Excerpt from “Destined Meeting” by Leslie Bell ~~Reunion~~

picture-DestinedMeeting-BellAs the spate of rumours increased, so did the piggishness of their captors. Then, in mid-August, came the most fantastic rumour of all – the atom bomb! Freddy got it first from the men working on the trenches beyond the wire. This was too big, too fantastic a rumour to accept! Yet, within a few days, the biggest rumour of all was confirmed by fact. For a while it was quite stunning – the realisation that it was all over, although anticipated for so long now, completely bowled people over.
It was true enough, and had to be accepted, even by the Japanese guards. How they accepted it was by an attitude that Freddy found particularly nauseating. The bullying and brutishness rapidly gave way to a slightly ingratiating manner, yet, oddly, they were not apologetic but seemed to have already convinced themselves when they suggested, individually at various times: “We always treated you well, didn’t we? At least, I did.”
The days of waiting after that were unbearable. There had been no order for general release, but this was due not so much to red tape but to the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers on the island, and as yet only a handful of Mountbatten’s men. It was necessary to keep to a minimum the risk of incidents that could flare into something really frightful.
That was the state of affairs when Freddy and Katherine decided that to wait any longer before being allowed to see their husbands would be quite intolerable. They at once acted on their decision. Together with Katherine’s nephew, John Dobie, they slipped under the wire fence and got on to the road. Here they soon saw a taxi driven by a Chinese and, jumping in, they excitedly ordered him to drive to Changi Gaol.
It was very strange, that walking in past the startled guard, and seeing the men in their G strings staring at them as if they just could not believe what they saw. It was stranger still, receiving directions as to where their husbands were, and splitting up.
Freddy, going on alone, was filled with a lilting excitement and yet now, also, a sudden shyness . . .
Philip never could afterwards remember who it was that ran to him, saying: “Your wife’s here!” In that staggering moment of communication he was aware of one thing only – the stupendous fact that Freddy herself was in the camp. Everything else was vague and confused – unreal.
“Freddy!”
“Philip!”
This was reality! . . . in the holding and in the kissing; in the tremored joy of brown eyes looking into grey and the years of separation falling away as though they had never been. This was the end of waiting, and the fruits of that waiting . . . their destined meeting.
Freddy had not meant to cry. They talked and, like the talk of their long-ago parting, it was of the heart and for the heart, and not the printed page.

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Destined Meeting” by Leslie Bell ~~Reunion~~

  1. “Destined Meeting” was published in 1959.
    Freddy (Elfrieden) Bloom married Major Philip Bloom nine days before the allied surrender to the Japanese in February 1942. They were sent to different prison camps enduring separation for over three years.
    Freddy Bloom died in 2000, aged 86 years, and Dr Philip Bloom died in 1984, survived by their two children.

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