Roy Cornford - Leaving the Burma-Thailand Railway

Running time
2 min 29 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We were taken ashore there and we only had to walk about half a mile, and we were taken to a former French Foreign Legion camp. And there was 200 English ex-prisoners of war there, or prisoners of war, and they'd been there the whole time.

Fed well, looked after well, and were having a real good time. And they were amazed when we told them the stories of how many died. Of course, they were interested because they had heaps of English friends back. And it was a big, strongly built huts, long huts and double-decker bunks inside. And we were put in these and then we used to have to go to work.

We worked on the docks where they were unloading things off ships and things like that, while we were waiting to get our transport ship to go to Japan. And they had a canteen there and you could buy bananas and fruit every day of the week. You could buy toothbrushes, toothpaste and things like that, and it was all supplied by the French.

And one day, the guard house was right at the entrance to the prison camp and it was right on the road that was across the road from the docks. And they used to get a couple of prisoners every day to go out and sweep the footpath with homemade brooms. I was chosen with about four others and one day we were out there sweeping the footpath and a couple of nice Dutch girls, French girls came riding past in the book on push bikes.

And they said, "Hello." And they used to go like this, V for victory. And I just put my fingers up V for victory to them and one of the guards saw me. And he come out and babbled away in Japanese and holding his fingers up. And then I got a clout across the face, this side, and another clout across the face that side. And then he says, "Speedo, back sweep".

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.