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Royal-Artillery-tn

1807181

Gunner

George Thomas Housego

MBE

Housego-George-Thomas-2

Royal Artillery

 

Japanese PoW

Captured Java 1942/03/08

 

Died

March 2015

 

Family pays tribute to West Wickham prisoner of war survivor George Housego

Published in ‘News Shopper’

by

 Hatty Collier

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George Housego with his partner June Elkington in November 2012.

A West Wickham ex-prisoner of war, who survived the 1945 Nagasaki bombing in a twist of fate, has died aged 93.

George Housego, of Birch Tree Avenue, was captured in Java in March 1941 and eventually moved to Nagasaki in Japan to work in a factory.

He had been deployed to protect Dutch forces from the advancing enemy but was forced to surrender as the Japanese overran the island.

The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki destroyed the factory he had been working in just weeks after he was transferred to work at an Omine coal pit.

Mr Housego, who joined the army, aged 19, having never travelled further than Brighton, died in hospital last Wednesday (February 25) after suffering from a blood disorder.

The grandfather-of-four had spent his twilight years travelling the world with his partner June Elkington and members of The London Far East Prisoner of War Remembrance Social Club.

Ms Elkington, aged 81, who met Mr Housego in 1979, told News Shopper: He was always helping people. Everybody loved him. He was so well liked.

He was a bit debonair when I first met him. He was very smart. Whenever we went out he’d say, ‘I must have that shirt to go with that tie.’

He always used to look good. Even when he was in and out of hospital, he would say, ‘Bring something nice for me to wear.’

Retired property surveyor Mr Housego fathered a son and two daughters in a previous marriage and also brought up Ms Elkington’s three sons as his own.


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Ms Elkington and Mr Housego attending a Royal Garden Party

Former civil servant, Ms Elkington said her husband did not tell her about his prisoner of war experiences until years after they met when he took her to the Union Jack Club in Waterloo.

She added: ‘All these happy men were there enjoying an evening together exchanging stories, dancing and playing bingo.’

In 1943, the ship Mr Housego travelled on to Nagasaki sank after it was torpedoed by the US Navy, killing more than 500 prisoners of war onboard.

Mr Housego spent what he described as ‘12 hours of freedom’ clinging on to a piece of wood in the China Sea before a Japanese shipping boat picked him up.

When he returned home after the war ended, he weighed just six stone as he had been worked to the bone in the prison camps.

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Mr Housego marching in a remembrance parade at the Cenotaph in 2012

The veteran went on to meet the Royal Family several  times at remembrance ceremonies and was awarded an MBE in 1999 for his services to The London Far East Prisoners of War Association.

Ms Elkington added: ‘We had lots of funny times together and lots of friends. He was the kind of man, who only thought of others.’

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