Chris Muir's Day By Day

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Good Night, Westley, Sleep Well...

...I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

Remember that scene from The Princess Bride? Well, back in WWII, a similar scenario occurred:

Under the blazing sun, Andy Coogan — his body emaciated by dysentery, malnutrition, years of crushing slave labour and the beatings administered by vicious guards — scratched away at the jungle floor, digging a grave for his dead mate, Speedy, one of hundreds who succumbed to Japanese brutality in the work camp where they were held as British prisoners-of-war.
Out of respect — a scant commodity in that Pacific hell-hole — he dug deep to bury his friend out of the reach of scavenging animals, deeper than the sadistic Lieutenant Suzuki in charge of the detail had demanded.
The Japanese officer, furious at being disobeyed, screamed at him to stop but Coogan — skeletal and dressed in nothing more than a loincloth — ploughed on until Speedy was decently buried.
As he finished and put down his spade, Suzuki eyed him coldly. ‘Dig another grave,’ he then ordered, ‘for yourself. Tomorrow you die.’
It was a threat the terrified Coogan had no doubt would be carried out as he spent a sleepless night, ticking down his last hours on earth. He had suffered every form of physical abuse as a prisoner of the Japanese since the fall of Singapore in February 1942.
He had been starved and beaten to a pulp, seen comrades used as bayonet practice, heard the swish of canes and samurai swords, witnessed heads lopped from shoulders, felt the victor’s heel on his own neck and escaped by the skin of his teeth for three-and-a-half terrible years.
But now it seemed his endurance and his courage would be to no avail. The end had come. He was doomed.
Come the morning, however, there was another dead POW to dispose of from the over-crowded, fly-blown, rat-infested huts. Coogan buried the fresh corpse, and Suzuki told him again. ‘Dig another grave, for tomorrow you die.’
The same happened the next day, and the one after that. The mental torture continued for days, until Suzuki tired of the game.



3 comments:

BobG said...

I've talked with survivors of Japanese POW camps; one thing that isn't mentioned very often is that sometimes the soldiers would get a prisoner and gang rape them, many times killing them from the trauma.

Bob said...

@BobG: Now that is something I'd never heard before, in any of my reading of Japanese atrocities, but of course it makes perfect sense.

russell.j.coller.jr said...

...terrific cars, though, about 20+ years ago i had a used 1984 Datsun 280ZX Turbo for a while... such a sweet, sweet ride i get misty-eyed to this day--- it made me almost forget what all the fuss was about from 1941-1945, I shit you not. Hard to believe that the camps in Manchuria, Java, New Guinea & Luzon were not "brutal" like Gitmo, where, apparently obesity and non-halal sunscreen are human rights violations. This is one sick world, brothers.