VJ Day and nobody seems to care


Keijo, Christmas 1942.My dad Lt Jack MCNaughton is 1st on the left, 1st row from the back.

I saw a Facebook post this morning from a guy on the CoFEPOW site that I follow pointing out that there is not a single mention of VJ Day (Victory against Japan) on Aug 15 1945 which marked the final end of WWII. He pointed out that the modern world – in its ingratitude – has simply forgotten the sacrifice made by him and his friends and comrades in the name of freedom. I did a bit of googling to discover that it is true in the UK. In Australia and the US, however, there is loads of stuff in the press.

I suppose with the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics 2012 we have had other things to occupy us and the commemoration of an ‘unfashionable’ and tragic episode in British military history has fallen off the radar. Well I have to agree with Mr Lane – we are all guilty of being ungrateful bastards.

Here is an extract of an interview that my dad gave after the war to army officers during his debrief following his liberation from Omori POW camp in Tokyo:

“From the point of view of food and general treatment while I was a prisoner of war, both were worse in Bunka than I had experienced in other Japanese camps. For one period of 10 months I was not allowed to write any letters home.

“I suffered from beri-beri owing to lack of vitamins. I am still suffering the after effects in both my hands. On or about the 15th of August…we were turned loose awaiting the arrival of the American forces. On the 29th of August  we were taken by landing barges by the Americans from Omori to the hospital ship ‘Benevolence’ where we were medically examined, bathed and given new clothes. From there we were transferred into destroyers, all British subjects being taken over by the British aircraft carrier ‘HMS Speaker‘. On this carrier we taken to Manila from where I was flown by British aircraft to England. I arrived in England at the end of September 1945.”

Lt Jack McNaughton, The Loyal Regiment was one of the lucky ones, thank God. But we need to remember all those who weren’t as well as the ones, like Mr Lane who survived.

24 thoughts on “VJ Day and nobody seems to care”

  1. Dear Mr Parvus,

    I was very excited to stumble upon this article. My Grandfather is in that photograph, and he kept a diary whilst prisoner in Keijo. In the diary he mentions Lt McNaughton and the shows he put on to entertain the prisoners. Please do email me if you like.

    With kind regards
    HS

    1. Hi Helen

      Thank you very much for getting in touch. I will drop you a line as it would be very interesting to have a look at that. I know that my dad was involved in shows at Changi before being moved to Keijo – but I hadn’t found any information about shows at Keijo.

    2. Dear Helen and Mundus Parvus

      My father is also in the photo, Lt George Baker. I am researching Keijo camp for a dissertation on propaganda I am doing at Oxford as a mature student. I have copies of about 60 photos of the camp, and a fair amount of information. If anyone would like me to see if I have any infomation about their family members, please let me know and I will be happy to share what I have. I would be very grateful also to receive any info anyone has about Keijo. Are there any typescripts of diaries available or diaries I can come and read?
      My focus is on how the camp was used for propaganda.

      best wishes to all those whose family members were in the camp.

      Richard Baker

      1. Richard, my father – Lt Hugh William (known as Chook) Frazer was also at Keijo .I have a detailed diary written by a fellow Australian POW, as well as pages and pages of notes of health and pay records my father kept on every single Australian POW imprisoned there. From memory, I believe your dad was mentioned in the diary with respect to a lecture he gave. I would love to view your photos as well as any other information you have regarding the camp.

  2. Hi.
    I have a copy of this photo too. My grandfather is top row far right. Lt Charles F Mummery. I also have a cartoon drawn by Kingsley depicting all the officers of the Loyal Rgt. at Keijo at Christmas 1944. Your father is depicted wearing tails and holding a top hat and waving a cane with a banner saying ” with you in spirit”.
    I have other photos and items from Charles’ time at Keijo too.
    Regards
    P.Mummery

    1. Hi Peter
      Thanks for getting touch. I would be very interested to see that cartoon and any other photos etc that you might have – if you have some time to scan them and email them? I’m still trying to complete research into the Loyals at Keijo and Omori so it would be really helpful to have a look at them.

      I am hoping to post some more on this blog in the ear future.

      My email is johnahoward@talktalk.net

    2. Dear Peter

      I have numerous photographs which I think include your father. If you’d like me to send copies, would be happynto.

      Regards

      Richard Baker

  3. Hi My Grandad was in The Loyal Regiment and was in Changi then Keijo, Kawasaki, then Fukuoka #26 and #27 he was a warrant officer class II. I do have a few photos too if anyone has any info I would be happy anf grateful. Thanks Cathy

  4. I am working on a collection of P.O.W. mail for an auction in Hong Kong in January and have two cards from America addressed Jack McNaughton. Happy to supply more information if required. Regards,
    Neill

  5. Hi, my dad (Hugh William Frazer (known as Chook Frazer) was also at Keijo.I have in my possession a copy of a diary kept throughout that time of a fellow Australian POW.

      1. I read part of it this morning, but I was just looking for something in particular (ie Anzac Day 1943 – 25.4.1943). It is very detailed and lengthy – I think about 76 typed pages in total. I brought p 32 with me to work today to copy (which only relates to April 1943). I can bring it all in to work over the weekend and scan it if you like. Was Jack a British POW? From memory, the diary was written by Arthur Kerr, who gave it to my father for safe keeping during the war.. When my mum discovered it a couple of decades ago, Mr Kerr drove all the way from Victoria to Tamworth to immediately collect it, but we were permitted to keep a copy.

    1. Hi Merrie,

      Yes, because this a blog I have to approve the comment/reply. Done.
      Jack was British, a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion The Loyal Regiment, which chose to leave Changi en masse when offered the opportunity, as part of Japan Party ‘B’. I think your diary refers in the main to Australian troops but Jack may get a mention as he was one of the people responsible for putting on entertainment for the POWs in Keijo. If it’s not too much trouble I would very much like to see a scanned copy. You won’t need to scan all of it as Jack was transferred from Changi to Omori in Tokyo in August 1943 I think.

      1. I did notice at least one of the Loyals was mentioned – poor Frank Knowles died of consumption and malnutrition on 16th May 1945. I am a little confused as to which years you would like to see. You mentioned your father went from Changi (Malaya, now Singapore) to Omori (Japan) in August 1943. But Keijo is in Korea. I know your dad was in Korea by the group photo but I would be surprised if he went back to Changi first before heading to Japan.

  6. OK, I have found the first reference to your dad: 9th Feb, 1943: “This evening we had a lecture by Lieut. McNaughton entitled “On and off the stage”. He is an actor of 19 years standing, and is son of “Gus” McNaughton, wife Jane Collins was on tour in Australia with Fay Compton in “Victoria Regina”. It was a very enjoyable night as far as I was concerned and one gained a few points.”

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