Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers
Tribute as taken from The Press
By Richard Harris
PoW camp veteran dies
5:00pm Tuesday 16th September 2008
A MAN who survived more than three years in a notorious Japanese prisoner of war (PoW) camp during the Second World War has died, aged 94.
Jack Stannard, was imprisoned in the Changi PoW camp after the Japanese invaded Singapore but, unlike thousands of his comrades, he survived the ordeal.
Mr Stannard was born on August 24, 1913, in Willis Street, off Heslington Road, York, and served his apprenticeship at Cooke, Troughton and Simms, a firm of instrument makers in Bishophill – a choice of career that would later help him save many lives.
He joined the Army in 1936 as a qualified instrument maker in the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers and was initially stationed at the Royal Military College at Woolwich.
But in 1938 he was posted to Singapore and captured when the Japanese invaded the island in 1942.
He was imprisoned in Changi until November 1945 and survived the dysentery and diseases that plagued the camp.
At first life in the prisoner of war incampment was relatively relaxed, but following an unsuccessful escape attempt in Easter 1942, the camp commandant ordered all of the 20,000 inmates to sign a declaration saying they would not try to escape.
When they refused, they were told they would remain outside until they signed. When this order also failed, a number of the British soldiers were shot.
Again the prisoners, of which Mr Stannard was one, refused to sign the declaration.
It was only after a serious outbreak of disease that the leaders of the imprisoned British soldiers put pen to paper so that they would receive medical supplies. But even then it was made clear they had only signed under duress and the document was non-binding.
Prisoners at Changi were used as forced labour and had to work if they wanted to eat. Many were also sent from Changi to other PoW camps where conditions were even more brutal.
During his time as a prisoner Mr Stannard put his skills to good use and made surgical instruments for a fellow PoW – a surgeon from New Zealand – thus helping to save the lives of many of those around him.
After liberation he served with the British Army of the Rhine from 1946 to 1951 before his final posting to the missile testing range at Anglesey.
He retired from the Army in 1958 and took up work as an instrument maker at Aldermaston Atomic Research Centre in Berkshire.
He then returned to York and settled in the Strensall area.
He died last Wednesday and leaves a widow, Iris, after 62 years of marriage. Mr Stannard’s funeral will be held at 11.30am at York Crematorium.