The Researching FEPOW History Group
in association with the Liverpool Medical History Society
AN AFTERNOON AT THE THEATRE
Surviving Far Eastern Captivity – how did they do it?
To mark the 70th anniversary of the start of Far Eastern captivity, the 182-year-old lecture theatre
of the historic Liverpool Medical Institution will be the venue for a special ‘matinee performance’.
Featuring guest speaker, Emeritus Professor Sears Eldredge (Macalester College, Minneapolis, USA),
with supporting acts, Professor Geoff Gill and researcher Meg Parkes (both based at the Liverpool
School of Tropical Medicine).
This one-off Far Eastern POW (FEPOW) history meeting takes place on Wednesday 19 September.
The talks will turn the spotlight on different aspects of survival in captivity - the theatricals,
smuggling and inventiveness - illustrating some of the key ways in which men survived captivity,
both in the jungle camps of Thailand and beyond. Topics range from orchestras and concert parties,
clandestine supply lines to medical and musical ingenuity.
Featuring Professor Sears Eldredge & supporting acts!At the Liverpool Medical Institution Wednesday 19 September 2012 3pm – 6.15pm Optional supper £18 per head, 6.15 – 8.30pm
You can See the full programme and poster if you Click Here - Liverpool FEPOW Lectures
Should you have any questions or require further details You can contact me,
Meg Parkes at Email - email@example.com
"Click Here to go directly to website"
The Researching FEPOW History Group
PoW children mark 70th anniversary of fall of Singapore
By Sitala Peek
When Singapore fell to the Japanese during World War II thousands of British soldiers were taken prisoner.
Carol Cooper, pictured here as a baby, set up the Children of Far East Prisoners of War charity after finding her father's war diaries
L/Cpl William Smith was serving with the Royal Norfolk Regiment in Singapore when he was captured by Japanese troops 70 years ago.
He was herded into Changi Prison in eastern Singapore along with most of the other British prisoners and quickly caught diphtheria.
Due to his weakened physical state, the aspiring policeman avoided being sent to work on the Thai/Burma railway, dubbed the
"Death Railway" on account of how many men died working on it
However, like many other prisoners of war, he never made it back to his home in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and died of malnutrition, dysentery, malaria and a cardiac condition in a Burmese camp in December 1943, aged 28.
An estimated 13,000 PoWs and up to 100,000 civilian forced labourers died working on the railway
However, like many other prisoners of war, he never made it back to his home in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and died of malnutrition,
dysentery, malaria and a cardiac condition in a Burmese camp in December 1943, aged 28.
"I can vividly remember my grandmother and my mother visiting the school. They were all crying and I didn't know what was going on.
I remember her saying go and sit on your mother's lap," his daughter Carol Cooper said.
Motivated by a desire to educate others about the prisoners' experience she set up Children of the Far East Prisoner Of War (COFEPOW) charity
The charity will hold a remembrance service later in honour of all the PoWs who suffered and died in Asia at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Mrs Cooper said: "We know so much about the Jews who died in the German concentration camps, but hardly anything in comparison about the 55,000 men who
were sent out to the Far East, most of whom died of diseases and starvation or hard labour."
L/Cpl William Smith was accepted into the police force before being sent to war
L/Cpl Smith left for war in October 1941 just before Mrs Cooper's second birthday.
As with many PoW families, her father's experience was not discussed openly in the family and it was not until her father's
diaries surfaced in 1994 that she learnt anything of the horrors he had witnessed.
After being captured, her father had been assigned to the 'F Force' PoW group and was among the last to leave the Singaporean
jail, on the pretext he was being sent to a camp for medical treatment.
He was loaded into a truck bound for northern Thailand and deprived of food and water for 36 hours at a time.When the truck arrived
at its destination in Ban Pong five days later, the survivors were made to march the rest of the way to Thanbaya camp in Burma, where
they found a solitary canvas tent in place of the promised hospital.
Many men died of malnutrition and disease along the way.
In a typical diary entry addressed to his wife, L/Cpl Smith, wrote: "It's a case of plain murder. Eighteen men died in the tent last night.
"We are treated like pigs. We have no clean water to wash in. "This piece of rag I have to keep myself clean with, you would not want to use it as a
floor cloth Ida." When he was captured he was reported missing by the British Authorities and his death was not officially confirmed until 1945.
LEST WE FORGET
FEPOW 'SINGAPORE' APPEAL 2012
Bid to keep the FEPOW steam locomotive SINGAPORE steaming –
to keep going the spirit that kept them going.
Rutland Railway Museum Press Release, by David Atkinson, RRM Trustee
As we approach the poignant 70th anniversary of the capture of war-torn Singapore on 15th February 1942
the volunteer run Rutland Railway Museum have launched an appeal for funds to return Far Eastern Prisoner of War (FEPOW)
steam locomotive “SINGAPORE” to steam to continue its role as a working war memorial to the courage, sacrifice and
comradeship of former prisoners of war of the Japanese in the Far East .Upon the Fall of Singapore nearly 80,000
allied servicemen, in company with the locomotive, became prisoners.
Accounts from former prisoners confirm that the former naval base loco was also put to work by the Japanese often
working alongside parties of British prisoners from a local camp. One veteran has recounted a story that despite their
captivity opportunities were taken to sabotage or delay work and a small group of prisoners were badly beaten up one
day by the Japanese guards after being caught removing dogspikes from the dockside track in an effort to derail the locomotive.
Whilst the loco remained at the docks parties of prisoners were taken to other labour camps as requirements dictated.
In Spring 1942 some 60,000 prisoners were taken to Siam to work on the construction of the infamous 250-mile Burma- Siam
railway project. Death and injury was commonplace and with medicine often deliberately withheld by their captors and in
poor conditions nearly 16,000 prisoners perished on this railway project alone with some sections of the line claiming
a life for every sleeper laid. For many of the survivors a period of incarceration in the infamous Changi Goal followed
whilst some went to Japan by ship chancing their fate to the increasing activity of allied submarines. Fortunately the
plight of the prisoners came to a quick end after the dropping of the atomic bombs and the Japanese surrender in 1945.
Of those originally captured in Singapore one in four did not survive their captivity and the few remaining survivors
still continue to suffer from poor health associated with those wartime conditions.
Singapore Anniversay Steaming
In July 1953 the Hawthorn Leslie built locomotive was loaded into the hold of H.M.S Skua for the journey home, which
took nearly 6 months due to engine problems enforcing a three-month repair in Colombo. Eventually the ship docked in
Portsmouth in late December and the loco was transported to the Royal Navy Dockyard at Chatham where it received the
name “SINGAPORE” and continued to shunt dockside sidings and slips. Arguably the loco had covered more miles on a boat
than on the rails and was eventually retired from Royal Navy service in 1972 into preservation initially at the Ashford
Steam Centre until moving to Rutland in 1979 where it is now based at the museum’s site near Cottesmore.
Restored thanks to a HLF grant in 1998 the loco has now been temporarily retired at the end of its 10 year boiler
ticket pending an overhaul. During its 10 year period of operation it has visited a number of other museums including
the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and took part in the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War 2 held St. Jame’s
Park in London in 2005. The proposed overhaul will need to encompass repairs to the boiler, saddle tank, axlebox guides,
motion and a full repaint. The museum volunteers have set themselves a target of raising £35,000 to fund the repairs,
some of which would be contracted out to specialist suppliers to supplement their own efforts.
In Memoriam - steamed especially on an earlier anniversary of its capture by the Japanese
the loco displaying memorial plaques adorned with jungle orchids (the flower of remembrance for conflict in the Far East)
and headboard stands once again in the shadow of the Japanese rising sun flag.Source : RRM
LEST WE FORGET
To mark the 70th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore the Rutland Railway Museum is to stage a number of memorial displays
at the museum at Cottesmore on Sunday 12th , Tuesday 14th , Thursday 16th and Sunday 19th February 2012. On these days former
Far Eastern Prisoner of War saddletank steam locomotive “SINGAPORE” will be on static display to remember all those who suffered
at the hands of their Japanese captors. There will also be a special photographic display called The Singapore Story, including
a shocking and haunting image of local Leicester man John Sharpe, taken after liberation, having been a “guest of the Japanese forces”
for nearly three and a half years. The display can be viewed in the museum where refreshments will be available for visitors between 11am – 4pm.
All welcome to attend. Donations towards the cost of returning the loco to steam will be invited .
Donations to the FEPOW locomotive Appeal should be sent to :
FEPOW Loco Appeal Co-ordinator , 20 Carde Close, Hertford Hertfordshire, SG14 2EU
Cheques should be made payable to “Rutland Railway Museum”.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS
from Brigadier Chris Appleton CSC (Retd) Director
'The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum' has recently completed refurbishment of the lookouts overlooking Konyu Cutting. Below is a copy of the letter
which gives details of the history of the lookouts, necessity to refurbish/replace and the hoped result after completion.
Letter dated 3rd November 2011
Repatriation Memorial Day, Liverpool Pier Head
Saturday, 15th October 2011
by Sarah Edwards, Secretary RFHG
It is the event of the unveiling of a plaque in memory of all the Fepows who safely returned home to that dock in October 1945.
To view offical photographs of this memorable day please use the Link listed.
Click On Link Below
Photos of Repatriation Memorial Day
DUXFORD MEETING, Saturday 2 April 2011
by Christine Wills
We had an excellent meeting at Duxford with several lovely comments from many people who attended.
Alan Wills opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and explained what the day was about and what we hoped everyone would gain from it.The first hour was quite formal with speakers.
Phil Beynon gave a talk on the Changi Lych Gate, which now resides in the National Memorial Arboretum on the FEPOW plot. Phil spoke about how he started off painting and restoring the Lych Gate and eventually developed an interest, to such a
degree, that he has been carrying out as much in-depth research as he can. He told everyone of his visit to Singapore
to find the Changi Cemetery - first home of the Lych Gate and all the information he had managed to garner to date.
It was very interesting.
Phil also, gave a brief talk on the Archives held in the FEPOW Building at the National Memorial Arboretum, ably supported by his wife, Poll who showed her enthusiasm and passion over the information stored there.
Our WebMaster, Paul Watson explained the plans for the website. How, its previous aim was research, it is proposed now, to create and develop another side of the Website, for the members. The idea is to provide information to the membership, of the co-ordinators in their area and of any meetings/events that are being planned. If co-ordinators wish to advertise their meeting/event - what a perfect place for them to do so! Paul also brought his laptop with him to give individual demonstrations on how to navigate the website to anyone who was interested.
This all took about an hour and the remaining 2 hours allowed guests to mix and swap stories and information.
Phil was delighted to meet Sally Munton, whose father was one of the original designers of the Changi Lych Gate and she brought some of her father’s drawings for him to look at.
Ron Turner (a FEPOW) sat with Paul and learned how to access the Website. Lavinia Mowbray (the daughter of Colonel Hugonin) and John (her husband), also attended and Ernie Goff (FEPOW) was delighted to meet her, having served with her father as a POW.
The speakers were a great hit and they entertained and educated perfectly. I should like to convey my thanks to them for helping to make the day so successful.
Thanks to all the people who sent me letters/emails afterwards showing their appreciation. Knowing that people enjoy these meetings makes the effort all worth while.
I should also like to thank all the people who attended and hope to see you again in October (if I can arrange another meeting) and a big thank you to Linda Watson who gave up her Friday evening to help prepare the food for the buffet lunch.
If you would like to add or comment, please contact Events Organiser, Chris Wills on 0121-244 7263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
DEDICATION OF A NEW MEMORIAL TO THE ROYAL NORFOLK REGIMENT, THE SUFFOLK REGIMENT AND THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE REGIMENT
At the National Memorial Arboretum on the 30th September 2010
.The Royal Anglian Regiment have been fund raising this past year to erect a Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in memory of a
ll those who served in the three Regiments, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, The Suffolk Regiment and The Cambridgeshire Regiment.
Click here to view article
The service was taken by Father Ken Reeve
FAR EAST PRISONERS OF WAR REUNION
WORTHING - 9th - 12th APRIL 2010
A wonderful weekend was enjoyed at The Chatsworth Hotel, Worthing. It was made an extra special occasion in that fifteen FEPOWs
were able to attend along with many FEPOW widows and members of COFEPOW.
A welcome reception took place after dinner on the Friday evening followed by a presentation by Margaret Martin of the Java Club.
After breakfast on Saturday, members left for a service of thanksgiving and remembrance at St George's Church, Worthing conducted by Reverend
Brian Penfold, Vicar of St George's Church and Padre of the Royal British Legion and Mrs Pauline Simpson, Lay Chaplain of COFEPOW in the presence
of His Worship the Mayor of Worthing, Councillor Lt Cdr Noel Atkins.Wreaths were laid on behalf of COFEPOW and FEPOW Fellowship.
On Saturday evening there was a gala dinner followed by entertainment including 1940's music. During the evening Pauline Simpson gave a short
talk on the background to and the reasons for the formation of the new FEPOW Fellowship.
On Sunday many members visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where they were able to see HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.
All too soon, Monday morning came and after a most enjoyable weekend, farewells were said all round, hoping to meet up again at the next reunion
in Llandudno in September.
The Commemoration of Canon Noel Duckworth - First Chaplain of Churchill College
by Carol Cooper
The 23rd January 2010 was the 50th anniversary of the opening of Churchill College, Cambridge.
To commemorate this occasion there was an evening in Commemoration of Canon Noel Duckworth, First Chaplain of Churchill College.
Click here to view article
News on Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, Thailand
As reported earlier on this page, in 2008 a rockfall occured at Hellfire
Pass which made it necessary to close part of the Pass whilst repair
work was carried out and a new access stairway intalled. The work has
now been completed and the following is an extract from a letter sent
to COFEPOW by the Director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Office
of Australian War Graves describing the current situation.
"On 1 September 2009, I wrote to you regarding works at Hellfire
Pass to demolish the unsafe concrete access stairway and to restore
access along the walking trail after damage caused by a rock fall. The
purpose of this letter is to advise you that those works are now essentially
complete and the walking trail is once again open.
The demolition of the concrete staircase was achieved safely and
with no damage to the slope to which it was attached or the rail bed
below. The final element of these works will be installation of the
bronze dedication plaque for the staircase on the platform at the top
of the stairway, along with a panel explaining the historical significance
of the stairs. In this way the contribution of those who built the concrete
stairway will be recognised into the future.
A by-product of the demolition work is that the bridge at the bottom
of the new walkway has been replaced with a wider version. This will
facilitate the movement of larger groups of visitors and emergency access
to the pass as required.
The other area of significant work was the erection of new stairs
at the rock fall site near Hammer and Tap Cutting.
The necessity to place the stairs over the rail bed in this area
for safety reasons is regrettable aesthetically. However, every effort
was made to minimise the disturbance to the benches built in this area
by the POWs. The Office of Australian War Graves is satisfied with the
outcome of these works, and the consideration that was taken for the
heritage fabric and the environment of the pass.
We have not painted the galvanised steel from which the stairs are
made. This decision has been taken so that the steel can mellow over
the next 6 to 12 months to the patina of the steel used elsewhere on
the walking trail in previous years. The stairs should be much less
obvious once this aging has occurred.
Currently we are arranging for a detailed geological and heritage
based analysis of the Hellfire Pass and the walking trail. These documents
will be a reference for future work as required."
Rockfall damage to original stairs
Rockfall damage north end of cutting
View south of new stairs
Access stairs from Hellfire Pass
Top of access stairs
FEPOW Memorial unveiled in Filby, Norfolk 19th July 2009
On Sunday 19th July 2009 a memorial to the Far East Prisoners of War was unveiled and dedicated in the village of Filby near Great Yarmouth,
The memorial, on Filby Village Pound, had been designed and made by villager Tom Green. The siting of the memorial and its surrounds were
undertaken by the Filby in Bloom Committee.
In a short welcoming speech Filby in Bloom spokesman Adrian Thompson said that the memorial recognised the Far East mission of the 18th East
Anglian Infantry Division which included men from the village in the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.
The unveiling was carried out by the Mayor of Great Yarmouth and FEPOW Bert Major. A short dedication service was then held led by COFEPOW
member and lay preacher Mrs Pauline Simpson.
Read the COFEPOW Chairman's Report for 2009 Click
You May still view Expired News Items pre-2009
The address for these has moved to:-
Army Personnel Centre
65 Brown Street
Telephone: 01412 243030 (but all requests for records must be in writing)
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