Paul Gemmell

‘There were blokes in tears all around me … and I was myself — to hear this wonderful sound of life that we hadn’t heard for years and years.’

30 July 2020

Today we remember Paul Gemmell, a prisoner of war (POW) of the Japanese. Paul recalls the first precious days of freedom at war’s end.

Paul Gemmell — There were blokes in tears all around me … and I was myself — to hear this wonderful sound of life that we hadn’t heard for years and years.

Paul Gemmell audio file (MP4 23.98 MB)

Paul Gemmell audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers Paul Gemmell, a prisoner of war of the Japanese for three-and-a-half years.

Despite the shocking conditions they were subjected to, Paul remembers those first precious days of freedom at war’s end.

Paul Gemmell

The feeling was unbelievable … the heartfelt relief … the sort of, ‘Thank God, we can go home’ — something that you couldn’t even begin to describe.

We were moved to a small hospital camp at Kranji, and I heard for the first time in probably three-and-a-half years, a baby cry. Hearing this baby cry was the most unbelievable happening you could imagine — and there were blokes in tears all around me … and I was myself — to hear this wonderful sound of life that we hadn’t heard for years and years.

And then the music, the modern music: Lili Marlene and Don’t Fence Me In. That modern music was something we didn’t even know existed, and it sounded, the first time we heard it, absolutely unbelievable.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.