Pat Guest - Returning POWs

Running time
1 min 58 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Apart from that, I think the worst time I had in the army was when the POWs were coming back. We got the first lot of stretcher cases out. They all the same, their eyes were sunken in. Their faces were ... and they had new uniforms.

My brother, Jim, was just under five stone when he came back and he was six foot tall. He looked like a scarecrow with a new uniform on him. It just hung on him because no matter how small they were, it still wouldn't fit them. They had nothing. They had no flesh. They had bones.

Anyway, the stretcher cases came and I took off. We went to two hospitals in Sydney. You get about a mile down the road and there'd be a whole heap of people all standing across the road. "Are you going to the hospital? Did you come from the R.N.?" I said, "Yeah. Could we find out if there's anybody that knows so and so?" I'm in the back of the ambulance and they’re yelling out, "Do you know this one? This one?"

They're calling out names after names and everybody was trying to get their call first. The poor people in the back of the ambulance, they could hardly ... they were just lying there like skeletons. Then they threw in flowers, cigarettes, and chocolates. That happened three times before I even got to the hospital. The time I got there I was crying so much I could hardly drive.

We carried everything off. There was a lot of TB patients, very badly off with TB. We used to take the end of the stretcher, help them out and then go back in the ambulance, go and pick the next one up. There was no such thing as booties and masks and what have you but it was terrible.

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