Ralph Shrigley ww2 hong kong POW

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by s.fillis, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. s.fillis

    s.fillis Member

    Hi everyone, I'm trying to build a picture of the military personal in my family tree, and was hoping that this site would help me, my sister has found some information about our Fillis family, but I thought I would have a go with our Shrigley family, being an unusual name you think I would have a bit of luck but I'm afraid to say I haven't.

    Anyway one of the chaps I am looking for is My great Uncle, Lieutenant Ralph James Shrigley, born in 1898 I believe and died in Hong Kong on 28th June 1944 around the age of 46, there is a grave at Stanley military cemetery plot 4E12.

    Ralph was a member of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp (HKVDC) sadly I don't have his number, but I know he was held at Prisoner war camp "N" Honk Kong south China (this is from a telegram message he sent to his younger sister Pearl Shrigley my Grandmother ( I have the telegrams). The telegram also states that his wife Nessie is in the Civilian Internment Camp and at that time they were both well (Ralph was arrested on 7th June 1944 and died around 21 days later).

    Any official account I have found suggests that complications caused by contracting Berry Berry caused my Great Uncles death. However, Family letters and a brief passage in Tony Banham's book "We shall suffer there: Hong Kong Defenders Imprisoned 1942-45" suggests a more sinister/heroic death, which involves Ralph being Interrogated (or rather tortured) by the Japanese for the names of men who were trying to escape (they found Ralphs ground sheet in a tunnel, the escapees had been using it to exuviate the soil) and Ralph had also hidden the regimental colours and wouldn't tell them where (these were later found when the foundations of the American consulate in garden road during the 1970's), the letter we have support this information (letters again sent to my Grandmother from one of Nessie's relatives as the information became available) It is also believed that Ralph either jumped or was thrown from a 1st or 2nd floor window whilst under interrogation, I remember reading this online somewhere but cant remember the reference.

    Really I am just wondering if anyone has anymore information on "Uncle Ralph" and any of the other Hong Kong Volunteers.

    Insidently Ralphs Father Company Sargent Major William Shrigley was a member of the Highland Light Infantry (HLI) 12th Battalion unit 3, died at Loos and was noted as being the oldest casualty of "The Big Push", he died when they were capturing hill70 (?) caught in Enfilade fire on both sides.

    I believe he also fought in south Africa as a regular in the HLI (I have his medals) the number I have here for him is 1355.
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Several Far East POW specialists on this Forum: hopefully they will be along later. In the meantime, have you searched the GWULO Hong Kong website? They are a mine of information and exceptionally helpful.
  3. s.fillis

    s.fillis Member

    thank you, I will take a look, I'm new to all this so any help is very much appreciated.
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  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Hong Kong War Diary

    Pay Detachment
    3 Officers 14 Men

    Robertson, Cameron de S. Major MM Commanding
    Clark, Duncan Hughson 2nd Lieutenant

    Dand, Arthiur Anderson Captain

    Labrum, George B. SQMS 276
    Shrigley, Ralph James Lieutenant K 28.6.44
    Woolley, William John Sergeant 3898 K 25.3.44


    Died 28/06/1944

    Aged 46

    Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps

    Son of William Henry and Jeanie Shrigley; husband of Janette Shrigley, of Irvine, Ayrshire.



    History of The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Normally the advice is to obtain service records, I am unable to comment if this applies to the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, perhaps someone will advise, or contact the MOD, they are helpful:
    Get a copy of military service records


    It does appear that some of the stories you have are correct.
    Shrigley 1.jpg Shrigley 2.jpg
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  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Shrigley 3.jpg
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    There will be information written in Japanese Kanji characters on the reverse of his POW index card, which may relate to his time and death as a prisoner of war.
  8. s.fillis

    s.fillis Member

    this is interesting as one of the letters we have talks about a Mrs Brown.
    I'ts very hard to piece things together, with so many different sources all with very limited information, however it is interesting to see they all seem to tell the same story.
  9. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    ?WW1 service with Royal Scots Fusiliers?

    Name: Ralph James Shrigley
    Rank: Pte
    Birth Date: 1898
    Residence Place: Rosevale Kilwinning, Renfrew Ayrshire
    Military Service Region: Scotland, Scotland
    Discharge Date: 14 Jan 1919
    Service Number: 53664
    Regiment: R. S. Fushs
    Title: Pension Record Cards
    Description: Pension Record Ledger
    Reference Number: 1/MS/2016, M.A.J.4195
    Other records show he enlisted 6/3/1917 and received gun shot wound to left leg.

    Shrigley 4.jpg
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Ralph James Shrigley
    BIRTH 1899 • Hamilton.Lanarkshire.Scotland
    DEATH 28 JUN 1944 • Hong Kong Camp, China

    Ralph James Shrigley
    Birth: 1899 - Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland
    Death: 28 Jun 1944 - China
    Spouse: Janette
    F: William Henry Shrigley
    M: Jane Macmillan

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  11. papiermache

    papiermache WO 356 Mechanic

    A brave and honourable man.

    The Hong Kong website referred to above is excellent, as I recall.

    There is a wide-ranging affidavit sworn by a Lt. Col. Field available free online from the " Legal Tools" or the International Criminal Court website which has published some of the United Nations War Crimes archives in recent years. Searching for "Shrigley" ( limit search to UNWCC archive ) brings up two documents of which one relates to this Lt. Shrigley.

    Paragraph 10 refers to Lt. Shrigley as follows:

    "10. In June 1944 Lieutenant SHRIGLEY was interrogated by the Japanese in connection with the burying of some Colours which had taken place at the time of surrender. I was told by Colonel E.J.R. MITCHELL, Hongkong Volunteer Defence Corps that Lieutenant SHRIGLEY jumped from a veranda and committed suicide to avoid further ill-treatment."

    The full affidavit in portable document format is here:

  12. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    The guy to contact at the Hong Kong War Diary website is a guy called Tony Banham. He was a great help in tracing a missing casualty for a friend.
  13. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    OP has also posted on Great War Forum in relation to another Shrigley relative who served WW1. William Shrigley 12th HLI - KIA at Loos 1915.

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  14. s.fillis

    s.fillis Member

    William Shrigley is Ralph's father (my Great Grandfather. I think it may be my post as I am looking for information on him on other sites and also my paternal grandfather on this one.
  15. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Just a comment, but the Japanese PoW Card shows date of capture as 16-12-25
    Presumably this is a reference to the 25th year of Hirohito's reign, from 1926? But that would make it 1951; not '41
    Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese attacking from 8th to 25th December 1941 - that's when I would have expected him to have been taken prisoner, 16 December 1941....... or am I wrong?

    You might also find it of some interest to read about the company he worked for in Hong Kong
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  16. s.fillis

    s.fillis Member

    It was defiantly during the 40's as Ralph died 28th june 1944, I think it is documented somewhere that he was arrested 7th june 1944.
  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    He was "arrested" to be questioned about the Battalions colours that had been buried AT THE TIME OF THE SURRENDER - which was December 1941 - so to be still "free" in Japanese dominated Hong Kong until "capture and arrest" in June 1944 makes him exceptional.
    What I was trying to say, perhaps clumsily, was that he was captured with the rest of the Hong Kong garrison in December 1941, so had endured 2 and a half years of Japanese ill treatment, including a beating with bamboo canes severe enough to have killed a fellow officer.

    And as for his "suicide" knowing what was in store for him, with "water boarding" etc, then he probably realised he couldn't help but reveal the whereabouts of the Colours and chose to avoid telling the Japanese what they wanted to know. In some aspects, he may even have earned the grudging respect of the Japanese for choosing to die rather than reveal what they wanted to know. (As if it was that important, really? How many other Regimental Colours had they already captured?) I believe it was just an excuse to beat an already elderly man - and he chose to die with his head held high and deny the Japanese their little victory...

    As corroboration of the fate of "Lieutenant" Lloyd (ranks do seem to fluctuate)
    LLOYD, NORMAN DUPLAN. Sergeant. Service Number 2969. Died 25/04/1942. Aged 36
    Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps
    Son of Norman Lloyd and of Louisa Lloyd (nee Spicer), of Sanderstead, Surrey. B.A. (Cantab.).
    Buried at STANLEY MILITARY CEMETERY. Plot 1. Row A. Grave 106.
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  18. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  19. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Quite correct. Japanese 16-12-25 is our 25 Dec 41. Japanese years are numbered for the era of the reigning Emperor. Hirohito assumed the throne in 1926, which became the Showa Era. There is no Year 0 so Showa 16 is 1941.

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  20. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Ah, so it reads as 25 December 1941 in our year numbering. I misread it as 16 December - Doh!
    Confused day with year - oh well I learnt something!
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