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SE Asia Under Japanese Occupation


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Many stories originate from the time the POW's were held in captivity in the Far East, but there is a little known story of a union flag that was used to cover the coffins of the lads as they succumbed to the daily beatings and torture that they were subjected to by the Japanese in a prison camp during 1943-45. This camp was at Batu Lintang, Sarawak, Borneo.

When the Australian troops freed the POW's, they raised this same flag over the camp. As the prisoners were being sent home, the officer commanding the Australians gave the flag to a young British officer, Leslie Bickerton. He returned to Oxford with the flag and had it raised in the City Church with a small plaque telling the story. Some years went by and the Church was turned into a library and the flag disappeared.

' Bicks' wasn't too pleased about this and set about tracing the missing flag. He enlisted the aid of Ian Patterson, who had been in the same camp as 'Bicks'. Ian eventually found the flag tucked away in the crypt of another disused Church and returned it to Leslie Bickerton.

'Bicks' decided that the flag should have a final resting place on the borders of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, the two counties which were home to most of the men in the 35th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, The Royal Artillery who were imprisoned in Batu Lintang. He contacted the Minister and arranged for the flag to be laid up in the Dorchester Abbey in Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxon. The service took place on the 18th July 1993 and the flag was blessed by the Minister and then taken to its final resting place where it hangs to this day.

This flag is dedicated to the 35 L.A.A. Royal Artillery Regiment, but it should remain a lasting tribute to all of the troops who died regardless of race, creed or colour.