To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve


Basil Willington Aldwell


1920/04/23 - Born County Armagh, Ireland

Son of Frederick Basil and Edith Aldwell

Education at Dublin University

1940/11/20 - Enlisted

Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve

HMS Illustrious

810 Squadron



1941/12 - 1942/02 no appointments listed

1941/10/25 - Temporary Sub-Lieutenant

1942/03/10 - 1942/04 pilot, 788 Squadron FAA - HMS Lanka (RN base, Colombo, Ceylon)

1942/06 - 1942/10 no appointment listed

1942/10/01 - 1943/02 pilot, 796 Squadron FAA - HMS Kilele (RN Air Station, Tanga, Tanganyika)

1943/02/15 - 1943/09 pilot, 803 Squadron FAA - army co-operation in East Africa

1943/09/20 - 1944/02 pilot, 797 Squadron FAA - HMS Ukussa (RN Air Station, Katakurunda, Ceylon)

1944/04/25 - Temporary Lieutenant

Flying Barracudas

1944/02/26 - 1944/06/21 pilot, 810 Squadron FAA - HMS Illustrious

1944/06/21 - Shot down on bombing raid on Port Blair, Andaman Islands

Crew:- Pilot - Lt. Aldwell. Observer S/Lt. Gunther. P.O Rogers - LS 471

Port Blair



Japanese PoW

1944/06/21 - Captured 15 mile off Andaman Islands

Together with S/Lt. Robert Michael Gunther and Clifford Charles C Rogers

Treatment on board the Japanese ship was good but changed after being landed at Andaman Islands, being handcuffed and taken to Andaman Jail for interrogation.

 They were put in solitary confinement for the next 10 days, being interrogated every day, sometimes lasting eight hours a day. The food was inadequate and they suffered from dysentery.

After 10 days they were flown to Singapore and although being interrogated it was not the rough treatment they had received at Andaman and the food was much better.

They were then flown via  Saigon, Hong Kong and Taiwan to South Honshu, Japan.

They were then taken to Ofuna Interrogation Centre.

PoW No. 7267

Japanese Index Card


Japanese Index Card


Tokyo POW Camp, Ofuna, Japan

Location of camp was Southwest from the centre of Yokohama.

It was an Interrogation Centre

The roster included 135 PoWs, British and American Aviators, mostly Naval aviators shot down over Taiwan and Japan

Camp used for interrogation, mostly officers who were submariners and airmen. Although a PoW Camp it was controlled by the Navy and called:-

‘Navy Yokosuka Guard Unit Ueki Detachment’

Camp Leader Cmdr. Fitzgerald, U.S.N & Cmdr. O’Kane, U.S.N

The PoW barracks was divided into small cells each side of a entrance walk way. Each cell was roughly 2 meters wide by 2.5 meters deep with a small window. The height of each cell was 2.3 meters on the day time side and 1.5 meters over the sleeping side where a bamboo mat was supplied with three cotton blankets.

Twice a day a bowl of rice with watery soup was given with a cup of Japanese tea, they never received water so had to use the toilet water flush to drink when they were allowed to use the toilet in the morning. On rare occasions the soup was replaced with a herring.

Excessive torture, of selected prisoners took place at the Interrogation Centre.

1945/04/05 - The Japanese established that Chief Petty Officer Clifford Charles Rogers was not an officer and he was moved to Omori Camp, Japan, where he was eventually liberated.

Basil was questioned with Robert Michael Gunther and punished for 10 months during which time they both lost 60lb in weight through lack of food. Daily for weeks they were pumped for information and, not talking, were beaten with baseball bats and their food stopped. Other torture included standing on their tiptoes or on their hands and be subjected to battering or weakening. Both naval officers, who were the only carrier crew men in the camp, were beaten unmercifully and although they eventually broke down and answered questions after 10 months of misery, they were still being questioned up to the time Japan capitulated.

During his time at Ofuna, Basil undertook a religious reading at the burials, these were based on the  religious upbringing of his youth, his father being Reverend F.B. Aldwell.


 1945/09/01 - Liberated



At Liberation there was a change of guard at Ofuno and masses of clothing and food was freely given. Previously more than half the Red Cross Parcels had been stored by the Japanese and the remainder rationed over several months. Further confirmation that special attention was given to pilots or Super-Fortress aircraft was given by the fact that the only death to occur since the reception of the war prisoners was an American major of No. 29 Squadron who died soon after reaching the hospital ship. He had bean beaten and clubbed unconscious just a few days before the Allies landed.


Basil was classified as a ‘Sitting’ case aboard Hospital Ship ‘Benevolence’ in Tokyo Bay. Diagnosed with Malnutrition and Beriberi. Fair condition, although walking with difficulty. T.B. vaccination and vitamins given.

Rescued Ofuna

After liberation

From left:-  Robert Gunther, Basil Aldwell, Unknown, Gordon Grant

The prisoners on the hospital ship had been interned at Ofuna, Ka-Waski No. 2, Sabo, Hospital, Tokyo or Tomori and at no camp was more than a thin cotton vest given to them by the Japs during the last winter, which was the coldest in 42 years.



A smile from Basil as he arrives on his stretcher after the hospital ship HMHS Tjitjalengka berthed at Auckland in October 1945


Basil while recuperating in New Zealand the medics told Basil his life had been shortened by 10 years because of his treatment at Ofuna.


Signatures from Liberation



Notification Basil is safe and well


Post War

The Japanese Commander Yokura Sashizo was sentenced to 25 years hard labour at the War Crimes Trials.


It was not until 1950 before Basil was fit for work.

Basil was a radio HAM all his life and his first job Post War was fixing the police radar , he was living in Northern Ireland at the time.

He also kept a ships chandlers in Bangor, NI, went ocean racing in his yacht Bonnet Rouge and won the Alisa Craig twice. He loved sailing and the sea.



1953/10/28 - Married Hilda Patricia Thompson

Their three children were all born in Northern Ireland, Penny, Sue and James.

Basil had a farm down on the coast of Strangford Lough where he bred pedigree Hereford cattle and fattened lambs off the Mourne Mountains Once the troubles started the family moved to Co. Meath where he continued to farm and sail.

Basil had bad lungs as a result of the war, and subsequently moved to Guernsey where the climate was not so wet, but even then every winter he and Hilda went to Florida, Key Largo, where they had a house, because of his lungs.

Basil was a great man for a party and loved entertaining and taught his daughter Penny a scandalous song, "It was on the good ship Venus, by God you should have seen us”.



Age 76

13th May 1996

At home in Guernsey

Buried St Pierre du Bois, Bailiwick of Guernsey



Penny Grant

Story of Louis Zamperini - ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand

Roger Mansell - Center for Research

Life in Imprisonment

West Australion News Article - Wednesday 5th September 1945

Liberation Questionnaire - COFEPOW

KEW Files:- WO 361/1970, WO 392/23, WO 345/1,


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




Keeping The Candle Burning


Fepow Family

In Memory of FEPOW Family Loved Ones
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