The Hell Pits of Sendryu
By Jim Brigginshaw
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $29.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781925520996
It’s shocking to read that Jim Bodero, who spent much of World War Two in several versions of hell as a POW, was denied a Repatriation pension by an unknown public servant who did not think his injuries at the hands of the Japanese warranted consideration.
Author Jim Brigginshaw worked with Jim Bodero when Bodero was a compositor/reader and Brigginshaw had taken over as editor of the newspaper.
Bodero’s treatment as a prisoner of war is a familiar story. He was taken prisoner when Singapore fell into Japanese hands early in 1942. He – along with thousands of fellow POWs – was conscripted as a slave labourer. He worked on the Thai-Burma railway and later volunteered for work in a coal mine near Nagasaki. He was there when the US dropped its second atomic bomb, on 9 August 1945.
The blast that obliterated the city and incinerated 66,000 people may have freed Jim from his living hell below the ground.
But his struggles were far from over. Badly debilitated by the daily privations of working in the mine, weakened by chronic starvation, as well as suffering from the ravages of tropical diseases, he was more dead than alive. Jim was eventually repatriated to Australia, but his war never really ended, its legacy a lifetime of pain. His suffering at the hands of a sadistic enemy was extreme.
He died in Lismore in 1991, having first recounted his story to Jim Brigginshaw in extraordinary detail, which has formed the basis of this new book.