A wedding of one of the operating theatre Sisters. My return to the UK.

The operating theatre staff were invited to the wedding and reception, which was held in the officers mess at the Australian Signals Camp, Kure.

At the time when Sister Burns was married the pace of life began to slow down on the surgical front. The armistice had been signed on 27th July (1953) and although this was not the end of casualties in the Korean War theatre, our work became more routine and concerned with remedial surgery.

We were also given more time off and opportunities were taken to visit local areas. Hiroshima was visited many times, as it was only 200-Yen bus fare from Tenno Camp. On one or two occasions a visit to the American PX store at Etajima Island (West of Kure) was very rewarding, especially a meal in the restaurant where the variety of ice cream was unbelievable. The main restriction at this time on getting about was the British Soldiers weekly pay allowance, which I was reminded of by Ken Hodge was £1-8-0d (decimal £1.40) for a conscript, private, like myself. There was a small qualification allowance (which I cannot recall). Out of this I had a sum of money deducted that was sent home to my parents.

During this time, in Kure, I had made friends with Miss Hisae Kasai who worked at the gift shop ‘Royal’ in the San Chome (just off, the Hondori, the main street). Miss Kasai introduced me to many of her friends and it was through this friendship that an appreciation of the Japanese culture developed. We also visited numerous places of interest that I would not have done of my own accord. I remain permanently indebted to Miss Kasai for her friendship.

On Friday 11th December 1953 we had to report to JRBD (Japan Reinforcement Base Depot), at Hiro, in readiness for our departure to the UK on Monday 14th December. Regrettably we were confined to barracks that weekend. At midday we sailed out of Kure Harbour for our month long voyage home aboard the troopship Empire Orwell (the one which brought me out some twelve months earlier). I well remember, to this day, the sadness that came over me on our departure, but at the time I could not understand this feeling. Looking back I realise it was the friendship, which had been built up, during my service, which is now the comradeship that I think and speak about and in part has ‘driven’ me to write this reminiscence.

It took us just 21 hours to arrive in Pusan, from Kure, and here we picked up the 1st Regiment of the Royal Tanks, who were also homeward, bound. On the dockside, as we arrived, a Korean Navy Band and an American Army Band entertained us and they were playing the popular tunes of the day.

My return voyage proved to be very busy. A small team, including my long-term friend Syd Francis and myself, were designated to provide 24-hour total care to a patient with a fracture of the spine. He was nursed in sickbay on a special bed, which fixed his position in order to maintain a set posture at all times. This became difficult on occasions, particularly when the weather was very hot (there was no air conditioning as I recall) and at times we had to pack ice around him to keep his temperature normal. The voyage for our patient proved to be very frustrating, and managing his emotional behaviour was as important as his physical care.