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A PoW's Secret Gaelic Diaries

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by GRW, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Posted stories of soldiers in Europe using Gaelic for secrecy, but think this is the first one I've seen from the Far East.
    "He became known as the Belfast Doctor and his medical expertise, leadership and guile helped protect the lives of hundreds of Allied prisoners of war in Japanese prison camps.
    Frank Murray was born above the family spirit-grocers shop on north Belfast's Oldpark Road, growing up in a nationalist area of the city in a family with a strong Catholic faith.
    Like many of his contemporaries, as a schoolboy he spent the summer in the Gaeltacht in Donegal learning the Irish language, something he would later use to his advantage thousands of miles away in the Far East during a world war.
    His son Carl recounts how his father and mother first met among the peaceful and picturesque rolling hills of County Donegal before the outbreak of World War Two.
    "My father met my mother Eileen O'Kane in the Gaeltacht area in Ranafast when they were both school children in 1929," he said.
    "She was from the Springfield Road and he was from the Oldpark Road in Belfast.
    "He asked her to dance at a céilí and fell in love with her.
    "They kept up contact thereafter and both went to Queen's University but in 1937 she broke things off and they had no further contact until he found himself in Rawalpindi in what was India at the time, where he was serving as an Army medical officer.
    "He sent her a Christmas card with a picture of the officers' mess on it."
    The two began corresponding again and this continued when he was sent to the British garrison at Singapore.
    All of her letters were lost when Dr Murray burnt them just before the Japanese invaded and took him prisoner.
    However, the family have all the correspondence he subsequently wrote to his sweetheart while he was in captivity and it is these "secret diaries" that make such a fascinating story.
    Carl explains that his father kept writing to her in the form of a diary but in order that he didn't incur the wrath of the Japanese guards he did so in Irish, safe in knowledge that the chances of any of them being able to translate were slim in the extreme."

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