Page 7 - HGS Suburb News 136 - Autumn 2018
P. 7

Lost Warriors by Philip Davies                                                              From Hamamatsu,

                                 Seagrim and a small group of   and then Singapore; who then   Kempeitai, Seagrim willingly      with love
                                 British officers. These volunteered   fought briefly alongside Seagrim   accepted his own execution, but
                                 to stay (or be parachuted) way   as a guerilla commander, and   eloquently pleaded for the Karens          town. So both Fellowship pianos
                                 behind enemy lines to arm and   then attempted the long and   captured with him to be spared.              come from the same town.
                                 organise ‘levies’ of guerrilla   dangerous trek back to the front   The Japanese hugely respected            We are most grateful for the
                                 fighters from the Karen hill   line in Assam, but was captured,  this, and some were released              timely  financial  assistance
                                 tribes  to harass  and fight the   tortured and imprisoned in   albeit somewhat randomly in                received from the Residents
                                 Japanese. Unlike the majority of   Rangoon.  But  he  managed  to   terms of the evidence before           Association, which allowed us
                                 Burmese, who saw the Japanese   keep his vow to return alive to   the court martial.                       to go the final mile. We also are
                                 as liberators from the British   his young wife after the re-  Did Seagrim believe in the                  very glad that the executors of
                                 yoke, the Karens remained   taking of Rangoon in 1944 – a   long-term future of  the  British   Noriko plays the Kawai GX3  the late John Hewson’s estate
                                 intensely loyal and revered the   vow that kept him alive in the   Empire and its ‘right’ to survive?   There has been a new arrival at   asked that his generous bequest
                                 ascetic and spiritual Seagrim,  darkest moments.        What were his views on race   Fellowship during the summer   to Fellowship should go towards
                                 whom they speak of to this day.   Hugh Seagrim, tall, charismatic   more generally? Or is this posing   shutdown – a brand new Kawai   the new piano. It is particularly
                                    After successfully evading the   and intensely spiritual, was an   questions with the wisdom of   grand piano.  fitting as John, who was Chairman
                                 efforts of the Japanese military   unusual and unconventional   hindsight that few at the time   In line with the continuing   during the extension and
                                 police, the Kempeitai, and their   British Army Officer, with strong   even thought really to consider   drive  for  excellence  in  the   refurbishment of Fellowship
                                 Burmese allies to capture him   views on the strategy and tactics   seriously, but are inevitably much   building and its equipment for   House, always stressed the
                                 for over two years, Seagrim felt   needed to fight and win a jungle   more pertinent to our generation?  the benefit of HGS residents, the   importance of quality. He also,
      Following the Japanese conquest   forced to give himself up in   war. This put him at odds with   The  author’s description of   Committee decided, after advice   of course, started the Friday
      of Malaya at the end of 1941   March 1944 to save the Karens   the  military  orthodoxy  of  the   prison  life  for  the  assorted   from its musical consultants,  afternoon music appreciation
      and the surrender of Singapore   from reprisals and torture, and   day – which failed so badly in   POWs  in  Rangoon,  and  the   Barry Millington and Deborah   sessions.  Appropriately,  the
      in February 1942, Japan seized   was  himself  executed  after   the rolling up of the British   strange  symbiotic  relationship   Calland, to replace its upright  Yamaha has been sold to a
      the opportunity also to seize   imprisonment in Rangoon. The   Empire in the Far East in 1941.  that often developed between   Yamaha with a grand piano.   musical Suburb family.
      British  Burma.  The objectives   subsequent uprising of the Karens   His views were similar to those   them and the Japanese guards –   Barry’s and Deborah’s contacts   On September 17, an informal
      were to secure Burma’s oil and   was a major factor in the success   of the legendary Chindit leader,  one moment quite friendly and   in the world of music led to   evening recital with drinks was
      natural resources, to close the   of General Slim’s ‘Operation   Orde Wingate, whereby the jungle   benevolent, the next sadistic   advice from the highest level, the   held to welcome the new piano.
      ‘Burma Road’ to China and   Character’, enabling the British   was seen as a friend and ally,  and brutal – is well described.   international concert pianist   Guests were a few of the many
      ultimately to threaten the heart   to win the race for Toungoo and   and not as an impenetrable hell   Indeed they struck a chord with   Noriko Ogawa and the former   Suburb residents supportive of
      of the British Empire – India itself.   opening up the road to Rangoon,  on earth full of unimaginable   your reviewer, as the Japanese in   pianist and Head of Keyboard at   Fellowship’s quest to  provide
      When Rangoon fell in March 1942,   which in the end the Japanese   terrors, predators and diseases.  Changii, Singapore incarcerated   the Purcell School, Roshan Magub.  excellence in music and the arts
      it looked as if nothing could   fled in headlong retreat.   Successful  guerrilla  warfare  my own father, John, for the   Noriko was in large part   for the benefit of the Suburb.
      stop  the advancing  Japanese  -   In telling the linked stories   depended on fast thinking,  duration. He would not often   responsible for selecting the   We were lucky enough to benefit
      although, after severe testing,   of Hugh Seagrim and Ras Pagani,  initiative and self-reliance, and   speak  about  it,  but  had  some   instrument we  purchased  (a   from Noriko’s offer to play and
      the Indian front line held.   Lost Warriors by Suburb resident   the respect and  loyalty of  the   good stories, including the fact   Kawai GX3 model) after trialling   speak. It was a beautiful evening.
         By July  1944, the  tide had   Philip Davies paints a vivid picture   people,  which  Seagrim  had  in   that he read the whole Bible   many others during the search.   A few days later, two of the
      turned in the Allies’ favour and,   of life and death in Burma under   spades. Seagrim’s attitudes to   over the four years, reading each   Roshan helped enormously by   guests went on holiday to Japan.
      after the hard-won victories of   the Japanese occupation, and the   jungle warfare were indeed   page before using it to smoke a   arranging  favourable  terms  Their ‘Bullet Train’ stopped on
      Imphal and Kohima, the British   precarious and dangerous lives   similar to those of the Japanese   roll-up with the tobacco he grew.   with one of the foremost piano   the  way  from Tokyo  to  Osaka.
      Indian 14th Army swept across   led by the special forces working   soldier, who saw it as ‘a friendly   He eventually saw his treasured   suppliers in the country, Jaques   They looked out of the window.
      Burma and re-took Rangoon in   behind  the  lines  organising   place where it was dark and you   tobacco crop become worthless   Samuel Pianos, which just   This is what they saw:
      one of the most successful   resistance among the Karens and   could  cover  yourself  and  in 1945 when the Yankee GIs   managed to fit our budget.
      British campaigns of WWII. In   transmitting vital information   camouflage yourself.’ The story   arrived distributing cartons of   We  have  remained  faithful
      large part, success was made   back to the allies in India. Ras   of these two men could well   Marlborough. He continued his   to Hamamatsu, a town in Japan
      possible by the lasting legacy in   Pagani is described as WWII’s   become better-known if the   duties in the Malayan Civil   about 160 miles southwest of
      the northern jungle hills of Burma   ‘serial escapologist’ who escaped   present interest in the film and   Service after the war and saw   Tokyo. All pianos made in Japan
      of the charismatic Major Hugh   on his own first from Dunkirk   TV rights bears fruit.   the  transition  to  Malaya’s   are made here. Kawai has been
                                                               But what should be made of   independence in 1957.  making  just  pianos  from  1927.
                                                            Hugh Seagrim, the man? He had            PETER JENKINS   Yamaha, the maker of the
                                                            this intensely religious and   (A long-standing Suburb resident   upright we bought in 2009 and   For more information about
                                                            spiritual side deepened no doubt   who read modern history at Oxford)  are now replacing, also has its   Fellowship, and what it does, go
                                                            by his long and at times                              production facilities in the   to
                                                            undoubtedly lonely, isolated and   Lost Warriors – Seagrim and
                                                            frankly boring enforced stay for   Pagani of Burma. The last great
                                                            over two years behind the lines   untold story of WWII, by Philip
                                                            among  his beloved  Karen  hill   Davies. Atlantic Publishing – £20
                                                            people.  We are left  with  little
                                                            clear impression of his real
                                                            character and  personality,  or
                                                            his hopes and fears beyond the
                                                           ‘goal’: this being the defeat of
                                                            the  militaristic  and sometimes
                    Hugh Seagrim – photograph and portrait  sadistic Japanese, and the welfare
                                                            of the Karen people. However, he
                                                            showed no apparent personal
                                                            hatred of them; indeed he had a
                                                            tendency to make rather risqué
                                                            and teasing jokes at their
                                                            expense in prison. At his court
                                                            martial at the hands of the   Hugh Seagrim – 1936, aged 27

                                                                                                                                            BRILL   OWEN
                                                                                                                                            CHARTERED ARCHITECTS
                                                                                                                                           We are able to offer a complete
                                                                                                                                             service from conception to
                                                                                                                                          completion helping you to create
                                                                                                                                           a unique home that fulfils your
                                                                                                                                            Contact us for a free no obligation
                                                                                                                                                  consultation on
                                                                            Roy Pagini – 1945 and 1962                                          0208 349 0037208 349 0037
                                                                                                                                                   Or email at
                                                             Xcell Solutions                                                      
                                                                                                                                               View our recent work at
                                                                           Computer Repairs Maintenance                             

                                                                           PC & Laptop Repairs                    We are Chartered
                                                                  Internet, Networking & Wireless Setup           Architects based in
                                                                                                                   North London
                                                                        Virus Removal & Protection                 specialising in
                                                                             CALL FOR HELP!                        extensions and
                                                                                                                  new build houses
                                                                                                                  new build houses
                                                                 T: 0345 222 0182  M: 07968 561355                 and flats within
                                                                       E:               conservation areas
                                                                                                                    and to listed

      SUBURB NEWS IS PRODUCED AND DELIVERED TO YOU BY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS                                                                             7

  LEV117-Suburb-150x80-OT.indd   1                 08/02/2018   11:15
   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12