The Duke Of Lancaster's Regiment
Today marks the 75th anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day.
Hostilities with Japan ended on the 15th August 1945. However, for those men of the 2nd Battalion, The Loyal Regiment, who had been held in captivity since Singapore fell on the 15th February 1942, freedom did not come straight away.
The Loyal Regiment had been imprisoned at first in Changi and then later, the vast majority of men, were imprisoned in Keijo Camp, Korea.
Although Keijo was a Japanese ‘show camp’ the conditions for the men were still harsh. They lived under the constant fear of death. Weight loss and malnutrition were significant problems.
Lieutenant Lever in his diary, which is held in The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment: Lancashire Infantry Museum, recorded that ‘men were now changed so much that they were unrecognisable as the same people they had been before the surrender.’ He later went on to say that ‘body and soul were often kept together by the rare red cross parcel which was deemed infinitely better than the eternal, infernal, rice and stew.’
As the Russians were approaching Keijo, in a last act of defiance and cruelty, the Japanese guards threatened to shoot all the Officers imprisoned there. The Officers were only saved by the dropping of the second atom bomb and the consequent surrender of Japan.
The survivors left Korea and embarked for the Philippines. From there they went on HMS Implacable to Vancouver and eventually reached England in October 1945 where they were reunited with friends and family.