To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”




John Edward Taylor


1916/05/12 Born Croydon, Surrey

Suffolk Regiment

4th Battalion

18th Division





1942/10/30 - Transported Andes in Convoy CT.5. from Liverpool to Halifax


USS Wakefield

Arriving at Halifax 8th November the men were then moved across to the transport ship tied along side, the 27,000 ton Wakefield.

On November 10th the voyage continued with six American troopships, two cruisers, eight destroyers and the aircraft carrier Ranger,  the Convoy William Sail 12X  was under way, destination still unknown.

The convoy passed through the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and St Domingo, arriving at Trinidad on 17th November in glorious sunshine so our tropical kit came out, but unfortunately no shore-leave, we left after two days of taking on supplies. On 24th we crossed the equator, there was a crossing the line ceremony.

After a month the convoy arrived at Cape Town, South Africa. By this time the Americans were in the war as the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour and attacked Malaya and the rumours were that they were heading for the Far East and not the Middle East as first thought.

On December 13th the convoy left Cape Town and sailed along the coast of East Africa past Madagascar and into the Indian Ocean heading for Bombay. After 17,011 miles at sea Bombay was reached December 27th 1941.

Embarked on 17th January back onto the Wakefield. The convoy sailed the next day with a British escort, the H.M.S. Exeter and H.M.S. Glasgow with British and Australian destroyers. Japan had entered the war by attacking Malaya on 8th December 1941, destination was the far East. The Prince of Wales and the Repulse had both been sunk by the Japanese off Malaya. Passing Colombo, (Ceylon), crossing the equator for the third time, the convoy passed through the Sundra Straits between Java and Sumatra and then the Banka Straits. The convoy was then bombed by Jap Planes, there was no damage, the Wakefield was the first of our convoy to reach the safety of Keppel Harbour, Singapore on the 29th January 1942. Ships were ablaze in the harbour, clouds of smoke drifted across the sky and the smell of fumes was overpowering, this was not the best of greetings. The Japanese had taken most of Malaya in the last three weeks and were only thirty miles away from Singapore.

The 18th Division was moved to hold the north-eastern part of the island north of the  Changi Peninsula.

1942/02/15 Singapore surrendered to Japanese


 Japanese PoW

1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore

PoW No. M 4228

Japanese Index Card Side One


Japanese Index Card - Side Two

1942/10/31 - Transported overland to Thailand in ‘R’ Party

23rd train from Singapore to Thailand

Commander Lt-Col. A.A. Johnson, 4th Suffolks

New PoW No.  II 4213

Transported back to Singapore


1944/07/04 - Transported Hofuku Maru

The Hofuku Maru sailed from  Singapore to Miri, Borneo as part of convoy  SHIMI-05. The convoy consisted of 10 ships, 5 of which carried, in total, 5,000 POWs, all in appalling conditions.

At Borneo, the Hofuku Maru left the convoy with engine problems, and sailed on to the Philippines, arriving on 19th July. She remained in Manila until mid-September while the engines were repaired. The POWs remained on board, suffering terribly from disease, hunger, and thirst.

On September 20, 1944, the Hofuku Maru and 10 other ships formed Convoy MATA-27, and sailed from Manila to Japan. The following morning, the convoy was attacked 80 miles north of Corregidor by more than 100 American carrier planes. All eleven ships in the convoy were sunk. Of those on the Ho¨fuku Maru, 1,047 of the 1,289 British and Dutch POWs on board died.

1944/09/21 - John survived the sinking, picked up by Japanese

In Bilibid Prison, Philippines

Hokusen Maru-3

1944/10/01 - Transported Hukusen Maru

1944/10/23 - Arrived Taiwan

Taken to Taiwan 3B - Heito

Melbourne Maru

1945/01/14 - Transported in Melbourne Maru to Japan

1945/01/23 - Arrive Moji, Japan

Sendai 3B, Japan

New PoW No. II 44916

1945/09/14 - Liberated Sendai 3B, Japan




1939-1945 Star-tn

Pacific Star

War Medal

1939-1945 Star



George Edward Mower


  1. I, George Edward Mower, Private NO.5774021, 4th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, now discharged, with permanent home address at 68, St. Nicholas Street, Thetford, Aged 28, make Oath and say as follows.
  2. I was taken prisoner by the Japanese on the 15th February, 1942, at Singapore, and was kept in Singapore until June and was then sent overland by train via Malaya to Thailand. I was working on the Siam Railway till June 7th, 1944, and was then taken back by train to Singapore to Havelock Road Transit Camp, arriving there on June 12th, 1944. I was in this Camp until June 27th, 1944, when I embarked on the HOKA MARU. The ship was tied up in Singapore Docks and we were marched on board by guards and put in the holds, 600 prisoners in each of two holds. I was in the aft hold. We sailed from Singapore on July 4th, 1944. I do not know the names of any Japanese officers or guards in charge of us. There was no name on our ship but everybody called it the Hoka Maru, it was a steamer. We sailed via the coast to Borneo and called at one Port there, I believe it was Brunei. We sailed in a convoy of about seven ships but I never saw them as I was kept below all the time, and I cannot give any information about them. We arrived at Brunei on the 9th July, 1944, and our ship broke down there and we were left behind by the rest of the convoy. We left Brunei after about six days and sailed through various islands to Manila Bay, arriving there on 24th July, 1944. We sailed alone from Brunei to Manila Bay. We left Manila Bay on September 19th, 1944, with seven other ships - this was another convoy which we waited for at Manila. We hung about the mouth off Manila Bay for about a day and one day out from Manila, about 11 a.m., 21st September, our ship was attacked by American carrier torpedo planes and sunk. Three more ships in the convoy were sunk, one ran aground, and I believe the others were damaged. I do not know the names of any of the other ships. I don't think there were any prisoners on these ships. I was in the water six or seven hours on a piece of wreckage and then I was picked up by a small Japanese armed fishing boat, and this took me back to Manila where I was put in Bili Bid prison until 1st October, 1944. Altogether there were 1,200 prisoners of war on the Hoka Maru, 600 in each hold, and there were only 257 survivors - most of the men went down with the ship as it was hit three times and sank almost at once.
  3. Conditions on the ship were very bad. In my hold, which was open to the weather, there was a platform round the side of the hold, about three to four feet from the deck, about 5'6" wide, and about 200 men laid on it. About the same number laid underneath the platform, and about 200 had to lay on the deck in the middle of the hold, exposed to all weathers, and we were terribly overcrowded. We were not allowed to take anything on board except small personal items; I had an old haversack, a pair of rubber shoes, one blanket, pair of drill trousers, a seaman's jacket and an old piece of canvas, in addition to what I was wearing, which was an old drill shirt and slacks and rubber shoes. No bedding was provided by the Japanese. The ration was two meals per day, about 11 a.m. in the morning a mess tin three parts full of boiled rice and wheat with salt, and tea to drink; about 5 p.m. at night some boiled rice and barley, with sometimes a piece of salt fish and a spoonfull of cooked vegetables, and tea to drink. There was no sugar or milk in the tea. Apart from the meals a bucket of water was issued each day for every thirty men, and this had to last the day. It was badly condensed from sea water and was very salty and impure and unfit to drink. There were no medical supplies and the only medical treatment was what could be given by our own Doctors. There were three Doctors in my hold. Nobody died up to Manila Bay, but there were between 400 and 500 sick men on board, most of them hopeless cases with beri-beri. Practically all these cases were contracted on board, as we were mostly fit men when we boarded ship. While we were lying in Manila Bay about 100 men died, eight were buried in Manila Cemetery and the rest were thrown overboard. The bodies were usually taken a short distance from the ship in a small boat at night and put in the sea. Some of these corpses were allowed to lie on deck all day in the sun until they were put in the sea at night, and prisoners had to take their meals in sight of the bodies. There were no sanitary arrangements and we had to use buckets and mess tins in the hold where we slept and ate. Boxes were hung over the side of the ship but most men were too weak to get into them to use them. Our ship was carrying ballast, there was no cargo as far as I know. There were about 400 life jackets on the ship, also some rafts which were practically useless. There were nothing like enough appliances for everybody. There were no markings on our ship to show it was carrying prisoners of war. The only treatment our Doctors were able to give men with beri beri was to cut their feet open and lay them in the bottom hold for the liquid to drain from them. Two men were operated on in the hold in front of the rest of us, one was for appendicitis and the other was for ulcerated stomach. The operations were performed on a stretcher supported on four tubs, and the doctor used an open razor.
  4. On the 1st October, 1944, I was taken from Manila on a  coal boat, about 4,000 tons, which we called the Benjo Maru. This was the worst ship I was on, and we went via Hongkong and landed at Formosa on the 9th November, 1944. We were put in Engine Camp, staying there until January, 1945. We marched six miles to the Station and were taken by train to the northern part of Formosa, I forget the name.
  5. The Melbourne Maru was lying in dock and we were marched on board in parties. We went straight from the train on to the ship, and we went on board on January 12th, 1945. We sailed on the 14th January. I saw the name " Melbourne Maru" painted on the side of the ship, forward. We sailed via Shanghai and landed in Japan on January 28th, 1945. This was the best boat I was on. We sailed in convoy, I do not know the names of any other ships, I should say there were about ten, all cargo ships, and we were escorted by Japanese destroyers and corvettes. The Melbourne Maru was heavily armed with A.A. guns and 4 inch Naval guns. There were only about 400 prisoners of war on board; I don't know if there were any on the other ships in the convoy. I was in the aft hold with about 200 other prisoners.  There were bunks for nearly all of us, but no bedding. The hold was covered in with canvas. Food was reasonable, some days we had three meals, some days two meals, and sometimes we had a little meat or fish, but we did not get enough to eat. We had tea in the morning and hot water at night, and we could get cold water during the day if we wanted it. The Japanese supplied a few tablets but medical supplies were scarce, and the only medical treatment was that which our own Doctors could give. We were lousy, and there were about 100 sick, but only about seven men died, and they were buried at sea. The only sanitary arrangements were buckets and wooden tubs in the hold. We were not allowed on deck at all. It was a large ship and was carrying a cargo of sugar and rice stowed in holds beneath us. There were about 250 life jackets on board, and some rafts and lifeboats, probably enough to accommodate everybody. There were no sinkings or attacks on our convoy, but one of our escort vessels dropped some depth charges just before we reached Japan. There were no markings on our ship to show we carried prisoners of war. We called at Shanghai and stopped about one day - I do not know the date. We arrived at Nagasaki, Japan, on January 28th, 1945, and our ship put into dock and we disembarked via gangways. The fit men went off first and carried and helped off the sick. No priority was given to the sick men.
  6. I cannot give the names or descriptions of any Japanese Officers or guards responsible for disembarkation or conditions on the ships, or in charge of prisoner of war drafts, as I had very little contact with any of them. I suggest that our Officers could supply names as they had dealings with the Japanese, in particular Captain Deane (sic) of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, Lieutenant Lawrence of the Gordon Highlanders, and Captain Lewis of the Suffolk Regiment, a Medical Officer. I can vouch for the dates I have given because I made rough notes of dates and kept them hidden from the Japanese, and when I was freed I made a list, and then destroyed my original notes. I cannot supply any useful photographs or other documents.
  7. The following men were prisoners with me all the time and can also give evidence as to conditions on the ships:-
    1. Dick Hayto, 110, Costead Manor Road, Brentwood, Essex

      J.E. Taylor, 44, Rectory Road, Leigh on Sea, Essex

      E. Pigg, 24, Council Houses, Pulham St. Mary, Diss, Norfolk

      A. H. Spraggin, Roker, Sunderland, Durham

      C. Sergant, 2, Nelson Street, Wisbech, Cambs

      Austin Jervis, Tamworth Road, Long Eaton, Notts

      A. White, Medina, Gaywood, King's Lynn, Norfolk

      T. Williams, Crosstrees Cottages, Harecroft Road, Wisbech, Cambs

      R. Hammond, 23, St. Lewis Street, King's Lynn, Notfolk

      E.W. Haddon, 24, Gad Lane, Woburn, Beds; L. Sage, Colchester Road, Manningtree, Essex

  8. When I reached Japan I was taken to Koshi Kura B3 Camp, Sendai Area, and was released in September, 1945.


( Signed) G.E. Mower


L. Clarke


Statement taken by Sergeant Frank Slack, Norfolk Constabulary, Wymondham, on 21st September, 1946.



Jackie Cheal

Japaneses Transports

Hofuku Maru

Bilibid Prison, Philippines

Sendai 3B - Hosokura

Hell in Five - Book containing information of the sinking of the Hofuku Maru

KEW:- WO 361/1983, WO 361/1742, WO 361/758, WO 392/26, WO 345/51, WO 361/2005, WO 361/1504, WO 361/2179, WO 361/2167, WO 361/2167,


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




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