Former POW says 'will to live' helped him survive experience

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by David Layne, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Surviving in a Japanese prison camp, overtaken by disease and malnutrition, Stanley Wort thought the only thing keeping him alive was his will to live.

    "Chaps were dying 10, 20, 30 a day," he said. "I wasn't expected to survive."
    Wort, 87, a sailor in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, told his story yesterday at a weekly Greenwich Rotary Club meeting.

    At age 18, Wort joined the Navy and was sent to Hong Kong. As a signalman, Wort thought he might be safer in the navy than in the trenches in the Army. But only months later, he was captured after the 18-day Battle of Hong Kong in December, 1941.

    Nearly 300 sailors were taken to a prison camp in Japan, where they were fed two small bowls of rice and a roll of bread a day. The lack of food, soap and at times even water, led to widespread disease and death. Wort became infected with several diseases, including diphtheria.

    But he was lucky. A Christian Japanese translator smuggled in some type of serum, which helped cure him.

    He was later moved to another camp, where he worked in a factory as a slave laborer.

    "That was a filthy job," he said.

    Food was still scarce, but he was surviving.

    After spending four years in the camp, the war was finally coming to an end. American planes arrived and destroyed the town where the camp was stationed.

    "All you could see was a brick chimney standing. Everything else was dead," he said.

    He spent a few more days in the camp, before he boarded an American destroyer to head back to England.

    When he was released, he felt "complete joy, and happiness."

    Only 170 of the men had survived.

    When he arrived back in England, the 6-foot-1-inch man weighed only 102 pounds.

    "It had really taken a toll on us," he said.

    He has since returned to Hong Kong, which he now thinks of as the place where he grew up.

    "Some people went to university from 19 to 24 and I joined the Royal Navy," he said.

    After the Navy Wort got a job as an accountant, eventually joining Rolls Royce Motor Cars. Later as the chief executive officer and president of the North American company, he was transferred to New York City and settled in Greenwich with his family.

    He has since written the story of his experience.

    When asked why he thinks he survived it, he admits it was improbable, but "the essential element was I was determined to live."
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Glad he survived, and propered.

    I believe this is him

    Wort, Stanley David,Tel,V/JX18926

    and he also listed on this very interesting site:

    Hong Kong War Diary

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