MEMORIES OF MY FATHER
name was James (Jim) Wright who was born in Island Court, Knottingley, in
1914, the third eldest of a family of ten. As for most folk back then,
times were very hard and dad told me a lot about the hardships they had to
school at the age of 14. He left on the Friday and started work at Bagley’s
on the following Monday. He continued to work there until the outbreak of
the war. My dad was sent to York for a few weeks until Xmas Eve came when
he was allowed home to say goodbye to his family. Dad was then sent to
water to get washed in" he said to a local. Nobody knew what he was
talking about, dad being very broad Yorkshire.
he joined hundreds of other soldiers. An officer walked down the ranks of
men and stopped at him, touched him on the arm and said; "Up to here
you will all be kitted out to join a convoy for Burma"
never been further than Ponte’!" he said. A laugh a minute my dad
but that must have wiped the smile off his face. Going to face the
Japanese was terrifying not to mention the prospects of fighting in the
jungle. He was just 22 years old. Dad spent the next four years in Burma.
landing we lost hundreds of young lads before they got onto the beaches.
The Japanese knew we were coming, it was terrible, we didn’t know what
hit us. We would never have got through any of it without the best
soldiers in the world (the Gurkha’s) The only time I dared shut both
eyes was when I knew those lads were with us. I made sure I didn’t stray
far from them if I could help it."
is alive today, that Gurkha who looked at Nell’s photo (wife), I wonder
if he still has it? "Your mam sab", he would say, "Very
nice - I keep." I never got that photo back."
I received a birthday card and asked a medic if he knew what date this day
was. He told me it was June 10th. I couldn’t believe it, a card from my
mother posted goodness knows when and I got it on the day of my
forgot about, soon after all hell broke loose.
and a kid from Leeds were crawling through undergrowth when a boot stamped
on my hand. I turned and looked at the boot knowing it was a Japanese
boot. We had to lace our boots a certain way so we would know who was or
wasn’t us. He pointed his bayonet at us both to get up and motioned us
to walk forward, thinking this is it. Bang! – a shot rang out and we
thought we had been shot. Then the Jap fell at my feet and we just got our
rifles and ran like hell not looking back. We later discovered that a
Gurkha had seen all and it was him that took the shot that I’m sure
saved our lives."
down with dysentery and malaria (the mosquitoes were worse than the
Japanese!) and was sent to a field hospital. While I was getting a bit
better, an officer came to me and said "A job for you lad, get a
rifle and shoot every stray dog that comes into camp." I soon lost
that job when I shot the colonel’s wife’s dog! I got the nickname ‘doggie’
which I kept all through Burma."
getting back to the front line, we were crossing a bridge when a lad,
whose name was Billy Rabbit, leant forward to get a better look as to what
was underneath. Bang! – Billy took a bullet in his mouth which missed
all his teeth, and emerged through his cheek. It got Billy sent
My dad in one
sombrely moment said that some of the things he saw were so unbelievable
that he thought was that really real or have I dreamed it. It was so bad.
I found a young lad about 19-20 years old. The Japanese had stripped him,
then tied his body over spiked bamboo which they knew would still keep
growing through his body. "They were inhuman buggers", he would
would just make us laugh a lot, like when the Yanks came; "three
bloody years too late" he would say. "Every time a Yank picked
up his rifle they gave him a bloody medal. They’re all right at making
pictures and that’s about it."
got any leave to Calcutta they used to charge us two rupees, as soon as
the Yanks came it went up to four rupees. They spoilt it all for us they
These are a
few of many memories. Dad came home in 1946, the war had been over a year
in Europe but he was out there still fighting. They called them all ‘The