Remotely Controlled Killing Machines Made In The UK .. From 10-13 September, London’s ExCeL Centre hosted…
Children Were Made To Watch Their Parents Being Beaten ..
In 1942, Richard Dobson was arrested for smuggling food into one of the civilian prison camps on Java after the Japanese invasion.
His interrogators thought he was a spy and he was repeatedly tortured.
So terrible was his suffering, he later found he had lost the ability to feel fear.
Stories of Japanese mistreatment of wartime prisoners are sadly familiar, but what is not is Richard’s age.
He was just 17, and one of 4,000 British children whose lives were shattered by defeat in the Far East and their families’ subsequent imprisonment.
Many of the children had led pampered lives, raised in imperial outposts such as Singapore and Hong Kong to be the next generation of colonial rulers.
The families last act in their old homes was to obey the order to kill their pets, as they were not allowed in the camps to which they were being sent.
Conditions in these camps varied widely.
The Japanese army had made no plans for dealing with tens of thousands of non-combatant prisoners.
In some places, the worst trial was a lack of privacy for undressing.
In others, families were separated and disease was rampant.
As the war continued, rations everywhere became scant, and death from starvation common place.
A rare treat for some detainees in Shanghai was to be allowed to eat the greyhounds kept at the race track.
Aside from hunger pains, there was the constant threat of violence from guards.
They were especially tough on women, for whom they had no respect, but children were not spared either.
A mother was ordered to brand her sons with a red-hot poker when they broke a window.
Youngsters were made to watch their parents being beaten and other prisoners hanged.
Nancy Wake, French Resistance Fighter ..
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Nancy moved to Sydney, Australia with her family when she was only two years old.
At 16 she ran away from home and worked as a nurse.
Then, with £200 she had received in an aunt’s will, she travelled to New York, and London, where she trained as a journalist.
In the 1930s she worked in Paris as a European correspondent for America’s Hearst newspapers and in 1939 met and married wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca.
In 1933 in her work as a journalist, she went to Vienna to interview Hitler.
Nancy was shocked while she was there to see Jews chained to huge wheels, being whipped by Nazi troops.
The experience had a profound effect on her and proved to be the turning point in her life.
Realising what a danger Hitler posed to the world, she devoted herself to defeating the evil she had seen.
In 1939 when the Second World War broke out she immediately joined the French Resistance, starting as a courier carrying everything from simple messages to hi-tech radio parts.
She used her native cunning and beauty – being openly flirtatious – to overcome the suspicions of German guards to get through checkpoints.
Nancy soon graduated to spiriting, downed Allied pilots or groups of Jewish refugees from one ‘safe house’ to another until they reached the base of the Pyrenees, the gateway to freedom in Spain.
She once said: “Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there is no point in living”.
She once cycled more than 500 miles through several German checkpoints to replace codes which her wireless operator had been forced to destroy during a German raid.
Once the Gestapo almost caught her – but she shot her way out of a roadblock and managed to escape while bullets whistled around her ears.
Then at the sixth attempt, she managed to flee over the Pyrenees to safety in neutral Spain.
Her husband Henri was not so lucky.
After being arrested by the Gestapo he refused to divulge her whereabouts or give an account of her activities and was executed.
Nancy later said: “I will go to my grave regretting that. Henri was the love of my life”.
After escaping to Spain, Nancy came to Britain and joined the Special Operations Executive, before being parachuted back into France on April 29, 1944.
She became a vital liaison between London and the French Resistance.
Known by partisans by her codename Madame Andree she co-ordinated Resistance activity before the Normandy invasion and recruited more people to fight Germany.