To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”



Able Seaman

Cyril Donovan Grenfell


Born Natal, South Africa

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

HMS Exeter



Cyril with future wife Cynthia Ethne Larkan

Married 1946 in Harding, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa





HMS Exeter

On the entry of the Japan into the war in December 1941, HMS Exeter formed part of the ABDACOM naval force which was intended to defend the Dutch East Indies from Japanese invasion.

Exeter at the Battle of Java Sea-tn

On 27th February, 1942, HMS Exeter was badly damaged in the Battle of the Java Sea when she received a hit in the boiler room and was ordered to Surabaya. The destroyer HMS Electra was sunk covering her withdrawal. On 1st March while Exeter was attempting to reach the Sunda Straits, she was again engaged by the Japanese cruisers Nachi and Haguro. HMS Exeter was soon badly damaged by gunfire and a torpedo from the destroyer Inazuma. Taking on water she began to list to starboard, by noon on the same day she sank. Her escorting destroyers, HMS Encounter and USS Pope were also lost in this engagement. About 800 Allied seamen, including the commander of HMS Exeter, Captain O.L. Gordon., became prisoners of war.


Japanese PoW

1942/03/01 - Captured

Makassar Camp, Celebes

PoW No. J.M. 474 (Java Makassar 474)

All 600 survivors of HMS Exeter were taken to Makassar after a stop at Banjermassen, South Borneo. The officers were soon sent to Japan and then on to Mukden in the Special Parties, primary to take away leadership.

Japanese PoW Card - Side One


Japanese PoW Card - Side Two


1945/09/27 - Liberated


Box Frame


 The photograph of the EXETER shows her entering the harbour in Durban South Africa where he boarded after signing up.

Cyril is photographed with his three brothers before he left for overseas.

ID bracelet, close-up shown below.

Cyril made useful items out of materials found in Makassar camp.

 The knife and cut throat razor were made from a hacksaw blade.

 The shaving brush was made from bottle stopper and some rope.

 The pipe, missing the shaft, was hand carved.


ID Bracelet


C. D. Grenfell


C. of E.

(Church of England)

R.N.V.R. (SA)


Post War


Cyril married Cynthia Ethne Larkan in 1946

At Harding, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa



20th May, 1973

 At his home in Pinetown, Kwa Zulu Natal.

HMS Exeter Glass Window at Exeter Cathedral -1

HMS Exeter Glass Window at Exeter Cathedral




Denise Grenfell - Daughter-in-law

Jenna Grenfell - Granddaughter

Book - ‘No Surrender’ by W.E Johns and R.A Kelly

KEW:-  WO 345/21,


''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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