Frank Planton's Letter
There is a need to clarify the situation regarding Bill Outens Ashes
You will recall that earlier this year we managed to get an article run in the Dorset Echo about my pal Bill Outen? He was mentioned at length in my series of articles under the pseudonym of Joe Japan. A couple of weeks ago l sent an E mail to Naomi, the Dorset Echo correspondent to fielded our query, asking if it wasn't about time she answered my E-mail with a comment or something rather than silence, as it was six months plus since sending my copy. She replied saying she had been off work for a while and if l sent my address she would return it, which she did, saying she enjoyed reading it but the paper could not print it as l was not a local. I knew that and did not expect it. The subject is now closed.
Speaking to Bill's sister, to my sadness, it seems that the family did not know Bill was dead. My letter had, as l remember, nothing in it to soften the blow of his death. I had been living in a climate of people dying and, as long as it wasn't you, too bad. It never occurred to me that others, particularly family members had a quite different perspective on things. I then remembered that I also spoke to someone else when l came home who told me of a family waiting for news of their love one. I knew the chap died in Java in 1942 but they still didn't know.
l honestly thought that Bill's ashes would have been at home and that his funeral would have taken place since it was 3 months since l handed them in. So it must have been a terrible blow to his mother on hearing my news; l understand, quite naturally, that she went to pieces. No wonder things were like they were. Anyway, that chapter is closed now; its time to let sleeping dogs lie. Thanks to you and your man in Dorset for the help. At least, after all these years, I have finally closed the loop. It doesn't completely exonerate me of those sad days, but at least I have laid a number of ghosts to rest.
Alias Joe Japan
Frank Planton (Joe Japan)