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Gotts Family History

 

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Camp or Hospital

From   -  To

Summary

Changi

15/2/42  -  18/6/42

Main POW camp

(Ban Pong?)

18/6/42  -  2/8/42

Start of Railway

Nong Pladuck

2/8/42    -  28/4/45

Hospital camp near Ban Pong

Ubon

28/4/45  -  2/9/45

N Thailand

WW2 POWs - Arthur William 4194 #038

Sapper Arthur William 4194 #038


Arthur William was born in Norwich in 1904 to Thomas William Gotts & Elizabeth Scott. He enlisted on 24 Sept 1939 into 288 Field Company Royal Engineers, so he volunteered very early in the war. This unit was identified as part of 18th Division from the start. Because it is a company of separate troops, it is harder to track the actual progress of 288 RE, but from various sources I have pieced this together.


According to P.H.G. Allen 288 RE left Bombay on 9 January on USS West Point and arrived in Singapore on 29 January, by which time the Japanese were in Johore and close to Singapore itself. After the surrender, upon arrival at Changi 288 RE played a full part in providing essential sanitary facilities etc for the greatly overcrowded barrack area.


After the surrender, all the troops were listed as missing with Arthur posted on 26 March 1942, however because of the difficulties with the Japanese over getting information he was not posted as a POW until 24 March 1943, a year later! What an awful time for the family.

18 June 1942: like Edwin Charles, Arthur William was moved to Thailand in a party of 600. Although he did not note it in his post-war interview, it is likely that he started at Ban Pong.


2 August 1942 Arthur William 4194 #038 was moved to Nong Pladuck and stayed there until 28 April 1945. It is likely that he was maintaining the railway and/or the equipment used to build it using his skills as an engineer.

This is the list of camps from his interview:

Ubon Airfield

By 1944 Japan was struggling to move sufficient goods through the Burma Railway and the army was becoming exhausted. They considered retreating eastward, and decided to build an airport at Ubon in the east of Thailand to support them.


From January 1945 3000 POWs including Arthur were taken from camps after they had finished the railway, such as Nong Pladuck, and transported them 600 km to Ubon. This was open fields, where they built a runway 1500m long by 30m wide.

By July 1945, British SOE and Thai Resistance were making it very difficult for the Japanese, and the POWs were instructed to dig trenches across the runway to stop Allied planes landing. On 18 August the Camp Commander told them the war was over. They were formally liberated on 2 Sept.

Map c/o Nations online project Click on map to enlarge

These websites can tell the story much better:

Ubon airstrip (FEPOW)Research websitesNext pageNext page