Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Light & Shade from Japanese Prison Camps by Dick Dawson Prisoner of War

Last week I went to visit my Auntie B who is not actually my Aunt at all but she likes to be called that and I am only too happy to oblige. B has had a short spell in  hospital with an infected knee but thankfully is now back home and recovering. For a lady and I mean lady she is a truly remarkable woman and I feel privileged to know her. But today it's about her husband Dick.

When I saw Auntie B last week she asked me to pass her a book from the sideboard and low and behold here was I holding a book that she has just had published taken from her husband Dick’s diary. The book is based faithfully on the notes Dick  Dawson wrote up in November 1945 following the traumatic events he witnessed and was part of whilst a prisoner of war in Changi and other camps for three and a half years, and is dedicated to the memory of all those who lived and died in South East Asia between 1942 and 1945. It's about survival and death, unbelievable cruelty and deprivation, yet suffused with companionship. The experiences were written straight after repatriation in an attempt to exercise the horrors, and as a personal de-briefing.
Dick, whom I never met had just completed his medical training in 1941 and wished to see active service and volunteered for posting abroad. While awaiting his departure he was billeted at Colchester and there by chance in the Red Lion he met his future wife my Auntie B. Dick wanted to see active service and was posted to Singapore in November 1941 and that’s when the bottom fell out of his world when he became a prisoner of war.

I was very moved by reading this book, perhaps more due to the fact of knowing Auntie B, tears were shed and also an amazing sense of humour came through. I only wish that this book could be available for all to read as it is a true insight to one man’s experience of being a prisoner of war. Dick sadly never knew his diaries were published as he died in 1992. Auntie B had her 94th birthday last month and is doing well. A special thanks to Nick (A long time friend and son of Auntie B), also to Nigel Stanley, Brian Morgan,Jonathan Veale and Geone Stone for bringing this book to fruition. I have suggested that perhaps this could be turned into an so others can read this facinating story.

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