|The Battle of Albuera|
"Until January 23rd I was left entirely alone and was not even questioned. There was a Private of the Middlesex Regiment there at the time, Felford by name, whose conduct was excellent and proper in every way and who was a real credit to his regiment". (1)In Lewis Bush's book The Road to Inamura (1972), we learn a bit more about John Frelford:
"The next day a Japanese officer came to question us .........I took the opportunity to ask him about Frelford, who was now to be seen walking about the courtyard. He said that the man had been left in their charge by a Japanese unit which had gone south to the Dutch East Indies and Guadalcanal. They had been requested to give him every consideration as he had saved the life of a Japanese soldier by tending his wounds. I pointed out that such special treatment would only put the man in a very embarrassing position and I was sure he would like to join us. Shortly after this Frelford was telling us his story.
He had been fighting in the Stanley area and was cut off from his unit, most of whom had been killed, when he stumbled on a Japanese soldier behind a rock. The man was unconscious and bleeding from wounds in his head and chest. He gave him water and bound his wounds, but (Frelford must have then passed out and) just as he opened his eyes, four or five Japanese appeared and were going to shoot Frelford when the wounded man spoke up". (2)
"A Japanese officer inquired:
'Why did you assist an enemy'.
'A wounded man, whether he be friend or foe, is just the same. Any human being would act as I did', replied Frelford.
From that moment the Japanese made him their special charge. Frelford was a decent fellow and a good soldier and had a union jack wrapped around his waist which he was keeping for the day of victory." (2)
"He was a man greatly addicted to liquor whose record in the Army had only been distinguished by his genius for running foul of the authorities and getting into trouble. Many civilians had taken refuge in the hotel which greatly complicated its defence and when it became evident that it could not be held it was decided that all soldiers must leave so that the civilians could surrender as noncombatants and not have their existence imperiled by the presence of troops. The hotel was well stocked with food and drink. Riley true to form, had deserted his post, found the cellar where liquor was kept and proceeded to get so drunk that he passed out. He was found by an NCO who, to get him out of the way of the defenders, put him in a room pending further action". (4)
"In the late Autumn of 1942 when I was an inmate of Argyle Street Officers Camp, I received a postcard from Stanley Camp signed James Riley Ryan, and again another during the winter of 1943. Finally another card arrived from May Waters, one of the Canadian Nursing Sisters who had been taken to the civilian camp, mentioning the same name and saying how helpful he had been and sending his regards to us all. I made some enquiries and eventually Major Young, the Commander of 'A' Coy, remembered the incident of the drunken soldier at the Repulse Bay Hotel. We felt sure that this must be the same name but, as any action on our part would most certainly have resulted in his death, we did nothing at the time."(4)
"The final chapter took place in Toronto in 1946. Major Young attending a meeting there, had occasion to take a taxi. He thought the driver looked vaguely familiar but decided he was probably wrong. However when he paid his fare, the driver leaned out the window and said 'Give my regards to all the boys Major' and drove off. Major Young realized it was Riley and could only say a few chosen words to the vanishing taxi."(4)
"Darkin of the Police came to see me on the subject of Twidale who is apparently a very bad hat. He has married into the Cullen family whose reputation is none of the best. I also addressed Yamashita on the subject of Twidale. He promised to deal with him by threatening that he should send them to gaol if they did not reform." (5)
"Dear Sir: I have to inform you that I am writing a story of the supernatural [he apparently had clairvoyant ability] covering events that happened at Maryknoll Monastery, Stanley Peninsula on December 25th 1941. I wish to dedicate my book to the memory of the officers and men of D Coy 1st Battalion, Middlesex who surrendered to the Japanese on December 25th 1941 and were then killed by the Japanese for surrendering."
|Maryknoll House, Stanley|
(3) File in National Army Museum - NAM19940-03-330-1
(4) Appendix L - The Repatriated Rifleman by BrigadierJohn Price in The Royal Rifles of Canada in Hong Kong 1941-1945 by Grant Garneau
(5) Franklin Gimson's Diary 15 Aug 1943