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Suez Maru 80th Anniversary

June 23, 2023

Plans have been finalised for the 80th anniversary on 29 November, of the sinking of the Suez Maru, and the subsequent untried war crime. It will take place, at the Suez Maru Memorial, at the NMA on 29 November 2023, starting from 12 noon. The heart of the day will simply be remembrance, putting aside for this day, the lack of apology for this, the worst untried war crime of the second world war. We plan to mark the ten years since the Suez Maru families built the memorial, with something fitting of the great sacrifice our men made, 80 years ago. It has been complicated to put together, but I hope, on the day, it will be a quite simple, and yet symbolic show of our enduring remembrance of these 414 British men.

The rough sketch (below) shows the Suez Maru Memorial, and the Hellship Garden that was added around it a few years later. Around the memorial will lie a ‘tide of poppy crosses’ to reflect witness reports that the men formed ‘long lines of PoWs in the sea’ as they floated, awaiting rescue from minesweeper W12. The ship approached but saved only Japanese survivors. The PoWs in the water were all shot.

Sketch of poppy cross layout, (simplified), to show the reality of 414 souls, called a ‘Tide of Poppies’(temporary). J Frith, 2023

I think the ‘Tide of Poppies’ will also show more clearly the significant numbers of British men involved. The image (right) shows a ‘sample’ poppy cross, as I will write the name of each of the 414 men on a cross. Hundreds of these will be laid out in the early morning, and then, as part of the service, instead of placing a wreath, each family will lay their poppy cross in the ‘tide’. We will also be reading out loud each man’s name, all 414 men of the Suez Maru. I think it will be most poignant, and fitting for the 80th anniversary.

Suez Maru Memorial 80th Anniversary - details and fundraiser I'm fundraising for the 414 poppies, as I don’t have a contact for every one of the 414 families. Of the Suez Maru families I know, each is donating for their family and more, but we need 414, and as poppy crosses are £2.70, so the total w hope to raise is over £1000. So, if anyone would like to donate for a Suez Maru man or for a few, we would be very grateful. Anyone who would like also to attend, would be welcome. Please contact Jacquelyn for appeal/service details, or see the page on PayPal Fundraisers at

Service of Remembrance, 29 November 2023, - At the Suez Maru Memorial, National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Staffordshire, DE13 7AR - Contact Jacquelyn, please

LIANG MARCHERS - I have also made a new Facebook page for the ‘Thousand Men of Liang’, also known as the ‘Liang Marchers’, who are the subject of my current PhD thesis. There, I hope to share my research, listen to other family stories, and also remember these brave men. More information soon…please contact me if you had a relative transported to Ambon in Spring 1943, or search Facebook for @1000menofLiang (It is brand new, so not much has been added just yet).