Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia, the title is taken from a documentary I saw on the history channel and belongs to its respective owner. I also don't own the ode of remembrance.
Author's note: Australia was captured at the Battle of Singapore and is sent to the Thailand- Burma railway.
Human names Australia = Chris Paterson, New Zealand = Nathan Cooper. I'm sure you guys know the rest.
Every Inch of the Way
The guns fell silent over Singapore as the surrender was enforced, thousands of young men prepared for Japanese captivity. Australia, their nation, their protector and their friend, was helpless another face in the crowd.
They were herded like animals into the foreboding hauls of the ships, being taken to a worse hell then the fires of battle. Crammed in like sardines, so close together that he could scarcely tell what was his body and what belonged to somebody else. Food and water became a distance memory, and still the journey continued. Some men passed out from the heat, but there was nothing they could do.
When the ship landed, the sickly men were forced off. Australia was almost blinded by the sunlight as he was forced down the gangplank. Men were being separated into what seemed like varying levels of sick and healthy. The man in front of Australia stumbled, and knocked the Japanese officer over. The Officer, who had previously seemed relatively calm, snapped and began to beat the man.
Without a second thought, Australia punched the officer and pulled the man to his feet. He shouted something in Japanese and reached for his gun, Australia closed his eyes excepting to feel the searing hot metal pierce his skull. After a few second he opened them, and saw a small man with neat black hair looking at him intently. Australia knew this had to be Japan, he could feel it the way all Nations could sense each other.
"Who are you?" He asked in heavily accented English.
He turned to the officer. "彼は健康で強いです, 鉄道に彼を送る."
Australia's Japanese was very poor, mostly learned from what was shouted in battle; the only word he could make out was 'train'.
The Officer was furious from whatever Japan had said "しかし、彼は私を名誉を汚された!"
It looked like Japan had pulled rank, because the officer's next words came out a desperate plea "先生なし！決して!"
With that Australia and the beaten man were forced in one direction. All the while he wondered, why had Japan saved him?
"Mate, thanks for savin' me." The man said, rousing Australia from his musings.
"I'm Dave Fitzsimons." He said holding out his hand.
"Chris Paterson." He replied taking the hand.
It turned out that his time confined to the Hell Ship, had taken Australia all the way to Thailand. He and some of the healthiest POW's were instructed to build a railway. In the back of his mind Australia wondered what had happened to the nation. Was he amongst the prisoners or had something far more sinister befallen him? Japan was proabaly trying to keep the Nations separate, even so Australia keep an eye out.
It was like they were stripped of their humanity, and became objects meant solely to toil for the Japanese military. Did it matter that none of them knew how to build something like this?
The men weren't just Australian; amongst them were great numbers of Brits, Americans, Dutch and countless men from conquered Asian nations. Chris made a silent vow to do his best to protect them for his allies. Relief filled him when he didn't see any other nations, at least they were alright.
Chris, like so many others fell into survival mode. Work quickly and efficiently, try to be under the radar. If you stuck your nose over the line, it was likely to be cut off. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that their keepers would use brutal force without hesitation.
His days were spent clear vast tracks of thick, hostile jungle, the backbreaking track laying and doing what little he could for his fellow prisoners.
There were two major problems, food and medicine. There wasn't enough food for a normal day, let alone on the Herculean task they had to perform. At first it had alright, the main concern was that some of the men didn't like rice that however, soon became irrelevant. As the food diminished so did the men's moral. Chris gave them what he could, as a nation he was certain he couldn't starve to death. Even this was ineffective; soon he and the others began to drop weight rapidly. The railway was being built by an army of skeletons wrapped in skin.
They desperately needed medicine. The tropical diseases were brutal killers, almost everyone was affected. Berri-Berri was the worst, causing the men's flesh to break out in huge ulcers. Typhoid, malaria and dysentery also reared their ugly heads, a few poor souls caught all at once. Their make shift hospital was over flowing with sick and injured, many were still forced to work.
One of the soldiers Edward, or Weary, as he more commonly called became their unofficial doctor. It was amazing the way he would find to save the men's lives. He would amputate a limb with the most basic of instruments, there was no other choice if the Berri-Berri spread the patient would die. It became common to see men with one of his makeshift prosthetics wandering around; even Dave had lost three fingers to the disease, leaving one hand a shadow of its former self. Weary became a legend a lighthouse to all the troops suffering from unimaginable cruelty.
The Tenasserim Hills were their next challenge, already weak from starvation and suffering from disease. They had to tunnel through the mountains with primitive tools and the constant threat of death. Construction was months behind schedule, so Chris and the others were forced to work from dawn until late into the evening. Torches were used to light the tunnel entrance, giving it a fearsome appearance like a tunnel into hell.
As time wore on the Allies had been bombing the railway, this gave some troops a surge of hope. Every time heard the bombing Dave was elated, he was certain their captivity was at an end.
"As soon as we get home I'm gonna hug my wife 'til me arms fall off. Then a beer." He announced to Chris and the other soldiers they sat with "What about you blokes?"
"Hug my mum and then tell her she was right, there ain't anything romantic about being a soldier." Tom the American announced, "And then eat a hamburger. I'm sick of rice!"
William the English solider, who reminded Chris of Arthur spoke next "I for one intended to drink an entire pot of tea, have a warm bath and see my daughters again. What about you Christopher?" William had an annoying habit of calling everyone by their full name "Going to hug your wife or mother, eat one-thousand meat pies?"
"I dunno Bill; I'm not married, and I don't got a mum" Chris went silent "I guess I'll wanna see me brothers again. Arthur's a thinker, so I reckon he'll be as good as gold. Nate, without me around he won't go bull at a gate. Alfred, me cousin, he always wants to be the hero, I bloody hope that doesn't get him into trouble."
It helped to talk about the future with such certainty and optimism; it made the present feel bearable.
These moments were few and far between. Work intensified, the labour asked of them became harder and harder, and then it was finally completed almost a year after it began. The men were sent to other projects, not knowing it would be two whole years before those who survived would be liberated.
Chris stood in the crowd, while the memorial service was held. New Zealand stood at his side, watching his brother try to conceal his emotions. It had been almost seventy years and Chris still suffered nightmares.
When he had first been found Nathan hadn't recognised him, he had changed that much. Gone was the bashful brother he remembered, in his place was a ghost. It took almost a decade for him to tell Nathan anything about it, all he had said was 'It was hell'. At Gallipoli they had, had each other, and in Thailand Chris had been on his own.
As the speaker read out the list of battles and atrocities, Chris bit his lip when he mentioned Burma and Thailand. Nathan snaked an arm around his brother's shoulders.
"Chris, it's alright, you're here with me. That's long over"
He gave a weak smile, dragged from the memories "Thanks Nate."
They felt silent as the ode of remembrance was read in a solemn voice, mouthing the words.
"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forgot."
"Lest we forgot" The crowd echoed.
Nathan and Chris stood as the last post was played and the minute silence began. Each locked in their own thoughts, Reveille filled the air and the spell was broken. By the time the national anthem had been played Chris felt the ghosts of his past fall silent.
Australia and New Zealand were leaving the memorial when he bumped into an old man, making him drop his cane. As Chris picked it up he realised he knew him! He had gone bald, his skin new marred with dozens of wrinkles, a stalk of rosemary pinned to his chest but the left hand was still the same, three fingers were missing. It was Dave!
"Chris? How the hell are you still so bloody young?" He asked.
"You knew our grandad?" Nathan said, quelling his suspicions "My brother looks just like him doesn't he?"
Dave seemed happy to believe the lie "Yes I did. He used to give me his rations, even when the bastard was starvin' himself. He was a legend, he really was. He's not still alive is he?"
"I'm sorry," Chris said "He died a long time ago."
"Really? I would of loved to see him again, he was the best bloke I ever knew. You two are lucky to have someone like him as a grandad."
There was such admiration in his voice, it shocked Chris. He never realised he'd meant that much to Dave.
"Well you two take care, and do him proud ya' hear me!"
"Yes Sir." Chris said with a smile.
He watched Dave wander his wife and daughters, before disappearing into the crowd. Leaving Australia and New Zealand to their thoughts.
"It's a wonder he's still alive." Nathan said.
"I'm glad he's had a good life, god knows he deserved it".
Chris sank into silence just enjoying his brother's company. It was something he would never take for granted again.
I made Australia call America his cousin, because they were both raised by England, but I can't see them being brothers. So cousins it is.
After defeat in the Battle for Singapore, thousands of Australian and British soldiers were captured. Many were transported on the 'Hell Ships', which were overcrowded to the point of suffocation.
The Thailand –Burma Railways was just one of the huge construction projects the POW's were forced to work on, along with thousands of captured Asians. There was little to no medical care, many people died from preventable things like cholera and starvation.
As Hellfire pass or the Tenasserim Hillsworkers had to labour for up to eighteen hours a day. It was called Hellfire pass because the torches within the tunnel looked like the entrance to hell.
Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop preformed many lifesaving surgeries. His leadership made him a legend among the prisoners. After the war he worked to rebuild relations with Asia saying 'In suffering we are all equal'.
The officer in charge of the railway was charged for war crimes after the Japanese surrender. The railway still stands today, and a memorial stands in place at the infamous 'Hellfire pass'.
Gallipoli was a campaign fought between the ANZAC's, Australian New Zealand Army Core and the Turkish in WW1.
The ceremony was an ANZAC day ceremony, the ode of remembrance come from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, originally it was to remember the ANZAC's, but is now used to commemorate people who die in any conflict. People will wear a stalk of rosemary or a poppy because rosemary grew wild in Gallipoli, and poppies grew on Flanders Field in France where many soldiers died. They also represent the blood spilled to protect Australia and Zealand.