Edinburgh woman was born in Singapore POW camp during Second World War

Jenny Martin in reflective mood ahead of VJ Day 75th anniversary

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 5:01 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 11:21 am

A Capital woman born in a Singaporean POW camp has recalled the moment her family learned the Second World War was coming to an end.

With the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day, or VJ Day, as it is better known, fast approaching, Jenny Martin, 77, is in reflective mood due to her poignant, personal connection with the historic moment.

Saturday, August 15, 1945 witnessed Imperial Japan’s formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri, effectively bringing the Second World War to an end.

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Jenny Martin spent the first three years of her life at the Changi Prison Camp.

The surrender sparked celebrations across the globe, but for Jenny and her family, the day was particularly joyous.

Jenny’s mother was still carrying her when, in 1942, the Imperial Japanese army invaded Singapore. They were sent to the Changi Prison Camp where Jenny would spend the first three years of her life.

Jenny said: “My parents had met in Singapore. My Father had been born in Inverness and moved over to work, while my mother had been born there.

“By the time she met my father, my mother was working as a secretary for the Colonial Secretariat (Civil Service) in Singapore.

“They were married in 1934, and, seven years later, were happy to be expecting a child. But we all know what happened next: the Japanese army invaded the peninsula and took Singapore on the 15th of February 1942.

“Mother was very busy at work up to the last moment burning files in an incinerator at the back of the office. But like many other women, she found herself taken, with one suitcase.”

Despite her tender age at the time, Jenny can recall the moment she knew freedom would come.

She said: “Unknown to us, a bomb fell on Hiroshima and then another on Nagasaki. One day, the guards all disappeared and then a plane flew overhead and dropped from its undercarriage thousands of leaflets, which fluttered to the ground like snow.

“Around me everyone was saying: ‘Thank God, thank God!’. The leaflet read: ‘The War is over. Japan has surrendered. We are coming for you very soon. Do not over-eat!’”

With restrictions still in place around social gatherings, VJ Day will be marked by a series of “virtual” events organised by Armed Forces charities Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government.

A series of programmes will be broadcast live via the charities’ social media channels to mark the milestone anniversary. A virtual Service of Remembrance will be shown from 10.35am on August 15 and will be followed at midday by a virtual concert.

Looking ahead to VJ Day in the middle of next month, Jenny said: “Personally, I think of a long and generally happy and privileged life with its ups and downs, achievements and failures, and the post-war lives of my parents and so many others.

“I once met a Japanese doctor who apologised to me, and I apologised back to him for those terrible events. That healed something in me that had been difficult to live with before.”

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