Taiwan Camp No2 1942

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Taiwan POW Camp No2 1942

by

Maurice Rooney

(Fepow)

 

We left Singapore as prisoners of war,

Just eight months after it fell,

We thought the Yanks had locked the back door,

But you see we never could tell.

 

We embarked the 'Dai Nichi' a merchant ship,

That Britain had sold to Japan,

Its really a miracle how we completed the trip,

To Formosa, more commonly known as Taiwan.

 

Stranded in the mid Pacific

We were hurled to the decks below,

With the heat and stench terrific,

We cursed the yellow foe.

 

But we arrived quite safe we're glad to say,

At a port that is called, Taikow,

After travelling by rail for quite along way,

It's at camp number two we're at now.

 

We've been told this is our future home,

And have accepted the fact without pining,

Determined that if it's for years to come,

Like the bulldog breed weŽll keep smiling.

 

I will verse the truth and what's in my mind

For some day it ought to be read,

But I must hide it away so the Japs will not find,

Or it's the 'ice box' where you're cold and unfed.

 

So I'll do the very best I can,

In these difficult conditions,

To tell of happenings and lives of men,

With the Japs in the victors position.

 

The huts we live in are simply built,

Of bamboo without even a nail

With mud on the walls and a dangerous tilt,

They look and are very frail.

 

Reveille is sounded at the break of dawn,

The bugle is loud and clear,

We get out of bed with a stretch and a yawn,

At a pace even a tortoise would sneer.

 

The Japanese guards noisily rave and shout,

We defy them as much as we dare,

But with rifles and sticks they knock us about

And drive us out to the square.

 

Roll call lasts for a half hour at least,

We're forced to speak Japanese,

And turn and bow our heads to the East

Amid curses, buzzing like bees.

 

We return to our huts with faster legs

To a breakfast that wouldn't suit you,

Instead of tea, bacon and two fried eggs,

It's hot water, rice and potato top stew.

 

Then with baited breath, we sit and wait

For that dreaded bugle call,

The signal to start the work we hate,

On the other side of that cursed wall.

 

We're raggedly dressed in worn out 'togs'

Nearly all without shirts and socks,

Our feet are sore wearing hard wooden clogs,

We look and are a bunch of old crocks.

 

Everyone has to parade on the square,

Which mean often carrying the sick,

We get sorted out and there's always the fear,

Of being beaten with a long bamboo stick.

 

With pencil and paper the Sap sergeant appear,

Then we all in our best Japanese,

Number ourselves in a voice he can hear,

But he's not always satisfied with these.

 

When they've decided who's not fit for work,

And believe me it is only a few,

Clogs are changed to boots by a clerk,

And you're lucky to get a pair to f'it you.

 

When the 'red tape' is over, of which there's yards,

We're marched out in line to work,

Watched over by our brutal guards,

Who beat us when they think we shirk,

 

For ten long hours we toil and labour,

And its a strong mans' work we do,

They don't give a damn each day we get weaker,

On a diet of boiled rice and veg; stew.

 

Our work is digging a new river bed,

Filling 'bogies' with rocks and soil

Though our legs are tired and heavy as lead,

When full, we push for a mile.

 

The Japanese guards who patrol the line,

When they know for a rest we crave,

Shout "speedo", meaning work faster you swine,

Who said you'll never be slaves.

 

Our midday meal is same as the first,

And is scoffed for we're hungry you see,

And I'll tell you now to save a verse,

We'll get exactly the same for tea.

 

To break our morale their damnedest they've tried,

But we smile and just draw on our grit,

They're baffled and sore at being defied,

And can't understand why we won't quit.

 

We return from our work at the pace of a tramp,

Put our boots back into the store

Then wash in a stream that runs through the camp,

Though we don't use soap anymore.

 

Our rest is really no pleasure,

It's like living in one big tomb,

But they can't take away what we treasure,

The thoughts of our loved ones at home.

 

At eight-thirty we assemble to be counted

And again during the night as well,

Simply to make us discontented,

As they know there's no escape from this hell.

 

When roll call is over we fall out of line

And there's a dive for the bed and it seems,

When the 'lights out' call is sounded at nine,

We're all in the land of dreams.

 

It's hard to believe we can sleep to lose

The thought, that come what may,

Tomorrow is not for us to choose,

But will be the same routine as today.

 

 

 

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