Some time at the end of April 1945, Phyllis, with the dossier of information and photos of Barry’s men, interviewed a Sergeant Smith, from the Royal Signals. Smith had been a prisoner of the Japanese and was rescued after the sinking of the transport ship Hokofu Maru. He knew Barry and other men from 27 Line Section. In her notebook Phyllis scribbled entries for each man who Smith remembered having seen. For example:
Appleton. Saw him in June ’44. Excellent condition. Down ? Tech. Party due for Japan but hadn’t left [‘Japan party’ are the groups of men selected to be shipped to Japan]. Worked with Smith as Cook after completion of railway in Tamarkan hospital camp. One /or 2 attacks/malaria but survived them well, often spoke of his children and wife.
Bridge. Died 1943??
Canning. Tropical ulcers on leg in Thailand sanatorium. April 1944. Ulcers healed unable to straighten his leg. Very clean. Mentioned wife & mother. Health otherwise O.K.
Dawson. Seen end Jan 44. Condition pretty fair. No party for Japan then.
Signalman William Dawson
Douglas. June 44. Sick in 1943 but recovered. Worked in Japan cookhouses as servant which gave him extra. Mentioned both wife and son. Kept out of trouble.
Earnshaw. 1944 June. Health quite good. Mentioned fiancée a lot. (sister?) Packed up on railway in 1943 August. No party for Japan.
Farrell Plumber? Friend of Walls? Last seen June 44. Health fair. Trouble with asthma. Kept bright & cheery. In hospital October 43. Down for new San. (?) Looked after by Thai Red X.
Garrod 43. Last August 1943 Condition quite good – bright & cheery. Not due for Japan. Mentioned wife.
Graham June 44. Quite good health. Pelagera [pellagra – lack of vitamin B3] – but recovered by June 44. No party for Japan.
Harrison. Early 44. Quite well.
Jennings June 44. Quite well. Not on railway.
(In September 1943 The War Office had written to Mrs Jennings to say that her son, Reginald, had died of beri beri malaria on 18.7.43. Scepticism had long since set in among the relatives and she had still sent a photo and information about her son to Phyllis for the dossier. The War Office had been right and Smith must have thinking of another Jennings.)
Johnston. June 44. Might be sent on draft to Japan. Always speaking of his wife and children. Well & cheerful. Knew Barry. Kept going very well.
Jones. June 44. Working in hospital dispensary. 2 camp. Not changed – keeps well.
Kittwood Last seen early 44. Very seriously ill – malaria.
McDonald June 44. Good health. Worked on railway 10 months – Then hospital orderly in Tamarkan camp. In original 27 Line in France.
Parker. Same cargo boat for Japan. Probably killed.
Russell June 44. In quite good health – quite cheery. Always speaking of wife & 2 boys.
Walls Speaks of wife and son. June 44. Well and cheerful. Pretty good health.