POW recalls Hiroshima bomb blast.

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Peter Clare, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    BBC NEWS | Wales | PoW recalls Hiroshima bomb blast

    A former soldier who witnessed the dropping of the first atomic bomb as a prisoner of war in Japan is returning to the manor house where he was born.

    Cyril Jones, 92, from Criccieth, Gwynedd, has been sharing his memories as a PoW as part of an Imperial War Museum oral history project.

    He served at Dunkirk and the fall of Singapore and was captured after parachuting into Java in 1942.


    He has been relating his experience to the oral history team at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum.

    After arriving in Japan he was put to work in coal mines before ending up in a drift mine not far from the city of Hiroshima, where he witnessed the dropping of the first atom bomb in August 1945.

    He said: "It was a lovely, sunny morning when we all noticed a bright, shiny aeroplane flying high above us.

    It circled around for a while and we all thought it was taking reconaissance photographs for a planned bombing run of Hiroshima, when there was this almighty blast
    Former PoW Cyril Jones on the plane carrying the bomb
    "It circled around for a while and we all thought it was taking reconaissance photographs for a planned bombing run of Hiroshima, when there was this almighty blast.

    "A few seconds later we were all blown completely off our feet by the resultant shockwaves. We all thought an ammunition dump had gone up!"

    He came out of the war weighing only 5st (31.7kg). At a full medical inspection in the UK it was found that X-rays would not work due to the high levels of radioactivity in his system.
    However, even before the bomb he had twice come close to dying.

    One night as a PoW, he was told he would be executed the following morning. He stood blind-folded in a yard with his execution detail around him when someone approached.

    He said: "Thankfully I'd picked quite a bit up so I understood: 'if you kill these men you'll have no-one to work in the mines', at which point they let me go."

    Coconuts and bananas
    But his other tale of good luck was when he was injured and cut off in the Javanese jungle after landing heavily by parachute.

    He said: "As I was lying there a monkey appeared, gave me a look up and down before running off into the jungle.

    "Shortly afterwards he returned with a coconut which he rolled over to me and I was very glad of the drink after I'd cracked it open.

    "This continued for a number of days, with the monkey bringing me more coconuts and bananas until he turned up one day with bamboo shoots.

    "He sat in front of me and actually showed me how to peel back the outer skin and then eat the inner part - amazing and I owe my life to him."

    He is relating his stories to the oral history project run at the tropical medicine school.

    Project researcher Meg Parkes said: "Each man has a unique story to tell but their experiences are related: all spent at least three and a half years as prisoners of war of the Japanese; all returned home sick and emaciated (most with myriad tropical illnesses); all were affected by their experiences."
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Jones, Hugh Cyril (Oral history)
    Content description
    REEL 1 Aspects of period as NCO with 6th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt, Royal Artillery on Java, Dutch East Indies, 3/1942: attachment to Dutch parachute company; story of making friends with small monkey. Aspects of period in Changi Camp, Singapore, Malaya and Tandjong Priok Camp, Java, Dutch East Indies, 3/1942-10/1942: initial transfer to Alexandria Hospital, then Changi Camp in Singapore; return to Tandjong Priok Camp in Java. Aspects of voyage aboard SS Singapore Maru from Singapore, Malaya to Moji, Japan, 30/10/1942-25/11/1942: embarkation on board; rations; arrival in Moji. Aspects of period as POW in Motoyama Camp, Japan, 11/1942-8/1945: march to camp; work in coal mine; punishment for attacking Japanese guard mistreating female Korean forced labourer; electrical supply in coal mine; rations and supplementing them; religious service and concert party; degree of contact with POW officers; clash with POW warrant officer.

    REEL 2 Continues: degree of medical support available during period of paralysis; collecting air supplies dropped by US aircraft, 8/1945; story of aiding Japanese woman in childbirth; problems of overeating; relations with local Japanese after end of Second World War; hearing of end of Second World War, 8/1945; witnessing dropping of atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 6/8/1945. Aspects of journey from Japan to GB, 9/1945-11/1945: sight of devastated Hiroshima; post-war medical problems associated with captivity; degree of contact with home during captivity; question of radiation poisoning in Tokyo.

    REEL 3 Continues: move to Manila, Philippines; question of potential fate if Japan had been invaded; arrival in San Francisco, US; arrival aboard RMS Queen Mary in Southampton, GB, 11/1945; reunion with mother in Mold. Aspects of return to civilian life in GB from 1945: problems adjusting to civilian life; reasons for not talking about experiences; membership of Far Eastern Prisoners of War; civilian employment; lessons learnt from POW captivity.
    CL1 likes this.

Share This Page