Some 74 years after the Second World War, a nonagenarian says the horror of war remains undilutedly fixed on his mind.
“God is wonderful. Your retentive memory is printed – death. It will not leave you when you die,” Joseph Ashiteye Hammond.
It can all come back to him powerfully merely by sitting in his hall quietly as his mind turns into a television of the terror in the trenches.
“I see everything, the fighting, people dying, crossing river, artillery shelling our positions… the whole ground shaking,” he said.
The 94-year-old was in his 20’s when he was drafted into the Gold Coast regiment which fought along with the Allied forces (U.S., Britain, France, USSR, Australia, China etc) against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria).
He said he fought in a war against Japanese soldiers and could lie in muddy trenches for hours while enemy snipers tried to pick out their positions.
“If you don’t kill you will be killed, finished,” he told JoyNews Emefa Dzradozi.
The final instructions they received after the six-year war was over in 1945, was to prepare the triumphant soldiers for civilian life.
In civilian communities, there is no applause for killing, only a life sentence or death penalty, he recalled what he was told.
And so Joseph Hammond says whenever he felt very angry, a clock goes off in his mind, counting to six.
The slow count, he said, tamed the urge to be violent. These are civilians, they are not soldiers, no need for violence, he tells himself and much of the red emotion subsides.