WWII End of War

The End of Captivity and the Journey Home

The Japanese surrendered unconditionally on 14 August 1945, but it was not until the 23rd that the Japanese High Command ordered a ceasefire and not until the 28th that the preliminary surrender document was signed in Rangoon and the Japanese commander agreed to assist and obey the order of Admiral Lord Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia.[1]

38 POWs died in Habu Camp (Hiroshima Camp 5), 33 of them British from Hong Kong, all from the third draft (except two, L.M. Knight and William Charles).[2] Of the 176 Hong Kong Signal Company men captured by the Japanese following the capitulation of Hong Kong, only 85 returned home.[3] Albert was lucky enough to be amongst them. On his release, he was taken by boat to Onomichi (an industrial town between Hiroshima and Okayama), by train to Osaka and then onto HMS Ruler, a British aircraft carrier, which took him directly to Sydney, Australia.[4]

Terrance Kelly’s (click here for his story) log confirms that he, and therefore we can presume all the ex-POWs of Hiroshima Camp 5, left Japan on 17 September on board HMS Ruler and arrived in Sydney on 27 September 1945. Here is a link to a picture of T. Kelly’s log. On the form completed by Victor following his release, he stated that he left Hiroshima Camp 5 on 15 September – which ties in with Kelly’s date of leaving Japan on 17 September. However, the Royal Navy Archives says that Ruler departed Tokyo Bay on 13 September bound for Sydney carrying POWS. The FEPOW Community website is rather vague, it states 'It was HMS Ruler’s privilege to pick up 445 happy men, women and children who had assembled in Tokyo to take them to Sydney in September 1945.' See the FEPOW website article on HMS Ruler rescue role.

Terrance Kelly’s book, By Hellship to Hiroshima, includes a picture of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp ex-prisoners on H M S Ruler (p225). He confirmed to me, during our meeting in March 2007, that there was no picture taken of men from the Royal Signals or the RAF. He confirmed that men from the Signals Corps were on board.

My dad, Albert Ient, arrived in Sydney on 27 September 1945, but unfortunately found that his family had already left. On 29 September 1945, we know that Albert was on board HMS Golden Hind, Royal Navy Barracks, some 20 miles outside of Sydney. A copy of a confidential War Office form confirms that on this date Albert was 'briefly interrogated by an Intelligence Officer of HMS Golden Hind, RN Barracks, Sydney'.

On 17 October 1945, Dad boarded the Dominion Monarch (coincidentally, the same boat as Mum and my brothers had sailed back to England on). The original embarkation date had been set for 15 October, but was delayed; he eventually set sail for home on 18 October 1945. The journey took him via Fremantle and Suez (Aden, 3 November, Port Said, 7 November), eventually arriving in Southampton on (approx.) 15 November 1945.[5]


[1] B. MacArthur, Surviving the Sword, Time Warner, 2005, p420

[2] Memo Tony Banham, FEPOW Community, 17.3.2007

[3] Figures confirmed by Lt. Col. Monty Truscott, Defence Army Data Processing Centre, Blandford Camp.

[4] See T. Kelly interview notes.

[5] Source letters from Albert to Toby 17 and 20 October 1945.

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