By Denise Housego Phillips….
VJ day 2015 or Victory over Japan day is but a few days away and it sadly reminds me of my dear late father who was imprisoned in Nagasaki in Japan in 1945 and was lucky like others to survive the dropping of the A bomb and although I find it difficult to forgive those who treated him in the way they did, he was far stronger than I and survived his experience and became the stronger because of it.
In later life with his concern for others and through his work, he was awarded the MBE in 1999 for services to the Far Eastern Prisoners’ of War Association.
I just pray mankind will one day learn from these experiences and turn their face against violence and find a way of achieving their aims and desires through peaceful means.
George Housego MBE
My father George Housego as born in 1921 in Notting Hill in West London and following the start of WW2, at the age of 21 he was serving as a gunner in the Royal Artillery in March 1941 and was captured by Japanese forces in Java, Indonesia, and taken to the island’s Tanjung Priok Camp. He had been deployed there to protect Dutch forces from the advancing enemy but was forced to surrender when the Japanese overran the island.
His experiences are very well put in the following interview by David Tucker for the Not Forgotten Association (NFA), which had commissioned artist and filmmaker David Tucker to produce a series of eight unique portraits and animated short films depicting different generations of service veterans from the last 100 years and these were published on the 6th Nov 2014
By David Tucker
I first met George when I was commissioned to create a series of animated portraits of veterans by the Not Forgotten Association.
I had arranged to meet seven veterans at the Union Jack Club back in December 2013, where I conducted interviews and took photographic studies for me to paint from.
It was here where I met George.
George arrived toward the end of the day and by then we had already recorded a number of fascinating interviews. As a portrait painter, it is natural for me to observe people’s characteristics as a way of finding out about that person. I will always remember the smile on George’s face, the gentle handshake and the kindness in his eyes when he entered the room.
Little did I know of the life those eyes must have seen, until I sat down and began his interview.
My sound recordist and I sat there listening as George began to tell his story of his time as a Japanese Prisoner of War. We sat transfixed with his truly astonishing, yet harrowing, experiences. He spoke with such matter-of-factness, but I could see the emotion was sat just behind his eyes.
We must have sat there three times longer than the other interviews and yet I felt we had only just scratched the surface of George’s story. I remember an immense feeling of privilege and honour to have met him when I finally shook his hand to say goodbye that day.
In the following weeks whilst painting George, I would listen back over his interview. My children often sat with me listening and asking questions about the man I was painting.
I am glad my own children got to learn about George and hope his experiences live on into another generation and will never be forgotten.
They say the window to someone’s soul is through the eyes and this I believe to be the case with George.
A man who had seen the darkest side of mankind and in the same breath, the strength, courage, camaraderie and kindness to survive it.
Thank you George.
To read more of the Not Forgotten Association please click here and you can see the result of David Tucker’s work in the beautiful video about my father which is shown below.
I am also including below a link to a video and article by The Telegraph which gives an even greater insight into what my father and others went through during those terrible times and you can read and view this by clicking here
May I leave you with one last impression and that is of young generations talking about VJ Day in the video courtesy of the Royal British Legion.
Remembering my dad, George Housego