U series - Japanese prisoners of war WWII Rangoon
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An interview with two New Zealand airmen recorded by the NBS Mobile Unit, Flight Lieutenant Clifford Stanley Emeny and Pilot Officer Eric Osboldstone, who were held in a Japanese prison in Rangoon. They talk about their capture and experiences in the prison. For some time they were in solitary confinement, kept on half rations and denied water for washing and shaving.
Flight Lieutenant Clifford Emeny was born in Wellington on the 11 January 1920, joined the RNZAF in 1940. He was shot down in Burma on 9th November 1944, crash landed and made it to a Burmese village with his Canadian navigator, but they were picked up by the Japanese the next morning.
Osboldstone was shot down near Mandalay - his English navigator was killed - and taken prisoner on the 14 December 1944.
Both men describe their mistreatment by the Japanese on being taken prisoner. Osbaldstone says they 'put the heat on' to make him talk, but thinking of his fiancee got him through. Emeny says he was deprived of food and water for four nights and three days.
Eventually they were taken to Rangoon jail. Emeny spend a couple of months in solitary confinement. Osboldstone says nearly everybody contracted diseases and the Japanese denied them medical attention. Emeny was appointed the group's unofficial doctor.
The airmen were viewed as criminals, and treated worse than other prisoners. Food and water were a constant struggle. Other prisoners shared food with them and smuggled them medicine and cigars.
They kept morale up by having secret prayer meetings. They risked incurring the wrath of the guards for any misdemeanour. Emeny says he was beaten for putting a hat on a sick man who had been forced to stand out in the sun for hours. It took him a month to recover.
The nights when the guards got their monthly sake rations were the worst - the guards were more likely to beat them.
They discuss the surreal quietness of liberation - the Japanese disappeared and left them a note. One of their group - an Australian - put a foot outside the compound to taste freedom then came back and locked them all in. He took charge kept them safe until the 15th Indian Corps arrived.
After the Japanese left in April 1945, they took control back of the city's aerodrome and made it ready for allied aircraft to land. They were flown out by the first aircraft to land there.
They finish the interview by talking about their achievements during the war, and looking forward to going home.
Reference number 20133
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Emeny, Cliff S. (Cliff Stanley), 1920-2000, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Osboldstone, Eric Jack (b.1919, d.2018), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Date 11 May 1945