Sunday, January 13, 2008

Remembering (those who rescued) Dad!

For several months now I have been writing sometimes daily blog articles about making wine an selling home brew supplies here at BlueStem Winery. Occasionally I would write about some other event or life experience that didn't relate to wine making supplies or beer brewing equipment and the other day I wrote a short blog article about my Dad and just a little, little bit about his experiences as a soldier with Battery Chicago of the 60th Coast Artillery on Corregidor Island in the Philippines prior to World War II and his subsequent imprisonment in several Japanese POW camps in the Philippines (Cabanatuan, Bilibid, Palawan) and then his transfer by hellship (the Canadian Inventor) in 1944 to Moji, Japan and then on to Nagoya Camp No. 3 at Funatsu, Japan for the remainder of the war.

Several months ago I started making up my own brewing ingredients kits at BlueStem Winery and I started to name a few of them after experiences my Dad had during the war. But, I digress! There is a story to tell before I get to naming a beer!

When my father was released from captivity he was transported by train to Nagoya harbor on the east coast of Japan. After a short medical examination he was issued a new set of clothing (to replace the rags he had worn for the last 3-1/2 years) and taken by U.S. Navy barge out into the harbor and taken aboard the British destroyer HMS Wizard (pictured above).

The Brits promptly had the ex-POWs throw their new clothes over the side. Dad was not happy! But . . . the Brits then deloused their new charges and collected extra clothing from the crew to outfit the newly freed POWs. Then it was off to the mess! Dad said they started eating breakfast in the morning and were still eating breakfast well into the evening.

Anyway, I knew that Dad had been aboard the Wizard for a short trip from Nagoya to Tokyo and when I wrote a brief article for Roger Mansell's website about Japanese POW camps, little did I know how small the world really is.

Not too long after Roger published my photos and information about Dad I received an e-mail from England. A member of the HMS Wizard Reunion Society had found the article and had read them at a meeting of the Society. It seems that a lady who attended the meeting wanted to correspond but did not have e-mail and so they had contacted Roger who provided my e-mail address and contact was made. I have been corresponding with Adeline Medford from Wales ever since. Ady's husband was a crewman on the Wizard the day they picked my Dad up off the coast of Japan!

So, my first beer brewing ingredients kit was named Morrison Hill Pale Ale (after the hill on Middleside on Corregidor where my father's battery was stationed) and I then wrote to Ady and asked for the help of the Wizard in naming the second beer. Although Ady reports that some of the ideas were a bit bawdy, the final decision was to name the brewing ingredients kit HMS Wizard Magic Circle Mild Ale.

So, in a fit of excitement over the naming of my beer, I wrote to Ady and told her that I was going to send enough ingredients to England for everyone to have a beer at the next meeting.

Soon I received a package from Ady with a Wizard silk necktie and a certificate naming me as an honorary member of the Wizard Reunion Society. Before this all could go to my head, Ady told me that she thought the the honor had little to do with the service of my Dad or her husband but more to do with free beer!

So, while I remembered by Dad in my blog article the other day, today I remember the brave crew of the very small British warship H.M.S. Wizard and all they did in the service of their country and in the rescue of my Dad from the shores of Japan. Cheers, mates!

BlueStem Winery is a full-service winemaking equipment and homebrewing supplies store located in Parkersburg, Iowa. While we are purveyors of home winemaking and homebrew supplies and both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits we also are busy wine making, too! Our own label BlueStem wines are about to become 3 with the soon to be released Number 2 (Red Crescent) and Number 3 (Dark Side) to join our first issue Once in a Blue Moon. Blue Moon is a Riesling dessert wine, Red Crescent is a Cabernet Franc dessert wine and Dark Side is a Chilean Montepulciano.

1 comment:

Leon said...

Your Dad lived quite the eventful life. It's pretty cool that you named your beers as a tribute to your Dad's military past. They should be a hit with vets.