
Land of heat and sweaty socks,
Sun, sand, sin and barren rock,
Streets of sorrow, streets of shame,
Thieves and pestering ruddy wogs,
Smell of dust and stinking dogs,
Blistering heat and aching feet,
Gypo girls and camels meat,
Clouds of choking sand that blinds,
Makes us fellows lose our minds,
The Arabs heaven the Aussies hell,
Land of blowflies fare thee well.
NEWS STORY - 10 February, 2022.
I came cross this story on Facebook today and it brought tears to my eyes!! It embodies the spirit of not only the brave POW's but also one remarkable dog who showed her loyalty and courage in so many ways. All copyright is acknowledged to the owner of the picture and text.
Judy, a purebred pointer, was the mascot of several ships in the Pacific, and was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and taken to a prison camp. There she met Aircraftsman Frank Williams, who shared his small portion of rice with her.
Judy raised morale in the POW camp, and also barked when poisonous snakes, crocodiles or even tigers approached the prisoners. When the prisoners were shipped back to Singapore, she was smuggled out in a rice sack, never whimpering or betraying her presence to the guards.
The next day, that ship was torpedoed. Williams pushed Judy out of a porthole in an attempt to save her life, even though there was a 15-foot drop to the sea. He made his own escape from the ship, but was then recaptured and sent to a new POW camp.
He didn't know if Judy had survived, but soon he began hearing stories about a dog helping drowning men reach pieces of debris after the shipwreck. And when Williams arrived at the new camp, he said: "I couldn’t believe my eyes! As I walked through the gate, a scraggly dog hit me square between the shoulders and knocked me over. I’d never been so glad to see the old girl!"
They spent a year together at that camp in Sumatra. "Judy saved my life in so many ways," said Williams. "But the greatest of all was giving me a reason to live. All I had to do was look into those weary, bloodshot eyes and ask myself: 'What would happen to her if I died?' I had to keep going."
Once hostilities ceased, Judy was then smuggled aboard a troopship heading back to Liverpool.
In England, she was awarded the Dickin Medal (the "Victoria Cross" for animals) in May 1946. Her citation reads: "For magnificent courage and endurance in Japanese prison camps, which helped to maintain morale among her fellow prisoners, and also for saving many lives through her intelligence and watchfulness".
At the same time, Frank Williams was awarded the PDSA's White Cross of St. Giles for his devotion to Judy. Frank and Judy spent a year after the war visiting the relatives of English POWs who had not survived, and Frank said that Judy "always provided a comforting presence to the families."
When Judy finally died at the age of 13, Frank spent two months building a granite and marble memorial in her memory, which included a plaque describing her life story.
NEWS - 18/5/20:
Just had an email from a gentleman named Graeme Bell whose Dad, Captain Douglas Bell, was with mine in the Middle East. As Dad never talked at all about any of his war experiences to my sister and I, we had no idea about his time in the Middle East before he left on that ill fated journey that saw him in the hands of the Japanese for many years. Graeme has generously sent me photos of Dad and his company in the Middle East as well as his Dad's diary, parts of which I will include where they mention Dad. They seem to have shared an interest in the history and culuure of the places they were moving through. Click here for some photos and information. Thanks very much to Graeme Bell for sharing these with us!!
There is a special page with messages from people searching for information here. I often have people asking questions about the POW camps and unfortunately don't have anyone who can answer them. Many thanks to Wayne Joseph and his dad James who will be glad to answer any questions about the War days. Their email is: email@example.com if anyone would like to contact them. Thanks again for the offer Wayne.
I have now commenced trying to decipher my Dad's Diary that he kept from the time he was captured until his release. The original copy of his diary is now in the Canberra War Memorial and may be viewed there. Parts of his diary are mentioned in the book "Japanese Prisoners of War" by Philip Towle, Margaret Kosuge, Yoichi Kibata. Click here for an online version. Dad is mentioned on Page 27. I'll add a link to his diary here once I've finished typing it up.
23 May, 2001 - Congratulations to the Australian Government, who in their budget last night, announced a $25 000 payout for Japanese POW's or their surviving spouses. Great to see they haven't been forgotten by our government at least!!
Pages by Glenda Crew, 6 January, 1999
Story © copyright S. Badham
Drawings © copyright G.Crew/D.Marino
"There....but for the Grace of God....."