Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to one old Second World War submarine captain called Bill King and prisoner-railway builder called Eric Lomas

Bill King, the last living British Navy submarine captain who served Britain throughout the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 and earned recognition for his Wartime patrols of the North Sea, has died at the age of 102 and Eric Lomax who was a British Army lieutenant forced to work on the 'Death Railway' in Thailand after being captured by the Japanese, has died at the age of 93. This means that between them, these old Brits had lived for 195 years.

Commander Bill KingHere is Bill disembarking with his submarine crew on HMS Sapper in 1942 :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8A2JDbMLEw&feature=relmfu

 What you possibly didn't know about Bill was, that he :
 * was born in 1910 in Hampshire, the son of a Royal Engineers officer who was a lieutenant colonel killed on the Western Front when Bill was 7 years old.

* was sent to Dartmouth Naval College by his mother, had his first posting on a battleship in the Mediterranean as a midshipman and his first taste of the submarine service, for which he volunteered, in 1932 aboard HMS Orpheus on the China Station, where he was promoted to lieutenant.

* after service on a support vessel the notorious perisher course for 'would-be' submarine captains at Portsmouth, which he passed, was given his first submarine command, 'HMS Snapper' in 1939.

* was sent on patrols in the North Sea and sank six enemy ships off Jutland and earned his first Distinguished Service Order in spring 1940, followed by the Distinguished Service Cross in the autumn.

* ran his boat aground off the Dutch coast but managed to refloat her without damage and avoided a court martial but an invitation to drinks with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, not long before he became Prime Minister.

* in 1941, was posted to the new and larger, ocean-going submarine HMS Trusty, for service in the Mediterranean and was then was then assigned to the Far East, just in time for the great Japanese onslaught in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

* was bombed, but unhurt in Singapore,  found total chaos as the island faced being overrun by the enemy and briefly retreated to Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), to repair an oil leak in case it betrayed his boat to the enemy.

At this point Bill and Eric were both in the same theatre of war because Eric, at the start of the War, volunteered for the Army aged 19, joining the Royal Signals and earning a commission as a subaltern in 1940.and was a lieutenant when he was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore when the British garrison of 140,000 surrendered in 1942 in the greatest defeat in British military history.

Eric :

* was held at the island's Changi jail, then taken to Kanchanaburi, where he worked with other prisoners, like those on the left, on the railway link to Burma in horrific conditions with  terrible loss of life which formed the basis of David Lean's 1957 film, 'The Bridge On The River Kwai', which he thought was a sanitised epic that fell short of the truth because the censors would never have allowed the reality to be shown.

* endured savage beatings when guards found a radio he had helped to build within his prison camp

Meanwhile Bill :

*  was given another boat in the Far East, the T-class Telemachus, on which he served out the war, sinking a troopship and a supply ship and had a successful duel with and sank a Japanese submarine in September 1945.

After the War :

* Bill moved to Ireland to farm, acquired a ruined castle at Oranmore on the west coast near Galway, started an organic farm and in 1971 started to sail his yacht solo around the world before returning to Plymouth two years later. Interviewed in 2002 said  : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdRNJN-AaV8

* Eric became became a lecturer at Strathclyde University, but was haunted by his treatment during the War and later said : "People thought I was coping, but inside I was falling apart … I had no self‑worth, no trust in people and lived in a world of my own. The privacy of the torture victim is more impregnable than any fortress."

* Eric conceived an intense and implacable hatred for Japanese people and his first marriage broke up under the strain but met his interrogator and torturer, Takashi Nagase (left), after he wrote about his remorse in a book and Eric's wife, Patti, contacted him and both men met on the bridge over the Kwai in 1993, where he had arrived in anything but conciliatory mood but was taken aback by the deep contrition of the Japanese veteran and after a few days in each other's company, they got to talking and even laughing about their Wartime experiences.

* Eric lived to see his 1996 memoir, 'The Railway Man', adapted for a film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman this year.
Eric Lomax, ‘death railway’ prisoner of war, dies aged 93 Rachel Cugnoni, his publisher has said about the book that :

"It tells Eric's incredible and moving story with grace, modesty and exceptional humility. All characteristics Eric had as a man. It is a book that stands as a testament to the great capacity of the human spirit for forgiveness and we are honoured to have published it."

Andy Paterson (left), producer of the new film, said:

 "The cast and crew of The Railway Man are deeply saddened to hear of Eric Lomax's death. Eric spoke for thousands of men who felt their service and sacrifice had gone unnoticed. Whilst we are heartbroken that he will not be with us at the premiere, he lived long enough to see some early images from the film and to share our hopes that this new version of his story will help ensure that the men who suffered with him – and the families who had to cope with the legacy – would never be forgotten."

Eric wrote about his experiences during the War and reconciliation with his torturer on the 'The Forgiveness Project' 'website, a UK charity that explores how reconciliation can be used to help people's lives.

Eric wrote:

'After my retirement in 1982, I started searching for information about what had happened in Siam. The need to know is powerful. In the course of my search I learnt that Nagase Takashi – my interrogator and torturer – had offered to help others with information. I learnt that he was still alive, active in charitable works, and that he had built a Buddhist temple. I was sceptical. I couldn't believe in the notion of Japanese repentance. I strongly suspected that if I were to meet him I'd put my hands round his neck and do him in. After our meeting I felt I'd come to some kind of peace and resolution. Forgiveness is possible when someone is ready to accept forgiveness. Some time the hating has to stop.'

The story of Nagase Takashi :

Colin Firth talikng about the men who fought :

No comments:

Post a Comment