To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Artillery-tn


Lance Bombardier

Desmond Bettany

Known as Des


(Sketch of Des by Sir Ronald Searle)

1919/10/11 - Born Burnley, Lancashire

Son of Abraham and Florence Bettany

Attending Secondary Boys School and Technical College

Trained as an analytical chemist

Worked in the chemistry lab of an artificial silk factory

1939 - Enlisted

Royal Artillery

88 Field Regiment




Des’s sketch of an officer he thought highly of.


(Desmond right)

Fought in France and Belgium with the 88th Field Regiment on 25 pounders, evacuation from Dunkirk.

Empress of Canada

Transported ‘Empress of Canada’ via Freetown (West Africa), Cape Town and Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to the Far East.


Sketch by Des Bettany

Re-typed by son Keith from the original manuscript written by Des Bettany in 1991:-

‘On our arrival in Singapore, in November 1941, we entrained up country to Mantin. The unit, the 88th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery became part of the 9th Indian Division, and the three batteries were sent to Ipoh, Alor Star and Kuantan, where the Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk. Eventually the Battery was moved back over Fraser’s Gap to the West Coast, north of Kuala Lumpur and took part in the fights, skirmishes and battles down the Peninsular to Singapore. After capitulation we were all marched to Changi, after disabling and destroying our guns.’

1942/02/15 - Singapore surrendered to the Japanese


Guardian, Friday (1943)

Local Roll of Honour


One Brother Killed Another a Prisoner

Mr and Mrs Bettany of Langdale Road, Newtown Estate, Lancaster, Have received a postcard from their son L\Bdr Desmond Bettany who was in Malaya at the fall of Singapore and had been posted missing ever since. He is now in Japanese hands and writes to say he is well and they have not to worry.






Desmond, who is 23 years of age, is very well known in Lancaster as Uncle Desmond of the Mickey Mouse Club connected with the Odeon Cinema where he used to amuse with his harmonica and make clever cartoons of film stars. In private life he is a chemist with Messrs Lansil and belongs to the Lansil Varieties and the Lancaster Lads Concert Party. He was educated at the ‘Nashy’ School and the Technical Collage. He joined up when war broke out and came through the Dunkirk evacuation.

Desmonds brother A.B. Abraham Bettany is unfortunately presumed killed on February 24th this year. He was just a year younger and educated at Skerton School where he was captain and later went to the Technical College. He afterwards entered the employ of Messrs. Nelson as a silk spinner and prior to joining up was employed by Messrs. Entwistle of Morcombe as a slater and plasterer. He played football for Lancaster School Boys and like his brother was very fond of swimming and other sport.


Japanese PoW

1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore

Towner Road Camp

PoW No. II 424

Re-typed by son Keith from the original manuscript written by Des Bettany in 1991:-

‘At an early date, working parties left Changi for camps in Towner Road and Sarangoon Road, etc. We worked at clearing up the damage in Singapore and the Dock area. For a while we collected abandoned military and private transport. What could not be repaired was broken up and shipped to Japan as scrap. Ingenious methods of sabotage were used both here and other working parties, such as transit camps for the Japanese troops from the Islands and the War Memorial to Japanese dead on Bukit Timah Hill.’

‘At this time the Selarang Square incident occurred in Changi and parties began leaving there to work on the Burma Railway.’

Des painted to keep sane and to help his mates remain alive, many of his paintings are cartoons of the opposite to what they were living in.

Japanese Index Card - Side One


Japanese Index Card - Side Two


1943/09/10 -  Transferred to Changi

New PoW No. 1968

Re-typed by son Keith from the original manuscript written by Des Bettany in 1991:-

‘After returning to Changi we were moved to the jail and surrounds, and from there until repatriation went daily to work, clearing a corner of the Changi area and creating a fighter strip. This still exists, but has grown into Changi International Airport.’

‘Between February 15th 1942 and September 1945, the completely alien existence we led has become blurred. What is left is a lasting profound distrust and dislike of the Japanese and Koreans.’

‘What remains clear is that throughout the period of privation, starvation and slavery, hope, faith and confidence in our eventual release remained optimistically constant. Rumours abounded but I particularly remember the night of the ‘D’ Day landings in Normandy. When the report reached us, the whole camp within and without the jail began to stir and murmur, to the consternation of the Japanese. This was accepted as fact, but the stories of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, were met with disbelief.’

‘My personal worst moments came when I had to appear before the Japanese Commandant and an assortment of interpreters to try and explain away to humourless Japanese officers a book of political cartoons I had drawn. I had lent the book to a careless person who allowed it to fall into the hands of the Japanese guards. This was at a time when the war was going badly for Germany and Japan and this was reflected in the cartoons, I was extremely lucky to get away with a whole skin. The Japanese did not approve. I never saw the book again.’

1945/08/15 - Japan announce surrender

1945/09/02 - Japan signed surrender agreement

Liberated Changi




Lance Bombardier D. Bettany (Left) and Gunner ‘Tucker’ Smith, the first Lancaster men to arrive home after their liberation from the Japanese. They were photographed at Castle Station, where they were greeted by Mrs Howse, and Mrs Smith, Gunner Smith’s mother (right).


Post War


Des revisits


Art Work

After 70 years in a cupboard some 400 art pieces have been 'liberated' and can be viewed on a family website:-



Keith Bettany - supplied photos, newspaper article, Des’s script and sketches

KEW:- WO 392/23, WO 345/5, WO 361/1946, WO 361/2184, WO 361/2058, WO 361/2229,


''Our Thanks are for being a Chapter in Life.''




Keeping The Candle Burning


Fepow Family

In Memory of FEPOW Family Loved Ones
Designed and Maintained by Ron Taylor.


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