A decorated war hero is celebrating his 100th birthday – despite being announced DEAD 70 years ago.
Charles Rodaway cheated death when he was captured by Japanese troops 1942 and a firing squad was called back from shooting him.
But a local newspaper published that he HAD died in an obituary following the announcement from official Army reports.
War veteran Charles gave his mourning family a shock after he failed to return with other troops.
Charles, who celebrates his century milestone on March 12, said: “I said to my pal, ‘This is it’ – but the firing squad got called to attention and marched off.”
The Second World War veteran had walked seven miles from his home in Blackpool, Lancs., to sign on at the age of 12 before joining North Lancashire Regiment six years later in 1934.
But after being captured at the Fall of Singapore, Charles was sentenced to 15 years at Sakai Prison in Osaka alongside eight other prisoners of war.
Describing the conditions, Charles said: “There was no heat or fan; no water, a wooden pail for a toilet, one light hung from the ceiling, a small barred window at the rear of the cell.
“Clothing was one thin shirt, one thin trousers, no shoes or socks, no jacket or kimono. No wooden box, only the floor to sit on. Only one thin blanket for cover.
“Bathing was usually allowed once a month; no soap, no wash cloth or towel, no clean clothing.”
Despite the appalling living conditions, Charles survived to be rescued when the prison was liberated in August 1945 – which was a huge shock to his family when he returned.
Charles emigrated to Canada in 1948, but made frequent visits to his home town of Blackpool before he become “too old” to travel.
Speaking about his war stories, his wife Sheila said: “It’s quite an accomplishment, especially considering the inhumane conditions during his time in Japan prisons.
“He’s absolutely amazed he’s lived so long, and feels wonderful, excitedly looking forward to his birthday although he can’t quite believe it. He credits truthfulness and honesty as the key.”
Amateur historian Tony Rodaway – no relation to Charles – discovered the war veteran’s incredible survival story while researching the military history of his own family.
Tony said: “A lot of those lads when they come back they don’t want to talk about it and they just want to get on with life, though obviously they would have been under a lot of stress.
“To be in front of a firing squad and saying goodbye to your friend and then having the commanding officer call it off at the last second – the odds of that happening just beggars belief.”
Tony added: “He’s still in reasonably good health apart from his eyesight and he hasn’t lost too much weight. He’s absolutely more than one in a million.”
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