Before passing from this phase of the story I would like to relate the incident involving Captain Sheridan of the 125th Anti-Tank Regiment. As the ship which carried this regiment approached Singapore it was bombarded mercilessly from the air. The ship was an old one, very slow, and became a “sitting duck” for the exuberant Japanese gunners. When the bombing became excessively heavy, the stokers left their posts under the terrific pressure; consequently, the ship’s engines stopped completely and, drifting along helplessly, the vessel became an easy target for the enemy. The decks had been cleared. Some of the Army officers had gone down to the lounge under the main deck and began to play the piano and sing while the bombardment was going on.
Shortly, however, the Japanese dropped an oil bomb that broke through the deck and into the officers’ lounge. The next thing that Captain Sheridan knew he was in the water, apparently having escaped through a porthole. His calls for help were finally answered and he was picked up and brought into Singapore, severely burned and blinded in both eyes. After the capitulation of the garrison the officer was brought to a small temporary hospital where I was assigned to look after him and another blind officer. Both had their heads swathed in bandages.
One day while sitting in the little mess-room for lunch the second officer interrupted the conversation and in great emotion cried, “Take the bandages off, I can see.”
I was surprised at this turn in events, because the young officer was very quiet. When he persisted in his request, I contacted the Medical Officer.
“Why not take the bandages off?” he said. I assisted him as he unwound the bandages carefully. When the last bandage slipped from his eyes, the young officer cried out joyfully, “I can see, I can really see.” An apparent miracle had taken place. Meanwhile, Captain Sheridan suffered agonies untold as he contemplated his own plight. As I led him to his room his massive frame shook; he manfully suppressed his heartbroken sobs. The weeks dragged slowly on and there was little if any improvement.
During the period I was assigned to help him, we had countless opportunities to speak of the things that really count. Seldom do two people become so attached in so short a time. Ours was an unusual friendship; our backgrounds and future aspirations were so different. Long conversations about God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the plan of salvation occupied our attention for hours. He gave me his life story one time, and the following day he asked me to give mine. What a thrill and joy it was to tell of my godly heritage, of my conversion to Christ and, of my service for Him. An occasional tear would fall quietly as we considered eternal verities. One day he put his arms around my shoulders and said, “There is only one Person who comes to mind as I try to picture you, and that is the Savior Whom you serve. I hope when I regain my sight, you’re still around and I can see you. “Dan,” he said, “you have something I don’t have.” I could understand this, because strong feelings were being confirmed; a life without Christ was empty and pointless. This fine officer did not make an open confession of Christ but impressions were made which eternity alone will reveal.
Slowly, Captain Sheridan regained partial sight in one eye. With the other one, he could discern light from dark. Gradually he began to regain his composure and his soldierly bearing. Finally, he was discharged from the hospital and given the responsibility of taking men from one part of the prison camp to another.
Captain Sheridan was happy to be gainfully occupied again. Proudly he marched the men from one area to another. One day a Japanese guard approached him on his blind side as he walked at the head of the column. (Guards were to be recognized by prisoners at all times.) As the column marched past with no recognition, the guard took it as an insult and stopped them. Then he accosted Captain Sheridan and severely reprimanded him volubly, then struck him with his fist. One blow struck the Captain’s good eye and totally blinded him again. Thoroughly disheartened, he returned to the hospital for further treatment.
Again I undertook the responsibility to look after the Captain and nurse him back to a measure of recovery. I prayed for this man and for the others who came under my care and I am glad to say that this dear man again found his vision partially restored. I prayed with all my heart that spiritual sight would be given the Captain for this would far outlast the physical.