The members of COFEPOW are the war babies and siblings of many thousands
of men who died on the Thai/Burma railway, the Sumatra railway, the Sandakan
Death Marches, in copper mines in Formosa, steel factories in Japan, building
roads in Burma, air strips on Ambon, Haruka, Java, Rabaul, New Guinea and
the Solomons. Thousands died on the 'Hellships', battened down in holds
of unmarked ships and torpedoed by Allied submarines. In addition, thousands
were captured and died when Hong Kong fell to the Japanese in December 1941.
The list is endless.
Many of the Far East prisoners were civilian internees and their story should
also be told and remembered. But thousands survived to return and for them
the suffering continued for years after and many of our members bear testament
to their fathers' constant nightmares and recurring illnesses.
COFEPOW has established the Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Building.
This is not only for those who died, but encompasses the whole story of
events during this unprecedented chapter in British history. It contains
the name and rank of all British Servicemen taken prisoner during the South
East Asia conflict and embraces the story of their treatment and the thousands
who died as a result.
The building is situated within the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas
in Staffordshire, which is a Millennium project. The building itself is
of timber construction as befits its surroundings within the National Forest.
The architecture has been given a Far Eastern style and appearance. The
design and establishment of the permanent building, the interior design,
the historical research and acquisition of the contents and the ongoing
archival support has cost in the order of £450,000.
It is envisaged that this functional project will become an educational
and cultural centre. We want to enlighten and teach children and people
of today and the generation of tomorrow, of this tragic era in our Military
- COFEPOW had its first inaugural meeting in November 1997 and our first
general meeting was held in January 1998 with twenty five members.
- We now have well over 900 members from all parts of the country and
overseas and are in regular contact with similar groups to ours in Australia,
America, Canada and Taiwan.
- We became a Registered Charity in March 1999 with six Trustees.
Registered Charity in England & Wales No. 1074474.
- We have three distinguished patrons:
- Mr Terry Waite
Marshal Sir John Baird KBE, DL MBChB FRCPE FRCSE FFOM FRAeS DAvMED
Col C G Stallard
- We planted our first Tree of Remembrance in Norwich, October 1998
and a second tree in February 2000 at Elstow Abbey near Bedford, following
a Remembrance Service.
- We have the support of FEPOW Associations and many M.Ps.
- We designed our 'Logo', the main focus of our impressive looking headed
paper. This 'Logo' was used on our our gold and enamel lapel pins and
pendants and other merchandise.
- In February 2000 we established a COFEPOW Website on the Internet:
This site is rapidly growing with many links to other Far East sites
and Associations, both here and abroad. We had 26,560 visitors to the
site in the first two years.
- We have held successful Exhibitions in Norwich, Thetford, Diss, Bury
St Edmunds and the House of Commons.
- In November 2000, we took part for the first time in the Remembrance
Day Service and Parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. and have continued
to do so each year since.
- We have fulfilled our plan to establish a Memorial Building in memory
of all FEPOWs at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
- In April 2001, 31 COFEPOW members made a pilgrimage to the Far East,
visiting seven War Cemeteries and taking part in three Remembrance Services.
- In April 2001, COFEPOW became affiliated to The National Federation
- On 15th February 2002, the 60th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore,
COFEPOW members erected an engraved wooden cross on the site at Alrewas
in Staffordshire, where the FEPOW Memorial Building would be erected.The
cross is now displayed within the Building
Yvonne and Cyril Shorten
at the National Memorial Arboretum
with the Cross made by Cyril and
presented to COFEPOW
The COFEPOW Cross at the National Memorial Arboretum
Photograph kindly supplied by Albert Page
- After successfully negotiating with Bassingbourn Barracks to have
the Changi Lychgates transferred to the National Memorial Arboretum,
COFEPOW arranged a formal 'Handing Over' ceremony of the gates to the
Arboretum in March 2003. The gates have now been renovated and installed
at the Arboretum by the Royal Engineers at the entrance to the FEPOW
- In June 2003, seven members travelled to the Solomon Islands to place
a commemorative plaque on the Island of Ballalae in memory of 517 Royal
Artillery men who died there in March 1943.
- COFEPOW were successful in obtaining funding from the Millennium Commission
towards the FEPOW Memorial Building which has been erected next to the
FEPOW Plot at the National Memorial Arboretum.
- COFEPOW member, Meg Parkes, initiated a fund raising campaign for
copies of the Java Windows. These have now been installed within the
FEPOW Memorial Building.
- Six members of COFEPOW made a pilgrimage in May 2004 to Hong Kong
and Burma where many POWs were held.
- On 15th August 2005, the 60th Anniversary of VJ Day, the Far East
Prisoners of War Memorial Building was officially opened at the National
Memorial arboretum. On the same day the National Federation of Far East
POW Clubs & Associations wound up and officially handed over much
of its role to COFEPOW.
The first meeting of the Children and Families of the Far East Prisoner
of War was held in Norwich in November 1997. Of approximately 40 people
attending, 25 became the first members of this association which has now
expanded across the country with a membership of over 900.
We can also boast of having members in Australia, New Zealand, the United
States, Canada, Taiwan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Gibraltar, France,
Italy, Singapore, Turkey, Belgium, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.
We became a Registered Charity (in England & Wales) in March 1999
and were invited to become affiliated to the National Federation of Far
East Clubs and Associations in March 2001.
Our members are the children, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews
and grandchildren of those men who became Far East Prisoners of War.
We have a number of 'Associate' members. These members are those who,
while not being family members of FEPOWs, want to join our association
to help and support our cause.
We also have many FEPOW Members who are ex-Far East prisoners
Members are finding it beneficial communicating with others, particularly
when seeking specific information. Those members whose fathers were at
the Fall of Hong Kong, in particular, are in regular communication with
If you would like to help us achieve our aim to preserve and promote the
memory of and to educate future generations in regard to the suffering
and sacrifices of the Far East Prisoners of War, then send for a membership
Assistant Membership Officer,
Tel: 01634 817396
or write to
14 Brenchley Close