Anzac Tribute

I woke up to the sound of gunfire in the distance and to the realization that today is another day, I survived yesterday and I am where I am.

Slowly, painfully, I get up, moving my feet stiffly before a Japanese prison guard hits me with the butt of his rifle to ‘hurry’ me up. It works. We gather around in small groups, vacant looks on our faces. We dream of even a cold and stale breakfast, but that’s not forthcoming.  We trudge out for yet another day of blood, sweat and tears.

The date is 06/08/1945 and I am an Australian POW being forced to work in Japanese mines on the outskirts of Hiroshima, Japan.

Suddenly, the underground vibrates without making a movement, and makes the strangest noise I’ll ever hear. The Japanese guards slap me in the back of my legs with a cane as I show the slightest bit of interest in what just happened. I could sense confused and bewildered chatter from the guards, but I could not understand them. All I knew was they had no more idea than I did to what just occurred, no one knew that what we would see when we left the tunnel, was what is now known as the bomb that ended the war.

Hiroshima, Japan had been completely wiped out by an American nuclear bomb. Hundreds of thousands of innocent bodies lay dying while the American’s no doubt congratulating themselves on the use of their newest toy, the atomic bomb.

I couldn’t drag my eyes away from the giant, grey mushroom cloud that I could see in the distance. Only history will tell what I’m seeing right now. That vision will live with me as long as I do.

A few months later, we were liberated back home to Australia, broken both body and soul but soon to start re-building the nation that we’ve all just fought for.

Now all these years later, as each one of us gets old and dies off, we can only hope the young ones have learnt something from our wars, not just the ANZAC’s, but for all enlisted people everywhere.

This is just one possible day in the life of my ex-POW Grandfather, the late Fred Barnstable. I wear his medals every ANZAC Day, proudly.

We will remember them.

Josh Barnstable, 15

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. Wow, a very emotional entry Josh.
    great work.
    I can see this day is something you hold very close to your heart.

    Cherrish these historcial moments, they help make life even more precious.

    Danni :)

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