Happy Memories of Long Ago


I was a wireless operator in the RAF at Iwakuni from 1946 to 1948. About half way through our stay in Japan we were given two weeks leave in Beppu where we were treated like royalty. The highlights were the Great Buddha, Hot Springs and the Whispering Sands. We were completely awestruck by the size of the Buddha. We walked through the marsh by the Hot Springs by way of a narrow path and I still remember the weird sensation I felt. Everyone was so helpful on the holiday, especially the young girl who woke me in the mornings by gently stroking my cheek.



I arrived in Kure in April 1951 and was almost immediately posted to Korea, then at the height of the war. This meant that I did not see much of Kure and Hiroshima. However in 2006 my wife and I were able to re-visit Japan with Wilfs Tour. The areas I had briefly known were now rebuilt with modern utilities etc. All the people - especially the Nagasako School children - were friendly, cheerful and polite and enjoyed practising their English with us. During a further visit, in 2008, with my son David, we visited the Yokohama War Cemetery grave of my friend who had died in Kure Hospital in 1951. 



During my time serving at the Military Hospital in Kure from 1952 to 1953 I was befriended by a local Japanese young lady named Hisae Kasai, who spoke excellent English and worked at the local `Royal Souvenir Gift Shop`. It was Hisae who gave me an insight into Japanese culture, introducing me to her friends, Japanese food and local places of interest.  We also enjoyed an occasional evening dancing. On my return home we corresponded for many years, but sadly Hisae suffered a stroke some years ago and requested no more contact. This lasting memory will remain with me forever.


JOHN BOYD. R.Signals


I first came to Japan as a young soldier in September 1952. After a long sea voyage I was reluctant to leave the troopship – my `home` for over a month!  After disembarking we were taken along the avenue (still there) from the docks and over the hill to `A` Company, JRBD, Hiro-machi. Along the avenue was a photographer with his camera and bicycle. The bicycle was up on a stand and the photographer was standing upright on the seat with the camera to his eye. What balance! I wonder what photos he took!! Later, some of us had to go `spud-bashing (peeling potatoes) in the cookhouse. The Japanese women cooks smiled happily at us, maybe because Japanese men did not do that kind of chore! A year later we returned, for ten days,  to JRBD, which was like a leave camp to us, with the choice of good food, table cloths and salt and pepper.  Nearby was the `Uncle Roys Log Cabin ` beer hall, with a laundry alongside which had the mispelt `Lanudry` down its side. We also visited other beer halls in Hiro and Kure, where we enjoyed the taste of Kirin beer and Akadama wine. One day an officer decided that JRBD was not a leave camp and marched us up the hill behind the camp. The view from the top of the sea, jagged coastline, paddy fields and hills was beautiful. I wanted to stay in Japan for longer, but they took us home for discharge.



ROBERT EDWARDSON. RASC                 After a winter in Korea I enjoyed my one year in Kure during 1952-53. Convalescence on Miyajima Island gave me the opportunity to try my hand at sailing a small boat, but unfortunately I was unable to keep it upright and spent so much time under water that I became known as “Eddie the Turtle”! Another amusing moment occurred on the local transport when the vehicle suddenly rocked and I stood on the foot of the lady to whom I had given up my seat. “Tabe-nasai!” said I, to which she replied “Nani?”. I should have said “Gomen-nasai!” (I`m sorry), instead of `tabin-nasai`, which apparently translates as `please eat`! Thankfully she, and the others, thought it was very funny!!  



I was posted to the Britcom Base Ordnance Depot (BOD), Kure, after arriving on the troopship `Dunera` in 1954. Much of my leisure time was spent in Kure House where many social activities, a library and canteen were available, plus Japanese tutors who taught the skills of ju-jitsu etc. I also enjoyed listening to the `Big Band` at Satchos Bar on the Hondori and browsing in the many nearby gift shops.  I visited Hiroshima where I was shocked by the still evident carnage caused by the Atomic   Bomb, even though some nine years had passé since this dreadful event. Leave in Tokyo was the highlight of my time in Japan – I especially remember visiting the Imperial Palace Gardens, vibrant Ginza, the Diet building, Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi. A wonderful experience!



I arrived, with many other young National Servicemen, after a 41 day sea voyage on the troopship `Empire Hallidale` at Kure docks in 1954. From there we were transported to the British Commonwealth Forces Base Depot (JRBD) at Hiro where, to regain fitness, we were ordered to shovel coal into bags! This was accompanied by kitting out, medicals and inoculations. Then,all too soon, we embarked on the `Wo Sang`, a much smaller troopship, for the crossing to Pusan, Korea. 



Shortly after arriving in Kure from Korea in about 1955, I went for a stroll, along the Hondori, from my camp (now the JMSDF camp) and entered a barbers shop with great trepidation. However, the barber was very gracious and, after cutting my hair, placed a hot towel around my neck before massaging my head, neck and shoulders. Now relaxed, I fell fast asleep! Then, sometime later, I awoke to find myself still in the chair but in a strange room! I found my way back into the shop, where the owner greeted me like a long-lost friend before indicating that he had wheeled me into the room so that I could sleep undisturbed and safe. After that I was never fearful in Kure again and I found the local people to be warm and friendly. Now, whenever I have a haircut, I always remember that episode at the barbers shop in Kure all those years ago!



Early April 1954. Very warm day. No wind. Cloudless blue sky. Pink Cherry Blossom in full bloom. Meandered a narrow and inclined road to the left-hand side of Kure House. Took a photograph, outside her house, of a Japanese woman holding a small baby. Struggled up winding and often steep paths to the summit of Mount Yasumiyama. Air now much cooler and refreshing. Sat on the grass next to a pole mounted, Japanese inscribed, sign. Utter silence, except for occasional music from the numerous Beer Halls in the city below. Peace – perfect Peace!



#142 Parkway Vol.27 No.4  October - December 2012


ブライデン・マコール  RAF 英国空軍




エディ・プレスコット   RMP 英国軍警察

1951年4月に呉に到着し、すぐに戦争真っ只中の韓国に配置されました。つまり私は呉や広島の事はあまり知らないということです。が、2006年に妻と私がウィルフ・ツアーで日本にやって来ることができました。わずかに覚えている場所には現代的な施設が建っていました。誰も(特に長迫小学校の子供たち)が親切で、朗らかで、礼儀正しく、私たちと英語の練習をするのを楽しんでいるようでした。 2008年、私の息子デイヴィッドと一緒に、1951年に呉病院で亡くなった友人の墓がある横浜戦争墓地を訪れました。



 デビッド・オーツ  RAMC 英国陸軍衛生隊




ジョン・ボイド  R.Signals 英国軍通信部




ロバートエドワーズ   RASC 英国陸軍補給部隊




ジェフ・ライマー  RAOC 英国陸軍武器隊




ロン・エリー REME 英国軍電気機械技術部



デニス・ウォーラー RE 英陸軍工兵隊



ウィルフ・オルドリッジ  RAPC 英陸軍給与隊

1954年4月上旬。とても暖かい日。無風。曇一つない青空。満開のピンクの桜。呉ハウス左側の狭い坂道をぶらぶら歩く。家の前で小さな赤ちゃんを抱いた日本人女性の写真を撮る。休山の頂上までうねりながら続く急な坂に奮闘。空気は冷たく爽やか。日本語で書いた看板のポール横の草の上に座る。時々眼下の町から上がって来る数々のビアホールの音楽を除けば、完全なる静寂。平和 - 完璧な平和!