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Geoff and the war with Japan

August 16, 2020

This photograph, taken in the spring of 1941, is the last colour photograph my father would take before the end of world war II. it was taken in Dufay colour a now extinct colour process. The people shown are: from the left. my mother. my elder brother, my Godfather Geoff Gee, me, and my grandmother on my mother’s side. The picture was taken in Kew gardens.

My grandmother lived in a fairly large house in London, by herself, and as her eyesight has deteriorated so that she could no longer make a living as a seamstress, she took in lodgers. Geoff who was a draftsman with the railways in Scotland was sent down to London to take a course or something, and stayed in the house. My parents, recently married were also living in the same house. Before I was born they moved out to new house in the suburbs, and they asked Geoff if he would be my godfather. The day that picture was taken was just after Geoff had joined the army, and was probably when he was on embarkation leave, on his way to Singapore. Along with many other members of the British army, he ended up soon after as a prisoner of the Japanese.

He was involved as were many of his colleagues in the construction of the rail road that is so frighteningly shown in the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai. Unlike many others he survived the railroad and the war, and was repatriated to Britain in 1945 for rest and recovery. He ascribed his survival partly to his skill as a draftsman, he had the ability to convert a small black and white snapshot of a wife or girlfriend into a glamorous portrait, a talent that was initially welcomed by his fellow prisoners, and then by his prison guards who were also a long way from their girl friends.

He returned to his job as a draftsman with the railways in Glasgow. He used to visit us occasionally when he had free passes on the trains, and would take me with him to whatever was the current hit musical in the West end. He seemed to have many connections with the theater world, and would take me back stage after the show to meet someone he knew.

He never fully recovered his health and died in his forties. The anniversary of the defeat of the Japanese always reminds me of him, and my reason for lack of enthusiasm for that nation.

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One Comment
  1. Duncan MacDonald permalink

    Thanks Tim

    Amazing stories and individual in the days when they were so terribly important to the lives lived by so many since

    Geoff a man of many skills

    Thanks for sharing Tim

    Duncan

    Duncan MacDonald
    Duncan L MacDonald, CPA
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