Rangoon Mansion House
Japanese Prisoner Of War Camp
The previous page was: "Elizabeth Island 1944"
This is "Part II" the second part of the letters by Aubrey Chappell. The first which I gave the heading: "Elizabeth Island 1944" the Rangoon Mansion House was Aubrey Chapell's own words.
After being handed over to the Japanese, the Burmen dismissed and I was marched to the Japanese camp. On arrival I was tied hand and foot and placed in a hut under guard. I remained for about an hour during which time I had many visitors. Eventually I was given a small piece of dried fish and a little rice and I was told to eat it quickly. Before I had finished this very small meal I was roughly pushed outside the hut to an enclosure where a fire burned, surrounded by a number of Japanese soldiers. I was pushed forward to a tree about 15 yards from
the fire and to this tree I was tied. Throughout the night Japanese soldiers found my predicament very amusing, and continually fingered me and struck me. One who could speak a little English said "Perhaps English cold-ka" and advanced
on me brandishing a flaming torch much to the amusement of his pals.
As the hours passed I became drowsy but it was impossible to sleep it off, because each time my head fell forward I received a terrific kick on the shin or a punch on the jaw. I eagerly awaited the morning hoping I should be cut free, but it was not to be, I remained tied to the tree until evening fell. Twice
during the day the Japs tantalised me with food, but all I received was the rice that was left over, and that was thrown at me amid roars of laughter.
Elizabeth Island 1944
Eventually he was cut free
It was dusk when a Jap officer appeared and gave orders for me to be cut free. He asked if I was hungry and of course I said "Yes", but even so I did not receive anything except a bowl of water.
Having drunk my fill I was shepherded down toward the beach, where a sampan was lying in readiness for my transportation to some other destination. The boat was manned by two Burmen and my guard was three Japs. I was tied to the seat and the Japs placed themselves close about me. Apart from my being cold and hungry the night was rather uneventful. I was told by one of the Japs that I was on my way to join Lieut. Peacock. It was well into the following day before we reached the next halt, even now I do not know the name of the place, all I can tell you is - I was taken from the sampan and marched along a track for about two miles until finally we reached a village.
This village was well populated by both Japs and natives, all of who were eager to make game of me. The natives treated my escort as heroes and the guards themselves took advantage of their appointment and tried to humiliate me, this the observers thought was great fun. After the guards had partaken a meal our journey was continued and in about an hour we arrived at a large
Taken before the Commandant
Here I was taken before some Jap officers, nothing was said to me, the conversation was between the officers and the senior member of my guard. At the conclusion of this conversation I was once again out and truly trussed. Evening came and I was given a small quantity of rice and some luke warm water, my bands were loosened to enable me to eat. Whilst I ate quite a few Japs stood glaring at me and continually prodded me and spoke to me, but of course I could not understand a word. The meal finished I
was again tied and left with two guards, these men were changed every two hours. I remained tied in this place for almost two days. In those two days I was given one other meal of rice. When at last I was moved I was taken to a building on a very steep hill, here I was questioned. I gave my name and number but did noy disclose the name of my unit and pleaded ignorance to all questions of importance. My ignorance annoyed them and I was told that they had methods to make me talk. I insisted that I had nothing to tell.
I was taken outside, tied to a tree and beaten into unconsciousness, to revive me water was thrown over me, after this everything seemed blurred and one of my eyes was completely clouded, my teeth all seemed loose and my lips were a tremendous size. My condition made me wish that they would hurry and dispose of me.
The officer swung his sword at his throat
I vaguely remember an officer saying "Now English speak?" I did not answer, he drew his sword and made a swing at my throat, he stopped inches from me. As he made his second swing I passed out. How long I remained unconscious I do not know, nor do I know what took place during that time. When I regained consciousness I was cut free and taken again before the officer. They changed their tactics and gave me some weak tea, and told me I was being moved to yet another place. If I wished to see home again I should have to tell them all that I knew. They told me if I answered all of the questions I would be treated well and given a certain amount of freedom. I was told to think again and not to act stupid. I was then dismissed without further questioning.
When I was left alone, apart from my guard, I wracked my brain for a story to tell. I had no intentions of jeopardising my comrades but I thought it possible to give a fantastic yarn and still disclose nothing. I reviewed all that had happened and eventually made up my mind. When I first fell into Jap hands an English speaking Jap mentioned Lieut. Peacock and he also
insisted that I was a member of his party. This I had denied. So I built up my story around Lieut. Peacock, a man they already had in captivity. With the story in my mind I rested, almost contentedly.
Quite early in the morning four men came for me. They were loaded with as much gear as they could carry and I was again shepherded along a track. We rested in the undergrowth and I was given as much rice as I could eat and some dried fish while the guards sat around and conversed and passed the time away in a general manner.
Taken up river by boat
I was wondering what lay ahead, but it was not until dusk that I found out what was happening. I could hear the faint chug of a motor and as it came nearer I realised it was a motor boat. I knew I was going aboard as my guards were getting ready and looking up river. Then the boat came in view, it was completely covered with pieces of riverside vegetation and was manned by five men. It stopped near our position and a plank was placed
from the boat to the bank. I was ordered aboard. I knew that we were travelling by night because our aircraft made it impossible to do so during the day. The journey was about five hours, and then I was put off at a small landing, and the boat continued. My guards made certain enquiries and I was again pushed along a narrow road for about a mile. It was very dark and I could not survey mu surroundings clearly, I could just make out the outlines of a number of huts.
The Jap in charge of the party left us for a few minutes and later came back with another person who directed me to a hut. We remained in this hut until the following night. During the day I had two good helpings of rice and a piece of melon. At night I was once more on board a motor boat. This time the boat was carrying Japanese sick, they were in a terrible condition, I was afraid of the diseases from which they suffered, and I refused to sit down amongst them. I stood up the whole of the trip which
lasted all night. The smell from the bodies about me was overpowering. Heaven alone knows how eagerly I awaited the morning. The following day was spent in a similar manner to the previous one. I eventually welcomed the short sleep I was able to get. I travelled in the same boat and amongst the same company the next night. The trip was not quite so long and at last my guards and myself were dropped off. I was certainly
relieved to see the boat chug away.
On the move once more
I was taken to a hut and after about two hours I was on the move again, this time with new guards and on foot. It was a journey I'll never forget. I estimate it to have been about 10-12 miles. I was made to carry 70 lbs of rice. I had only one boot and could not pick my way owing to the rope about my ankles allowing just short paces. The guards were not enjoying the walk and held me responsible. I received many a kick to help me along. At last we arrived at Toungoo - my stay here was about four days. During my time I was taken for interrogation twice. It was hear I told my story of how I left Calcutta in search of Lieut Peacock, who had disappeared on Elizabeth Island three weeks before. I told them our only task was to find him, or identify what happened to him. They wanted to know all about Peacock's task on the Island. I told them I knew nothing about him
whatsoever. They insisted that that I did and knew him well, because, they stated he was from the same town (I have since found out that is true). I had told them my home town, hoping they would inform my people. I told them our party landed in a small rowing boat and that after being ashore for a few hours in search of Peacock we decided to leave. About a mile from the island myself and two others complained about continual
irritation caused by ants, which had been so plentiful in the undergrowth on the island. I stated that being unable to stick the annoyance any longer the three of us had decided to undress and shake the ants from our clothes. I had taken my shirt off and one boot and whilst in the act of unlacing the other I had overbalanced and upset the boat, which was only a light craft. This accounted for me only having one boot and a pair of trousers. The officer believed this story and he and his comrades found it very amusing. I was then asked what had happened to my friends, I said "They must have perished".
The questions I was asked and the answers given are far too numerous for me to mention. I can assure you I found myself in some very tight spots during these periods of interrogation, mainly due to the questions being repeated so many times. I had to make sure my answers corresponded with answers given at previous interrogations.
Fast Boats Pages
Joe Wezley Pages
Australian company arrived
On my last day at Toungoo I was joined by an Australian pilot who had been shot down in the vicinity and together we were put into a lorry and taken across the Toungoo.....(Editor's note: The fold of this 63 year old page makes this missing word illegible as the paper is completely worn away) to Prone. Our journey lasted two nights.
Our stay at Prone was very short, in fact only just long enough to eat a hurried meal. The meal eaten the Australian and myself were transported, again by lorry, to Paungda. On arrival we were placed in small wooden cells, our food was passed to us through an opening about 9" square. I remained 7 days in this cell the monotony broken only during periods of interrogation.
From Paungda I was taken by train via Letpadan to Rangoon, where I was destined to remain during my term as POW.
(Editor's Note: The E.G.R. is E G Ridley who was in 42 Cdo at this time and later emigrated to Australia. Doug Meachen passed the letters to Major Hartley Dales (Davis?) who was probably Chappell's Troop Commander, who then passed them to Ridlet and asked him to type two copies, one of which found its way to the Editor [of "The Sheet Anchor" for Royal Marine Historical Society in 2008] who has reproduced it. The date 23rd March
1946 may well be the date Ridley typed this and not the date Chappell wrote it.)
To read more stories like this one copies of: The Sheet Anchor are available from: The Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO4 9PX
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Rangoon Mansion House 1944
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