William Tyner was born on 22nd April 1906 at 70, George Street, St Pancras to John & Marion Tyner (nee Wallis) whilst his brother, John, had been born in 1903. Their father died shortly after this and John and William were raised by their mother and step-father, William Arthurs, later having half-brothers and a half-sister Charles, Alfred, Ernest, Albert and Doris.
At 17, William worked as a pianoforte finishers assistant, when, on 10th August 1923, whilst running an errand, he joined the RAMC, with thoughts of becoming a doctor. He abandoned his works bicycle, leaving it propped up against railings in Pall Mall and lied about his age in order to join up, giving his date of birth as 22nd April 1905 and making him 18.
William completed his training at Netley in Hampshire and a double tour of duty in Gibraltar before being posted to Wiltshire where he met Olive Maslen who became his wife on 19th August 1933. They lived in Southsea, Hampshire before William went to Cairo as a result of the Abyssinian troubles. Upon his return they moved into married quarters at Tidworth, Wiltshire until being posted to Hong Kong in 1937/38. Olive and their daughter, Marion, who had been born in Wiltshire in 1936, moved to Hong Kong to be with him. When the Japanese threatened to invade, Olive and Marion were evacuated to Australia and were never to see William again. He, together with many others, was captured by the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941 and was transported to Japan.
There, he was imprisoned in one of the camps in the Tokyo District (POW No 3677) until early in 1945 when he was moved to Sendai 5-B POW camp at Kamaishi (POW No 1765). In the camp, which was sited next to the Nippon Iron & Steel works, were British, American and Dutch POWs . William suffered with beri-beri in his legs and, as a result, was confined to the camp to make and distribute soya bean milk. His POW Officer-in-Charge, Captain Eric Marsden, later said of William that it was due to his diligence that each POW had received a equal share.
When the camp was shelled on 9th August 1945 by a joint British and US Naval force (the Allies had thought the camp buildings were warehouses connected to the Nippon works), William was unable to escape the raging fire within the camp caused by the bombardment and died the following day as a result of his severe burns. He was 39 years old. Together with several other POWs who had died either from burns, suffocation or other fatal injuries following the Allied's shelling, William was cremated by his surviving POWs in a corner of the camp compound.
A memorial to William was erected at the Yokohama War Cemetery in Japan which his widow, Olive, later visited. Although she did marry again, Olive never had any other children and died in 1995 at the age of 82. Her daughter, Marion, died in 1997 aged 61.
William, who was awarded the Pacific Star Defence Medal (2 Clasps) and the Long Service & Good Conduct (with Garter), did not have the chance to grow old and to see his ‘beloved little girl’ grow up and have four children of her own. His family will never let him be forgotten.
Tracy Morgan-Humphreys - Grandaughter