Please help me find information!

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Kayleigh Boyce, Feb 2, 2022.

  1. I'm completely new, so apologies in advance... If anyone's reading this though, I'm desperately trying to find out information on my Great Grandad - There's not a lot to go off I don't think, so it's a bit of a pain...
    His name was Joseph Bagnall and born in 1915, he was part of the Sherwood Foresters, I believe he was part of the 1/5 battalion, and he was captured by the Japanese in 1942 - He was taken to Thailand/Burma and part of the camps there that built the railway. I THINK he was evacuated from Dunkirk before being shipped to Singapore which may be where he was captured??
    I don't have his regiment number or anything like that, and I'm struggling to get far with research...
    Does anyone have any more info or know where to find it?? I've been wanting to know what his exact movements would've been during the war (what he was doing, where, and when), and also any info regarding him being a POW, and things like what camp he was in, ect... I've managed to get his Japanese Index Card which is fascinating, but outside of that I can't get any further - I really would appreciate any further help!!!
    papiermache and CL1 like this.
  2. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    if you have his Index card you will have his army number on it. I found one Bagnall 4974519. Mothers name Lois. Fathers name Arthur. Address 41 Coton Park, Linton, Derbyshire. Is this him? If it is him he survived the sinking of the Maru transport ship by American submarine and disembarked at Pearl Harbour 13th October 1944. Avery lucky man.!!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2022
    Wobbler, dbf, papiermache and 7 others like this.
  3. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

  4. CL1

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

  5. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Screenshot 2022-02-02 at 10.29.54.png
    Burton Observer Thursday 22nd April 1943
    ritsonvaljos, Wobbler, Deacs and 9 others like this.
  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    A very lucky man. The red line through his index card indicates the Japanese thought he was dead. However, as already noted by Guy and 51Highland, he was being transported on the Rakuyo Maru from Singapore to Japan when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the USS Sealion. Rescued by the USN and he is listed as a survivor. See:
    Rakuyo Maru

    Joseph had arrived in Singapore as part of the 1/5th Sherwood Foresters on board the USS West Point on 29 Jan 42.
    Convoy William Sail 12X

    Joseph was captured two weeks later on 15 Feb 42 when Singapore fell. He was sent to the Thai/Burma Railway on 13 Oct 42 from the camp at River Valley Road.
    Death Railway
    You should contact the Thai Burma Railway Centre - very helpful. They should hold details of the camps Joseph was in.

    You may find this interesting:
    Foresters on Singapore

    Wobbler, Harry Ree, Deacs and 9 others like this.
  7. That would be him yes!!! I knew he was on a Japanese ship that got torpedoed, but didn't know information after that - God it's insane to think of the long journey him and others had getting home, didn't occur to me that he'd be in America first. He really did go through a lot - Very lucky to have survived indeed! Thank you so so much for that information, I appreciate it so much omg!!!
    Wobbler, 4jonboy, CL1 and 1 other person like this.
  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forum. There are many files at the National Archives of Australia which you can download for free. The British National Archives and American National Archives also have files, not so easy to access.

    At Australian National Archives a record search for "Rakuyo" returns these files, all viewable online and downloadable. Just click on the picture of the paper for each file below: it will take you to the file. Lots to read !

    Item list
    Welcome guest

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]Displaying 1 to 20 of 35
    List report
    Details report

    Select Series no. Control symbol Item title Date range Digitised item Item ID Format
    B3856 144/1/124 PART 1 " RAKUYO MARU " Torpedoed whilst transporting PoW's from Thailand to Japan. Includes lists of Personnel lost and rescued
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1945 [​IMG] 527609
    B3856 144/1/124 PART 2 " Rakuyo Maru " Torpedoed whilst transporting PoW's from Thailand to Japan. Includes lists of personnel lost and rescued, plus statements
    Access status: Open with exception
    Location: Melbourne

    1945 - 1978 [​IMG] 527610
    B3856 144/1/128 " Rakuyo Maru " Correspondence concerning the torpedoed Japanese transport carrier, related newspaper cuttings and some statements of interrogation by rescued Prisoners of War
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1945 - 1948 [​IMG] 527611
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 6 Index to statements, miscellaneous memorandum " Rakuyo Maru " interrogation
    Access status: Open with exception
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1945 [​IMG] 527618
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 7 Nominal roll of missing personnel " Rakuyo Maru " - Includes statement and report made by survivors
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1945 [​IMG] 527617
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 9 Searchers Reports "Rakuyo Maru" F3239 Arthur Brancroft (RAN) Reports
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1944 [​IMG] 528762
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 10 Reports of interviews with survivors concerning missing personnel from "Rakuyo Maru"
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1944 [​IMG] 528763
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 11 Queries [Nominal Rolls - Queries for identification of POW'S on "Rakuyo Maru"]
    Access status: Open with exception
    Location: Melbourne

    1945 - 1945 [​IMG] 528767
    B3856 144/1/128 ATTACHMENT 12 Record Books (3) containing handwritten notes - both shorthand and longhand. Probably from interrogation of survivors of "Rakuyo Maru" [1 cm.]
    Access status: Open with exception
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1948 [​IMG] 528772
    B3856 144/4/79 Nominal roll and correspondence concerning Prisoners of War reported missing following the sinking of the transport ship "Rakuyo Maru" (POW lists No 800-801-802-803) [66 pages]
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1945 - 1945 [​IMG] 770941
    B3856 144/14/138 Original statements made by recovered PsW ex "Rakuyo Maru" (File Folio numbered by AAV [1] to [133])
    Access status: Open with exception
    Location: Melbourne

    1942 - 1945 [​IMG] 469144
    B6121 20S Rakuyo Maru - Japanese Transport. Loss of 1944. narrative of Events Following Sinking by USS "Queenfish" 12/9/44. Lists of British & Australian Survivors etc
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1944 [​IMG] 399261
    MP729/6 12/401/408 Rescued PsW ex "Rakuyo Maru" [Prisoners of War / POWs]
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1945 [​IMG] 390741
    MP729/6 63/401/728 USN Reports on Survivors RAKUYO MARU
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1944 [​IMG] 404176
    MP729/8 44/431/73 Australian POW Far East - survivors ex-Rakuyo Maru [summarised report of events from 15 February 1942 to 4 September 1944]
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1944 [​IMG] 444975
    MP1049/5 1951/2/98 POW rescued from Rakuyo Maru. Information received from these POW regarding other POW etc
    Access status: Open
    Location: Melbourne

    1944 - 1945 [​IMG] 413008
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2022
  9. I genuinely cannot say thank you enough for this information and the links - I thought it would be impossible to set up any sort of timeline of my great grandads journey, but this does more than just get the ball rolling... Thank you so much!!!!! This will definitely help me look further, but even on it's own it's incredible information!!
    timuk, Wobbler, 4jonboy and 1 other person like this.
  10. Oh WOW... I've shown this picture to my mum, and we've definitely seen the photo before, but knew absolutely nothing about it actually being part of a local newspaper at the time - That's amazing... Thank you so much!!!
    Wobbler and Deacs like this.
  11. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    As part of one of the links provided by timuk there is a youtube clip of some of the prisoners being rescued by submarine. I first saw this when researching a soldier who did not survive the sinking of the Kachidoki Maru, which left Singapore on the same convoy. I find the clip both moving and upsetting.
    Kayleigh Boyce, timuk and 51highland like this.
  12. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Some documents for you.

    Attached Files:

  13. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Post 6 by TimUK refers to:
    I knew this "rang a bell" as the convoy had many American passenger liners taking the 55th Infantry Brigade from Halifax, Canada to Singapore via Cape Town. This convoy was before the USA entered the war with Japan and Germany, part of a political agreement that reinforcements needed to be moved initially to the Middle East, but after Pearl Harbour (7-8th December 1941) was diverted to Singapore. The USS West Point was till May 1941, a civilian passenger vessel, the SS America (26k tonnage) and with other ships formed a convoy WS.12X / WS12X. There are a few threads here on WS12X (they may refer to your great grandad's part).

    The voyage is also recorded on: USS West Point | COFEPOW In more detail: SS America (1939) - Wikipedia Note this refers to the convoy as HS124 and it had an all USN escort.

    There is a Wiki for the 55th Infantry Brigade, which your great grandad's unit served with from 8/7/1940: 55th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia Their division was the 18th Infantry Division: 18th Infantry Division (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia
  14. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The book by Joan and Clay Blair entitled "Return From The River Kwai" was meticulously researched back in the 1970's and I rather think that the American authors met Joseph Bagnall.

    See here: Clay Blair Papers 1575-1998 - Archives West

    File listed as
    "87 8 Return From the River Kwai--Bagnall, Joseph and Geoffrey Brierly"

    The book is widely available at very reasonable prices on second-hand book websites. First published in Great Britain by Raven Books in association with Macdonald and Jane Publishers. First Futura Publications edition 1980 under the ISBN 0 7088 1751 3.

    It is an excellent work, researched about 30 years before any information in detail was available at British National Archives, and based on numerous interviews with survivors of the sinking of the Rakuyo Maru, and other veterans.

    As a brief overview of resources for researching veterans captured by the Japanese in the Far East the bulk of information released for view at the British National Archives emerged in April 2011, but US Archives had released information from about the year 2000. The Imperial War Museum had information earlier than 2011.

    The important fact about Clay Blair is that he had served on board U.S. submarines. Further information about him is here: American Heritage Center | Virtual Exhibits | Clay Blair, Jr.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2022
    Kayleigh Boyce, CL1 and timuk like this.
  15. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify and expand. The USN escort only went as far as Capetown.

    At Capetown WS12X ceased to exist. USS Mount Vernon went to Mombasa and then joined Convoy DM1 at sea, which went to Singapore. The remainder of WS12X, which included USS West Point, now known as Task Group 14.2 went to Bombay under RN Escort. After a short stay USS West Point then formed part of Convoy BM11, departing Bombay 19 Jan 42 and arriving Singapore 29 Jan 42.

  16. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Kayleigh Boyce and CL1 like this.
  17. I had already had a look on there to see if I could find him in regards to the liberation questionnaires, but unfortunately there's no mention - either he didn't fill one out, or it's not been uploaded as of yet. Wouldn't be surprised if he never bothered though - I can definitely see why most men wouldn't want to after what they'd just been through.
    I'll do some more looking around and digging on their though to see if there's anything else - Thank you!!!
  18. You really weren't joking about the UK and US records being not so easy to access... I had no idea about the Australian records being so open though! Genuinely, thank you so much for linking all of that to me - I really do appreciate it!!! It's going to be so interesting to look through and see!
  19. I'm going to watch the clip in a few minutes after making sure I have some tissues near-by... Thank you so much for pointing it out to me!!! Definitely going to search for any other videos or general related clips I haven't seen later tonight!
  20. Thank you SO so much omg - It's genuinely amazing seeing actual documents from that time, so I very much appreciate it!! Opening that first one and just simply seeing his name was so nice... They're genuinely really helpful as well for information and building up a proper and detailed timeline like I want to - Thank you again!!!
    papiermache and CL1 like this.

Share This Page