Having been set free by Allied troops, he travelled through Nagasaki a few weeks after its destruction. All he could see was a landscape “completely black. Here and there was a chimney. All the houses were just stone and rubble.” As he looked across it he thought, “good for the Americans”.
Having worked on the Burma railway as slave labour, then sent to the coal mines as slave labour.
Forced to carry back-breaking railway sleepers, Bras witnessed lives being thrown away daily for no reason at all. He had to watch his friends’ executions, knowing that if he intervened he would be executed too. Some 13,000 prisoners of war died during the construction of the railway, as did 100,000 native workers. It is estimated that one died for every sleeper laid.
Might not be a wholly empathic reaction but……
When the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, Bras’s father was taken captive and killed. Soldiers put a tube down his throat and filled it with water until his stomach burst.
Even with all that, a highly perceptive man:
He liked the British, finding the Welsh and Scots pleasingly direct and the English less sincere but very amusing. Dad’s Army made him weep with laughter.