Changi

 

I noticed many lorries loaded with Chinese men traveling through our camp in the direction of the Southern Area. I wondered if they were working parties, but my thoughts soon changed for each time I saw these truck loads go by I would hear machine gun fire a short time later. I learned in the months to follow that the Nips had picked these men up in Singapore City. They had toured the city with the lorries and when they saw a Chink, they grabbed him and put him on the lorry. When the lorries were full, they were driven to Southern Area. The Chinks were tied with rope into groups of six or more (like a bundle of skittles), they were taken out to sea, about 500 yards, and thrown overboard. As the men struggled in the water they were machine gunned. I spoke to a man who had the job days later of burying the bodies as they washed ashore. He told me that some were in an awful condition. After being fired on at close range, and left in the sea and sun they were quite a gruesome sight. This was no doubt a warning to the people of Singapore of what treatment they could expect at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

 

Another patient whom I was treating for impetigo told me, as I picked away at his face and head, tales of horror in the Malayan jungle, of how his battalion was retreating with the Nips following close behind. Being led by a traitorous Malayan, the Battalion had been split and many of the men got lost. This fellow was with a little party who were retreating and were trying to make contact with the main body. They had tramped through swamps for hours and were being sniped at: they made a dash through a particularly bad stretch of swamp when his pal yelled out and on looking round he saw his pal severely wounded and bleeding from a wound in the chest. The wounded man staggered in the ooze and mud and was being drawn under fast (he said), he returned to him but in turn was sniped at so had to take cover and witness the most horrible death of his pal who was mortally wounded and sinking in that stinking ooze. What made matters worse was that as the man sank to shoulder level, big red ants, scenting the blood, had come in their thousands and were almost covering what remained above the bog of the victim, who screamed in agony and shouted in mercy sake to be shot. My patient was trying to make the torturous decision to do this when a shot from somewhere silenced the screams and the last he saw of his pal was his head disappearing into the ooze.

 

 
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