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Thread: POWs held in Thailand - 1944/45

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    Default POWs held in Thailand - 1944/45

    Good morning all.

    In the hope that someone may be able to assist - I'm looking at the cases of several POWs from Liberators shot down over Thailand towards the end of 1944, and their reports completed on their release.

    Three individuals were held at an institution in Bangkok variously reported as Vycharawood College, Vicharwood College, or Vachinwood College. My best friend Google has let me down, as the nearest he can come up with is that Vicharwood may be someone called 'Vic Harwood'. Not the result I was hoping for!

    Does anyone know anything about this place?

    Thanks,

    Geoff

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    Hi Geoff,

    Vajiravudh College is a private all-boys boarding school located at 197 Rajvithi Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300 Thailand.

    https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk...nese-1939-1945

    JC /55 Vajiravugh College, Bangkok, Siam

    Regards

    Mojmir
    Last edited by vrajm; 18th September 2019 at 18:38.

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    Hello Mojmir,

    Sorry for delay in acknowledging your post.

    That will be it I'm pretty sure, so thanks for the information. I'd expected the POWs to have a 'as they heard it' take on the name of the place the were held, as none of the 3 versions tallied. Gives me something else to look into!

    Kind regards,

    Geoff

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    Hi, Geoff,

    Can you provide any details on names, dates of Liberator losses, Lib serial numbers, or the like? I might have a tiny bit of info, if any of your info pertains to 159 Sqn Liberator BZ992 or 355 Sqn Liberator EV940, both downed over Siam on 6 October 1944. Men from these aircraft were captured, held in Bangkok, and survived.

    Sorry...haven't had time to delve too deeply into my files.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Hi Matt,

    Good to hear from you again. Yes it is indeed crew from the two Liberators you mention.

    I have the released POW reports (WO 344 series) for F/Lt Bruce, F/Sgt Derrick, Sgt Rutter and F/O Hocking from 159 Squadron's aircraft. Also some info from the RAAF Repatriation file for Hocking who was a cool individual, well deserving of the DFC he was awarded for saving the lives of the two NCOs.


    I also have the POW reports of F/Sgt Knight and Sgt Thompson from the 355 Squadron Liberator.

    Regards,

    Geoff

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    Hi, Geoff,

    Hmm...doofus did something wrong (that's ME) and failed to post the reply I'd written earlier this evening.

    I'll send you an email with some attachments, not that any of it will have great value to you, but I was in touch with Dave Bruce's younger brother (21! years younger) back in 2009, and he sent me some nice telegrams and such. Nothing enlightening about the name of the POW camp/school, but good stuff anyway.

    Also, in quickly reviewing some materials for you, I see that another RAF Liberator, EW174 of 358 Sqn, went down in Thailand on 29 May 1945, and some men ended up in Bangkok. I have at least two memoirs -- Harry Smith and Bill Pugh. The Pugh one even mentions Dave Bruce. Yes, it was late in the war, but there were dangers galore for the men who survived the downing of their Lib.

    Researcher Robert Quirk (who I recently posted has dementia now) sent me Dave Bruce's affidavit about his experiences which makes for good reading. I can send this to you, if you don't have it. Never mind...here it is for anyone interested to read:

    +++++++++++++++
    Post-war affidavit of David Bruce, BZ992 navigator
    (received from his brother Doug via Robert Quirk in Canada)

    AFFIDAVIT

    1. I am Ex-F/L CAN.J12276 David McDonald Bruce, permanently residing at 445-3rd St. Kenora, Ontario. I am presently employed by John Kron & Son, at Kenora.

    2. I was born on October 25, 1912, at Oldmeldrum, Aberdeen, Scotland. I enlisted in the R.C.A.F. on March 4, 1941, and was discharged at No. 5 Release Centre, Winnipeg, on January 8, 1946.

    3. On October 6, 1944, I was attached to No. 159 Squadron, RAF Group 231, operating from Digri, Bengal. We were flying Liberators. At 0001 hours that date we took off to do a low level attack on railways in Northern Siam. The crew as composed of myself as navigator and bomb aimer; Warrant Officer Barr as first pilot (RNZAF); Flying Officer Hocking, RAAF, as mid-upper gunner; Sergeant Derrick, RAF, as wireless operator; Sergeant Rutter, RAF, as flight engineer; Sergeant Kernohan, RAF, as rear gunner [listed as ball gunner in 159 records]; Sergeant Richards [error, should be Kenneth Prichard, per 159 Sqn records and CWGC database], RAF, second pilot and two other members of the crew whose names I cannot presently recall. [Sgt John Ratcliffe and Sgt Patrick Hogan.]

    4. At approximately 0615 hours ground fire from the defence of Ban Dara Bridge [near Ban Dara town, which is located at 17 22' 25” N, 100 04' 36” E] ignited our aircraft and the skipper gained height to about 800 feet and five of us were able to bale out and landed safely. The other four members either died in the aircraft or in the resultant crash.

    5. The five of us who landed safely were Barr, Hocking, Derrick, Rutter and myself. On landing I immediately hid my parachute in the bush and made my way away from the crashed aircraft. However, within approximately 2 1/2 hours the villagers had tracked me down and I was taken prisoner by native Siamese. The others fared approximately the same way with the exception of Barr who was not captured until the following day.

    6. The four of us who were captured on that date were turned over to the local police by the villagers. None of the four of us were ill-treated by the villagers or the police. While in the hands of the police and being escorted to the railroad station we were intercepted by three Japanese soldiers; one officer and two other ranks, who endeavored to persuade the Siamese to turn us over to them. This the Siamese were reluctant to do. While this discussion was going on between the Japanese and the Siamese as to our disposal a Liberator attack forced everyone to cover. The Japanese scurried in one direction and we with the Siamese police went in another.

    7. We were hidden in the jungle for the balance of that day and until 0200 hours on the 7th when we were again taken to the railway station and went by hand-car to Pitsamulok, where we were turned over to the Siamese army at their local barracks.

    8. Shortly after our arrival at the military barracks the Japanese were informed of our presence there and they, the Japanese, sent over three interrogation officers for the purpose of interrogating us. This interrogation lasted for approximately five hours and was interspersed with threats, but no actual physical action was taken against any one of us. The Japanese gained no information from any of us.

    9. On the morning of October 8th we were escorted by the Siamese by boat to Bangkok where we were place in the European Internment Camp on the 10th.

    10. The internment camp was composed of approximately 200 other nationals and we were kept apart from the internees by being confined in a guarded room. There were seven of us all told in this room. In addition to the four of us, Barr later joined us and two other members of a crew that had been shot down on the same date as we had been. The room we were placed in was sufficiently large and our diet consisted of the normal fare of the East and we were subjected to no ill-treatment.

    11. After 2 1/2 months in the internment camp a proper P.O.W. camp was constructed adjoining, and we were all placed in it. This P.O.W. camp was operated by the Siamese and our meals were sent over to us from the internment camp. Here in this P.O.W. camp we were given freedom within the bounds of the camp which allowed us to participate in outdoor exercises and sport.

    12. At frequent intervals during our first six weeks in Bangkok we were interrogated by Japanese officers. During these interrogating periods threats were again offered but no violence was ever committed.

    13. On March 5, 1945, the P.O.W. camp and internment camp were bombed out by Allied bombings and about six weeks later we moved to another site in Bangkok where we remained until we were released on August 20, 1945.

    14. The Deputy Camp commandant of the P.O.W. camp at both locations in Bangkok was Major Chackrabandhu of the Siamese army. His treatment of the prisoners was considered extremely good.

    15. At no time did there ever come to my knowledge any mistreatment of prisoners or any violations of the Geneva Treaty committed as far as I know.

    16. Escape from the actual compound which comprised the P.O.W. camp could have been effected at any time with reasonable safety. However, due to the lack of transportation facilities out of the country, myself and comrades never actually made an escape break. We were constantly trying to "promote" means of transportation and a Mr. Knudsen, General Manager of the Thai Electric offered us unlimited amounts of money if it could be used for the purpose of purchasing boats or any other means of transportation. In the latter days at the camp, when the Siamese had begun to realize the trend of the war I, ineffectually tried to get the Siamese Air Force to fly me out. Two of my fellow prisoners, Americans, had their escape engineered for them by the American underground which was becoming active at that time.

    AND I have signed
    {signature of D. M. Bruce}

    SWORN before me at Kenora, Ontario, this 12th day of March, 1945. [Must be 1946?]

    {signature of B. C. Andrew}
    (B. C. Andrew) Wing Commander,
    No. 2 Air Command Headquarters, RCAF,
    WINNIPEG, Manitoba.

    +++++++++++++++

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Many thanks for posting that Matt, a very interesting read!

    It gives some context and substance to the otherwise rather dry dates of when people were held at various places. I've come to realise that those taken POW by the Thais were fortunate, in that the Thais robustly stood their ground against their Japanese allies. A difficult position for them.

    I'll look forward to your email when you get chance. I have some snippets of medal-related news for you, which I won't burden the readership here with...

    Regards,

    Geoff

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    Hi, Geoff,

    I'm slow in getting things off to you, but give me a day or so and I'll get organized. Yes, the POWs taken by the Thais were fortunate. Clearly the Thais stood up to the Japanese, who wanted the POWs turned over to them...which wouldn't have ended nicely!

    I look forward to learning your medal-related news!

    Cheers,

    Matt

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