VJ Remembrance Day Sunday 14 August 2011 At
The National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas, Staffordshire
If you would like to attend and to ensure that enough seating is available, please contact Events Organiser,Chris Wills on 0121-244 7263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cenotaph, Whitehall, London - Marchpast 9th November 2008
On 9th November 2008 48 members of COFEPOW took part in the Remembrance Ceremony and Marchpast at the Cenotaph, London. A wreath was laid in memory of all Far East Prisoners of War.
Netherlands Field of Honour - Ancol, Java
COFEPOW member Brian Gissing recently asked a friend who lives in Indonesia to visit the Netherlands Field of Honour in Java, Brian's Dad is buried there, to check on its status in view of the civil unrest and horrendous weather which has been experienced in the area.
The friend reports that the Cemetery continues to be well maintained although the grass throughout is in poor shape due to recent flooding. The local cemetery caretakers are striving to rectify the situation.
The photographs below were taken by Brian's friend during his visit to the cemetery.
David Cameron visits the Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Building
Gerry Lewcock, Carol Cooper, David Cameron and Ron
On the 15th August 2008 the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron visited the National Memorial Arboretum to meet veterans at a ceremony to mark V.J. Day.
On arrival he first made a visit to the Chapel for a short Remembrance Service before moving onto the new Armed Forces Memorial where he laid a wreath and spent time walking around this very impressive new memorial.
Mr Cameron then moved on to the FEPOW area where he met several FEPOWs at the site of the Thai/Burma Railway and chatted for several minutes before entering the Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Building, which prior to his visit he had specifically asked to see.
At the entrance to the Building he was met by Sir Henry Every, Chief Executive of the National Memorial Arboretum,and Mrs Carol Cooper, Chairman/Founder of COFEPOW, the Charity which raised the necessary funds to build the Memorial Building, assisted by a grant from the Millennium Commission. Also present were Mr. Ron Cooper and Mr Gerry Lewcock, member of COFEPOW. Mr Lewcock had met Mr Cameron when he came onto Horse Guards Parade and spoke to the COFEPOW group following the Whitehall Parade on Remembrance Sunday in November 2007.
During his tour of the FEPOW Memorial Building, escorted by Sir Henry Every and Carol Cooper, Mr Cameron took great interest in several of the panels, in particular the narrative about the Sandakan Death Marches and the Hellships which it appeared he knew little about until that moment. He also showed interest in the models of the Thai railway and bridges and also the paintings and drawings on display, the work of POW artist Jack Chalker and drawn during the time of his captivity.
Carol Cooper showed him the wall onto which are projected the names of all the 55,500 British military personnel sent out to the Far East in 1941/42 and captured by the Japanese.
Mr Cameron was quite moved by what he saw and said he would like to come back on a private visit when he would have time to see and read more about the history of the FEPOWs and their 3½ years in captivity.
Carol Cooper then presented Mr Cameron with a book based on the Far East, the ill treatment of the POWs and their futile attempts to escape.
Mr Cameron then left via the FEPOW gate.
Free Travel in London for Injured War Veterans
All war veterans in receipt of a pension under the War Pensions Scheme or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme will be able to travel for free on Transport for London bus,Tube, tram Docklands Light Railway and London Overground services. The scheme is expected to be introduced from 2nd November 2008.
For further information see www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=17533
HMS Exeter & HMS Encounter Wrecks Found
News has just been released of the discovery of the wreck of the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter along with one of her two destroyer escorts HMS Encounter. The Exeter and Encounter were sunk on 1st March 1942 in the Java Sea by gunfire and torpedoes of the Japanese Navy. Although the position of the wrecks was discovered in February 2007, this was not made known until the identity of the ships could be confirmed. This was done recently by a survey expedition entitled 'Java Sea Revisited - The HMS Exeter Expedition'.
Further information can be found on the following website www.blackdog-studios.com and follow links to 'Marine' then 'HMS Exeter Wreck Found' then 'Press Release' You will need to be able to open a 'pdf' file.
FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT 2000 and the MOD
On the 1st January 2005 the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) comes fully into force. This requires public authorities (including the Ministry of Defence (MOD) ), on request, to make available to the general public information they hold in their records and files.
The MOD's response to the Act and details of their systems for making the information available are described on their web site www.foi.mod.uk .
An article from the Singapore Straits Times 12th December 2003
Don't let Force Z deaths be forgotten
This Wednesday marked the 62nd anniversary of the sinking of the British battleship, HMS Prince of Wales, and a battle-cruiser, HMS Repulse, by Japanese bombers.
The Prince of Wales - in its time, one of the most powerful warships in Britain's Royal Navy - was sent to the bottom of the sea off Kuantan on Dec 10, 1941, just two days after setting sail from Sembawang Naval Base as part of Force Z.
More than 760 British sailors and dozens of Japanese aircrew lost their
lives in that battle.
In contrast, sailors who served with Force Z have held memorial services every year since the end of World War II to mark the tragic occasion.
Such apathy is unfortunate, as there are many lessons Singaporeans can learn by analysing this ship-versus-plane battle. More importantly, Singaporeans' apparent forgetfulness of how British and Commonwealth forces fought to protect Malaya exposes our relative lack of historical awareness.
Though the number of Commonwealth survivors who fought in what was then British Malaya continues to dwindle each year, associations set up by servicemen who served here are a reminder to us not to forget the past.
Take Singapore Prison Service's change of heart this October about demolishing Changi Prison. Instead, prison authorities pledged to preserve a small part of the jail for public display.
Changi Prison won its dark place in history after British forces surrendered Fortress Singapore to the Japanese Imperial Army on Feb 15, 1942. Some 50,000 people - civilians as well as Allied prisoners of war (POW) - were crammed into the prison and its surrounding area following the surrender.
Living conditions were atrocious. Many POWs did not survive their imprisonment or emerged from incarceration in a terribly emaciated state.
More than six decades after the end of World War II, many of Changi's former POWs or their surviving families are not about to let Singapore forget the ordeal they suffered.
The about-turn by the prison authorities appears to have been triggered by the concerns of historically minded people here and abroad that a vital physical link with World War II would vanish if Changi Prison were razed.
As an estimated 15,000 Australian soldiers were held there during the war, it's understandable that Australians are watching the prison's fate with more than just a passing interest.
At least half a dozen Australian Cabinet ministers joined the chorus of former Australian POWs asking that Changi Prison be saved, including Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, who reportedly raised the issue with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a few months ago.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, too, was one of those who urged Singapore to preserve the prison. His father spent three years as a POW in Changi.
If it had been improperly handled, the Changi Prison episode could have soured ties between Singapore and Australia. A workable compromise appears to have been struck between the need to modernise the Changi Prison complex, and calls to preserve a link with the prison's notorious past.
It is instances like these that demonstrate how a keen sense of historical awareness can alert authorities here as to why a seemingly mundane issue like prison redevelopment can elicit emotional responses in Australia.
To be sure, one cannot expect all Singaporeans to be walking encyclopaedias of historical fact. But a keener appreciation of history - especially by institutions overseeing historically significant places here - would help assure friends overseas that Singapore is not about to blot out key buildings or places in the name of urban development.
Indeed, a willingness to engage overseas interest groups, like POW associations, could debunk impressions of Singaporeans as an arrogant lot who are insensitive to others.
One should also not write off the tourism potential of the vast pool of foreigners who served with British forces here for more than four decades till the British withdrew in 1971. There are many servicemen who fondly remember their days at Royal Air Force airfields in Changi, Seletar, Tengah, or at the vast Royal Navy base at Sembawang.
Coming back to Force Z, the hulks of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, which are war graves, are likely to rust away in a decade or so. It would be a fitting tribute to these warships - as well as to their gallant destroyer escorts, HMS Express, Electra, Tenedos and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire - if the authorities did something to mark or commemorate their last port of call at what is now the West Wall of Sembawang Shipyard.
Nothing of that sort has been done in the past 60 years. Doing so would at least signal that the efforts of Force Z, though in vain, will not be forgotten by Singaporeans.
The address for these has moved to:-
Telephone: 01412 243030 (but all requests for records must be in