12/24/2006

WW II - Home for Xmas


Taiwan paid dearly for WW II: 75% of its infrastructure was destroyed and thousands of people died. I have never seen an exact number but I know some 200,000 Taiwanese served in the Japanese Imperial Army (including 30,000 Aborigines). Many of these individuals were left stranded in Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand as Chiang Kai-shek would have no part in their repatriation. My wife's great-aunt was among the victims here in Taiwan. She was killed by bombers in Taipei's Dong Yuan Market at the age of 19.
My grandpa, who flew on one mission to Taiwan (he always called it Formosa), didn't like to talk about the war at all. These letters are what I know about his experiences. I once asked him why he didn't attend veterans' functions as he was a pretty sociable person. He told me: "I don't want to remember that stuff."
There are some interesting accounts of the bombing raids by Jack Edwards, who was interned in Taiwan during the war for 3.5 years, in Banzai You Bastards. He watched them from the ground in a P.O.W. camp in Jiufen (九份), Taiwan:
"This ringing of the bells, sirens and guards cursing gave us the utmost joy. We rushed straight to our vantage points, yelling and shouting, 'They're off'. As we spotted the swooping, diving planes, this time the sun clearly catching their silver bodies and white stars, we cheered and shouted. Then, as we heard the bombs exploding, we shouted, 'How do you like that with your rice, you fucking bastards? Go on, lads, give it to them!' To know at last someone was hitting back for us gave us our best feeling since we had been taken prisoner. We felt that every bomb dropped was a blow in retaliation for our persecution. Then, as we heard the planes turning back for the sea, up went the cry, 'There they go, only a few thousand feet up. Free men, back to good grub and liberty (permission to quote Mr. Edwards on this blog granted by Banzai You Bastards publisher)!"

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