Saturday, 9 November 2013

Remembranace Day Challenge: A POW's Lonely Homecoming

REMEMBRANCE DAY CHALLENGE is the prompt from Julie at Anglers Rest who invites us to first present a photo collage  and write about  our ancestors and family  who served in war.

The following story of Charles Weston, my uncle, (right)  is told in the poignant  words of my father. 

"Uncle Charles was a POW on the Bridge of the River Kwai — at least it was a bridge when the hundreds of POWs had finished it. Conditions were dreadful, 100s died through lack of food, mostly slops, no solids. Charles had beri-beri, dysentery, ulcers and malaria. 

After the atomic bomb fell on Japan,  the POWs on the bridge were taken to Singapore and stayed in Changhai jail until shipped home. My Mum and Dad never expected to see him again.

 In 1942 they got a card through the Red Cross — from the War Minister which read “Regret to inform you that your son has been posted missing”. Dad packed up work and the news broke him — he was never the same again.

 It was at Christmas 1943 that Mum got a card from the Red Cross with a few words “I am safe and well” — “Safe” yes…..”Well” -  Certainly Not. 


In August 45, lists of Japanese P.O.W.s  were coming out and I was looking for Charles'  name." 
 

  
I" was so sorry for Charles, as he arrived in Liverpool with no-one able to meet him. I was in Burma and my mother could not leave my Dad.   You were just a baby and Mum could not go.  It was lonely homecoming for a POW".

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Charles and my father John Weston were close as brothers and had these nicknames for one another  -  "Ace"  and "Mel".  Unfortunately I failed to ask my father about the origin of the names and neither my cousin Janice nor I  have been able to find out anything.   Were Mel and Ace popular radio characters, for instance?   I would love to know, if anyone out there has any idea? 

Below   is a long letter Charles wrote to my father in November 1945.    It starts "Dear Mel" and is signed "Keep batting - Ace".

 
Brothers - John and Charles Weston



A year after the war, it was  a happier time when Charles married Vera Botell in December 1946. 


I am the shivering little bridesmaid, standing in front of  my  elegant mother
with my father on her right.

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Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved
 



3 comments:

  1. What a great story, and beautiful family photos. I do see how you are shivering! You looked beautiful too!

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  2. Wonderful. Over the years, I have written several posts about family members and war. Think I need to go back over them and put them all together. Perhaps a blog book about family members who went to war..................now to find the time!

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  3. Thank you both for your kind comments. Thank you, too, Sharon for the idea of a blog book on my family who went to war - I like it very much and should be relatively easy to pull together - but as you said - time is the other challenge!

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