Hero or Deserter?

Another great read. War yes, but war brings out the best in people and the worst in people. The Japanese in great numbers were sadists to the Caucasians under their control.

Major General Gordon Bennett escaped from Singapore. But Bennett was accused of desertion. The Royal Commission that was held in to Bennett’s escape surmised that escape is okay but only when the escapee is escaping from a prison. There is much controversy over when is escape allowed for military personnel because true escapees have the protection of international law. Hostilities had ceased by the time Bennett had escaped but Bennett and his men were not interned at the time of Bennett’s escape so people are saying Bennett was not legally a prisoner of war and therefore not entitled to escape. Law has so many loop holes. I say Bennett was escaping from Singapore. Bennett was not escaping from Changi prison camp where his men were later taken but still escape is escape and with the ceasing of hostilities Singapore was really in the hands of the Japanese. Bennett was escaping from a prison and that prison was the island of Singapore.

A ships captain goes down with his ship; we have all heard that saying. Not really, a captain leaves the ship after the last crew person and passenger has left and not before. A captain only goes down with his ship when he has not got all his crew and passengers off in time.

A leader puts his team first.

Bennett issued a command to his men to stand at their posts; meaning what? Not to escape? Yet Bennett escapes.

The final analysis to whether Bennett was right in escaping is laid on the shoulders of his men. His men were for him and his escape. Bennett’s only judge is his own men. Bennett died at the age of 75. At Bennett’s funeral there were many military personnel, many who were in his army division in Malaya and Singapore; certainly this must attest to Bennett’s vindication as a deserter.

This judgement of whether Bennett is guilty is a moral issue. Bennett always said he escaped so that he could inform the Australian Government on the truth about how to combat the Japanese from information and experience he learned in the field. I think this excuse is lame. The law says that escape is from when you are taken prisoner and I think Bennett was a prisoner from the time of the cease fire. I don’t mind Bennett escaping; who wants to live under the atrocious sadistic conditions that the Japanese gave out.

Bennett’s men forgave him so should we.

My grade of this book 9/10 (nine out of ten).

Yours Sincerely; Lester John Murray.


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