Council remembers local soldiers captured in Singapore during World War II

News release from 13 February 2017, 2:32pm

CAMBRIDGE City Council will this Wednesday remember the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, which saw thousands of local soldiers from Cambridgeshire and East Anglia captured in Singapore by the Japanese Army.

Cambridge soldiers had been sent into Singapore in the weeks immediately before the then colony fell to the Japanese, in an attempt to shore up its defences. They were then imprisoned for three and a half years in harsh conditions, with hundreds dying due to overwork, starvation and a lack of medical help.

A short ceremony will be held at 5pm on Wednesday 15 February on the Guildhall stairs, and relatives of those who served will be there to hear contributions from the Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Jeremy Benstead, and Leader of Cambridge City Council, Cllr Lewis Herbert, to remember them, particularly those who didn’t make it back.  Others interested in attending are very welcome to come along.

The event will take place beside the memorial plaque which the council unveiled in 2015, to remember all those who served in the Far East in Singapore, Malaysia and Burma, including hundreds of local men who died as forced labourers for the Japanese Army on the “Death Railway” built from Thailand to Burma.

Cllr Herbert said: “Hundreds of local Cambridgeshire families had fathers or grandfathers who served in World War Two in the Far East, including many who suffered appalling inhumanity and are in cemeteries in the Far East.
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“Dozens of families were also affected in Coleridge ward that I and the Mayor represent.  Hobart Road alone had 16 families with men who suffered appalling brutality as Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOWs).

“This event is a wider reminder of the horrible cost and damage of war.  As the ‘Railway Man’ film showed, most survivors of the ‘Death Railway’ carried mental and physical scars for life, and only recovered thanks to the support of their wives and families.

“There are now few survivors with us, in their late 90s, but we know that their families support us in keeping the torch alight, and remembering how much they gave up in serving their country, as did that whole generation who helped us win the war and, at considerable cost, defeat evil fascist regimes both in Europe and Asia.”