VJ Day 75th Anniversary: Ken Bailey wrote a diary and kept it hidden from the Japanese

Ken Bailey was aged just 21 when he was taken prisoner.

Ken Bailey was aged just 21 when he was taken prisoner. - Credit: Archant

Jane Wool, of St Ives, wrote to tell us the story of her father Ken Bailey who was one of those taken prisoner when Singapore was invaded by the Japanese army on February 15 1942.

Prisoners in the camps.

Prisoners in the camps. - Credit: Archant

He served with the 5th Suffolk regiment and was one of many who built the Burma/Thai railway.

“Not one of us can imagine how the men travelled through dense, hot and humid jungle, watching friends die in horrendous pain and conditions, having very little food, no medicines and suffering severe and inhumane punishments by their captors,” said Jane.

“They were known as the “Forgotten Army”, they were instructed not to talk of their horrendous captivity on their return to Blighty. There was no welcome for them when they arrived home and no celebrations held that the war in the Far East was over.”

Ken Bailey was aged just 21 when he was taken prisoner in Singapore in 1942. He and others were moved from camp to camp, often travelling by cattle truck, and in the most appalling conditions.

Conditions in the camps were harsh for prisoners in Burma.

Conditions in the camps were harsh for prisoners in Burma. - Credit: Archant

You may also want to watch:

There were no toilets and the men, women and children in the camps were infested with lice and had very little food.

The Red Cross in the UK sent food parcels, but these were incepted by the Japanese who kept them for themselves.

Most Read

Prisoners were forced to work on the Burma Railway and it is estimated that one man died for every sleeper laid.

Ken passed away in January 2016. He was a very well respected and popular police sergeant in Chatteris. The Royal British Legion raised the flag at the cenotaph for him and displayed information about him.”

Jane also said her dad wrote a diary that he managed to hide away from the Japanese guards.

“I still have it, entries only go to August 1943. I have no idea where he did hide it, I wish that I had asked him when he was with us. My dad’s book about his capture was published for his 90th birthday by our son Andrew, entitled Face of Adversity. At the back of that is the typed version. When I proof read the book I did suggest that dad put in more graphic detail of the cruelty they faced every day. He said he couldn’t as he didn’t want relatives of those who died to know how the men had suffered at the hands of the Japanese and Korean guards.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter