To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Artillery-tn

856255

Lance Bombardier

Ernest Sydney Benford

Benford-Ernest-Sydney

1922/02/11 - Born Shoeburyness, Essex

Son of Edward Charles and Ruth Margaret Benford

1936/06/01 - Enlisted

Royal Artillery

137 Field Regiment

11th Indian Division

 

1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore

 

Japanese PoW

PoW No. 6486

Under Maj.-Gen. Key

Japanese Index Card - Side One

Benford-Ernest Sydney-1

Japanese PoW Card - Side Two

Benford-Ernest Sydney-2

1942/10/26 - Transported overland to Thailand in Letter Party ‘W’

New PoW No. 40054

Group 4

Under Lt.-Col. R. McL. More, R.A., 2 H.A.A K.S.P.A

1944/06 - Transported back to Singapore

Under Capt. Wilkie

1944/09/04 - Transported Oversea to Japan in Rakuyo Maru in Japan Party 3

Under Capt.Wilkie

Rakuyo_maru

The ship was painted battle grey and flew the merchant marine flag, which was a red ball in the centre of a white field. It had no red cross markings.

The Japan party consisted of 2,250 prisoners, 1,500 were British the remainder Australian, the number who actually sailed with the convoy was 2,217. The Rakuyo Maru held 1317 PoWs and The Kachidoki Maru a further 900 (all British)

On 4th September 1944, the two ships joined convoy HI-72 and sailed from Singapore.

On the 12th of September the convoy was attacked by US submarines and both the PoW hell ships were  hit. The Rakuyo Maru was the first to be hit by a torpedo from the US submarine Sealion.

USS Sealion

Three steam torpedoes were fired at the Rakuyo Maru at 5.25pm, the target was 1,100yards  away, all three hit. The torpedoes struck ten seconds apart, two hitting below the waterline the other exploded into the engine room.

The explosions did not kill any prisoners but the water that covered the deck to a depth of over 6 feet flattened anyone in its way, also making its way into the holds where the prisoners were. The prisoners soon organised the evacuation of the holds and looked for anything that would float, the Japanese taking ten of the twelve lifeboats, abandoned ship. The Japanese that didn’t escape found the prisoners not too sensitive to their pleas of help.

Ernest was rescued from the water by the Japanese and continued his journey to Japan on the Kibitsu Maru.

Taken to:-

Fukuoka 6D

Fukuoka 6D Camp - Tanoura

New PoW No. 3671

POWs used as slave labourers in a carbon plant. 

1945/06/30 - Camp closed PoWs taken to:-

Omuta

Fukuoka 25B Camp - Omuta

New PoW No. 157

Under Capt. Wilkie

Slave labourers at a carbide mfg plant.

1945/09/02 - Liberated

 

Died

1984

 

Information

Sarah Crook

Japanese Homeland Camps

Capt. Wilkie’s Diary

KEW:- WO 361/1987, WO 361/2169, WO 361/2058, WO 361/1586, WO 361/2184, WO 392/23, WO 361/1940, WO 361/1742, WO 361/1742, WO 345/4, WO 361/2005,

*

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