11th Battery 3rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA - FEPOW, Escaper

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Dinkydee, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    My father, Gunner Basil William Bancroft, service number 1470534, was a FEPOW captured at the fall of Singapore in Feb. 1942. He was initially held in Changi camp and was transferred to Saigon with most of his regiment under Lt Col Hugonin on 4/4/1942. I believe that they would have travelled by ship. He was held at the Saigon Docks camp and worked at the docks until his escape in September 1943.
    There is a page about him in Richard Kandler’s book “The Prisoner List“, which I am yet to receive from the Book Depository (I now reside in Australia so it could take weeks).
    While we know that he escaped alone from Saigon and made his way back to the UK we don’t know which route he took and what assistance he received along the way. From childhood memories I recall that he escaped via Burma and was shot in the foot. I seem to remember him mentioning his involvement with the French Resistance/Free French in Indo-China. My brother found an article describing an incident where our father crossed a border in the company of escaped US Servicemen but has been unable to find any further details.
    We assume that he would have been debriefed by MI9 or a similar unit, either on his return to the UK or when he met up with British military or diplomatic personnel along his escape route.
    My question is: Would his service record include details of his escape and debrief or do we need to look elsewhere? If it exists, would his Unit’s War Diary provide any useful information?
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have you checked to see if he completed a liberation questionaire ?

    Hopefully other members can help.
    daisy1942 likes this.
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Looking on the COFEPOW website, tantalisingly they have a liberation questionnaire for a Basil Harvey Bancroft, but not for Basil William!
    Bamendine - Barton
  4. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    Thanks Owen. I have queried WO344, WO208/3493 and WO208/3494 by surname without success. I assume that if he was mentioned in other prisoners’ questionnaires I would have received results. Unfortunately I cannot visit Kew to research as I am in Australia and they aren’t sending out copies of documents at the moment.
  5. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    Thanks for checking bamboo43. Am I correct in thinking that all records of escapers and evaders whether classified top secret or not would have been released in 1993?
  6. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    I have found the reverse side of his Japanese POW Card. Need help decoding it. I know that he started in Malai 1 camp (Singapore) and that he went from there to Saigon in April 1942, escaping September 1943, but in findmypast he is shown as in Thailand 4 camp in 1944.
    The second line on the card is crossed out in red - meaning? GBM_POW-GALLIP_1-1-75_00656.jpg
  7. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    I received a translation of the card on reddit.com:
    PNG image 2.png
    the missing words are “not” at end of first line and “already back” at end of second line.
  8. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    Having received Richard Kandler’s “The Prisoner List”, I now have some updates to my father’s story:

    Lt Col Hugonin’s group of more than 1,000 was transferred from Singapore to Saigon on one of the first Hell Ships, the Nisshu Maru. It was a dilapidated old coal carrier, too small to house such a large number of men and with no facilities, resulting in half the men suffering from dysentery after the 6 day voyage.

    After my father’s escape he was aided by French and Chinese to travel north through Indochina to China and thence to Russia. He travelled across Russia and then by ship to the UK.
  9. daisy1942

    daisy1942 Junior Member

    This snip of information may help me break my brick wall too! thank you
  10. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    I have not been able to find a liberation questionnaire for my father but he was mentioned in several other questionnaires from members of Colonel Hugonin’s group.
  11. Dinkydee

    Dinkydee Member

    Further research seems to suggest that he may have travelled through India and then to the UK. Still largely unknown. Hopefully his War Office record will shed more light, but unfortunately, due to delays caused by COVID, we may not receive it until 2022.
  12. Terry Anfield

    Terry Anfield New Member

    Hi, my name is Terry Anfield. My dad was a close friend of your father, in fact, since his service number was 1470535, I assume that they enlisted together. I'm also 100% sure he's the same man, I remember my father telling me that your dad was shot in the foot! Like you, I'm very interested in my family's past in general, and my father's in particular. My own (erratic) research in the past has generally ended in dead ends. So, I would be very grateful if you could find the time to email me at terryanfield@hotmail.com and hopefully we can compare notes! I still remember our camping holiday in Ladram Bay, do you? Very best wishes!

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