- SS Empress of Asia during the Second World War -
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SS Empress of Asia
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Those known to have sailed in
SS Empress of Asia
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Isherwood George Wallace. Sgt.
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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
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