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Former prisoner of war Bert Brown dies aged 95


A former prisoner of war who saw the atom bomb dropped over Nagasaki in 1945 has died.

Bert Brown was born and educated in Leicester and worked for the Gas Board before joining the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and being posted to the Far East during the Second World War.

In the space of three years, he was captured in Singapore and forced to toil on the notorious Railway of Death, shipwrecked and left adrift for two days in shark-infested seas and then imprisoned on the edge of Nagasaki, destined to become synonymous with mankind's most destructive weapon of war.

His daughter, Judith Garner, said Bert, who died at a care home on February 1, aged 95, was a "great character".

Mrs Garner, 64, said: "He was full of stories about being captured by the Japanese. He bore the scars of the injuries he suffered and had to walk with a stick."

She said he was the centre of attention at the Horse and Groom Pub, in Rearsby, which he ran for more than 17 years from the mid-1950s.

Mrs Garner, who lives in Barrow upon Soar, said: "He used to tell people stories about his war years as a prisoner of the Japanese. He was a great character."

Bert, who worked for the Mercury in the 1970s, spoke about the atomic bomb to feature writer Jeremy Clay in August 2005.

He said: "At about 11am on August 9, the air-raid siren sounded.

"We all took to the shelter. I was the last to get there because I was on crutches. I was standing against the open doorway with a guard.

"I saw it fly over, the B-29. I thought it was a reconnaissance plane. I said it was just one plane, to take a photo, and the guard said 'choujou' – good.

"No sooner had he said that than the ground shook. It wasn't like the way the earth moves during ordinary bombing, it was a single shock. As I looked up, a white and yellow flash raced over.

"I had no idea what it was. Then everything went quiet. I can't remember hearing the bomb. No soundwave, not a thing.

"The wind was blowing in the opposite direction, maybe that's why.

"They reckon if it had been blowing the other way, we'd have copped for the radiation."

He said a doctor warned him the radiation from the mushroom cloud would prevent him having children, but Mrs Garner said: "Obviously, I am proof that was not true."

Mr Brown escaped serious injury, aged 82, in October 2000 when his Jaguar left the road before crashing 40ft down an embankment.

He escaped with whiplash, a bump on his head and a cut finger. He gave up driving 18 months ago.

He lived in Old Dalby for many years before he went into the Waltham Hall nursing home, in Waltham on the Wolds, three years ago.

Mrs Garner said: "He loved the visits from his great-grandchildren."

Bert is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Fred, grandchildren Andrew, Peter and Jacki and 10 great-grandchildren.

His funeral service was held at Grantham Crematorium on Monday.

Former prisoner of war Bert Brown dies aged 95

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