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 Post subject: Burma retreat
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 6:53 pm 
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Some accounts of what Staff Sergeant Yasumasa Nishiji saw on the road of the retreat through Burma.

''I could not imagine that this was a man who had fought successfully at the battles of Hong Kong and Singapore.
He looked to be deep in thought; in fact, having been exposed to the monsoon, he had reached the limit of mental exhaustion and was merely gazing intently at the water trickling down to his feet.
Though I had prayed he would make it to the river-crossing point, he passed away at the roadside only a short distance from it.’’

‘‘One of the soldiers carrying a stretcher perished – then the soldier on the stretcher died. No one could help them and they could not help anyone. In the end everyone of them perished.
We gradually became acutely aware that there was nothing any of us could do.
Taking ones life seemed the only way out. Soldiers who had no chance of recovery were increasingly pressured to take this path.’’

''In increasing numbers our soldiers fell, physically emaciated and crippled, yet mentally alert. I had heard the locals saying that they exiled their serious offenders to this region in the knowledge that the environment would surely kill them.
We could not simply abandon our dying comrades in a place like this. In our desperation to help them we often ignored orders.
This soldier gave his money to his mates and, light heartedly, told them to buy something to eat when they got away from the front.
After awhile, he crawled to the foot of a tree, holding a grenade.
Without and sign of hesitation, he activated the grenade and ended his life.
Some of his mates who had witnessed the incident cut off a part of his body and left. They probably tried to catch up to the rest of their unit.’’

''I feel much better today, I’ll move on now; you can catch me up later.’
After saying this, the soldier went off alone.
We came across him dead. He had committed suicide in the middle of the road. Since he knew we would walk past he must have been hoping that we would attend to his body. As he had still be able to walk we all felt dismayed at his decision. However knowing his nature, he probably didn’t want to become a burden to his unit.
In tears, some of our young soldiers held on to him.
He was married, with children, and was good natured and amicable; even more so when he had been physically fit.
I had the bewildering thought that perhaps married men were more decisive than single men.
Having witnessed what had happened while resting, a sick soldier told us that he saw the man pull the trigger of his rifle with his big toe.’’

''It became a routine that a soldier who was emaciated and crippled, with no hope of recovery, was given a grenade and persuaded, without words, to sort himself out.
This soldier was so outraged at being given a grenade that he put on his boots and puttees and crawled after his officer screaming, ‘you’ve lorded over me; what have I got in return? I’ll bloody kill you.’ ''

''It often occurred that soldiers took their own lives in pairs. They embraced, placing a grenade between them. We called it double suicide.
This scene reminded me of the painting of ‘The white Tigers’ stabbing each other at Mount Limori.’’

''At dawn, at or encampment alongside the road, some rifle fire was heard. As it was most unlikely that enemy troops were nearby, I ordered one of the privates to go and check it out.
After half an hour or so, he came back. He reported that there had been a double suicide. I asked him why he was carrying a pair of boots and he told me he had taken them off one of the bodies. For quite awhile we had not been provided with any clothes or shoes so we had to manage with what we had; there was already a hole in one of my boots.
Although the private who returned with the boots was older than many of his fellow soldiers he had only been in the army for a short time. I was astonished that this quiet and unassuming man should have removed the boots off a dead comrade and, although I understood that he had done it for me and appreciated his good intention, I certainly could not bring myself to wear them. I do not recall who used them.’’

few more to come

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 8:27 pm 
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Hi,
is that excert from the Book "tales by Japanese Soldiers" ?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:19 pm 
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it is indeed, probaly the best book available to people wantin gto find out what the Japanese army was really like

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:42 am 
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“The sun managed to shine through a band of cloud. The wet clothes, soaked with rain, were put in the sun to dry. I noticed some military tokens were placed neatly and carefully on the rocks where the sun was drying them. I was much disgusted as I felt this man’s will to survive was ruled by greed. However, I gave him the benefit of any doubt. I did not think it was necessary to remove my wet clothes as I knew they would dry gradually while I was on the move.
I thought there must be some good reason for this man to take such care of his possessions; perhaps he was just the sort who found it unbearable to be untidy. A few days later I passed the same spot again, expecting to see him looking dry and neat. He was clinging to the rock – lifeless. In my surprise, I realised that he had been preparing for his end.”

“A man met his death on the road; he had exhausted all his energy. The portable tent which now covered his body was his only possession. It was clear no one else had covered his body; he had surely done it himself, anticipating his early death.
A few days ago there had been only one corpse there, now two – then three. Each of the dead men had covered his face in this way; perhaps they all wished to avoid others seeing there decomposing faces.
When death is near, one seems to want to come closer to the dead; as if the dead were beckoning or one dreaded the loneliness of existing on the edge of life.”

“I saw a sick soldier snatch a rucksack. The owner was a dying soldier lying at the roadside; he had been using it as a pillow. I assumed the snatcher was after a bag of rice in the rucksack. He staggered away awkwardly under the extra weight but he did not look back.
The dying soldier could no longer utter a single word, merely raising his emaciated arm as if asking somebody to catch the thief. I might have been able to catch him and rescue the rucksack but something discouraged me from doing this.
I stood still, astounded by the scene and amazed and the fierce tenacity for life of both the snatcher and the victim.”

“During the retreat, my unit came across a field hospital in the jungle. Hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers were lying on the ground, under the trees on both sides of the road. Among them, an army surgeon was working frantically.
We recognised our sergeant who had an injured arm following a severe battle north of Palel. I had anticipated that, provided he was treated quickly, he would recover completely and return to us. In fact, the skin from the elbow up to his neck was coloured purple and infested with maggots. It was obvious he would not survive. Although he looked blank, he realised who we were and gave us a faint smile - but he could not speak. I have no knowledge of what happened to him after this.
The condition of the hospital, towards which the wounded men were dragging themselves with walking sticks, was absolutely appalling. I could not blame the patients if they felt despondent.”

“A barefoot army nurse came into a section of the field hospital, took a syringe from his rucksack and gave injections to those who were on the verge of death. They would all be dead in about seven seconds.
The nurse said he was carrying out orders, clearly trying to convince himself that he was morally right in freeing them from pain. Having completed his task, he turned his back on us and moved on.”

“Isn’t he a member of your unit, lying dead over there?’ a soldier from another unit asked us. He was; there was no doubt about it. He was lying under his portable tent, the four corners of which were tied to branches of trees.
Suffering from malnutrition and diarrhoea while fighting at the front, he had been sent back behind the lines; one of the luckier ones at that time.
I assumed that, on reaching this point, he had sensed his imminent demise, put up his tent and waited to die beneath it. In his rucksack their was a postcard, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a pipe made of ivory.
Before we buried him next to others of our unit, I managed to cut off one of his fingers to send to his family. It was not at all easy and bloodless pieces of flesh fell off. Just then, the moon appeared in the sky. As it shone down on his face, he seemed to be smiling slightly. Having had o die alone he would be buried by his close friends. We felt that his smile showed his appreciation.”

“At the river crossing point, having tired of queuing for the boat for three days or more, many soldiers ventured to cross the river using a rope strung across it.
Those who managed to reach the middle of the river found that their weight and the looseness of the rope combined to lower them into the river. The strong current prevented them from holding on to the rope; they were swept away and eventually drowned. This scene was repeated again and again.
Although everybody saw exactly what happened, why did so many follow suit? And nobody tried to stop them. Every single one of them was driven to lunacy.”

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:46 am 
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If Japanese forces had been allowed to surrender would this have happened? How many of these men would have survived?

Was this level of suffering caused by that single fact that surrender was allowed?

Yes I know more and more did surrender but it was never seen as acceptable, when you see vets today they talk of their shame of having surrendered while comrades chose not too….

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:16 pm 
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this situation was definatly due to the idea of no surrender.

The Japanese army in Burma had ceased to be an Army by this point. The neither had the supplies to fight forwards or to retreat back. High command now had thousands of men in the jungle, without food, water, equipment or ammunition. Now you can either try to get your men to retreat back, which without supplies is almost impossible even in favourable terrain, but in the jungle it is absolutly impossible. Or you can surrender which isn't going to happen. Just look at the humiliation the British sufferd at Singapore, theres no way the Japanese could survive a surrender on the same scale as that, every Japanese person's moral would have instantly evapourated.

So they decieded we'll have to retreat, even if it kills them, and it did as this was one of the most disastrous retreats ever witnessed

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:52 pm 
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Strange when death is seen as a more acceptable option than life, if life was only gained by surrendering…

I think the humiliation of the surrender of Singapore, was only in reflection of the realisation of the actual position of strength the British gave up, and on reflection of how badly treated those that surrendered where to be treated.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:00 pm 
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strange only to us, with our western view of life.

as has been pointed out on here before the Japanese were taught from their days at school that to sacrifice their lifes in service of their country was the greatest honour someone could recieve.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:13 pm 
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Tanaka wrote:
strange only to us, with our western view of life.

as has been pointed out on here before the Japanese were taught from their days at school that to sacrifice their lifes in service of their country was the greatest honour someone could recieve.


I know, different world, different teachings, different thought processes etc...

But to let a whole army perish, and not in battle, is shall we say still unbelievable…

Much like the suicide bomber, his beliefs etc allow him to do something that to us in the ‘west’ is abhorrent

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:24 pm 
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it is unbelievable, even to the soldiers involved some couldn't believe it, like that one who crawled after his officer shouting that he would kill him for allowing this to happen

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 Post subject: beliefs
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:59 pm 
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Here in the "west" it is hard for us to understand or comprehend what surrendering ment. In Japan it was absolute obedience to the emporer to their religious beliefs. To surrender to them was a fate worse than death. This wasn't souly with the Japanese back in history the Spartans of Greece had a moto "come home carrying your shield or dead upon it" When the British surrendered to the Japanese the Japanese looked upon them not as soldiers but less than human.


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