Searching for information on my Grandad.

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by CATNUT, Oct 3, 2012.


    CATNUT Junior Member

    Hi I wonder if anyone can help me in my search for information i.e war records, camp held in etc I have searched on line, on various sites and I am a paying member on Ancestry.

    His name is Sydney Guest he died in 1977, he was in the 2nd Battalion North Lancashire Regiment. His service number was 3852969. He was a Warrant Officer class 2, he was captured by the Japanese in 1942 where he was held in pow camps, and I know he sailed back on HMS Glory. He states in a letter he was at Kobe when the Yanks bombed it too.

    I would be grateful of any help and information or if anyone had relatives in the same places, Battalion etc I would like to hear from them too.

    With Thanks
  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Hi Cathy and welcome.
    First question is usually do you have a copy of his service record?
    We have many members with an interest in FEPOWs and access to war diaries but I suspect the diary might not exist (having been destroyed to avoid capture). Several were, I understand, reconstructed after the war from personal recollections.
    If you can give any further information it might help members with further research.
    Good luck.

  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Hi Cathy,

    A couple of things worth checking at the National Archives:

    1) If he completed a POW Liberation questionnaire;
    2) His Japanese POW card file;
    3) The 2 North Lancs Regt war diary, if it survived.

    I'll just do a look up to check for the war diary...

  4. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Here are the National Archive references for the 2 North Lancs war diaries til the end of 1942.

    As Mike suspected the important 1942 diary is missing:

    - WO 172/147, 2 Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) (1939 Sept.- 1942 Jan.)
    - WO 166/8798, 2 Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) (1942 June-Dec.)

    The first one covers their time in Malaya up to Jan 1942, then a break and resumes in Britain in June 1942.
  5. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    It looks like there is a file at The National Archives at Kew containing information "compiled from a register kept by Sergeant Major Guest, 2nd Battalion, Loyal Regiment." The file reference is WO361/1396. Here is a "copy and paste" of the information from the National Archives website:

    Far East: deaths in Japanese camps and from ship sunk on 25 June 1944; compiled ...
    ...of the Permanent Under Secretary of State: Casualties (L) Branch: Enquiries into Missing Personnel, 1939-45 War. Far East: deaths in Japanese camps and from ship sunk on 25 June 1944; compiled from register kept by Sergeant Major Guest, 2nd Battalion, Loyal Regiment. ...
    Collection:Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodiesDate range: 29 January 1946 - 04 February 1946 Reference:WO 361/1396Subjects:Regiments and Corps, Operations, battles and campaigns, Conflict"

    3852969 CSM Guest S was in Changi POW camp, Singapore, until 16th August 1942. He then went overseas from Singapore to Chosen as part of "B" party. This information is from file WO361/2117 and from the book " The Story of Changi" by David Nelson ( not in the National Archives library.): ISBN 0 9503243-0-2. This can be borrowed through inter-library loan. Copies are priced at about £25 and above on the internet.

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Thanks for your speedy reply papermache :) Thankyou for your information, I had hit a brickwall with my research recently! How do I access the file at Kew and is it expensive do you know?

    Regards Cathy

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Hi Mike,

    No I don't have his service record :( All I have is a letter that he wrote to his family whlst aboard HMS Glory on his way back he said his next port was Vancouver. On the letter is his service number and his Rank.

    Thanks for your reply :)

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Thanks Lee for your help, unfortunately some family members have passed away so I can't really find out much information, but my Auntie remembers a book that my Grandad kept with lots of names in, unfortunately it's been misplaced :(

    Regards Cathy
  9. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Hi Cathy,

    I can help get copies of the war diaries, POW files and the missing men file that Papiermache mentioned.

    Some details about what I do are here: Arcre - ARCRE - Frequently Asked Questions

    If I can be help then either send me a PM here or contact me through the arcre website.

    Kind regards,

  10. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the additional information, and for your message. I have corrected and added to my earlier posting, which I compiled in a bit of a rush. The information from your Grandfather is "from a register". This may be the book which has been misplaced.

    It looks like your Grandfather spent a long time in Japan, from August 1942. It took courage to keep diaries and records whilst a prisoner of war because if the records were found by the Japanese the author was almost inevitably punished. Despite this, many men did so. Unfortunately some records went missing after having been handed over to "Intelligence" officers on the way home from the Far East. I have seen a number of files in the WO361 series which contain requests from repatriated servicemen for the return of their records, usually falling on deaf ears.

    In April of 2011 a huge number of files were released by the UK Ministry of Defence to the National Archives ( TNA) for the general public to read. This was a pleasant surprise, and the removal of a huge brick wall to researchers. Some files at TNA are not available to read, but there is a listing of the file title. This was not the case for the April 2011 files. Different archives have different policies. Australian Archives release personal information on WW2 veterans much earlier, and make it much easier to view free online.
    You may find that your grandfather helped the War Office with other pieces of information about missing men. There are a number of files in the WO361 series about his battalion.
    David Nelson's book contains a short piece about the departure from Changi in August 1942, as follows ( with all due acknowledgements ) :

    " On the 16th ( August, 1942) at daybreak, the Japan (?) Party left, with the general's party following shortly afterwards. They embarked in a 4,000 ton ship and were reported to have sailed the following afternoon."

    In an appendix Nelson states that the total travelling in Japan 'B' party were 1,000, of which 885 were British and 115 were A.I.F or Australian Imperial Force.
  11. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    I've actually ordered the POW returning questionnaire files covering the letter G for this Saturday. Happy to do a look up and copy it, if it's on file whilst I'm there, no charge. Unfortunately I don't have time to look at the other files mentioned, so please contact Lee.

    Cheers - Rob
  12. jacksun

    jacksun Senior Member

    Cathy, here is his listing in the Japanese POW lists. The FU is camp Fukuoka in Japan. Warrant Officer 2nd class (W/O 2/c), 3852969 is his soldier number, A is Army, dates are Date of Capture and Date of liberation. The number 20989 mean nothing, it is just the number in the list of his entry.


    Attached Files:

  13. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    If CSM Guest made a "Q" form of interest to the Judge Advocate General then his name may appear in WO356 roll 14 in the microfilm corner. However, last time I went some of the films were away being copied. Always worth a look when searching for liberation questionnaires, Imperial Japanese Cards and the like, but rarely referred to on websites such as this, probably because the substance of the matter is not there, just the index.


    The archives have a huge room full of people clicking away with digital cameras. In another room larger documents are viewed. Outside the "reading" rooms there are people at computer terminals looking at Ancestry and other websites that usually charge, for free. In another part there is a library. It takes about fifteen minutes to register to get a ticket for the reading rooms which involves looking at a computer tutorial on how to view and treat old papers with respect. You have to use a pencil without an eraser on the end, and a bound notebook is useful. Staff will check these as you go in and out. I am not planning to go there for a bit, otherwise I would look in the microfilm corner for you.

    If your Grandfather was in Japan ( it is interesting that he is listed as reporting on losses from a ship in 1944 ) then there may be references to him in Archives in America. This is because the Americans administered Japan from the surrender and were responsible for prosecuting Japanese war criminals. They gathered evidence from Allied servicemen of all nations, in the form of sworn statements, and used these in proceedings rather than shipping witnesses to Japan. A possibility, but difficult to search for. You will need to know which POW camps your grandfather was in.If there is a liberation questionnaire the chances are that the camps will have been listed by your grandfather. Returning servicemen filled in lots of forms on their way home. A good site for POW camps in Japan is called ""

    On the Lancashire Infantry Museum Website there are two rare photographs of men from your Grandfather's battalion taken in Changi prisoner of war camp. It is always worthwhile contacting a regimental museum. Equally, many County Record Offices have pieces from soldiers and regiments.. The Imperial War Museum have a large collection from ex far east prisoners of war.
  14. CATNUT

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Thanks again Papiermache :) for your detailed reply, it's really warming, I am discovering things about my Grandad that I never knew! I was only searching my family tree but now my focus is on Sydney Guest, which as you can imagine a difficult name to search!! I am going to try and access the book.
    I am surprised at the response on here, I will be spreading the word :)

  15. CATNUT

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Any help would be gratefully appreciated Rob, thanks so much

    Regards Cathy
  16. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your message: to register at TNA you also need several pieces of proof of identity: the website gives details about what you need to take.

    I attach a picture of your Grandfather's entry in the roll now found in file WO361/2117

    Attached Files:

  17. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I was trying to find Sydney on the Cofepow database this morning, the database doesn't seem to want to load on my computer, is it just me?:mad:
  18. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    I've found him on the "B" Party list, but 1 digit is wrong on his service number, just a typing error I assume:

    Attached Files:

  19. CATNUT

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Thank you Wayne that is really really helpful :) :)

  20. CATNUT

    CATNUT Junior Member

    Thanks Enigma!! Thats really helpful :) :) my information is growing.


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