Aircraftman 1st Class
1906/11/23 - Born Edinburgh, Scotland
Son of William and Elizabeth King
Enlisted at Padgate between September 1939 and February 1940
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
1942, January - The 84 Squadron were based at P1 Palembang, Sumatra and the ground crew were at P2 which was 45 mile south of Palembang. The aircrew were billeted at Maria School, an evacuated girls school in Pamembang.
Sorties were flown from P2 in protection of Singapore from the sea.
1942/February - As the Japanese advanced in Singapore, ships began the evacuation of Singapore, defence of Singapore Island became impossible and the Squadron then took action against a sea invasion of Java.
1942/02/14 - Japanese paratroopers were dropped near P1, Sumatra, their object to take the airfield and oil refinery which were situated close by the airfield at Palembang. Defences were breached and both the airfields were given orders to be evacuated. The slow withdrawal of the ground crew took place towards Java and as there was plenty of Japanese harassment, the withdrawal was not a smooth operation and there were many deaths.
1942/02/15 - Late in the day P2 planes evacuated taking off for the last time to Bandoeng, Java. The ferry at Palembang stopped it’s service to halt the Japanese advance. The ground crews who survived crossed over to Java from Oosthaven in the SS Silverlarch.
After being trained to Batavia they were billeted in the Dutch barracks at Meester Cornelis and then to Kalidjati airdrome, which after two days was attacked by the Japanese.
1942 March - They were then by road to Bandoeng and on to Tlilijap hoping to be evacuated by ship to Colombo, but all the ships had left.
1942/03/08 - Java surrendered and they became Japanese PoWs
1942/03/08 - Captured Java
PoW No. III 2293
Japanese Index Card - Side One
Japanese Index Card - Side Two
New PoW No. 2038
1943/04/13 - Medical examination by Japanese at Surabaya for fitness to travel, no one rejected, all classified fit by the Japanese.
Next morning in front of paraded PoWs, Squadron Leader Pitts was severely beaten up in an unprovoked assault, which lasted for about 15 minutes. It is thought it was to impress upon the 2,075 PoWs who were being transported that the Japanese were in charge.
1943/04/17 - Several days after embarking the two ships, Cho Saki Maru and Amagi Maru, they set sail for Haruku. The conditions on board were bad with the PoWs confined to the holds with buckets as latrines and little ventilation dysentery soon caused problems.
1943/05/05 - After 1, 200 miles at sea they arrived at Haruku where the atap hut roofs were either missing or leaked letting in the consistent rain. The natives, who built the huts, had dug their latrine at the top of the slope the camp was on and the latrines overflowed and ran into the huts, a dysentery epidemic quickly followed and the death grew.
The work at the camp was to flatten the top of the volcanic island and building an air strip. For the work the PoWs were paid 15 cents a day. As the food was poor the money was spent in the camp shop which was run by the Japanese Guard Mori. Mori kept the camp food rations poor so the PoWs had to spend their money in his shop.
1944/6 - Without warning the PoWs were ordered to embark to leave Haruku. It is believed the reason for this was the Japanese were retreating. 415 PoWs were left behind in graves at Haruku mainly due to a dysentery epidemic in the first three months.
650 of the fittest were now sent to Ambon. Work involved loading the ships at the docks with stores. Most of the Pows by now had no cloths to wear so they adopted the ‘Jap Happy’. This was a 9 x 24 inch strip of white cotton material with a tape sown at each end. One end was placed in the small of the back and the tape tied around the waist and fitted together with a bow at the front. The long piece left hanging at the back was now passed between the legs and slid beneath the bow at the front, covering the crotch.
To the PoWs it was obvious the Japanese were puling back towards Java as the ships at the harbour became less and less, it was now their turn to move out.
1944/08 - The PoWs were split into two groups, one group of 500 boarded the Maros Maru, an old steamship, and the other 150 including William were in the 150 group onboard the the Kaiysu Maru.
The Kaiysu Maru was sunk on-route by a Liberator with 138 survivors. The Maros Maru stopped at Raha and picked them up on an already crowded ship.
Conditions onboard the Maros Maru were very bad as the PoWs were kept on deck and it was stormy weather. Illness soon broke out on a starvation diet. After 14 days the PoWs were dying in large numbers, about 15 a day.
The engine was giving plenty of trouble and slowed the voyage down to Makassar in the Celebes. After reaching Makassar the PoWs were kept on the ship while the repairs were carried out, this took days and the PoWs were still dying.
Cause of Death Tropical Fever, Malaria
Place of death at sea Makasar, Celebes
Son of William and Elizabeth Duncan King
Husband of Jean King, of Edinburgh
‘Prisoner Doctor’ by Richard Philps
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Pam Gillespie - 84 Squadron
KEW Files:- WO 345/30, WO 361/1222, WO 392/25, WO 361/1945, WO 361/1616, WO 361/1616,