Palembang Camp - Sumatra

Palembang Camp - Sumatra

      andy.diss - I am about to post the Diary of Eric Diss and some background information collected by my Father, as part of his family history research.

      Eric died on the 20 August 1945 at the Palembang Prisoner of War Camp Sumatra. Five Days after the Japanese surrender and three days before the Australian Air Force flew in supplies

      Maxine Collier - Hi re: Eric Diss. My father was also in Palembang Camp but survived. I would be interested in any information you have about the camp and would also be willing to share any I have with you (although limited at the moment). My father was in the RAF and from South Wales he spoke indirectly about the camp all his life and had very bad memories of it.

      andy.diss - Hi You can find what Ihave on the web page under Eric and Mary's story. This includes Erics story from the Fall of Singapore through to his death just before the camp received food after war end. Hope this is of interest. Andy

      Maxine Collier - Hi Andy thanks for your reply. My father Kenneth Collier was also trying to escape from Singapore via a chinese tugboat which was shot down by the Japs. He spent a similar time in the water hanging on to a raft and was eventully picked up by the Japs and placed in Palembang Camp. Undoubtedly he would probably have known Eric as very few survived and sadly Eric died shortly before supplies arrived. Apparently if what I have been told has been remembered correctly only about 200 hundred POWs were alive at the end. My father was only six stone at the end and must have been very near to death. He told my mother that there were terrible tortures. Barbed wire cages, kickings, bashings, starvation. There were also children born in the camp who were burned (presumably alive) at birth. My father kept names of the Japs who committed the atrocities and bore witness at the end of the war. Nine of the Japs were found guilty and hung for their crimes, several others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
      He had a close friend who died a terrible death at the hands of the Japs called 'Kirby'. His death haunted him all his life. I would like to know more about Mr Kirby i.e. does he have a grave anywhere and where did he come from etc. but unfortunately my father is now dead and familier to other ex POWs did not like talking about the subject. Thanks Maxine Collier

      Maxine Collier - Hi..does anyone have any information about Palembang Camp Sumatra. My father Kenneth Collier (leading aircraftsman RAF) was in it for three and half years. At the end there was a trial and nine Japenese soldiers were hung for their war crimes at the camp..numerous other were given life imprisonment. My father bore witness to their crimes. He never forgot those who died and was haunted by the camp all his life. I would be gratefull for anymore knowledge about this camp. Also his friend 'Kirby' who came from Lancaster who sadly died. Maxine Collier (daughter)

      geoduffy - I believe the camp (or camps) in the Palembang area were involved in the construction and repair of the local airport. A number of the resident prisoners had been transferred from Java.

      Two British Merchant Navy officers whose ship, the EMPIRE DAWN, was sunk by the German raider MICHEL two nights after the raider sunk my ship, the AMERICAN LEADER, and who joined us in the raider's prison quarters went to Palembang. After the war, I met with both of these fellows, but they never related any details of what went on there. Both are deceased.

      I have never understood why so many of my associates never kept any records. I managed to save a 16,000 word journal, plus sketches, maps, address lists, and so on.

      The last year+ of my incarceration was on Sumatra, but on the Pakan Baroe railway.

      Maxine Collier - Hi was good to get your reply. My father Ken Collier was stationed at Kallang (I'm not sure if this is the correct spelling) from 29.11.1941 before the fall of Singapore. Just before the invasion he and others tried to escape on a Chinese tug boat which was then sunk by whom I'm not sure. He was in the water for about 19 hours hanging to a raft. Lots of others were also but were shot by the Japs. He was picked up by the Japs and went to Palembang Camp. He never said what he did in the camp. My mother has begun to tell me what she knows and I do remember somethings that dad mentioned by mistake. He actually talked indirectly about the camp all the time but when he would begin to relate stories my mother would get very anxious and ask him to stop because the recollections were very gruesome and she felt it upset him too much and his children. My father was very angry about the fact that they surrendered and believed it was ignorance on the part of those in charge. He said they knew for weeks that the Japs were approaching and they carried on with officers parties etc. as if nothing was happening. Of course this then meant the death of so many young men and civillians. Bits I know about the camp are: he stood in water for longs periods of time and his legs were damaged vascularly from doing this..there were barbed wire cages for punishments..kickings..bashings..and numerous other tortures he did not talk about. Babies were also born in the camp and the Japs burned them. So it was a very bad place. My father had three medals (which my mother says I can have) however my father had them for 35 years unopened in the box they came in. He opened them infront of me and my then little he did he shook with terrible fear so I can understand my mother encouraging him to keep quiet about it. My father said the big people died first in the camp, the Japs didn't like big people. My father wasn't tall and he said could survive on less. There was a hospital in the camp (he said the POWs would go in there to get away from the Japs as they were afraid to go in because of the diseases) and my father tried to saw off a friends gangrenous leg but he still died. They were made to collect flies in the camp, 100 to get food. He said the Japs were animals. I have begun to research my fathers experiences and will have more information to do a proper search when I see my mother in April. I want to find out exactly what happened to him. He did have a dairy once which I believe he must have written down information but sadly I don't know if it exists now as my father died 7 years ago. I wish so much that I had asked more but I suppose having been brought up to try and ignore the subject we all did exactly that. My father said POWs fell into three catagories some turned to religion, others went mad and the third became very hard or cut off from feeling..he felt he was hard. Ironically thats not how we all perceived him to be he was very caring, generous and kind but also at times extemely sad and angry. Thanks for reading this George not everyone wants to know.

      Does anyone know of the names of camps in or near to Palembang. I thought my father was in Palembang Camp but have recently learned that this was a womens camp so am no longer sure. I had had some doubts about this being the camp he was in. I am trying to research his whereabouts when he was a POW and knowing the names of camps near to Palembang would be very helpfull. Thanks everybody for any help you might be able to give me. My father was Kenneth Collier. Leading aircraftsman. He was from Bleanavon in Wales.. and returned from his ordeal weighing only six stones.

      Eddie Bridges - re your search, my father in law is also ex RAF and along with George Duffy also spent the last 12 months + as a POW involved with others in the Hell Railway (Pakenbarue to Moearo)From the research my father in law did in the late 70,s early 80's all he could find out (as far as I know ) is that the camps in the immediate vicinity of Palembang were 90% involved with civilian internees hence the womens camp though it is believed there were other camps in the area where both POWs and internees were detained, the majority of other camps on the Island were not built until later in the war and were for the use of the Railway slaves. From my father in laws writing's there does not appear to be any actual names of the camps other than the vicinity of the towns they passed near i.e Logas kotabaru, lipatkain etc unless of course George knows different They are just mentioned as the next camp and the next camp or the camp with the spring,
      In his book "Prelude to The Monsoon" Major GF Jacobs
      The South African Royal Marine who was parachuted in to Sumatra to take control of the Island immedatly after the Japs surrender Does name one or two camps in the north of the country by name but of palembang only mentions "The camp" and "the womens camp" My research is continueing and I wish you luck with yours.

      Maxine Collier - Thanks for the information every little bit helps. If I come across any other informations I will post it to you. George has also been helpful too.

      geoduffy - In 1994, a former Hollander, then living in California and now deceased, published a book entitled "Prisoners of the Japanese in World War II". This is basically a "statistical history" or reference book. The author, Willem Wanrooy, wrote under the name Van Waterford. He was a former P.O.W., a survivor of the JUNYO MARU disaster, and worked on the Pakan Baroe railway.

      He identifies only three P.O.W. camps in the Palembang area. The first, named Chungwa, was, he writes "Located in the city of Palembang, this camp housed mainly British and Australian prisoners." He mentions a second camp in Palembang, Mulo School, but offers no comment.

      The third camp was Soengai Geroe. His comment on this is as follows: "In March 1944, P.O.W.s from Chungwa and Mulo School were concentrated in this camp. It differed little from other camps." Then he goes on to tell about "brutal treatment" and "disgraceful facilities".

      That's all he wrote. No numbers, no units, no names.

      The book does contain a bit more information concerning the civilian men's and women's camps, but I find the camps names and numbers to be confusing.

      Ron Taylor - George, having asked you to write a story about the Death Railway in Sumatra I feel humbled, you didn't let on. Your story on the Sumatra Railway was very helpful, thanks.
      It can be found at:
      I have added it to the Rising Sun Research layout and links.

      Maxine Collier - I have found a very old and faded record kept by my father Kenneth Collier (RAF) pow at Palembang of the names of the Japs found guilty of war crimes:

    1. Capt. Hachisuka...death by hanging
    2. Lt. Yamakawa...death by hanging
    3. Lt. Nakai...death by hanging
    4. Sgt. Onishi...death by hanging
    5. Sgt. Ito...death by hanging
    6. Sgt. Kurata...death by hanging
    7. Ohara...death by hanging
    8. Kobayashi...death by hanging
    9. Kaneyama...death by hanging
    10. Shuakawa ...18 years hard labour
    11. imprisonment
    12. imprisonment
    13. Yohihara...20 years hard labour
    14. Takayama...20 years hard labour
    15. Kaneshiro ...12 years hard labour
    16. Watar...20 years hard labour
    17. Kimura...20 years hard labour
    18. imprisonment
    19. Yasuda...10 years hard labour
    20. Tomoda...3 years hard labour
    21. Olano...15 years hard labour
    22. Kanemoto...15 years hard labour
    23. My father wrote " Ringer and I feel that we have done a little to square off the accounts of Chief Petty Officers Eden, Finch, Davie, Gm. Williams and all the rest of the good chaps.

      Does anyone know anything about this trial eg. who held it, exactly when it took place and were there other trials of this sort for crimes committed at the camps.

      I also have some very small and very old photographs taken of the camp which I find very interesting.

      There is one of a small hut which is called the library, one of a well, one of the cookhouse boilers (holes in the ground), an airfield road looking towards Palembang, one of a grave with wooden cross quote "I had to paint,inscribe and fix the cross (wooden) myself. It is Don's grave. The grave has on it AC Sargent D.A. There is also a small bunch of flowers on the grave.

      I have also found a photograph of the 'Signing of Surrender' by Japs at Singapore 1945. It shows a large room with people in various iniforms sitting in rows and a row of Japs sitting one signing some papers!

      On the back of one of the photographs it is written 'Sungei Ron Camp'..I am wondering if this was the camp my father was in at Palembang.

      I hope this information is of interest to someone out has been a real find to me. Maxine

      Maxine Collier - Dear George, I have found an old photograph with Sungei Ron Camp written on the back. The name of the camp you mention is spelt Soengai Geroe Camp. I think this might be one and the same camp.. my spelling being incorrect. If it is then I have found my fathers camp!

      geoduffy - Spelling of place names is a problem. The Dutch use "oe" where we use "u". Also they use "j" whereas we will use "y". A good example is "Soerabaja" or "Surabaya". I tend towards the Dutch spelling, because that is what it actually was on the maps, signs, etc.

      Somewheres in my accumulation of papers is a letter I wrote a few years ago to a New Zealander commenting on another New Zealander's spelling of Dutch words. As I recall, he was very, very funny. Try to imagine "God" being translated to "Hot" !

      Maxine Collier - Many thanks for looking up the names of the camps. Its definately the third camp you mention even if the spelling is different. I think taking into account the different ways of pronounciation as you suggest, it is very similar to the one written on the back of a photograph of the camp which I have found amongst some of my fathers things and I am convinced it is the one.

      Maxine Collier - The first photograph is of my father (he is the one stood on the aeroplane) after the war when he was in the reserves 501 Squadron, Filton, Bristol.

      I have enclosed this in hope that someone may recognise him or themselves. The other photographs are as follows. I am typing what my father wrote on the back of the photographs.



      " Signing of Surrender by Japs at Singapore 1945".


      "The famous well that never held water. It is still nearly empty".


      "The library with ?? Foundry beyond taken from direction of Parade Ground. Gardens still cultivated to right of library."


      "The Airfield Road taken from the new cemetery looking towards Palembang".


      "Cookhouse Boilers. Sungei Ron Camp. Looking towards the entrance. Main path into camp runs up behind tree on right".

      This photograph has been very informative to me as at first I believed my father to be a pow in Singapore, shortly before he died he told me it was Sumatra. Then I discovered it was in Palembang and now I have the name of the camp written on the back of the photograph. It makes me feel extremely sad to see this little tiny photograph of the place that caused him and so many others so much harm and sadness.


      "Don's Grave. British Military Cemetery. Palembang. I had to paint, inscribe and fix the cross myself."

      I believe my father must have taken these photographs after the Japs defeat and surrender. There was also a small hospital in the camp where the Japs were afraid to go because of disease and sometimes pows would go in there to get away from them. He also said that when the camp first began there were no toilets and the men would encircle the women with their backs facing inwards to give them some privacy from the Japs in order that they could go to the toilet. Babies were also born in the camp and the Japs burned them alive. There were barbed wire cages for torture, bashings, kickings, starvation and many other nasty tortures. My father escaped from Singapore on a chinese tug boat which was sank by either the Japs or allied attacks I'm not sure. He was in the water for 19 hours and then picked up by the Japs and taken to Sumatra. I hope the photographs are useful Ron. Some one may even be a relative of Don Sargent and will be able to see his grave as it was all those years ago. The Palembang Cemetery was I believe moved later.

      Ron - Thanks for the photo's and for letting me put them on Maxine, they should be of interest to many. As you said it is sad but they do leave a lasting impression.

      geoduffy - Thanks for making them available.

      Now as to the "boilers". Our food was cooked in great cast iron hemispheres measuring at least three feet in diameter. Today, here in the 'States we use much smaller versions and call them "woks". The name out there was "wadjang", pronounced something like wad-chang. (Anthea, correct me if I am in error.) The wadjangs rested in those holes, and below, the cooks built wood fires, each separated by a concrete partition from the other. In a camp with several thousand prisoners, a number of "wadjangs" were required, as, in addition to the rice, whatever vegetable stew was concocted was done so in similar "wadjangs".

      For the purpose of steaming the rice, wooden covers were needed. The morning "pap" was simply rice boiled into a slop, but on Java it was enlightened with cinnamon sticks or nutmeg. On Sumatra we had "ongol-ongol" for breakfast - congealed tapioca flour. Almost like "Jello" !

      Take care !

      Maxine Collier - Very interesting explanation for the "cookhouse Boilers" yes we call them wogs here too. My father described some of the food he was given as being like chicken feed. Your description sounds pretty awful as well. Dad had a favourite dish that he learned to cook whilst he was in Singapore/Sumatra which I know is also very popular in Holland today and that was nazi goreng (not sure if thats the correct spelling). Did you eat this and do you still have the receipe.

      geoduffy - In tne Malay language, there are several words for rice. The first is "Paddy" the word for rice growing or not yet harvested. Next is "Bras" meaning harvested rice. "Nasi" is the word for cooked rice, and "Nasi goreng" is cooked rice that is then fried.

      Every Chinese or Indonesian restaurant will have it on the menu and the recipe will vary, but chopped onions and peas are staple contents, along with "ketchap" (soy sauce). One version we found in our trip to Java and Sumatra in 1979 was "Nasi goreng supreme" which featured a fried egg on top of the mound.

      Hopefully, I have remembered those terms corrrectly. One does not have any opportunity to speak Malay in the United States. Even my Dutch is rarely used.

      Maxine Collier - Thanks George for the receipe..please excuse my spelling. I of course mean wok and nasi not previous inaccurate versions and apologise to any one reading this if any offence was caused.

      Ron - Don't apologise it is very interesting, Maxine.

      EddieB - Geoff refers to this dish regulaly in his memoirs. For quite a while he believed it to be Nazi Goring. He describes it as first served to him by a Dutch lady in Batavia as a dish consisting of fried rice, meat, vegatables and fish, with garlic and chilli, no doubt several ingredients became noticably absent in the year to come

      Rho - A recent Dutch publication "Geillustreerd Atlas van de Japaanse Kampen in Nederlands-Indie" (Illustrated Atlas of the Japanese Camps in the Dutch East Indies) provides maps, photographs and some details of both POW and internee camps in the Palembang area.

      Soengei Geroeng (Sungei Gerung) camp was located near the old harbour in East Palembang, about 2.5 km NE of the centre of town on the north bank of the River Musi. They print a British Military map of September 1945 showing the precise location.

      Somewhat confusingly, they also print a 1938 Dutch map which shows "Soengei Gerong" as a part of the Standard Oil refinery complex on the south side of the River Musi. If you were to go to Palembang today, a local taxi driver would most likely take you to this "Sungei Gerong".

      The camp is described as a barracks of bamboo and atap, surrounded by barbed wire. The senior British Officer was Lt.-Col. Reed and the Camp Commandants were Cpt. Kabayashi, Lt. Seki, Lt. Takahashi and Lt. Yamakawi. The camp was occupied from 21.6.1944 - 24.8.1945 by Dutch, British and Australian POWs.

      "From the middle of august 1944, sick POW's from the Palembang camps were brought here. In this camp especially was the last year of occupation a particularly hard regime, and as a result of starvation and gross neglect in the care of the sick, in total about 350 prisoners died" (of a total of 1985 prisoners who passed through the camp.) [Please excuse my bad Dutch-English translation]

      The other camps in the immediate area of Palembang are given as:

      Prinzes Irenelaan en Prins Bernhardlaan, Talang Semoet
      1.4.1942 - 20.9.1943 "European" women/children

      Palembang Jail
      1.4.1942 - 16.1.1943 Male civilians

      Poentjak Sekoening Barrack Camp
      16.1.1943 - 19.9.1943 Dutch and British male civilians
      20.9.1943 - 4.11.1944 Dutch, British, Australian women and children
      At the end of 1944, about 615 women and children were moved to Muntok camp on nearby Bangka island.

      Chinese School
      2.1942 - 6.1944 POWs

      3.1942 - 6.1944 POWs

      Maxine Collier - >rho, Many thanks for your information. The details of the soengei geroeng camp are of particular interest as I have discovered that my father was in this camp. He had bad memories of trying to save his friends life by amputating his leg..he didn't survive and my father was haunted by this memory into his seventies. My father was probably sent to this camp because of illness as he weighed only six stones at the end. I hadn't appreciated that it was a hospital camp. The good news is that I have found my fathers medals. I also have another photograph of a group of pows in Colombo who were returning home which I will send to Ron later as I am off to Wales just now.

      Theo - I've just started investigating my grandfather, Capt Philip Reid. He was the senior British naval officer at Soengi Gerong, nr Palembang. If anyone can suggest sources, I'd be grateful. Also, what is the best introductory book on the camp.

      Nicholas Shephard -
      My grandfather, who is now 87 years old lost his parents during the takeover of singapore. Mr and Mrs Laybourne were believed to have been taken to Palembang Camp, where he was told that they had died from beri beri under the japanese. The last time he heard from them he was only 20 years old, and he still wishes to go out there to find the graves before he departs. If anyone could shed any light on this we would all be most grateful.

      Andy Gardner -

      I am a Researcher with Veterans' Affairs New Zealand.
      Recently, New Zealand decided to award ex-gratia payments to its Ex-Japanese prisoners of war and civilian internees. In order to get the payment however it must first be established that the claimant was indeed a POW/Internee.
      In most cases it is a simple matter of checking records to ascertain this. Unfortunatlely one of our claimants is unable to provide any offical infomation that backs up his claim. Although we believe his claim to be genuine we must firstly find some evidence of his imprisionment.
      It is here I am hoping for some help.
      The Claimant was Imprisioned in PALEMBANG Camp in Sumatra from 1942 to 1944. He was then moved to Muntok Island from 1944 to 1945.
      Does anyone know of the existance of a list of the Civilian Internees in either of these camps, or from where such infomation may be available?
      Finding out would be hugely benefical to the claimant as he will be eligible for a substantial payment (NZ $30,000) if his story can be coroberated.
      Please feel free to contact me if you have any infomation which you think may help, thank you for your time in reading this.

      Syd Berkeley -

      I believe you were in touch with a lady concerning palembang camps. i should be pleased to give any information as I was a prisoner at Banka Island and the two camps at palembang




      yours syd berkeley
      ex fl/sgt 573994

      Maxine - It was great to get a message from someone who knew don sargent. its great to think that sydney should recognise the photo of his best friends grave. my father kept this photo all his life.

      Maxine - Goodmorning everyone. I'm writing to tell all of you who are interested in the Palembang camps that I have been in touch with an 'ex pow' who is now in his eighties. He has recently got hold of a computer and started to surf the net. This is when he found this site and amazingly recognised the photo of Don Sargent's grave (which is under the monthly revue in March). He left me a message and we have been corresponding via letter and e.mail. It turns out that Don was his best friend and that they were in Air Sea Rescue.. Launch HSL 105. Syd has now sent me a photograph of himself and Don on the launch. So I can now put a face to the photo of Don's grave that my father kept all his life. It turns out that Don died a terrible death due to the abuse and torture of the Japs.

      Syd doesn't remember my father Ken Collier but both he and Syd knew Don. As my father was in the hospital camp I imagine he must have known Don when he was probably taken there. My father made and inscribed his cross for his grave. I Shall be sending the photo to Ron to add to the site later to day. If anyone wants information about the camps I'm sure Syd will help in anyway he can although his computer is playing up at the moment so there maybe a delay in his replies. I think its wonderful that he has responded to the site as there are fewer ex pows left now who can give us first hand information. Syd is six feet tall and weighed six stones at the end of his ordeal he says people don't realise how terrible the leg ulcers were and how awful the treatment of the pows by the Japs was.
      Kind regards. Maxine Collier

      Ron - Here are some photo's from Maxine.

      If you can help describe them Sydney or George, Maxine has only what her father wrote on them.

      This one shows Syd standing and Don in the cockpit


      One of a small hut "The Parade Ground, looking towards where the Big Tree stood.


      Columbo - "Knocker" White and Johnny Bryant from London and Charlie Tout from Bristol


      Guards huts opposite main entrance to camp. The Indonesians have put the trimmings up.


      One of a person in a field site of pig farm looking towards Big Tree.


      My father, Ken Collier's, RAF Malaya Pass

      Capt. George - Tuan satu!

      Sulamet pagi and Terima khasi for your information!

      I was not at Palembang, but worked on the Pakan Baru railway.

      From America.

      Sharif Dayan - Greeting...

      At 22:48 28-11-2002 -0500, "Capt. George W. Duffy" wrote:
      >Tuan satu!

      If I translate it into English, the meaning is "Mister One". Am I true ?

      >Sulamet pagi and Terima khasi for your information!

      Hmm...I am glad that you speaking Bahasa Indonesia. May I do some correction
      ? The correct spelling are : "Selamat Pagi" and "Terima Kasih".

      >I was not at Palembang, but worked on the Pakan Baru railway.

      What was your unit ? How many person did worked for the railway ? Fo how long ?

      Capt. George - Tuan !

      Selamet pagi !

      To read of my experiences in World War II, go to

      Following that, to read of my Sumatra experience go to

      Another Sumatra related article is at

      Lilian Sluijter - Terima kassi, capt. Duffy,

      Do you mind that I am a nonja (from Java) ?
      Thank you for your hyperlinks to your stories. I shall read them later.

      I was wondering, since you were a captive in Sumatra, did you get Tony Blair's handout of 10.000 pound? Or do you have to wait for the Dutch Government ?

      Member Support Group SVJ (former internees and POWs of the Japs) see our website (some features are also in English. Our new website will have an English section)

      Capt. George - Geachte Lilian:

      Nee! I have received nothing from Mr. Blair or your Queen. You see, I am American and my government supports the Japanese denial of payments to us. Furthermore, although my German and Japanese captors considered me to be an armed combatant, my own government decreed that I was a non-combatant civilian.. It was not until 1988 that a Federal judge in Washington, after hearing our stories, decided we were indeed veterans and ruled we should be so treated. For most merchant seamen it was a hollow victory because their only benefit is a flag for their coffin and a grave marker. Fortunately, merchant seamen who were taken prisoner by the enemy which sank them are now eligible for as much as $27,500 per

      Tot ziens.

      Lilian Sluijter - Dag George,

      So you are an American of Dutch descend ? Or did you learn Dutch in captivation ? where?
      Yes, I know all about the American government supporting the Jap denial.
      That is exactly what we Dutch war victims of the Japs are also suffering from. I just finished a story on Pearl Harbour, American's greatest defeat. It will appear on the website one of these days.
      Do you read Dutch ? I did a few translations in English, and I might do this one, also. Next month we will have a new website with a Dutch and an English section.
      The true story is that America doesnt want to be remembered, because of Pearl Harbour..

      However, finally you were eligible for 27,500 US per annum. Well, we just had an one time ex gratia pay of 1.350 per half a century. So I will miss the next pay out!!! (by the way, our Queen doesnt pay us, but our minister of Finance. So, in actual fact we got some of our tax money back.). Do you know that in 2001 the Norwegian state payed an ex gratia to their merchant seamen of 100.000 Norwegian Kroner (abt 36.000 US). A number of them were also twice captivated like you.
      So you are still better off now.

      Capt. George - Geachte Lilian:

      I am sorry to be so late in answering.

      I am American whose grandparents came from Ireland (Ierland). When I arrived on Java I was surprised to see so many Hollanders in the camps, and they all had the nice and easy jobs. So, I decided I should join them which meant I had to learn their language. In a short time I was speaking it well, and after three years many persons did not know I was American!

      I have been to Holland many time in the past twenty years and have no difficulty speaking or reading 't Hollandse taal.

      Tot ziens.

      Andy -

      Maxine has been searching around for info of POWs interned in Palembang. My Grandfather L/Sto Wilfred Barber Royal Navy was interned in Sungei Ron camp after transfer from, somewhere else on Palembang, Mulo school i believe from memory (my Grandfather is dead now and he wrote letters to me in 1990 answering all my questions!).

      He was captured near muntok on bangka but was left for dead on first contact with a sword waving jap officer! He was on some kind of civilian fishing boat evacuating women and children from singapore but it was sunk and so had to swim ashore behind a life raft - I wonder if it was the same one your dad was with maxine ?

      I visited Banka and Sumatra myself in 1990 and have lots of photos taken from the river in palembang and in the vicinity of muntock including schools used for internment.

      I've just finished reading 'Prisoner of Nippon' by Ray S Stubbs who himself was a prisoner in Chung Wa and Sungei Ron. He mentions my Grandad by name as one of two who escaped, returned and avoided the attached death penalty by changing their names. We all remember this story well and were really delighted to read the account in Rays book. Its available from the folowing if you haven't already read it:

      Square One Publications, The Tudor House, 16 Church Street, Upton on Severn, Worcs, WR8 0HT
      Tel - 01684 594522/593704; Fax - 01684 594640
      International: Tel - +44 1684 594522/593704; Fax - +44 1684 594640

      Thanks for your photos Maxine, helps create a picture of what these poor men suffered. Love to hear from anyone on this site.

      Rik -

      My name is Rik Willemse from the Netherlands. Since about a week our family knows what has happend to a great-uncle of mine, Jo Willemse. He and his halfbrother Bert served in the KNIL, the Dutch army in Indonesia (or East India as it was called back then) before and during the war.
      Uncle Bert survived the war, but uncle Jo was never heard of again. Requests for information to the Red Cross in the years after the war did not yield any results as to the question whether he was still alive or not. Now, as coincidences happen, uncle Bert had married an Indonesian lady but unfortunately their first child died there at age 2,5. One of their other children, Lynda, decided to go on holiday to Indonesia last year and wanted to visit the grave of her little sister. Via the Dutch wargraves site she found her sisters grave on the Pandu (Bandung) cemetery. On impulse she typed uncle Jo's name in, and to lo and behold, he is burried there as well, maybe 50 yards from her sister. I went to our national archives today and found out that uncle Jo has died on August 23rd, 1945 in Sungei Ron camp (he died of Beri-Beri) The info I have is sketchy to say the least, but I am glad I stumbled on your site because it has provided me with a wealth of information. If there are any people who read this and maybe have known uncle Jo (Johannes Hendrikus Willemse, sergeant-major KNIL, aged 49 when he died) we would be extremely grateful if they would share the information with us. The fact that we now know where his grave is has given my elder relatives a lot of closure.
      Keep up the great work,


      Additional information on Palembang. I came across it in pieces I have been buying from the National Archives for the book about William T Snow and HMS Li Wo.

      It confirms the name of the senior Naval Officer in Palembang. All but one of the survivors ended up at Palembang, all I believe at Soengai Geroe. This will add to Maxine's list:

      Sub Lieutenant R.G.G.Stanton, Acting P.O. A.W.Thompson, A/S John Smith, L/S William Dick Wilding, C.P.O Charles H Rogers. Will add to this should I find more.

      Letters attached


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