The Rehabilitation and Readjustment of Cambridgeshire’s Far Eastern Prisoners of War
A Dissertation by Peter Swallowe
One of the consequences of the battle for Malaya, and the subsequent surrender of the British Army at Singapore, was that in excess of nine hundred soldiers from Cambridgeshire were taken prisoner of war. For the next three and a half years these men suffered the most horrifying brutality conceivable in the most appalling conditions imaginable. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the rehabilitation and readjustment of those Cambridgeshire Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPoWs) who survived.
In order to analyse the last fifty two years of these ex-prisoners lives I decided it was essential to interview the largest cross section of Cambridgeshire FEPoWs possible. The informal discussions I had with several FEPoWs revealed they possessed numerous original government documents concerning their release from captivity. These War Office documents, and an article by Ben Shephard in History Today on FEPoWs rehabilitation, became the basis of my FEPoW questionnaire. I then formally conducted eleven interviews. The object was to test Shephard’s research and findings against my own, and also to discover what the authorities did, and did not do, for the returning ex-prisoners in the immediate post-war period.
I divided the research into three areas. Firstly, I looked at FEPoWs formal rehabilitation with particular regard to their release, the journey home and their arrival in Britain. Secondly, I investigated the FEPoWs informal rehabilitation in the post-war era in an attempt to discover the importance of the part played in by the family, friends employment and comradeship. Lastly, I examined the FEPoWs ongoing rehabilitation and readjustment in an attempt to discover how they, in the absence of any real government initiative, came to terms with their abominable experiences at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.
Appendix - can only be viewed at the Cambridge County Collection
Interview Format - interveiws can only be viewed at the Cambridge County Collection