To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Artillery-tn



George Stephen Byford


1915/09/12 - Born Rushden, Northamptonshire

1934/01/18 - Enlisted

Royal Artillery

9th Coast Regiment



1941/03/11 - WO 417/39, Casualty List No.768. Reported ‘Missing’.

1943/11/12 - WO417/71, Casualty List No. 1289. Previously posted Missing, Casualty List No. 768, 15/02/1942. Now reported a ‘Prisoner in Japanese Hands’.


Japanese PoW

1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore

PoW No. 1766

Commander Colonel Heath, Royal Artillery

Japanese Index Card - Side One


Japanese Index Card - Side Two


1943/03/23 - Overland to Thailand with ‘D’ Force

Commander Captain Smith, Royal Artillery

New PoW No. IV 12393

Attached to Group 4 22 (Matsu) Bn. under Major Dayrell 118 F/R. and worked at:-

 Kinsaiyok Main

Kinsaiyok Jungle No. 1 Camp

Possibly further up the railway

Then back to Tha Sao

Tha Muang

1944/06/24 - Transported back to Singapore

Commander Captain Wilkie, Royal Artillery

New PoW No. IV 40465


1944/09/04 - Transported oversea to Japan in Rakuyo Maru

Commander Captain Pearce, Royal Artillery

New PoW No. 5983

1944/09/04 - Oversea in Japan Party 3 to Japan via East Hainon Island. The Japan Party consisted of 2,250 prisoners, 1,500 were British the remainder Australian, the number who actually sailed with the convoy was 2,217. The Rakuyo Maru held 1317 PoWs and the Kachidoki Maru a further 900 (all British). The two ships joined convoy HI-72 and sailed from Singapore.

The Rakuyo Maru was built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company in Nagasaki. It was 477 feet overall length with a displacement of 9,500 tons. The ship was equipped with 12 lifeboats, most of these being on the boat deck in the midships passenger area, the remainder were on the raised stern or poop deck. The ship was painted battle grey and flew the merchant marine flag, which was a red ball in the centre of a white field. It had no red cross markings.

1942/09/12 - The convoy was attacked by US submarines:- USS Growler, USS Pampanito and USS Sealion near the East Hainon Islands. Both the PoW hell ships were  hit. The Rakuyo Maru was the first to be hit by a torpedo from the US submarine Sealion, the Kachidoki Maru was hit by USS Pampanito.

USS Sealion

USS Sealion

Three steam torpedoes were fired at the Rakuyo Maru at 5.25pm, the target was 1,100yards  away, all three hit. The torpedoes struck ten seconds apart, two hitting below the waterline the other exploded into the engine room.

The explosions did not kill any prisoners but the water that covered the deck to a depth of over 6 feet flattened anyone in its way, also making its way into the holds where the prisoners were. The prisoners soon organised the evacuation of the holds and looked for anything that would float, the Japanese taking ten of the twelve lifeboats, abandoned ship. The Japanese that didn’t escape found the prisoners not too sensitive to their pleas of help.

136 PoWs from the Rakuyo Maru were saved by the Japanese and arrived at Hainan Island together with about 360 survivors of the Kachidoka Maru which had also sank. They were transported to Japan in the Kibitsu Maru accompanied by the Asaka Maru and Sincho Maru.

Taken to Tokyo 22B, Japan

The men were used as stevedores at the train yards and at the docks, loading and unloading all forms of materials, including military equipment and ammunition. Some work at small foundry.

New PoW No. 3101

1945/04/14 Renamed Sendai 9B - Sakata


PoWs at Camp:-












1945/09/14 - Liberated

Liberation Questionnaire



General R. L. Howze

1945/09/27 - Transported in USS Howze

Boarding No. 415

1945/10/15 - Arrived San Fransisco


1946/1/03 - WO417/100, Casualty List No. 1950. Previously reported on Casualty List No. 1289 as Prisoner of War now Not Prisoner of War. Previous Theatre of War, Malaya.





1939-1945 Star-tn

Defence Medal

Pacific Star

War Medal

1939-1945 Star



Terry Dobinson - Daughter

Andrew Snow - Thailand Burma Railway Centre

Japanese Transports

Thailand - Burma Railway

Roll of Honour - Rakuyo Maru

Roll of Honour - Sendai 9B - Sakata

Roger Mansell -  Sendai 9B

Transport Home

Liberation Questionnaire - COFEPOW

KEW Files:- WO 361/1970, WO 361/1983, WO 392/23, WO 361/1742, WO 345/8, WO 361/734, WO 361/2005, WO 361/2058, WO 361/2184,


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




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