I think most of the people who fought in the Far East, including myself, believed that if the atomic bomb hadn’t been dropped, we wouldn’t be here today.
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My name is David Seager and I was born on the 31st of July, 1924 in Southampton, England. Finally finished my training and I went overseas in early 1944. I landed in Bombay, India, now called Mumbai, I believe. Did further training there, called jungle training, and then from there, I went to Burma and the rest of the war at any rate, up until the war ended in July 1947, I served in Burma with the British 14th army.
They did have rather like today’s suicide bombers, they utilized suicide snipers and suicide patrols. And I think everyone’s heard of these suicide pilots who piloted their planes, things which are happening today in terms of suicide bombers are by no means new, they were practiced in World War II as well. I myself was almost a victim of a suicide sniper. These were people who were left behind after the troops had evacuated the area, they were left behind with food and ammunition and their job was just to snipe at as many people as they could until they were taken out. Suicide patrols were the same, they sent out suicide patrols and with no intention of returning to base. They were equipped with ammunition and food and as long as it lasted, their job was to kill as many people as possible and they certainly did.
So my unit, the signals unit - I think I was with the 1st Medium Artillery Regiment then - we had given a few days to pull back and rest and you had to have these periods in order to wash and clean up and generally get reorganized, because you often wore the same clothes for days on end and then there were no real facilities for bathing or stuff like that. So you got pretty wowed down. So once in a while, as far as possible, you were given sort of a rest period and you were sent to some area where you could relax and catch up with personal needs and write some mail and read some mail and that sort of thing.
We were having one of those periods, we’d arrived the previous day and only been there overnight and the next morning, I had done my laundry of all the clothes I had, we went down to the river and washed them all. Then we came back and of course, one of the big things then, being in a British unit was the tea up. Tea was, was drunk more than coffee. In fact, I didn’t think I had any coffee at all while in Burma. You got a little bit relaxed, so we all started brewing up tea. And we were sitting around a little clearing, enjoying this tea, when somebody started firing at us from a tree. I got hit by a bullet that ricocheted off of a tree. Didn’t do much damage but it worried us for a while. And eventually, the, the sniper was brought down by flame throwers in the tree, which again wasn’t a very pretty sight. Killed my interest in barbecues even to this day. But anyway, so that sort of activity happened and you were lucky if it didn’t get to you too badly.
On VJ day itself, which was August the 15th, I was on a small troop ship, sailing back to Burma from the leave I had had in Calcutta. And we heard the news that the war was over while we were on the ship, it was just a tiny little ship, it was an old Polish vessel that had survived the war. Very ancient, very decrepit. But the captain had a sense of the occasion because he broke out all of the drinkable drinkables that were onboard, including alcoholic ones and we had quite a celebration. The weather helped because there was a storm going on at the same time, so it was a wild night in every sense of the word.
We woke up one morning to the news that the atomic bomb had been dropped. And then of course a few days later, the, the second one was dropped. And another piece of news that came through, which was not being reported too fully was that during the period of the dropping of the two bombs, Russia had declared war on Japan, which was something that the allied countries had wanted Russia to do ever since the beginning of the alliance. Well, what that meant was that the situation deteriorated very rapidly from a war situation to a peace situation and everyone was very happy about it. I think most of the people who fought in the Far East, including myself, believed that if the atomic bomb hadn’t been dropped, we wouldn’t be here today.