Cobley, Frank Reginald Newnum
The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
Commanding officer of 2nd Battalion
Commissioned 7 December 1931 as Second Lieutenant, University Candidate.
Attached to Maj-Gen Percival's staff of Malaya command in Singapore before the outbreak of war.
Commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire), working under Brigadier Torrance, who was part of the original surrender party.
Part of ‘H’ force, arriving in Thailand to work on the Railway in June 1943
5th July 1943
Of dysentery in Tonchan Camp, Thailand
Son of Reginald and Beatrice Cobley, of Bromley, Kent. B.A. (Oxon.).
Brother Anthony, sisters Dorothy, Eileen, and Winifred
8. F. 21.
KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY
From Maj-Gen Percival
The War Office
1st Feb 1946
Dear Mr. Cobley
I have seen your letter to the War Office with reference to your son, the late Lt. Col Cobley of the Malaya Command. I understand the War Office was replying to this letter, but I should like to tell you about the narrative of the operations which your son compiled while at Changi. This narrative was compiled on my instructions with a view to collecting data upon which I could base my official report at the close of hostilities. It was not quite finished and when your son left Changi it was hidden. At the end of the war it was recovered by another office and brought home and handed to me. I am at present finding it most useful in compiling my report.
It was compiled with very great care and the detail in it is invaluable, but as a historical record, it suffers from the fact that most of it was compiled after the senior officers had been removed from Changi camp so their evidence was no longer available. I should like however to express to you, as I should have done to him, my appreciation of all the work he put into the compilation of this narrative.
May I take this opportunity of telling you of the splendid work your son did as a member of my staff both before and during the operations. He worked under Brigadier Torrance, who is now in Canada, but I know that he had, as I had also, a very high opinion of your son’s ability. In addition to this he was a most popular officer with all of us and the news of his death came as a great shock.
I should like, on behalf of us all, to tell you how very much we sympathize with you in your loss,
From Douglas H. Cartwright
Dear Mrs Cobley,
I am glad to have the opportunity of writing to you, but sorry that the occasion & subject on which I write is such a sad one.
Briefly the details are as follows:
In May 1943 a part of 300 officers was detailed by the Japanese authorities to go to Thailand. They gave the assurance that the officers’ duties would be administration and supervision only.
Col. Cobley was in charge of a hundred of these officers, of whom I was one. We arrived in Thailand and after a short train journey and a rather long march arrived at our first camp, Tonchan by name. After a few days it was obvious that the officers were to be treated as coolies and nothing else, and the Col. took it on himself, as no other senior officer was willing, to go up to the H.Q. camp, 14 kilos away, to report and to carry various protests to the Force Commander.
He did this, having to march all the way on a very poor road, and I am afraid he must have contracted his dysentery at the H.Q. camp, because when he arrived back at Tonchan South Camp 5 he was very ill and we got him straight to bed. He got weaker day by day & died a short time afterwards. His personal possessions were in the possession of F/Lt. Pratt, of whom I expect you have heard from W/Cdr. Atkins.
Those are all the details I can remember at present, but please let me know if I can be of further assistance,
Yours very sincerely,
Douglas H. Cartwright
The Loyal Regt.