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Mr Roy Hennington
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road
30th September 1998 Your Ref REC/17/94
Dear Mr Hemmington
Thank you very much for replying to my letter of the 9th, while I appreciate what you are doing, I feel sure that I must not have explained myself or my project properly.
I was posted to Singapore in 1937, where as a bugler I attended the funerals of a considerable number of service men. and from this I became familiar with proceedings concerning the keeping of records in this respect.
During the fighting in Malaya and Singapore I was a machine gunner with the Manchester regiment, and on occasions assisted in the hurried burial of a number of casualties. In each instance I conformed to the regulations, while at the same time making a record and description of the place of burial.
After the capitulation, along with several others I was assigned to work under the supervision of Japanese guards in the recovery, burial, and general cleaning up the aftermath of war. The Japanese allowed me to keep a record of those we buried British, Australian or whatever who we buried. Japanese and civilian casualties were taken to Ford motor plant where they were cremated. During my incarceration I was allowed to keep my bugle. The Japanese furnished me with an arm band which allowed me free passage between prisoner of war camps to attend funerals, and also allowed me to retain my records.
When I returned home after the war, I was ordered to hand over to the War Graves Commission all my records. About 1956 when the cemetery registers were first published, I received copies of those applicable to Singapore Malaya and Thailand. From these I noted that several of those whose burials I had been witness to, were now listed as having no known. I can still remember several of the names of these and where they were buried. Even today after more than fifty years I can go back to the same place in many instances immaterial of building modernisation
I am not just looking for the graves of those men of the Thanet who are listed as NKG.
At Tobong Malaya 28 Artillery men were killed when the train on which they were travelling was bombed and strafed. They were buried by the railway side until after the war. of these 28, 18 had identification. The remaining ten were buried under a marker which said Known only unto God. Yet in the registers they are shown as NKG. They have got a grave we know who the ten were, and if we can have access to the records kept by the recovery team after the war, we can identify many of them.
At Alexandra hospital around fifty soldiers and local nurses were buried in slit trenches outside Gilman barracks, They were listed as missing and are now shown as having NKG. They are either still there or they have been removed to Kranji. In which case they must have a grave.
There were 120 In Kanchanaburi killed during an air raid by British bombers on the 24th June 1944 They are all buried in the cemetery, maybe they have no identity but they most certainly have a grave. a further 200 or more were killed on the 25th July on the railway sidings at Kanchanaburi. I know where they were buried. I also know that this was the place where a local Thai business man employed labourers to dig up the remains for his macabre museum in 1991 92, and 93.
At Brankasi 28 prisoners of war were killed by American and British bombers, they were buried in a mass grave, which was later removed to Thanbazayat. They again are listed as NKG.
On the night of the 13th February I personally assisted in burying sergeant Martin McGlynn, at ten o'clock at night we dug a hole at the side of the Kallang bridge and placed him just three foot down. Each time we passed the spot as prisoners we noted that nothing had been moved. After the war the recovery removed his remains to Kranji, Even though he had full identity, plus his personal effects which we buried with him, he is listed as NKG.
They all have a grave if only you will allow access to the records which I know were maintained by the recovery teams. Captain Harris who died recently was one of those involved in this task, I saw his records which related to Burma. The information was enough to be able to eliminate at least half of those which are listed as having No Known Grave.
The task might look gigantic, but to myself and those who work with me it is a task which should be undertaken as soon as possible.
The information shown on the records kept by the recovery team stated if the remains constituted of one or more. The place where located. if there were any personal effects, badges, buckles etc. and from there it gave the place where the remains were being interred and the plot number.
Your assistance in this would be greatly appreciated not only by me, but by the many relatives still living who are of the impression that their loved ones have never been given a Christian burial.
The same applies to those men who went down with the Japanese hell ships. In the War Graves records they are listed as having no known grave. Once more the relatives are not aware of the circumstances of their demise, and assume that they are lying unburied in the jungle. I still receive letters from many of these people, and I always look at the date which the war graves commission have given as the date they went missing, and I know that the one they are looking for was on one of the hell ships.
These men do have a grave and this fact should be announced, they were lost at sea, and that fact should have been notified. The list of NKG amounts to around 26,000. Of these 16,000 died when the Japanese transports on which they were being transported were sunk. They might not have an consecrated grave, but at least the families know for certain what happened and why they do not have an consecrated grave.
I sincerely hope that this letter will clarify my interest and intentions.