To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal-Artillery-tn

923493

Bombardier

Kenneth George Norman

Norman-Kenneth-George

Kenneth above in 1941

Royal Artillery

135 Field Regiment

 

Japanese POW

Believed to be transported on the Hofuki Maru which was sunk by planes from American Aircraft Carrier, 80 miles north of Corregidor.

Survived the sinking and the remainder of the war as a prisoner in Japan.

 

Died

1st November 1993

Kenneth having survived the ordeal of being a Japanese PoW, died prematurely in 1993 of pancreatic cancer which, the War Pensions tribunal confirmed, was due to the privations suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

 

Obituary

Ken was born in Harlesden, London on 9th February 1920. The family moved to Letchworth, Hertfordshire in the early 1930s.

On leaving Westbury School, Letchworth, Ken was employed by the Co-op and then by Prudential Insurance. He was a champion hurdler for Hertfordshire and a member of Letchworth Co-Op Football Team. He joined the Territorial Army in 1939.

Ken became a Bombardier (923493) in the 135th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery. He was posted to Malaya via South Africa and was taken Prisoner of War by the Japanese during the Fall of Singapore in 1942. He was imprisoned in Changi jail. From Singapore, he was taken to Thailand where he worked on the building of the Burma-Siam railway being taken to various prison camps including Bampong and Kanburi until the completion of the railway in 1944.

Ken was a prisoner on the hellship Hofuku Maru which was to have taken him to Japan via Formosa. The vessel was bombed by the US aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown and Ken was one of the 200 prisoners, out of 1200, who survived. During this ordeal, he lost his good friend Jack Leach.

He spent a long time in the water before being picked up and transported via Manila and Hong Kong on the hellship Hakusen Maru to Formosa. On 9th November 1944 Ken arrived in the Shirakawa Camp No 4 in Formosa, He was transferred from there on the hellship Melbourne Maru where he was transferred to the Omuta Camp 17 in Fukuoka, Japan on 11th February. Here he was put to work in the Mitsui coalmine until he was recovered by the Royal Marines upon the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

His days as a Japanese POW ended on 15-16 September 1945 when he departed from Nagasaki Harbour. Like most his compatriots, Ken was suffering from severe malnutrition and Beri Beri.at the time of his recovery.

He was taken to San Francisco on board hospital ship USS Haven via Honolulu and returned to England on the Queen Mary arriving in Southampton on 18th November 1945.

Upon his return home he became fireman in Letchworth and then a mobile greengrocer before opening his first grocer/sub Post Office in Pixmore Avenue, Letchworth. Ken married Doris Wheatley in Letchworth on 1st March 1947 and their only daughter, Wendy, was born in Hitchin in 1958.

Norman-Kenneth-George-2
Ken with Doris and family friend Joyce in 1990

In 1966 Ken, Doris and Wendy moved to Guilden Morden Post Office and shop (Cambridgeshire) where the family lived until Ken's retirement in 1985 when they returned to live in Letchworth. Ken was very much involved in voluntary work for the Letchworth branch of the Citizens' Advice Bureau he was also a voluntary driver for Lister Hospital, Stevenage.

Ken spoke little of his experiences during his three and a half year captivity except to list the countries he had ‘visited’ and to say that he had porned his gold signet ring in return for a bowl of rice. According to surviving colleagues, it was Ken’s sense of humour, even in the blackest times, that helped to keep him and others going throughout their three and a half year imprisonment.

Kenneth having survived the ordeal of being a Japanese PoW, died prematurely in 1993 of pancreatic cancer which, the War Pensions tribunal confirmed, was due to the privations suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

Ken and Doris are survived by Wendy and their three beautiful grandchildren whom Ken never met. They are JOSH born in Chichester in December 1996 and twins TOBY and CHARLOTTE born in Guildford in July 1998.

*

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