Gus Anckorn was a member of the Royal Artillery stationed in Singapore in 1942. He was there for three days when an anti-personnel bomb was dropped just ten feet from the truck he was driving. Anckorn was severely wounded in the blast and was rushed to the hospital. His luck at surviving the blast was short-lived, as he was transferred to the hospital right before the Alexandria massacre.
Gus was still covered in blood and lying in his hospital bed when 100 Japanese soldiers entered the hospital. Those unable to walk were bayonetted in their beds, those who could walk were marched outside and shot. Unwilling to watch his own demise, he covered his face with a pillow and awaited his own bayonet wound. It never came.
Anckorn was taken as a POW and sent to work on the Burma Railway. Still weak from his prior wounds, he struggled to meet the demands of the Japanese overseers who wanted him to climb a 100-foot aqueduct. When he could not keep up one of the overseers poured hot tar down his back. The burns from the tar nearly killed Anckorn and he was sent to a hospital camp. All of the men who had been working on the aqueduct with him died in a matter of weeks as Anckorn recovered in the hospital. He was then sent back to work. The men were starved and beaten regularly.
Anckorn was well-versed in magic, and he used his skills to distract the guards so he and other prisoners could steal food. Once he took 49 eggs from the kitchen and gave them to the men to eat, telling the guard that he needed them to practice a trick. In August 1945, as the Allies were closing in on Japan, Anckorn and four others were put in front of a firing squad. But instead of being shot the Japanese soldiers started arguing among each other, likely about being charged with war crimes. He was led back to the camp where he was soon liberated by Allied forces.
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