Jean Marie Brunsmann
The following is an exert of an e-mail correspondence with Jean Brunsmann's son, Ian.
Brunsmann was first made a POW at a place called Bandoeng and from there he was taken to Djakarta.
Then to Singapore at the Changi camp (not the changi prison) and on to Siam (Thailand).
The prisoners were then sent to Bampong where they had to walk towards Burma. About half way to Burma Jean was put in a small
camp (he cannot remember the name). At that camp Jean was made to drive trucks, which was probably one of the best jobs there.
At first the other prisoners gave him a hard time about getting an easy job, and his reply was "I donít have a choice and if I donít drive
the truck you donít get food because 90% of the time that is what I am carrying".
It was here where
the first of the stories my father shared comes in. As he was driving into the camp
saw his brother Eddy (Eduard Marius Brunsmann) running away from a young elephant. Eddy ran across
in front of the moving truck. He made it ok but the elephant slammed into the side of the truck
causing some damage to the truck. Jean
got out of the truck and asks his brother Eddy what he did
to make it (the elephant) do that. Eddy said "I donít know I just walked past it and it got angry". Then my father thinks he is going to get flogged by the guards over the damage to the truck. Fortunately some of the Japanese saw it happen and they thought it was so funny
they didnít do anything to Jean.
After that Jean was sent to Singapore and then on to Japan where he spent the rest of his time in Fukuoka camp #17. At that camp
he was made to work in a mine. It was in that mine he was very nearly killed when the roof collapsed. The man standing next to him was killed, but Jean was ok, suffering only a broken foot.
This is where the
second story comes in also involving Jean's brother.
One day the Japanese brought to the camp a small whale that had beached it self somewhere along the Shaw. It was cut up and
made part of the meal that day. Eddy was not keen on this idea and swapped his whale meat for something else.
The next day everyone who ate the whale meat was sick, except for Eddy who was telling everyone "I told you so".
Then one day the
Japanese made an announcement that it was all over and that they are all friends now. My father was
thinking this is what they say before they kill the lot of us. They remained at the camp until the Americans took them to Nagasaki.
He was then taken by ship to Manila, where the Dutch took over from there. Photo of Dutch POW's Liberated from Fukuoka Camp 17.
Jean Brunsmann lives in Brisbane Australia. His brother Eddy died on 26/08/2003 in Brisbane Australia.
Addendum: Jean passed away July 13th, 2008 at the age of 86 years 03 March 1922 - 13 July 2008
There was also a third brother that was a POW during WWII. His name was Charles Brunsmann, he was not at Fukuoka - he was somewhere else where they were making Isuzu trucks. Eddyís wife Gesine and his sons Bart and Rob were interned by the Japanese along with Jean and Eddy's mother and father.
Brisbane Australia, 2006
Jean, with grandson Jake
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