Frederick Victor Boswell
Frederick (“Fred”) was born on the 31st August 1892 in Province Wellesley the middle child of three boys; he also had three half-sisters and five half-brothers from his father’s first marriage. His father was Assistant Superintendant/Superintendant of the Public Works Department, a job that took him and his family to Malacca, Penang and Singapore. The family settled in Singapore during Fred’s school years and he attended The Raffles Institution. Like most of the Boswell males, Fred was a keen sportsman. He was also a member of the D (Eurasian) Company of the Singapore Volunteer Corps at its inception in 1918.
In 1925 he married Leonora Josephine de Mornay (nee de Souza) and they had 5 children. Children from Nora’s first marriage also joined the household. Initially the family lived in Singapore but moved to Kuala Lumpur circa 1928 because of Fred’s work. Fred worked for Robinsons Department Store in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur but by the time of the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941 he was working for the Wilkinson Process Rubber Company Ltd at Batu Caves. He stayed on in post following the Government’s directive for men to remain in their jobs. When it became clear that the threat from the approaching Japanese was growing ever closer, Fred and his family fled to Singapore, his last task being to burn the factory so that the Japanese couldn’t take possession of the valuable stocks of rubber.
At the docks in Singapore on 12th February Fred became separated from the family and was pushed onto a launch which headed to the Mata Hari while the launch carrying the rest of the family went to the Giang Bee; the two ships met very different fates.
The surviving members of the family met up briefly in Muntok a few days later but then the women and men were separated and went to their individual camps. That was the last time Fred saw Nora and his daughters.
During his internment Fred was moved to a number of different camps: Muntok Jail, three camps in Palembang and then Muntok Jail again. At the Palembang Jail camp, William McDougall’s “Camp News” from the autumn of 1942 records Fred, along with his stepsons, taking part in a camp concert – one of the pleasanter interludes of early camp life when spirits were still relatively high and disease and malnutrition hadn’t yet taken their toll.
Sadly, almost two and a half years of a harsh existence and near-starvation rations eventually did take their toll, and on the 11th July 1944 at Muntok, Fred died of Beriberi.
11th July 1944
Place of Death Muntok, Banka Island
Son of Richard and Mariah Boswell
Husband of Leonora Josephine Boswell
Father of Drina, Corrine, Kenny, Joan and Maisie and step-father to Nora’s children from her first marriage
Civilian War Dead