NICK Clegg’s 74-year-old mother has for the first time revealed the truth about her grim ordeal in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.
The Sheffield Hallam MP has spoken movingly before about the bravery of his mum Hermance who was sent when she was just six to the camp in Indonesia, then called the Dutch East Indies.
But now Mrs Clegg has told the full story of her experiences in a frank interview in a Dutch magazine.
Mrs Clegg was held with her mother and two sisters while their father was incarcerated in another camp nearby.
She said women and children were given savage beatings by Japanese soldiers and were forced to stand for hours in the blazing sun with shaven heads.
“We were regularly ordered to parade in line bowing in the direction of Japan. Those who did not bow deeply enough were viciously beaten,” she said.
“We were also being slowly starved to death. I became so thin that I was weeks, if not days, from death when the war ended.
“Later my mother would say to me, ‘If the war had lasted one more month, you wouldn’t be here’.”
Although the family was reunited and returned to Holland in 1946, Mrs Clegg was weakened and ill for many years, suffering from anaemia and unexplained fevers. She met the future Deputy Prime Minister’s father in Cambridge when she was 19.