The following short article appears in the 2021 edition of The Sirmooree. Please scroll down to read ‘The Dying Note of the Swan’s Song’ that is referenced in it (and the accompanying notes).
My father [Colonel R C Jackman OBE, 2GR 1934-48] lost his leg at the beginning of the War when he was Brigade Major of Mhow Brigade in India. He was visiting a newly arrived unit, 26/19th Hyderabad Regiment, for the first time. During his inspection of the changing of the guard a soldier had an accidental discharge from his rifle, a new weapon that the unit had only been issued with two weeks before. The round hit my father in the right knee virtually destroying it. Had it not been for some very quickly applied first aid with a tourniquet my father would have died on the spot through loss of blood. He was taken to hospital and had his leg amputated above the knee. He was of course downgraded medically and posted to GHQ Delhi where he set up E Group of which he became the Head [and work for which he was subsequently awarded the OBE – Ed]. This was an organisation tasked to infiltrate Japanese POW camps throughout the Far East to ascertain who was in them, their state of wellbeing, and to arrange escapes where possible.
When I was looking through a box of my father’s correspondence recently I came across a poem, ‘The Dying Note of the Swan’s Song’. It is about the closing down of E Group at the end of the War. It is a dirge to ‘JDC’ who was ‘Duggie’ Clague or, as we remember him, Sir Douglas Clague, a prominent figure in the hierarchy of Hong Kong. After he escaped from the Japanese POW camp in Sham Shui Po he set himself up in China and became an outpost of E Group. He was awarded the CBE for his work during the War. He and my father were very good friends as a result of their E Group experiences and both having served in India and Douglas became my brother’s Godfather in 1945 when Robin was born.