- Changi Prison POW Camp during the Second World War -
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Changi Prison POW Camp
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Those known to have been held in or employed at
Changi Prison POW Camp
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Buckley Harry Hall. Mjr.
- Conley John Wilson. Sig. (d.7th July 1944)
- Connelly James. Gnr.
- Ellis Albert. Cpl.
- Farrell Henry William.
- Fox Frederick Thomas.
- Govaars Godefridus Antonius Theodorus. Sgt. (d.21st Sep 1944)
- Isherwood George Wallace. Sgt.
- Johnson Bert Richard. Gunner (d.30th Nov 1942)
- Moffat William. Sgnlmn.
- Moss John Cottam. Capt.
- Parkes Ivan.
- Reader Stanley. Able Sea.
- Roy Robert . Signalman (d. 30th Aug 1945)
- Taylor Frederick Noel. Pte.
- Vickers Edward.
- Williams William Christopher James. Sgt. (d.1943)This page is new, as yet no names have been submitted.
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Signalman Robert " " Roy (d. 30th Aug 1945)Unfortunately I know almost nothing about my Uncle Robert Roy, other than he died as a POW in Changi Singapore and is buried at Kranji Cemetery in Singapore. My son is currently in the far east and plans to visit the grave next week. If anybody has any info, we would be very interested.John Roy
Sgt. George Wallace "Judd" Isherwood Royal Army Service CorpsMy Uncle, George Isherwood was on board SS Empress of Asia when it was bombed and sunk in Feb 1942 off Singapore. He stepped onto an Australian destroyer without even getting his feet wet! He was captured several days later in Singapore without firing a shot and incarcerated in Changi jail. At the end of the war he was on board a transport taking him and thousands of others to Japan as slave labour.
We learned very little of his time in Changi, like so many others he was most reluctant to talk about it and destroyed virtually all records and letters that he sent to his family and fiancé. It was only from one of his friends, Sgt Gwyn Jones from Coed Poeth we learned that he had been picked upon frequently for beatings by the Japs (Nips as they called them) due to his small size. Apparently, the Japs singled out anyone especially tall or small. Gwyn incidentally managed to hide from the Japs an exquisite gold ring which contained a watch, I saw it a few years later when he visited us.
George refused all medals etc. awarded to Service personnel after the war. On their return he sailed in the former liner Sobieski which called at Cape Town where they were treated like kings, fed, feted and taken into private homes. On their arrival back at Southampton the dockers were on strike. The men almost mutinied wanting to unload the ships themselves. The were given rice pudding as a desert for their first meal, it hit the floor and the ceilings.
Their return for compassionate leave was appallingly handled; in the end several squaddies from N E Lancashire commandeered a truck and got home that way. A few years ago I read an account -sadly I cannot recall the author's name - from somone in the area of N E lancs who was on the same lorry and actually refers to dropping George and another of his friends off almost at their front doors.
George who had no children, died around 10yrs ago still suffering physically and mentally from his experiences whilst in captivity.Keith Tanner
Sig. John Wilson "Bing" Conley 18th Division Royal Corps of Signals (d.7th July 1944)I am trying to find out details about my father Signalman John Conley (nickname Bing) 18th Division Royal Corp Signals service # 3129355 who died in Changi 7/7/44. He is buried at Kranji war Cemetery Singapore
I am trying to find out about his capture at Padang Sumatra March 17th 1942 and how he got to Padang in the first place. I have obtained his Japanese Index Card (with the the kind help of Andrew Snow from the Death Railway Museum in Kanchanaburi)and it makes mention of him being captured at Padang and our family always thought he was captured at Singapore. The story we were told as children was that he had escaped from Singapore to Sumatra and then captured by the Japs but I believe if they caught an escaped POW they executed them, I would be grateful if anyone who has any information could contact me.
I am more fortunate than most as I was at the opening of Kranji while in the Royal Air Force stationed at Changi, and visit his grave there twice a year.John Conley
Sgt. William Christopher James "Kit" Williams 35 L.A.A. Regt, 78 Bty. Royal Artliiery (d.1943)My father William Williams was born on the 15th of December 1913 at 106, Upper Beau Street, South Everton, Lancashire. (Part of Liverpool) At birth he was registered as William Christopher Williams. James was added when he was Baptised, in accordance with Catholic tradition. This has led to some confusion over his middle names. His father was William Nicholas Williams, a Bricklayer’s labourer, born at 42, Mere Lane, Everton, in 1886, he died before 1940. His father was born in Beaumaris, Anglesey, of a Welsh family, originally from Ruthin in North Wales. His mother was Agnes Williams (Nee Kane), Born at 138, Elias Street, Everton in 1888. She died c.1955. Her father was born in Everton of an Irish family which had come over from Ireland during the Irish Famine in 1851 or ‘52. Brought up as a Catholic, my father was sent to a Catholic Boarding School, for his education, in which he did well. After leaving school, he entered the tailoring trade, specialising in invisible mending. Although a Catholic, he was interested in all religions, and had visited a synagogue.
When the Second World War began he joined the Royal Artillery and trained as a Bofors (Anti-Aircraft) gunner, becoming a good shot. (My daughter, Tamsin, has in her possession a part of a Target Drogue, which he shot down.) His Regiment, the 35th was a special TA Regiment formed at Oxford on 2nd September 1939 for the defence of RAF airfields in the area against air attack. It recruited initially older men aged 25 to 50 (he was 26) and by early 1940 comprised five batteries with Headquarters at Oxford, Abingdon, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Reading. In mid 1940 this Regiment reverted to a normal Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and was reduced to three batteries 78, 89 and 144.
My father was in 78 Battery. Battery HQ was in Reading. The RHQ was located in Black Hall, St Giles, Oxford. He was posted to an ack-ack site in the village of Bramley, in North Hampshire, where he met my mother, who lived at the bottom of the hill on which the gun site had been built. These guns also protected the airfields at RAF Aldermaston and RAF Greenham and also the ammunition depot at Bramley. On the 29th June 1940, aged 26, and now a Lance-Bombardier, he married Phoebe Helen Warner, aged 23, born 12th March 1917. Although he was still a Catholic and she was Church of England, they married in the C of E Church at Bramley. His Best Man was Edwin Randall, presumably one of his fellow Gunners.
He was then posted away, to a gun site at the I.C.I. factory at Mirfield, in Yorkshire. Here, they got the orders for mobilization. They were sent to a staging centre at Middlesborough, where the 78th made ready for the move to Scotland. It was here that the thought of going overseas proved too much for a couple of the lads. One shot himself in the foot and the other threw himself out of a bedroom window.
On the 14 July 1941, aged 27, now a full Bombardier (equivalent to Corporal), his son, Christopher Robin, was born. Presumably before his posting overseas, he was given a 48-hour pass to come down to see his new son, and we have some photos taken then. Obviously, I have no memory of him.
On the 8th November, 1941, 35 LAA was kitted out for Iraq and entrained for Gourock, on the Clyde. At Gourock, on the 12th November 1941, his Regiment, the 35th Light Anti-Aircraft, boarded the converted liner the “Empress of Japan”, along with the 6th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, and others, and joined Convoy WS 12 ZM, bound for Basra, in the Persian Gulf, hence their sand coloured camouflage. The convoy was escorted by the battleship “Royal Sovereign”, and Destroyers “Dulverton” and “Southwold”. The “Royal Sovereign” was one of the first ships to be fitted with Radar. They left Gourock at 2345, on the 12th, superstition preventing any ship sailing on the 13th! The ship was carrying 50 crated Hurricane fighter aircraft, as well as the 53rd Infantry Brigade Group, 232 squadron RAF, the 85th Anti-Tank Regiment,and the 6th Heavy AA Regiment, along with 35 LAA. On the 24th November, they put in at Freetown, but were not allowed ashore. Two days later, they left Freetown. As they were heading out to sea, a solid thump was heard on the side of the ship. It was a torpedo that had failed to explode. The men enjoyed the luxury of the ex-liner, with its cinema and air-conditioning, as they rounded the Cape of Good Hope. On the 7th December 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour - and the Americans entered the War. After rounding the Cape, they docked at Durban on 19th December, for another four days, with shore leave. They were billeted ashore and wrote letters to their families, who were preparing for Christmas, On the 21st, they were told that 35LAA and 6HAA were to be transferred to the SS “Narkunda”, an ex-P&O liner. The “Narkunda” sailed on the 24th December (Christmas Eve!). This ship was not air-conditioned, having been built in 1920. They had only one Naval escort. After a few days at sea, the convoy was split into two. Due to the Japanese situation, the “Narkunda”, “Abbekerk” and some others were diverted to Singapore, as Convoy DM1, with escorts “Emerald”, “Exeter” and “Jumna”.
The troops, having been kitted out with clothing suitable for desert warfare in the Middle East, were hardly equipped for tropical climates and jungle conditions. Not only that, but much of their equipment, including their guns, were on another ship, possibly the “Abbekerk” . On the 4th January, the convoy refuelled and watered in the Maldive Islands. Here they were joined by HMS “Durban”, and the Dutch Battlecruiser “De Ryter”. A day later the convoy was reinforced with another six naval escorts, including an Australian destroyer. As they entered the South China Sea, three Dutch destroyers and a Norweigian ship joined the convoy..
The Japanese bombed Singapore on the 12th January 1942, and the convoy arrived in Keppel Harbour on the 13th. Major Cutbush, RA commandeered the Singapore Harbour Board Club as a billet for his men. Next day, it was realised that they had no guns or equipment. Because of the explosive ordnance she carried, the “Abbekerk” was berthed in an isolated spot, and it may be she had all of the AA guns aboard, but it was felt too dangerous to unload her at the regular docks.
The men had nothing to fight with and the Japs were coming! Their torpedo bombers had already sunk the “Repulse” and the “Prince of Wales”. Both formations were rearmed in Singapore from existing stocks. Upon rearming, 144 Battery and two troops of 89 Battery of 35 LAA Regiment were sent into Johore and went into action against enemy aircraft. 78 Battery remained in Singapore.
Whilst the British were hastening their defence preparations, General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the 14th Army Group of the Imperial Japanese Army was getting ready for the Japanese assault. The British Army in Malaya did not have any tanks whereas the Japanese had over two hundred. The Japanese Air Force were also able to carry out a series of air attacks on Allied positions. Under the command of General Yamashita, the Japanese made rapid progress as they forced Allied troops to retreat south. Unsuccessful attempts were made to halt the advance of General Yamashita at Perak River, Kampar and the Muar River.
On the 25th January 1942, General Arthur Percival gave orders for a general retreat across the Johore Strait to the island of Singapore.With the rest of the retreating army, 144 Battery fell back across the causeway into Singapore. At this point, the story becomes confusing. On 30th January, 78 Battery commandeered a ship and left for Java. William was not aboard. I can only assume that my father, and possibly another man, Gunner Hatton, were somehow left behind, in Singapore.
On February 15, 1942, Singapore capitulated, with the personnel of 3 Battery, 6 HAA Regiment, and 35 LAA Regiment's HQ and 144 Battery becoming prisoners of war. My father was also captured, as we know from his Japanese POW Record Card, which gives the date of his capture as 15 February 1942. Strangely, his rank is given as “Gunner”, although he was in fact a Bombardier. Maybe the Japs didn’t know what that was, although he surely would have had his stripes on his uniform.
The prisoners were held in what had been the British Changi Camp. Soon after, a message was sent to my mother stating that William was a Prisoner at Changi. The reverse of his Japanese POW Record Card informs us that on the 18th October, 1942, control of the Prisoners in Changi was transferred from Malay POW Camp to the Japanese 17th Army (New Guinea). On that day, 600 men of the Royal Artillery, including my father, were marched to Singapore Docks and put aboard a ship. This ship was the Kenkon Maru, Sister ship of the Kenkon Maru Of the 600 Gunners, 130 were from 35 LAA, mostly from 144 Battery. They were told that they were going to Japan. Herded into the hold of the ship, they endured horrific conditions. On the journey, it was noticed that the ship was definitely not heading for Japan, but was going south. The ship stopped at Surabaya Harbour, Java, on the 22nd Oct. then Timor, Bali and the Hialmarhere Islands. Many men were sick at this time and Battery Sgt Major Lambourne of the 11th Coast Regiment died from dysentery. On the 5th November 1942, the ship docked at Rabaul, on the island of New Britain in the Solomon Islands Group, where the men were unloaded and marched along dusty tracks, ankle deep with volcanic ash, despite many being without footwear.
The Kenkon Maru, now without the prisoners, continued her voyage. On the 21St of January, 1943, the U.S.Navy submarine SS 212 Gato torpedoed and damaged the Kenkon Maru. just East of Bougainville. (06°12'S, 155°51'E). Her escort then scuttles the ship. This was the action that led to the Japanese lie that the 600 Gunners had been "Lost at Sea". The British were informed of the action, and so my mother was told this on 5th March 1943.
This lie persists in both Japanese and British records. The prisoners had all disembarked at Rabaul. The prisoners were marched from Rabaul to Kokopo Camp. From the start they were badly treated with consistent beatings and being tormented by the guards. During this period the men were made to work in the tropical sun. The Japanese interpreter, Higaki, was a Christian and did his best to help the prisoners, at some risk to himself.
On the 15th November 1942, a parade took place where the fittest 517 men, out of the remaining 599, were chosen to go to Ballali (Balalle) Island to build an airstrip. My father was amongst these men. They were taken by trucks to board another hell ship for the two day journey to Ballali. The island, which is approximately 4 miles in diameter, is one of the Shortland group of islands, just south of Bougainville.
Not one of these 517 men survived to tell their story. It was only through one of the few natives who lived on the island, and who had witnessed the events, that this story was able to be recorded by the Australian Forces who reoccupied the island some time later.
The first thing that happened was that a British Officer was shot. More atrocities followed. 81 men died from beatings, illness and from Allied bombing of the island. No-one knows whether my father was among these. The prisoners were not allowed to dig trenches for protection from the bombs. In April 1943, the Japanese on Ballali Island were told by their headquarters that the US Navy was preparing for an attack. If this happened, all Prisoners were to be disposed of by whatever means was available.
On the 29th June 1943, an American warship bombarded the island. The next day the remaining 436 prisoners still alive were lined up and killed by sword or bayonet. The bodies were stripped of their identity tags and dumped in a large pit. In November 1945, this mass grave, containing 436 bodies, was uncovered, confirming the facts. The remains of these British servicemen were recovered by 3 Division AIF, War Graves Unit of the Australian Army, and in December 1945 were finally interred in graves in the Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, in Papua, New Guinea. As the bodies, when recovered, could not be identified, each one has an individual grave marked "A Soldier of the 1939-1945 War Know Only to God". No-one knows whether my father was killed in the massacre, or had died before. The official records still give the date of the death of all 600 Gunners as 5th March 1943, the date given for the sinking of the ship which they were no longer aboard, which is incorrect anyway.Chris Williams
Cpl. Albert Ellis 1st Battalion Leicester RegimentAlbert Ellis was held at POW Camp Fukuoka 17 Japan. He served with the 1st Battalion, Leicester Regiment in 11th Division enlisted on 9/8/1933. He was born on 16th November 1911. His address was 20 Herbert St, Mansfield, Notts. He was captured in Singapore on 15/2/1942 and was held in Changi 14/2/1942, Havelock Rd 15/5/1942, Thailand 8/10/1942 and Fukuoka 26/6/1944.
Henry William Farrell HMS RepulseHenry William Farrell was born in 1916 and enlisted in 1936. He lived in Plymouth, Devon. He was a Royal Marine on HMS Repulse when it was sunk by a Japanese aerial attack off Malaya on 10th December 1941 with the loss of 513 men. It seems that speculation still surrounds the subsequent actions of the Japanese pilots as they did not interfere with the rescue of survivors. The rescuing destroyers took them to Singapore naval base. Shortly after the sinking, the remainder of Marines from HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, which was also sunk, merged forces with remnants of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, becoming known as the Plymouth Argylls. They took part in a series of land actions against the Japanese. They were ill prepared for tropical warfare and without air-cover so it was a mission doomed from the onset. Subsequently on February 15th 1942, the Argylls were led by a piper from Tyarsell Park Singapore, into 3 and a half years incarceration.
Henry was held in the flowing camps: Changi, Havelock Road, Kinkaseki, Hindato, Non Pladuk and No 17 FukuokaS B Flynn
Sgt. Godefridus Antonius Theodorus Govaars Infantry (d.21st Sep 1944)My children wanted to know our family WW2 wartime background. It was not till three years ago, at age 75, that I was able to address our wartime history, firstly my own three and half years in Japanese concentration camps on Java and my father's 2 and a half years in captivity in Java and Thailand.
My father was taken prisoner in Java, following capitulation of the KNIL (Royal Netherlands Indies Forces). After three months in camp on Java, he was transported to camps on the Thai-Burma rail project. In June 1944 he was transferred to Changi and subsequently was marched to the water front to board the Hellship "Hofuku Maru" with other British and Dutch POWs.
This ship headed for Borneo and then travelled to the Philippines. Some 50 POWs died enroute and the numbers were replenished with additional POWs to a total of 1287. The freighter experienced engine troubles, which forced the POWs to remain on board ship for two months under atrocious conditions. More POWs lost their lives and some 50 were sent ashore to the Bilibil Hospital. The number of POWs was increased again to 1282, prior to the ship's departure for Japan on 20 September 1944.
The following day approximately 10.30 am, the Hofuku Maru was torpedoed by US aircrafts operating from carriers nearby. The freighter took three torpedoes and sank within minutes. Most POWs too weak to move went down with the ship, locked in the holds. My father, as a medic, perished with them. The Hofuku Maru was not emblazoned with the Red Cross, to indicate prisoners were on board. Some prisoners made it to shore, only to be rounded up and sent to Japan by the next convoy.Lex Govaars
Mjr. Harry Hall Buckley Royal Engineers and Indian Army Ordinance CorpsIn memory of my father, I am recording his wartime service.
Harry Buckley first became involved in militarism in 1936 at Cambridge University, where he joined the Officer Training Corps. He was studying mechanical engineering and mathematics, so naturally joined an engineer unit. After university he worked for Mather and Platt, an engineering company in Manchester and was in a Territorial Army engineer unit as a reservist.
With the dark clouds of war on the horizon he was fully mobilized before the outbreak of war in 1939 and deployed to France with the British Expeditionary Force as an engineering officer. It was in France that he met his future wife Margaret who was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and was deployed to France as a ’passive air defence instructor’. Prior to deployment she had held the rank of corporal but had had to relinquish it to private for deployment purposes.
The stories of their meeting are entirely from my mother and can be related on another occasion. I attempted to engage my father on numerous occasions with questions like ’Tell us a story from the war’. He was always reticent and sometimes counter attacked with grizzly descriptions, to try and silence my questions. He would relate that war involved long periods of boredom. From my mother I learnt that he, alongside her, were posted to a factory where maintenance was carried out on the tanks. On one occasion intelligence had determined that the factory was vulnerable to German bombing, so my father organised the demolition by explosives of the factory chimney to make it less recognizable from the air.
Strategic withdrawal was the main action for this army and as a child I gleaned from my father that an army in retreat was not a picnic. He related that there were people being shot for lacking discipline in retreat. Relating this story to an ex-British Army regular he said - in the first war yes, but not in the second world war. All I can do is relate what I heard him say. As an engineer he was in the rear party in retreat, blowing up bridges and other installations to slow the advancing Germans. They retreated to St Nazaire where Harry was again ordered to stay back to fill up the harbour with the abandoned vehicles used in the retreat. He was the last to leave and left the port on a motorcycle. He had been given money and was able to pay for passage to the UK on a fishing boat. The fisherman were suspicious that they would be impounded if they put into a port, so they landed Harry on an isolated beach.
On return to the UK Harry discovered that his new love’s family lived in a large house. The story goes that he joined the British Indian army as the pay was better and would enable him to afford his unfolding future. It is my belief that in the retreat many of Harry’s unit members were lost, probably on the Lancastria, a troopship sunk in St Nazaire bay with the loss of approximately 4000. The army realized that he would be of greater use in the far east than in a re-hash with the Germans.
He sailed for India and became established with the British Indian Army in Rawlpindi. He was then posted to staff college in Quetta, Pakistan. Before boarding the train he was instructed to phone HQ at each stop as the situation was deteriorating. He never arrived to start the course and instead was deployed to Malaya to command a unit of the Royal Indian Army Ordinance Corps - primarily staffed by Indian troops. He was in the jungle to face up to the advancing Japanese army. Comments gleaned from my mother were that he learnt to feel safer during the night - ‘the only time he ever felt safe’; and that there were problems with communications. This latter information has been well documented in analysis of the reasons why Singapore fell.
With the fall of Singapore Harry passed the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war in Changi POW camp. My father was an excellent bridge player. The story I was brought up on, was that he made up a bridge foursome together with a senior British officer, and that this officer did not want to break up the bridge foursome - so my father was not sent to work on the Burma-Siam railway. ‘He played bridge to save his life’. A more realistic explanation I think is that he was not sent to work on the railway because he was an only son of a widowed mother. My father explained to me that it was the task of the senior British officer of the camp to select people to meet the demand for workers on the railway. The casualty rate on the railway was much higher than in the camp. The Japanese worked people to death - similar to the German concentration camps.
For the first year of captivity, officers were not required to do manual work. After that he was put to work digging and growing potatoes. Apparently this helped him survive as some of the more lenient guards would allow them to eat the roots, which are of course similarly nutritious to a potato. He would have been severely disciplined for taking a potato. Also during captivity he traded his watch with a guard for some ducks. Enterprise is necessary to survive the POW experience.
After liberation he was returned to India and apparently reunited with his non-field kit. Upon return to the United Kingdom he was admitted to the royal naval hospital in Greenwich to recover from a large boil caused by years of malnutrition. He was also suffering from the after-effects of Malaria. While in hospital he learnt watch repair as a hobby, a form of therapy. He was demobilized from the army and moved forwards with life working as an engineer, marriage and raising children. He died in 1975 at the age of 58. He worked a full working life up until he was given a year off for medical reasons six weeks prior to his death. It is believed that his demise at a fairly young age was partly caused by consequences of his wartime service. I also believe that he worked fully to the last in large part because that is what his fallen comrades had done in the Japanese POW camps, and it was his way of maintaining solidarity. Twenty-five years after his death my mother was given a lump sum by the British Government as compensation. Survivors are annoyed that the Japanese government has not paid compensation, has not admitted responsibility of any kind, or offered any apology. Harry now has a grandson named Harry.Chris Buckley
Sgnlmn. William Moffat 3rd Indian Signals Royal Corps of SignalsWilliam Moffat was born in 1920 and joined the Territorial Army in 1939. He was with 11th Corps in 1941 and on the 28th of July embarked for Singapore on the R C of S Malaya. A Letter, not dated and censored, on active service reveals Willie was en route to the far East and had a few days on shore before continuing his journey. On the 5th of October he joined 3 Indian Corps Sigs. A letter written 12th of October 1941 from 18th Technical Maintenance Section- 3rd (s) Corps Signals, Malaya describes the town in which he was billeted, people, dance hall, food and tigers.
On the 15th of February 1942 he was listed as missing in Malaya: William Moffat 072 1/4300 Sgmn 3 Corps Sigs Fitter He was held in Changi and transferred to Blakan Mati on the 5th of November 1943. His first letter as a free man is dated 7th of September 1945 and was written from No.2 Camp R.A.P.W.I, HQ SE AC. In a letter written 5th of October 1915 he states "Journey home was on Nieuw Holland ,bathing in the Suez, eating cream doughnuts, due in Liverpool 16th October, put on 2 stone 6, got a bit of beri-beri." He was repatriated on the 15th of October 1945 and became a Territorial Reserve Signalman on the 20th of July 1946. He was transferred to R.E.M.E on the 1st of July 1951Avril Anderson
Gnr. James Connelly 9th Coast Bty. Royal ArtilleryJames Connelly was captured during the fall of Singapore and became a POW on 15th February 1942. He was in the following camps:
- Changi February 1942 - October 1942
- Wampo November 1942 - May 1943
- Tonchan June 1943 - August 1943
- Kingsao (or could be Ringsao) September 1943 - January 1944
- Tarsao January 1944 - July 1944
- Tomonta October 1944 - May 1945
He worked on the Death Railway and bridge over the River Kwai. James died on 8th December 1997. He was a member of the FEPOW club.Aileen Connelly-Byrne
Able Sea. Stanley Reader SS Empire MarchMy father's ship, SS Empire March, was sunk in the South Atlantic by the German raider Michelle. The surviving crew were rescued by the raider and off loaded at Singapore. The crew were transferred to Changi prison where they stayed for six months. In mid 1943 my father, Stanley Reader, was taken by "hell" ship to Japan and eventually landed in Hakodate. After a short time he was moved to the cement plant at Kamiiso just outside Hakodate. The camp closed in mid 1944 and all POWs were sent to the coal mine at Bibai POW camp until liberation in September that year.
I visited both camps in 2013. The cement factory at Kamiiso still operates and the staff made great efforts to take us around the site and where the camp had been situated. The ground is bare. The Bibai camp is now a Japanese Defence Force anti missile battery base. During the visit in May we waded through 2 feet of snow to visit the desolate camp site. Only some mounds and foundations remain.David Reader
Frederick Thomas Fox 50th Royal Corps of SignalsMy father, Frederick Fox, joined the 50th Royal Corps of Signals in 1936. He was captured at Singapore and spent some time in Changi prison camp. Later he was shipped to the Thai/Burma Railway and from there to Japan to work in the copper mines.Russell Fox
Edward Vickers HMS SussexI'm trying to find a bit of my father-in-law's wartime history. He served on HMS Sussex in 1945 and was at the liberation of Changi in Singapore later that year. His name was Edward (Ted) Vickers and he came from Middlesbrough. He received the Burma Star. If anyone know of him or any history of the ship around that period I would love to hear from you.
My father was serving on HMS Black Swan at about the same time and place. He recalled that they took some of the most seriously injured (and mentally damaged) ex-POWs from Changi to Australia for medical attention. The less serious were eventually returned to the UK so the Sussex might have been involved with that most harrowing of tasks. I might add my father in later life would walk for miles rather than buy Japanese goods as a consequence of what he saw at that time. As you might imagine, with the passage of time, that became a more and more a difficult job as he searched for his new TV etc. We owe so much to that generation of British men and women whose country we have inherited. - Chris Pownall.
My father was on HMS Sussex when it left Malta in 1945 and headed for Alexandria and then Port Said then through the Suez Canal for Columbo and the base at Trincomalee. Whilst there they went out for 2-3 days at a time and bombed targets in Burma. During one of these excursions he saw HMS Squirrel (a mine sweeper) hit a mine and sink. The destroyer HMS Racehorse picked up survivors and transfered them to the Sussex. During this time the Japanese Kamakazi attacks started. One headed for the Sussex and exploded before impact, causing minor damage to the starboard quarters of the Sussex. With the end of the war declared on the 14th August 1945 the Sussex headed for Singapore and accepted the surrender of the Island on 4th September 1945 led by General Seishiro Itagaki and Vice-Admiral Shigeru Fukudome, surrendered to British forces Led by Lieutenant-General Alexander Frank Philip Christison and Vice-Admiral Cedric Swinton Holland on board the HMS Sussex in the Straits of Singapore. My father was taken ashore to signal the troop ships into Singapore with supplies and troops. He later, with another signalman Jackie Batt, went to Raffles and hoisted the Union Jack flag. The Sussex was used as a hotel ship and accepted some POWs onboard till they were shipped home. The Sussex went onto Indoniesia including Surabaya, Batavia and Semarang to drop troops and help liberate these areas as well. My dad was dropped eventually at Tanjong Priok were he stayed for a year till the Dutch came and took over. He returned to Singapore and Blakang Mati (now Sentosa) for a week before returning to the UK in 1947 on HMS Salvage Duke. He is not sure where the Sussex went after he was dropped at Tanjong Priok. - Antony
Stoker Bob (Sharky) Ward served on HMS Sussex 1944-1945. Can any one help? The way I remember it was like this, after comming off the first dogwatch on Sunday evening when the captain announced that we would bombard Phucket, after that all hell broke loose when we were attacked by Kamikaze aircraft. Half the ship's company went down with food poisoning, the Captain put it down to going into action. I was on the starboard side of the upper deck at the time and saw the Kamikaze hit the ship. What I would like to know is, why wasn't I at action station? my action station was magazine B turret. - Sharky.Roger Walker
Ivan ParkesI am researching what my great uncle and those other brave souls who, with him, went through during World War 2 as a POW of the Japanese. I have tracked down a little information. The problem I have is that no member of my family will speak about it. My ambition with this information is to write a book dedicated to the memories of those who were killed, maimed or psychologically scarred by the Japanese.
My uncle's name was Ivan Parkes. He was in the RAF and was captured (most likely) in Singapore in 1941, though I am not 100 per cent sure about this. He spent a few months in Changi and was transported either to Japan or very close to Japan on one of the hell ships.Mike
Gunner Bert Richard Johnson 89th Bty. 35th L.A..A. Regt (d.30th Nov 1942)Burt Johnson was born in 1922. He served with 89 Bty., 35 L. A. A. Regt. Royal Artillery. Whilst serving in Singapore, Bert evaded capture 112 days after the British capitulation of The Battle of Singapore from the 8th - 15th of February 1942 due to critically low ammunition and essential supplies. The Battle also known as the Fall of Singapore and was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II when the Empire of Japan invaded the British stronghold of Singapore nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East". Bert was captured on the 8th of May 1942 along with 28 members of his own unit Singapore was the major British military base in South-East Asia and was the keystone of British imperial interwar defence planning for South-East Asia as well as the South-West Pacific. The fighting in Singapore lasted seven days although this was preceded by two months of British resistance as Japanese forces advanced down the Malaya peninsula.
Once captured, Bert along with 40,000+ British soldiers were marched to the north-eastern tip of the island where they were initially imprisoned at a military base called Selarang, which was near the village of Changi. Soon after they were then transferred into Changi prison, soldiers were chosen in groups at random to work long periods of hard labour at the dock of Changi loading and offloading cargo and supplies. Eventually the POW numbers at Changi dropped as soldiers were eventually shipped off to Japan to various POW camp destinations.
After his capture by the Japanese on the 8th of May 1942, Bert would have at least spent one month at sea transiting from Singapore to Japan. During this time Bert along with 28 other soldiers from his battalion (89 Bty., 35 Lt. A.A. Regt. of the Royal Artillery) developed Acute Colitis. Around Late October 1942 Bert along with over 100 other POWs were boarded on one of two transport ships: The Singapore Maru or The Dainichi Maru both destined for the shipping port at the Fukuoka Moji 4-B POW camp, this was built specifically for the weakest and the poorest health soldiers who were captured was then destined to work still work but on lighter duties at both the Moji dock and Moji transport railway. Upon arrival at port they was then identified, processed and incarcerated the same day on the 28th of November 1942. Two days later on the 30th Bert finally succumb to his Acute Colitis illness whilst under Japanese concentration and was pronounced dead by Chief Medical Officer Captain Allan Berkeley and Minoru Yoshida Probational Medical Officer.
Between November 1942 to May 1945 Bert, along with another 301 victims of Fukuoka Moji 4-B from Britain, Australia, Holland and the United States of America were cremated and entombed in a single urn which was buried on the hillside above Hongan-ji temple in Kusunoki-machi, in the city of Moji. After the fall of the camp circa 15th of August 1945 the grave was beautified by the Japanese, by direct order of the Allied Occupation Forces of the city. Their ashes still remain at this location today. (WO311/557) After the war, the Commonwealth Graves Commission now supervises the Yokohama Cremation Memorial where now all 302 victims from the camp, have remembrance plaques dedicated to their memory.
I have conducted research into my long forgotten uncle to piece together his last months of service, Bert was my Great-uncle through my Grandmother Hilda Harle (nee Johnson) If anyone has any further information regarding Bert R Johnson please could you contact me. As a further note, if a relative of yours was also in the same battalion and regiment as Bert, I have lots of photos of Fukuoka 4-B Moji on request.Daniel J Harle
Capt. John Cottam "Jock" MossJohn Moss was working for Britsh American Tobacco in Indian when the war started. He joined the Indian Army, RCS (because he was principally a pacifist) and was posted to Malaya. He married Joyce Alison Blunn (d.1997), in K.L in November 1941. (She and her mother escaped to Indian by sea.)
By February 1942 John Moss was in Singapore when it fell. He spent time in Changhi and was then shipped to Formosa. Latterly, shipped to ?Okinawa and then to Mukden, mainland China. Due to his ill-health was flown out c.August 1945.
He brought back six editions of "Raggle Taggle", the Shirakawa prison camp magazine, parts of which were later published. He recuperated in India and then returned to the UK.
He worked at George Payne & Co., for then St Clements Fosch & Cross (printers), Registrar Sutton's Hospital, Charterhouse Square, London. He became a Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers before retiring. He died in Chertsey after an illness.
Available at discounted prices.
To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939 - 1945
Ronald SearleYou would have a struggle to name a greater cartoonist of the 20th Century, or, indeed, of any other century. Product Description In 1939, as an art student, Ronald Searle volunteered for the army, called up in September he embarked for Singapore in 1941. Within a month of his arrival there, he was a prisoner of the Japanese. After fourteen months in a prisoner-of-war camp Ronald Searle was sent north, to work camp on the Burma Star. In May 1944 he was sent to the notorious Changi Gaol in Singapore and was one of the few British soldiers to survive imprisonment there. Throughout his captivity, despite the risk, Ronald Searle made drawings, determinded to record his experiences. He drew his fellow prisoners, and their Japanese guards; he recorded historic moments, the Japanese triumphantly entering Singapore, the planes dropping leaflets that announced the end of the war. The drawings in this remarkable book were hidden by Searle, and smuggled from place to place, stained with the sweMore information on:
To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939 - 1945
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