Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Jack Litchfield | Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)

5:41   |   If you were sick, you either got better or you died. There was no medicine for the prisoners, and Jack Litchfield had an infected leg injury which could have killed him. Men were dying all around the camp from illness and malnutrition.

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Keywords   :     Jack Litchfield    Prisoner Of War (POW)    Japan    sick    medicine    gangrene    food    beating    bayonet    escape    prison camp    malnourished    atomic bomb    Nagasaki Japan

Videos ( 7 )
WWII
  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  5:58

    His father was a captain in the British Merchant Navy and Jack Litchfield was determined to follow in his footsteps. He left behind the air raids in Liverpool and went to sea as a radioman, but his third voyage turned to disaster when a German torpedo slammed into the freighter.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  4:58

    The British prisoners were well treated on board the German cruiser that sank their cargo ship. This came to an end when they were sent to Japan to be imprisoned there. Jack Litchfield watched as the first group of men went down the gangplank and promptly received a beating. When they arrived at the prison camp, the Japanese commander had some sobering words for them.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  4:29

    POW Jack Litchfield went to work every day in a steel factory near the prison camp in southern Japan. His favorite task was taking the cart to exchange empty oxygen cylinders because he frequently had to wait, which gave him a much needed break. He was interned for over three years and near the end of the war, he noticed that the Japanese foreman was making something new on the anvil.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  6:04

    You could trade cigarettes for food in the prison camp, but Jack Litchfield explains why that could be a bad idea. The food supplied by his Japanese captors was meager, but at least it contained something he was very fond of. The men had access to a bath house, though there was not much soap, and it was there that a showering guard uttered something that causes a laugh til this day.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  5:26

    Former POW Jack Litchfield says his Japanese captors were two faced. You never knew when their mood would change. He did receive a personal kindness from a civilian boy who worked with him on his work detail. After the war ended, and the freed men were waiting for repatriation, the town was open to them and they took every advantage of their new role as victors.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  4:10

    The Japanese civilians usually paid no attention to POW Jack Litchfield, but one day, as they huddled in an air raid shelter, he received intense, hateful glares from them. What he didn't know and would find out later, is that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. He also found out something later regarding the targeting of the second bomb that made him feel lucky to be alive.

  • Jack Litchfield  |  WWII  |  Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)  |  4:48

    Captured by Germans but held in Japan, former POW Jack Litchfield returned to his Liverpool home four years after he went to sea as a lad. He felt lucky to be alive, having learned that the second atomic bomb had been originally targeted in the vicinity of his prison camp. As time has passed, it has all proved to be a positive experience in his life.

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