Letter: PoWs' plight

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I write as a former soldier of the Fourteenth Army of the Burma campaign. Like all of us who have good personal memories of playing some part in a well-managed victory, I have compassion and support for all our comrades of the unhappier Singapore surrender for the awfulness of their subsequent treatment ("Japan PoWs lose claim for compensation", 27 November).

But I believe that the matter of compensation rests not with the decision of any court in an ex-enemy country, but squarely on the conscience and honour of Britain.

In my simple book, any enrolled serviceman of Britain sent off to make war on behalf of his homeland can rightfully claim that in return for putting up with whatever is thrown at him, his homeland in turn redeems its own side of a contract of service - and without cavil.

The special feature of Singapore was that our comrades there surrendered to the enemy not by individual decision but by command. It was Britain which sent them off to fight and then surrendered them. The buck stops here and nowhere else.

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