VJ DAY 75: LIBERATED FROM HELL

Steve Snelling relates the personal experiences of VJ Day through the eyes of a few of the thousands of British prisoners of war freed from Japanese captivity

For thousands of British and Commonwealth personnel being held as prisoners of war by the Japanese, August 15, 1945 – VJ Day – marked the beginning of the end of an ordeal like no other. In captivity, they had been reduced to an emaciated army of slave labourers alternately facing brutal treatment and callous neglect.

AT THE END OF THE WAR, PRISONERS WERE FORCED TO WAIT SEVERAL DAYS IN THEIR OLD CAMPS BEFORE EVACUATION COULD BE ARRANGED

Starved of food and medical supplies, they succumbed in their thousands in jungle camps doted along the notorious Death Railway running through the jungles of Thailand to Burma, or else crammed in overcrowded ‘hell ships’ forced to run the gauntlet of American submarines, or forced to work in squalid coal mines in Taiwan and in numerous factories throughout Japan. More than a quarter of Japan’s prisoners died in captivity, victims of maltreatment, malnourishment and all manner of treatable diseases.

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