(Jim Townsend on left of photo, my CP friend Grandad P on right)
I learned this evening of the passing of a 95-year-old Chelsea Pensioner. Jim Townsend was a modest, quiet and unassuming gentleman. He had a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile. Jim had been captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1941 and sent up to the infamous Railway of Death ~ the railway between Burma and Siam (now Thailand). He always claimed that he survived because he was 'lucky' enough not to contract Cholera and Malaria at the same time. As a boy, Jim had wanted to go to Art School, but his father said that it was no place for a man and sent him out to work instead. Jim didn't paint again until he joined the Royal Hospital; my nephew is the lucky recipient of Jim's painting of Elgin Cathedral. Jim's story was partially told in the episode 'New Boys' of the BBC's series Once A Soldier.