This Page Is Dedicated To



Leading Aircraftman

Ashford Stanley Vaisey

Known as Stan


1922/06/15 - Born Edmonton, Middlesex

Son of Edwin Francis and Olive (nee Stevens) Vaisey

1940/07/16 - Enlisted Royal Air Force

Next of Kin:- Uncle: F Badnell, 4 Robin Hood Butts Road, Alton, Hampshire


Royal Air Force

Radio Installation Maintenance Unit



1940/07/16 - After Enlisting at No. 2 Recruitment Centre, Cardington, Stan was sent home till a training place was available.

1940/08/17 - Returned to No. 2 Recruitment Centre where he was signed into attestation and his Service No. 1169487 was assigned. After receiving his kit, he was subjected to the medics and confirmed he was fit for trade selection. Then came the very basic ‘square bashing’.

He then started his Radar Operator Skills course, from which he gained his trade badge.

Radar Operator Skills Badge

1940/11/05 - Stan was posted to No.2 Radio School, Yatesbury, Wiltshire.

Radar Course

Taken during course, Stan is on left

1940/11/23 - Passed Radar course

Posted to No.5 Bombing and Gunnery School on Isle of Man - Headquarters Holding - Reason HH - so not on establishment strength of unit.

Masts at Isl of Man

Masts at Isle of Man

Stan voices his appreciation of these masts:-

“When I think about it now, it makes my blood run cold. These masts that we had were 80 ft tall, and wooden, and held together with sort of bits of bent metal and bolts because they had to be able to take them down and move them on a lorry, you see. So it was like a Meccano set. And if anything happened to the that the actual aerial by the way was a lump of copper tubing, just like you see a plumber have. They were the best receptors for it, but if anything went wrong with them in the night, you had to go up there.”

“We didn't see any action. See, there was no gunfire, and I think like that. And I got fed up All the action was abroad see, and I was keen, mad, like you are at that age. So I put in for a transfer.

1941/01/10 - Transfer papers  were completed from RAF Home Establishment to
RAF Field Establishment - specifically Far East Command and sailed from Liverpool in the Empress of Australia

Empress of australia-3

The convoy consisted of:-

Warships: Battleship Revenge, Cruiser Norfolk, light cruiser, two US destroyers, seven British destroyers.

Other ships included: Durban Castle, Capetown Castle, Winchester Castle, Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan (later renamed Empress of Scotland), Windsor Castle, Athlone Castle, Union Castle, Monarch of Bermuda, Edinburgh Castle, Highland Chieftain and Highland Princess.

Via the route:-

Route to Singapore

    1941/01/25 - Along West African coast to Freetown and leave to go ashore

    1941/01/29 - Departed Freetown at 6.30am

    1941/02/08 - Arrived Capetown and allowed ashore

    1941/02/12 - Departed Capetown at 2pm

    1941/02/16 - East of Durban

    1941/02/17 - Entered Mozambique Channel

    1941/02/22 - Mombassa with white sanded beaches with shore leave

    1941/02/24 - Departed Mombassa, crossing Arabian Sea

    1941/03/03 - Arrived Bombay, anchored 10.30am and trans-shipped by gunboat to the Aquitania. The Aquitania was twice the size of the Empress of Australia,

    1941/03/05 - The Empress of Australia and Empress of Japan left convoy sailing South. The Empress of Japan was later renamed Empress of Scotland.

    1941/03/10 - Sailed down Malacca Straits and anchored off the Isle of Singapore.

    1941/03/11- Arrived Singapore and departed ship at mid day, by bus to RAF Seletar.

RAF Seletar

Stan remembers RAF Seletar:

“You know, in fact, posted to Malaya was absolute marvellous, you know, because the life but and the whole standard of  living you had servants (Indian Tamil Boys) to do this.”


Indian Tamil Boys

Indian Tamil Boys

(2nd from right Lanana – Stan’s boy)

“You never cleaned your shoes. They were done. there was a bloke that used to come in. And sweep up. If  you laid in bed, a bloke would come around with a bowl and shave you.  You know, it was bloody marvellous. But this soon changed. Yeah”

1941/12/08 - Japanese troops landed at Singora and Patani in Thailand and Kota Bharu in Malaya.

Attack Launched
Japanese landings

 The first air attack on Singapore took place at 4.15am on the 8th December on the Chinese quarter, after the air craft had dropped their bombs they machine gunned the streets for two hours,  killing sixty-one and injuring 133.

Britain were at war with Japan


By the 31st January 1942, at the foot of Malaya, Singapore was under threat of attack by Japanese Troops who were now on the Southern coast of Jahore.

Seeing no other alternative, evacuation of civilians was now taking place. By the 13-15th February many varied craft were leaving with Allied troops in an attempt to escape capture. Stan was amongst them, his hope was to reach Australia.

Stan's words:- “We got out very smartly”

“We got on boats and went down the coast? I don't know if  you know the geography at all, but if  you imagine Singapore,  Sumatra is to the Southwest, and it's like a long sausage, then a gap to Java.’

We got onto boats to get across to, Sumatra and we went all the way down to near the bottom of  Sumatra. We then had to get to Java, that was our next move, because we were aiming for Australia, but unfortunately, believe it or not, we were sailing along in the dark and we had found ourselves in the middle of a Jap convoy. Um, the boat we got on in Singapore got sunk.”

Stan with the other survivors of the sinking found themselves marooned on the Island of Puluu Pon Pon.

Wounded aiting for a boat

Puluu Pon Pon Hospital - wounded waiting for a boat.

Luckily, after nine days they were tightly packed in a junk, on their way to Priji Raja on the Northern bank of the Indragiri river.

The Hold of the Chinese Junk


They reached the East coast of Sumatra and travelled across Sumatra to Padang on the West coast. Hoping to be in time to board an evacuation ship, but their luck was out and they were captured, becoming Japanese Prisoners of War.


Japanese PoW

1942/03/17 - Captured Padang, Sumatra

PoW No. 12056

Japanese Index Card - Side One


Japanese Index Card - Side Two


Stan was part of the British Sumatra Battalion which was formed on the 9th May 1942 with 20 officers and 480 other ranks. The service personnel were mostly escapees and considered to be trouble makers.

Leaving Padang, Sumatra by train they travelled to Fort de Kok. The next day a convoy of lorries took them to Uni Kampong Camp, where Dutch civilians were interned.

England Maru-3

On the 15th May they were packed into the hell ship England Maru bound for Mergui, Burma, to build new runways, the death rate at Mergui was twelve.

The 10th of August saw another move on the hell ship Tatu Maru to Ann Hestletine Home at Tavoy, where the death rate fell to five.

The next move to Thanbyuzayat in November was the start of a hard toil on the Thailand to Burma railway, the death rate being was high.

The British Sumatra Battalion deaths in Burma:-








18 Kilometer Camp



30 Kilometer Camp



55 Kilometer Camp



60 Kilometer Camp



84 Kilometer Camp



105 Kilometer Camp



114 Kilometer Camp



Stan’s Recollection:-

“Then would go up the line to other camps to work, they ate “blue rice” (” what they use for cow feed”). The rice was full of  “livestock” (like weevils / bugs).

Camps “up the line” approx. 35km apart (Stan went to them all)




Wompo – cliff  face railway ran around the cliff  face past a waterfall


The further up you got the worse it was as the food/medical supplies didn’t get up the line easily.”


(PoWs spelt the names of camps as their accent dictatered, therefore there are many different spellings for the same camps. A common spelling has now been establised to help with camp names. In Stan’s recollections, his spellings are used)


After the railway was completed October 43 and then capable of  moving men and equipment late 1943 he was moved down the Railway to Kanchanaburi Thailand where he was stationed at Chungkai, Thailand (60km from Nong Pladuk) until September 1944. He was then sent back up the railway to work cutting wood that was used to run the Steam Locomotives used by the Linson, Thailand (205km from Nong Pladuk).

In December 1944 he was sent back to Chungkai Hospital sick with Diarrhoea and Malaria then to Tha Muang, Taku Butai and finally Pratchai.

New PoW No. 16180

1945/08/15 - Liberated



Flown from the POW camp directly to Calcutta, India.

Indian Hospital

“We got picked up by a plane. We've got a lift which saved us about 200 miles walking. And they were Dakotas. Um, that was that was the lorry of the air in those days. Um, and we all got out. We’d been packed in like sardines.”


The last leg of  the journey.

“So I went to the RTO. Where are you from, son? Alton in Hampshire. I've been there. He says nice beer there, you know, we had a nice long chat. Um, he said there you are then there's your ticket. And if  you get stuck, whatever the red caps, show them that you're okay, you can go anywhere. And it was, you know, because red cats are everywhere. And if  you got something Where you off  to? Oh, yeah, On your way. And that was it. Yeah. Anyhow, I got to Alton and the station looked just the same. The same porter was stood on the bloody station, and when I got out, there was a car parked there, a Taxi and I walked past this, and I thought, I wonder if  he knows where I live. He said, hello Stan how you doing? How you getting on? I said a bloody long sight. Better seeing you. he said you want to lift home. Yeah, I'm getting there. And not only did he take me home? He took me to the home where my family were because they've been bombed out. They were neighbours, Of  course. Everybody knew where everybody was.

I knocked on the door, aunt came the door and she said, Martin, his name is. Hello, Martin. What's up? He said I brought him home and she said who? And she said, Oh, my God, she said, Is he all right? And he said No. He wants to come in for a cup of  tea. So he came in with us and we had to sit down a cup of  tea and everything.



Defence Medal



1939-1945 Star-tn

Pacific Star

War Medal

1939-1945 Star


Post War

1946 - Married Margaret Owen at Alton, Hampshire

Blessed with two children Andrew and Carole

2002/2014/2015/2016 Electoral Register:- Lived at The Crofts, Witney, Oxfordshire with Margaret Vaisey




Rosebank Care Home, in Bampton Oxfordshire



Shelley Vailey - Granddaughter

Stan’s Own Photos

Andrew Snow - Thailand Burma Railway Centre

The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum - Oral History Interview

Fall of Malaya and Singapore

British Sumatra Battalion

Thailand-Burma Railway

Book ‘The British Sumatra Battalion’ by A.A. Apthorp

KEW Files:- AIR 78 161 2, WO 361/2172, WO 361/2171, WO 345/53, WO 361/1955, WO 361/2196, WO 361/2168, WO 361/1987, WO 392/26,


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