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Most lads died after the amputations, but I survived along with an Australian, Billy Hargreaves. We stayed in the camp under a mosquito net for 12 months. When lads died, someone would play the Last Post, and you’d hear it 20 times a day some days. I was lucky to survive.

John Booth survived having both legs amputated with a saw without anaesthetic as his pals held him down when he was a Prisoner Of War.

John, known to many as Jack, was born on 14 March 1918 in Chadderton, Lancashire, and was a driver for the Co-op before he joined the Royal Artillery at the age of 21. He trained in North Wales and Woolwich but his then girlfriend Irene, insisted they marry before he was posted overseas. John managed to get a 48 hour pass for the ceremony at St. Gabriel Church in Middleton, Manchester in 1941. They had just one night together before John was deployed to Singapore.

Ten months later, John was taken prisoner of war, along with many other soldiers, as the Japanese invaded Singapore. He was forced to work in 12 hour shifts on the docks in tropical heat, surviving on meagre rations of rice, dead rats and snakes.

John was later shipped with 700 soldiers to work on the railways in Thailand and Burma. He was given a job transporting water up a rock face from the river, but developed tropical ulcers on both legs after suffering insect bites and bamboo scratches that turned septic.

John had both his legs amputated without anaesthetic after being given just five minutes to decide whether to choose amputation or be left to die. Four friends held him down whilst a medic PoW amputated his legs with a saw. John later said he was relieved after the operation as he had been in such excruciating pain from the ulcers. Most men died after undergoing amputation, but John and an Australian PoW, Billy Hargreaves, were the only two double leg amputees to survive.

"Most lads died after the amputations, but I survived along with an Australian, Billy Hargreaves. We stayed in the camp under a mosquito net for 12 months. When lads died, someone would play the Last Post, and you’d hear it 20 times a day some days. I was lucky to survive."

When John returned home, Irene had found a cottage for them to begin married life together and they went on to raise two children. John worked for the Co-op for 30 years, carrying out maintenance jobs, and remained independent, using his prosthetics for 70 years.

My wife hadn’t seen me for years – and when I came back home I obviously had no legs. But I was in an OK condition considering. I got false legs and wore them for 70 years. I worked, I drove.

My wife hadn’t seen me for years – and when I came back home I obviously had no legs. But I was in an OK condition considering. I got false legs and wore them for 70 years. I worked, I drove.

John joined Blesma in 1946 and latterly lived at the Blackpool home for many years where he was loved by residents and staff. He passed away on 16 September 2016.

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WW2 veteran John Booth