Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class
In 1945 Frank was put on a transport (hell ship) with 650 other PoWs, the ship is believed to have been the Marusan Maru which was an old Copra boat doing about 6 knots.
After the ship had been at sea for a few days the engine stopped and the Japanese did not know why. Frank and Edwin Franks Boyce were over-heard talking about the problem by the Jap interpreter, Cassy Amah. They were told to fix the engine, if they did not fix it the Japanese would be taken off and the boat blown up, with them on board.
The problem was the main compressor on the end of the main engine had blown up. Knowing very little about diesels, the Jap chief engineer had allowed all of the compressed air to escape, without this air the main engine could not be started. They had to re-inflate the compressed air cylinders, so that this could be used to turn the main engine, and fire the diesel.
They firstly had to remove the main compressor from the front of the main engine, then alter the pipe-work to connect the air cylinders to a compressor attached to a small 60 HP donkey engine also in the engine room. This donkey engine had never been started since it had been lying at the bottom of Batavia harbour. They stripped this engine, and rebuilt it using paper and paint as a head gasket, and then re-shim the piston to give, what they thought would be, the correct compression. After two days of working on this problem they eventually started this donkey engine, inflated the air cylinders, and were able to start the main engine.
They once again got under way, with both prisoners assigned to the engine room. Edwin was getting beriberi, a condition of water retention between the layers of skin, caused by a lack of vitamins. If not checked this is fatal.
A native, on board as an engine room help, was able to get a little more food for them which helped, and Edwin slung a rice sack in the engine room such that his hips were lower than either his feet, or his head which helped drain the water from his system.
Once the main engine was running the ship made it’s way to Makassar, a port on the island of Celebes.
They set sail again, to Balikpapan, a small port on Borneo, all the time men were dying and being committed to the sea.
From Borneo they travelled back to Java, arriving there in May, three months before the Japanese war ended.
When the POW’s were landed there were a little over 300 left, the journey had lasted 66 days. Ending their journey on the same island they had left.
Back in Java they were taken to Cycle Camp which was a former Dutch barracks. It was not long before a US bomber flew over the camp with the crew waving, the prisoners were to be liberated.
25th July 1947
Son of Frank and Bertha Platt, of Oldham
Sec. M. Row 10. Grave 228.
OLDHAM (GREENACRES) CEMETERY