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Reconciliation - William Coates Nicholls

I grew up as the son of FEPOW William Coates Nicholls - 1919-2008. At the time of the surrender of Singapore he was a Naval able seaman working on security in the Singapore dockyards. He was duly capture, initially being imprisoned in Changi. He had received bullet and shrapnel wounds whilst resisting capture and needed an operation to remove a bullet from very near his spine. He said that without that operation he would have spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair.

Once he had recovered he was put on a ship, collecting trees from Burma and bringing them back to Singapore. He spent the last nine months in Changi where he was put to work on digging out the foundations of Changi airport.

Finally released he weighed just over six stones and was nearly blind due to vitamin deficiency, but after returning home and with the loving care of his mother he regained his weight to eleven stone and by eating lots of Marmite (Vitamin D) he recovered his eyesight and lived a good life to the age of 87.

Having known and occasionally heard what he had been through I obviously thought he would not have much time for anything Japanese, but how wrong I was. When I was in my 40's he asked me why I had never bought a Japanese car. My reply was that, knowing what they had done to him in the war I would never buy anything made in Japan. He then gave me the biggest rollicking he every gave me in all my life. He said that was war and what happened in war had no correlation with peacetime. He said he had met many Japanese who were animals, but there were also many who were doing what they were told to do and had no choice in the matter. If they had refused they would have been shot.

So I can see good reason for reconciliation, but I’ve never bought a Japanese car, I’ve got a VW Tiguan instead.

Keith Nicholls