Mystery of Hail Weston’s Albert Page is finally solved

PUBLISHED: 12:15 04 November 2011 | UPDATED: 12:27 04 November 2011

Albert Page 2

Albert Page 2

Archant

FOR years, Derek King knew little of the uncle who signed up to fight in the Second World War.

FOR years, Derek King knew little of the uncle who signed up to fight in the Second World War.

He was simply listed – along with tens of thousands of others – as “missing, presumed dead”.

Sixty-five years after the end of the conflict, the mystery began to unravel.

In 2010, Mr King, helped by his wife Yvonne, gradually pieced together the last days of Private Albert Page’s life, and on November 13 the family will honour Uncle Albert as they do every year on Remembrance Sunday, by ­laying a wreath at the war memorial in, Huntingdon’s market square.

The soldier, who, they recently discovered, never actually got to fight, remains a significant part of their lives.

Albert Charles Page was the brother of Phyl Page, a Hail Weston woman who featured in The Hunts Post last week in an article about her husband, Eddie ‘Smiler’ Smales, who filmed some of the most significant battles of the Second World War in North Africa.

Like many young men, Albert signed up to serve his country in 1942.

But as Mr King, of Coldhams South, Huntingdon, discovered, Private Page’s fate was sealed only months after he joined the Fifth Battalion, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.

“I was always intrigued by the sad lack of knowledge about what happened to my uncle,” he said.

“We knew Albert was sent to Singapore in 1942, but after that all we knew was that he was presumed to have died on the Burma railway after being captured by the Japanese.

“We had no official notification of his death, and his parents and sisters died without ever knowing what really happened to him.”

While researching their family tree, the Kings contacted a source in Thailand they found through a magazine and, to their amazement, he was able to detail Albert’s final days.

“The man in Thailand told us the whole story,” Mr King said. “Albert was captured by the Japanese on arriving in Singapore on February 15, 1942, when the country fell to Japan.

“We know it is him because the record indicates he was a postman, which indeed he was when he lived in St Neots.”

Albert was taken from Singapore to Thailand on October 24, 1942, where he was detained as a PoW in Kanchanaburi in the north of the country.

By May 1943, he was destined, along with all the other prisoners, to work on the Burma railway – known as the death railway because more than 100,000 people, including more than 6,000 Britons, died during its construction.

But Albert was struck down prior to working on the railway.

Mr King said: “The records state that Albert was taken ill with cholera on July 1, 1943 and then passed away on July 3, so he died before he was made to work on the railway.”

According to Japan’s records, Albert was cremated and his ashes interred in the Kanchanaburi Cemetery in grave 6A67.

“To find out what happened to Albert after all these years was overwhelming, and we shed a few tears. Even now it gets to you.

“He may have been just another ­soldier lost in the war, but we will remember them.”

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