Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Friday, October 12, 2007

War Museum IX.

This is coolbert:


* A poignant letter written to the family of an Australian soldier who was executed by the Japanese during World War Two.

"poign·ant – adjective
1. keenly distressing to the feelings.
2. keen or strong in mental appeal.
3. affecting or moving the emotions."

An Australian soldier executed for trying to escape a cruel captivity at the hands of the Japanese.

Some Australian soldiers, held as captives of the Japanese, escaped from a prisoner-of-war [POW] camp AND ATTEMPTED TO WALK 800 MILES TO BRITISH INDIA!!

An effort that was unsuccessful, the soldiers being re-captured.

One soldier from among those re-captured was made an example of by the Japanese. Executed!! It is to the family of the executed man that this letter is addressed! [the person that wrote the letter was also part of the group that escaped and was re-captured!!??]

Australian Brigadier General Varley being forced to witness the execution.

"'a lonely rather majestic figure [Varley] still with his faded red tabs, and an air of battered dignity'."

There is further poignancy to this story. Arthur Varley, heroic commander of the Australian POW’s, was himself [along with his son] later executed by the Japanese.

Varley and his son, an infantry lieutenant, along with hundreds [?] of other Aussies, were machine-gunned on the open sea, adrift in life boats, after their Japanese “Hell Ship” was torpedoed and sank by an American submarine [1944].

"On 6 September 1944 Varley embarked for Formosa (Taiwan) in the Japanese transport Rakuyo Maru. Early on 12 September the vessel was torpedoed by an American submarine. Varley was last seen in command of a group of seven lifeboats, reportedly 'heading north-west'. Others in the water thought they heard machine-gun fire from that direction, possibly from Japanese frigates which might have killed Varley and his party."

[the letter writer WAS aboard the Japanese transport "Hell Ship" that was sunk. Plucked out of the water days afterwards by an American submarine!!]

That contingent of Australians, called “The Varley Party”, deserved a better fate!! Did not get one! Sometimes, in time of war, even brave men do not prevail! Meet an end they do not merit!




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