To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

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1700411

Gunner

Samuel William Barker

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Royal Artillery

78th Battery/35th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA

1941/11/12 - Gourock, Scotland, Convoy WS 12Z, Empress of Japan

1941/11/24 - till 1941/11/26, Freetown, Sierra Leone, no shore leave

1941/12/18 - till 24.12.41 Durban,  South Africa. Shore leave. Convoy DM 1 Narkunda

1942/01/09 (approx) - till 1942/10/01 Maldive Islands   Addu Atoll. Refuelling. No shore leave

1942/01/13 - till 1942/01/28 Singapore, Kepple Harbour

1942/01/30 - till 1941/01/31 Pladjoe, Sumatra

1942/02/19 - till 1942/02/21 Palembang, Sumatra

1942/02/16 - Ousthaven, Sumatra

1942/02/19 - till 1942/02/21 Batavia, Tandjong Priok, Java. Dutch barracks at Meester Cornelis

1942/02/21 - till 1942/03/02 Tjimahi, Java

1942/03/03 - Tasikmalaja, Java

1942/03/08 - till 1942/03/16 Tea Plantation, Tjisompeot, Java

 

Japanese PoW

1942/03/16 - till 1942/03/21, 4 mile march to roadside camp, Java

1942/03/21 - till 1942/03/28, 12 mile march to Tjikadjang, Java

1942/03/28 - till 1942/09/14, Tandjong Priok POW Camp, Batavia, Java

1942/09/17 - till 1942/10/09 Singapore, Changi, Java Party 1, 727 men. Nishi Maru (ex Kaglan)

1942/10/13 - Batu Lintang camp, Sarawak, Java Parties 1&2, 1886 men, Hiteru Maru

1945/09/15 - Labuan Island, Aus. Hospital                     

1945/11 -  arrived back home at 143 Eltham Drive, Cinderhill, Nottingham, England.

 

 

Newspaper Article 2009, Aged 99

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I wanted to strangle guard who knocked my teeth out

Sam Barker endured three years of pain and torment at the hands of the Japanese in a jungle prisoner-of-war camp - yet he bears no bitterness. “I have nothing against the Japanese people” said Sam, a remarkable 99 years old and still bright as a button.

But those years of starvation and brutality have left their mark in memories he has guarded more than 60 years.

“He has always kept himself to himself” said only son Mick.

“He would never talk about what happened, he kept saying, he wasn’t bothered about the past.”

“But then he read an article by the son of a PoW and he finally agreed to open up to me.”

It is hard to imagine that ex-Royal Artillery soldier Sam, a tall, well built chap with a healthy thatch of pure white hair, was once reduced to an eight stone shell.

But that was the reality of life at the Batu Lintang camp on the steamy Far East Island of Sarawak.

For those three years, the prisoners, soldiers and civilians - including women and children - were forced to exist in appalling conditions, over crowded and filthy, and work all day every day on a ration of just a few ounces of rice.

Beatings were an almost daily occurrence, disease was inevitable - beri-beri, dysentery , malaria, dengue. Sam Barker had ulcers on his legs and feet, some to the bone.

At one point in his captivity, he was sent to a ‘stinga mati’ work party, it means half-dead in Japanese.

Sam survived on his wits. He has no doubt that his age saved him.

“I was 30 years old and that made a difference. I had had a hard life, I was mature, I was hardened. I had that much more experience over young men of 20 and 21.

“All they could think about was food and it used to drive them mad. I had a wife and child at home, everything to get back for. I remember one bloke called me a crafty blinder, I thought that was a nice compliment.”

But it didn’t save Sam from the wrath of the Japanese guards who tormented and tortured the prisoners for pleasure and would strike them down for little reason.

“One thing they did was make you stand on a box holding a weight above your head. You had to stand there until you dropped.”

He remembers one guard who knocked his teeth out with a rifle butt. “I wanted to strangle him with my bare hands - not shoot him. But he died before I had the chance.”

As the years passed into 1945, the dwindling number of prisoners knew the end of the war was coming.

“We had a secret radio,” Sam recalled. “I never saw it but I know it was made from scrap someone scavenged.”

The camp was liberated on September 11, 1945, freeing 1,392 PoWs, 395 male civilian internees and 237 women and children.

Among the official Japanese papers discovered soon after was an order for the extermination of every prisoner in the camp.

The executions were scheduled for September 15th. The camp commandant, Colonel Tatsui Suga, handed over his ceremonial sword to the Allies and was then taken away for trial, but he cheated justice by committing har-kari.

His second-in-command Captain Negata, and Dy Yamamoto, who ran the camp hospital - described later as “ a filthy germ-ridden death hole” - were tried for war crimes, convicted and executed.

Sam barker came back home to Bulwell to pick up the threads of his life, and a variety of jobs, finally as a painter at Shipstone’s Brewery.

But as son Mick explained it wasn’t an easy time for Sam, his late wife Nancy, and especially him.

“I was two and a half when he left, seven when he came back. Suddenly this bloke appears, it was hard to get used to him.”

But that was a long time ago and father and son now spend a lot of time together. “Now he has unleashed all the memories, I feel a lot happier,” Mick said.

Despite his terrible ordeal all those years ago, great-grandfather Sam looks younger than 99 and is anticipating his big birthday later this year, hopefully with a card from the Queen.

“I have a scotch every night and I never look back. Good health is a joy.” he tells me. “Treasure it.”

 

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Letter from the Queen on his 100th birthday

 

Sam Died 8th August 2015, age 105 years

God Bless Him

 

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''Our Thanks are for being a Chapter in Life.''

 

 

 

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