James Kerr - End of the war

Running time
2 min 13 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


When the war finished, I was in a camp called … which is about 80 kilometres out of Bangkok, and our particular job at that time was digging tunnels in the hills for fortifications. So we had this quite a long walk to our place of work, and I can always remember by this time, they'd separated the officers from us. All the POW camps were in charge of the sergeant-major or sergeant. And all the officers had been taken off by this time.

And I remember passing this officers camp as we were going to our work, and we're marching out this day, and all of a sudden, they turned us around. So I was thinking "What's going on here?", so they took us all back to camp. So they lined us up on the parade ground and we had an English Sergeant Major in charge of our camp, and they lined us up and they said "The war is over, an atomic bomb has been dropped on Japan, and the war is over".

We wouldn't have cared if a custard tart had been dropped on Japan and finished the war, but it was over, and we had survived. People say I've coped very well, and I think that I have. But I think the main reason I've coped so well is that when you've lived through [inaudible 00:44:36] for three and a half years, why do you want to go back and revisit it all and make this life a misery thinking of what you went through? It's in the past. Put it behind you. And that's what I did. In fact. I left the Army on a Friday towards the end of December, I still had my ambition. Monday morning I walked in and joined the Navy. And I had two years in the Navy. I was on the HMAS Quickmatch so I had four months out of Japan, and I had 47 in the occupation forces.

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