Stan Arneil

Running time
2 min 50 sec

Stan Arneil was a sergeant in the 2/30th Battalion and a member of F Force when he became a prisoner of the Japanese at Singapore. In this audio interview he recollects an experience where an officer forced an unconscious, almost dead prisoner to be carri

Audio transcript

Well, the [cholera] camp broke up. We were to come back, there were around twenty of us left, the cholera had subsided, and we were come back to the camp, and we had to be counted, as all Japanese or Korean guards, they want everybody counted. We went over there. I was in charge of this little camp. And we lined them up there, and of course we were one short. And the officer said to me 'you're one short'. I said 'It's Dusty Blackadder, sir, I don't think he'll last an hour'. He said 'Well, the guard wants him here'. I said, 'Well look, he'll be dead in an hour, why do we want to bring him over, leave him in peace there, he's on his own, there's not even anybody with him'. He said, 'Go and get him!' So I went back with four men and one of those big bamboo stretchers, which we'd made ourselves, great big unwieldy things, and it was filthy and the mud was waist deep almost with bamboo thorns in the mud, and we had bare feet, of course. I went into see Dusty, and he was unconscious, and we had a look at him, and a little talk about him, and we said, well, he'd be dead, we'd give him half an hour. And I went back again, and this fellow said, 'Why didn't you bring him?', and I said, 'He's only got half an hour left', and then he started really ranting and raving (that might be the words) ... that the Korean guard was going to hit him, if he didn't bring the body over. My feelings were, well, what's wrong with a few hits? Physical pain is very easy to take; physical pain won't break you, it's mental pain that beats you. But no, I had to go back. So we went back again and he was still alive, and we put him on the stretcher, went back. Now, it wouldn't have been more than 150 yards, but it would have taken us half an hour to get that far through this morass of mud and cut bamboo and so forth, and of course we slipped and Dusty fell off the stretcher into the mud and covered with mud and slime. We got him back into the stretcher, and got over there — he was dead — and laid him down, and the Korean guard counted everybody and everybody was correct, and the officer went off and everybody was quite happy so we then struggled and took Dusty back to the cremation pit and cremated him. [©Copyright ABC]

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