Please help me find information on my ex FEPOW ancestor

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by bleaseydoesit, Mar 20, 2023.

  1. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Hi all,

    I hope you are all doing well. apologies if I have posted this to the wrong section, I am new and still trying to navigate - also this is my first ever time posting on any forum ever so I'm thoroughly lost!

    i am looking for information on my ancestor who was an ex fepow 1942-1945
    his details are below, and the information i am looking for is listed further down.

    Lance Corporal Charles George Blease

    some backstory; my great grandfather alienated himself (for some unbeknownst reason) from all of his siblings and therefore by proxy alienated himself from ex pow charles, since charles' father was one of my great grandfather's siblings. Because of this, Charles' story has nearly been completely lost within my own family as many people who knew him or had brief knowledge of him have sadly passed too, all that was left were slight whispers of him, the tragic story of how he died, and a photograph of him in my late great aunt's photo album.

    Service Number: 3528232
    Manchester Regiment 1st Battalion
    Enlistment date: October 1935
    Captured: Singapore February 1942
    Liberated: Thailand, Ubon September 1945

    Born: (there is numerous listed DOBs from different sources that match his details, I'm assuming he may have lied when enlisting if he was underage or there were errors made but his confirmed date on the liberation questionnaire is) 28th November 1917

    Family: Father is Charles George Blease, Mother is Sarah Elizabeth Prestwich (who went by Isabella)

    Died: 8th May 1946 - he was unfortunately killed back home on his way to work, he was running late and was crushed by a train on the tracks in Trafford Park, Manchester. I have newspaper clippings of his death and records of his burial site on cwgc and findagrave

    below are the questions im hoping i can have answers too;

    1. (liberation questionnaire photo from incredibly helpful COFEPOW)
    Blease, Charles G

    - could someone please transcribe the document and tell me exactly what his paperwork says? I can roughly make out his rank, name and address (almost) which all match our family tree and details we have for him, but due to the very blurry nature of the photo I can not make out much of the important info including the camp names, details/dates, and the leaders of the camps. also, does it say n/a at the bottom? im assuming this means he did not make any escape attempts?

    2.) I know that he was liberated from Ubon airstrip in ubon thailand, does anyone know the ship that transported him home and its details relevant to ubon's liberation? and any information on it at all?

    3.) his enlistment date is october 1935 -- is there a resource for searching old enlistment papers? this would be great as it could have his address, and parents details, as this would help to further link him to us and provide more details on his story.

    4. any trusted resources you recommend on the history of the fall of singapore, and each camps he was sent to, would be great to learn about the history of what occurred in these places.

    5. since he was captured in 1942, is there any information on where him and his regiment would have been and what they were doing at the start of the war until then? it would be great to see his journey before capture too.

    6. if there is something here I've not asked about but you think it would be informative to me, no matter how small it may be, please do tell me, im interested in finding and knowing as much as I can to keep his memory alive and honour him in the best way possible.

    apologies if any of my questions seem stupid or silly - I am not well educated on ww2 history (apart from what basics we all learned in school) so I have been trying to learn as much about fepow as possible but i am still very much overwhelmed and confused as i am still learning.

    any help is greatly appreciated!

    Kim B.
    papiermache likes this.
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard for what might be a long journey, although normally the expertise and knowledge here can provide shortcuts.

    We always recommend applying for the Army Service Record, even if it can take time and the MoD records are in the process of being transferred to the National Archives. The Record is the definitive document and it is not available elsewhere. A PM with some information in a moment.

    Pre-war and after he joined the 1st Manchesters:
    There is a short Wiki entry on WW2:
    Link: Manchester Regiment - Wikipedia

    There is a longer, detailed history on: 1st Battalion The council host the regimental museum, they do not hold individual records, that aside have a peek: Local Studies and Archives Centre

    This may duplicate the previous entry: A Short History of the 1st Battalion The Manchester Regiment and for time in Palestine: The Manchester Regiment and the SNS in Palestine, 1938-39

    There are a number of threads on the regiment id'd by manchester regiment | WW2Talk on a quick glance none refer to the 1st Batt. before its surrender in Singapore.

    There have been a few auctions of soldiers medals from the regiment. It may be worth looking at this, as it has photos, not medals: BRITISH ARMY AND THE ARAB REVOLT

    Worth searching with: "Manchester Regiment" + "palestine"
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Transcription of the camps list:

    Changi 14.2.42 Lt Col E.B. Holmes

    Nong Pladuk 11.10.42 Lt.Col. Gill

    Arrow Hill 8.7.43 Capt. Grise

    Takanoon 4.9.44 Capt. Stones

    Nong Pladuk 26.12.44 BSM McTavish

    Ubon 4.2.45 BSM McTavish

    Changi is in Singapore.

    Nong Pladuk, Arrow Hill and Takanoon are in Thailand on the railway.

    Ubon is in Thailand but much further east. See this link: Ubon Airfield

    See this immediately post war map for where the places on the railway are:

    P1210096 copy Ed.jpg

    Nong Pladuk is close to the bottom or southern edge of the map.

    Arrow Hill = Arhill on the map 108 kilometres

    Takanoon = Takenun on the map 218 kilometres

    All of these names are the POW's versions of the Thailand proper names.

    By the way, this liberation questionnaire is easy to read. Most were completed in soft pencil and are difficult to read, even in the original.

    The Thai/Burma Railway Centre is a museum in Thailand who will be able to provide further details of Cpl. Blease.

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  4. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Thank you both so much for your help! Looks like I have a long night of reading and more researching ahead of me but you have both helped greatly in the search for more information on Cpl. Blease. thank you for transcribing the camps for me, i could make out changi but unfortunately couldn't understand the rest and as im not familiar with the camp names anyway i was worried i would never be able to figure it out so thank you again!

    I'll be sure to update when i find more. hopefully, when i can look through my great aunts photo album (where the first photo of him was) i will be able to find something of his there, fingers crossed.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    The experience of a 1st Mamchester in Singapore and as a POW: BBC - WW2 People's War - Abie's War: 1st Battalion Manchester Regimentt

    An academic thesis 'Ordinary men in another world: British other ranks in captivity in Asia during the Second World War' contains this:
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
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  6. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    This is primarily about theatre performances but is a good background to the capitulation of Singapore and the construction of the railway, and is downloadable free.

    Captive Audiences/Captive Performers | Macalester College Research | DigitalCommons@Macalester College

    The best books are "Railroad of Death" by John Coast, published in 1946, and "The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop", an Australian surgeon, published later. The latter may be downloadable as an ebook.

    Many resources are free.

    This download from the International Criminal Court concerns the post war trial of a Korean who your relative would have known.

    Australian archives have many files downloadable free:

    In particular, their war crimes case full transcripts are downloadable.

    Trove has this article by an Australian, Rohan D. Rivett, who who studied in England pre-war, and who attempted to escape, but was recaptured, and worked on the railway.

    MALAYA - 20th Century Lotus Land

    He later wrote a famous book: "Behind Bamboo."

    Trove is a wonderful resource.

    Trove - Digitised newspapers and more

    However, do contact the TBRC. They are the experts on the spot, and have a very large archive.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
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  7. Andsco

    Andsco Well-Known Member

    Hi Kim
    My father's twin brother was in Ubon and I would recommend a book by Ray Withnall titled
    "UBON - The Last scamp Before Freedom" which gives a very good account from its creation to it's liberation and is available on Amazon.
    Ubon: The Last Camp Before Freedom
    Also my uncle sailed home on the SS Orbita which arrived back in Liverpool on the 9th November 1945.
  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    A grim read that link to the regiment, with some figures in places on how many survived. I will post later a slightly off theme note on two wives escape, assuming I can find it again.
    bleaseydoesit likes this.
  10. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    that’s the site I previously used which was a great help in find all the other info before posting here. It’s such a shame that he survived so much for so long to then pass in the way that he did. He was remembered fondly by my great uncle who adored him dearly. Luckily my great uncle passed on some of his story to us and that’s how I was able to trace more of his story.
    If anyone is interested I have attached a photo we have of L/cpl Blease in his uniform, with his mother around 1919, and some of the newspaper clippings of his passing. EA1DDC9A-57E6-45C6-BAD0-F7FE4A1697E8.jpeg 52709576-4050-4A79-B93E-E8138C45C975.png

    Attached Files:

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  11. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Again, thanks to all for your knowledge and further reading. Once the project is fully complete I will post everything I have to the relevant place for you all to have a gander.
    We are currently in the process of searching my great aunts photo albums to see if there are any more pictures or perhaps anything he wrote of his time there!
    Very much appreciate the help as after a few weeks of research I was at a standstill and the info here has allowed me to progress further!
  12. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    All newspaper clippings are from The evening chronicle, 8th through to the 14th May 1946
  13. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Actuallt I just noticed I didn’t read the Manchester regiment one on the website! I didn’t see they had a link there for that. That’s brill thank you I will be taking notes of that and adding it to the document I’m compiling of his story. I used the website a few weeks ago to research his time at Ubon and info on Burma but I didn’t see the regiment link! Thanks for that
  14. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    thank you very much for this! Through your info I was able to find this very detailed article posted in 2004 about the journey. Here it is if you’d like to read ; My Journey Home
    Andsco likes this.
  15. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    I just received this reply to a message posted before finding this forum if any of you are interested. I’ve also just contacted tbrc via email with info I have requesting some help if they have anything.

    Attached Files:

  16. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Apologies if this seems like a stupid question but I want to make sure I have his information correct. Those dates on the questionnaire, would those be when he arrived at the camps? If so, I’m confused at the date of capture not matching the first time in Changi prison. Or would that be he was sent to Changi 14.02.42 but wasn’t officially captured until the official surrender the day after?
  17. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Difficult to tell but looking at the way he has written his 4s I think the date for Changi is 17.2.42. Compare it to the date for Arrow Hill - 8.7.43 and the way he has written the 7 in 1917 for his date of birth.

    bleaseydoesit likes this.
  18. Andsco

    Andsco Well-Known Member

    Don't know if it helps but I've attached a copy of my uncles questionnaire for you to compare, although the dates have been entered differently it looks like they were in Nong Pladuk and Ubon together.

    Attached Files:

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  19. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Hi all,

    I have heard back from TBRC

    if anyone is interested here is what I received back;

    “1 Our PoW Record showing him leaving Singapore 05/11/1942 with Letter
    Party M and attached to Group 1

    2 and 3 Front and Back of his Japanese Index Card showing Thailand Group
    1 (Top Row)

    4 His name on the Letter Party M Roll

    5 His name from the 1st Manchester Roll showing "M" OVL (Overland) 5/11/42

    6 His name from the November 1944 Roll

    7 A list of his medical records from Nong Pladuk.”

    Attached Files:

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  20. bleaseydoesit

    bleaseydoesit Member

    Could anyone tell me what the overland bit means? And also letter party m, is that just how the prisoners were split in groups for organisation?

    many thanks

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