Syd's experiences concluded.

Syd Francis continued

I can recall local fishermen using large nets in a ‘V’ shape and slowly closing the net, beating the water to drive the fish into the narrow end. Once caught, they would be laid out on matting by the roadside to dry in the sun. There were also a number of oyster beds nearby used for the cultured pearl market. Getting to and from the hospital was not a problem, as buses were provided each way.

I became a patient in April, needing to have my appendix removed. I spent a week in hospital and a week in convalescence on Miya Jima Island, to which I returned several times.

Later in the year Sister Mary Burns was married and all the theatre team received an invitation, which I still have (see photocopy). It was a great day.

I returned to the UK on the ‘Empire Orwell’, leaving Japan on around the 14th December 1953. I was designated with David Oates to work in the Ship’s Hospital, looking after a patient with a fractured spine. I think he was the last of the Gloucester Regiment to leave and I do recall reading in one of the national newspapers about him after our arrival back in the UK. Looking back now, I find it hard to believe that, as a 19-year old, I was working in an Operating Theatre – seeing and dealing with the most horrendous injuries and burns to men all about my own age. It was an experience I shall never forget.

I certainly matured during my year at the Britcom General Hospital and it was something I would not have missed.



Syd Francis and Des Brown