Beds & Herts Regiment H.Q.3
D.O.B. 5 March 1915. Died 9 July 1968
Sent to the Far East October 1942 as part of the 18th Division.
Known camps: Changi, Kanchanaburi, Chungkai, Wampo and Tarsao.
This was my father and like many other POWs he didn’t talk much about his time out in the Far East. When very young I thought every child’s father was a POW of the Japanese and I was only 19 when he died. Since becoming an adult, there are many things I would have liked to ask him, but it is only when you grow up that you realise just what these men went through. When I did ask my father anything about the Far East he would tell me.
I knew he had huge holes in his legs due to tropical ulcers and scars on his back from beatings and being poked with a bayonet while being imprisoned in a cage at Chungkai, during which time he could not sit properly, let alone stand and this went on for days with food and water just out of reach for further torment. This punishment was for spitting back at a guard. Towards the end of his captivity I learnt, from a POW friend of his, that he almost died through cerebral malaria. He would hang an imaginary coat and hat up in mid-air, then take them down and state that he was off home. Luckily medication arrived just in time (I found this information very sad), but was glad to know of his time out there.
He did survive captivity, but was in and out of hospital up until his death in 1968. My dad was a kind considerate man and nothing meant more to him than his family. His only other love was his car, which he would shine up more times a week than I can remember. I can never remember him ever complaining about his health, even when he was really ill.
He worked as a Civil Servant at the Beds & Herts Depot in Bedford after the war, but towards the late 50’s his health started deteriorating. He was told to get an outdoor job, so became a milkman. When that got too hard for him, he became a car delivery driver, but not long after that he died. He did say to me once that he would like to go back to the Far East again. His brother, also a POW, never made it and his name is on the Kranji memorial in Singapore. I never forgot his wish and fulfilled it for him and for me in 1994, this emotional trip will always be with me, as is my Dad.
My father’s brother was Gunner No. 1603286 Richard Charles Cox, Royal Artillery Heavy Ack Ack. He died on September 12th 1944 on a Japanese transport ship the "Rakuyo Maru" sunk N.E. of Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
I never knew my uncle, but he married a day or two before setting sail for the Far East. He married his childhood sweetheart, Ruby. My father told me that he and his brother were together some of the time in prison camps, but names are unknown to me. My uncle was sailing to Japan when the S.S. Sealion torpedoed the unmarked Japanese transport ship "Rakuyo Maru. I have often wondered if he lived for any length of time. He died aged 31 years and his wife Ruby never remarried. She died about 10 years ago.
My uncle is remembered on the Kranji Memorial. Column No. 16. In February 1994, I laid the very first flowers he received in over fifty years. I laid them on behalf of all my family, but especially for my Dad, being unable to ever visit his only brother for himself. I will never forget that special moment.
Mrs Patricia Ann Bienkowski, COFEPOW Member