WWII Far East POWs

27 Line Section Royal Corps of Signals

In 1941 a Royal Corps of Signals unit of about 70 men, 27 Line Section, was created under Captain LBHC Baker (Barry). They sailed on the troop ship Orontes for the Far East, reaching Malaya in autumn 1941. Until the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, they worked all over Malaya putting up communications lines. Some of the men are in this photo

27LineS1941_1

taken in Kota Tinggi. The whole unit were captured by the Japanese and most of them worked on the Thailand-Burma Railroad. More than a third of them died.

In England Captain Baker’s wife, Phyllis, kept in touch with the mothers, wives and grandparents of the men. They wrote to her and there are hundreds of these letters. Some of them will be in a book about the survival of relationships between the relatives in England and Prisoners of War in the Far East.

Anyone who thinks they might be related to any of the men in 27 Line Section is welcome to get in touch. For a full list go to 27 Line Section.

26 thoughts on “WWII Far East POWs

    • “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.”

      I like that quote from Winston Churchill.

      Have you read my post about Eugene Gagnon’s Navigator?

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  2. Hi Hilary, I am just watching the film “Women of Valour” on BBC catch-up and it made me think of your blog. The conditions that the prisoners had to endure look horrific and I don’t know how the men and women survived.

    Warmest wishes
    Charlotte

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  4. I recently read “Unbroken”. What an eye opener to the things that men endured. My dad refused to talk about the war. He didn’t want us to know the details. The book made me cry, it made me angry, it made me understand… Thank you for your tribute to our fathers.

  5. Thank you for leading me to Unbroken, I have just ordered it. If your dad was a Far East POW I can understand his reluctance, very few could talk about it and most of those who did, only spoke later in life. Sadly, though my father recovered well, many of them came back too damaged to lead a normal family life, so they in turn made life hard for their wives and children.

  6. As my dad said, “War is no good.” Anyone today who did not participate in that war cannot possible imagine the trauma to the body and mind from being a POW of the Axis powers. As they weren’t able to feed their own soldiers towards the end, it is frightening to imagine what they were fed – or found to eat.

  7. I agree with your dad, not only is it no good, but it is only a temporarily convincing argument. The people who win are rarely loved (and usually only by a minority) and whatever the original problem, it just comes round again. Talking has to be better, but humans don’t seem to be grown-up enough to use it yet.

    • I think that’s because it is a page not a post. I imagine I could email it to you, or make it into a post, what do you think. It would certainly reach more of the right people on your blog than mine… I’ve just seen your blog of one of the POW posts. Thank you so much. I am busy publishing my novel at the moment, but this is to get it out of the way, so that I can concentrate on the POW story.

      • Thanks anyway, but I reblogged the main story. So few know about the CBI Theater and perhaps this will reach someone with information you can use in your book or in locating Line 27.

  8. Dear Hilary,
    Please accept my (belated) condolences on the passing of your father. I was privileged to know him during the late 70’s and early 80’s; I was a young lad who had just lost his father and was introduced to your father by a mutual friend. Major Baker (as I always knew him) introduced me to what has become a lifelong hobby, shooting, and moreover made a lasting impression that truly has shaped and influenced me throughout my life. I was last in contact with him just before I joined the RAF in 1987, his encouragement and mentoring helped me follow a path which I never would have without his influence.
    I am sad to know that he is no longer with us however will never forget what he did for me.
    Kind regards.
    Tony

    • Dear Tony,
      It is very good to hear from someone who knew him and I’m especially glad to hear of the positive influence he had on you. He was a wonderful father, encouraging our ambitions and introducing us to wonderful hobbies. It makes me very happy to hear from you. I will make sure my brothers see your comments. My younger brother and his wife live at the same house and would, I’m sure, welcome you, should you wish to revisit old haunts.

  9. I was privileged to know Major Baker during the late 70’s and early 80’s. I was introduced to him by a mutual friend and he taught me the delights of shooting, a hobby I still pursue today. I spent many happy Saturdays doing jobs around his house and gardens in exchange for lessons in all matters shooting; his influence and mentoring has left an impression which lasts to this day.
    I am sad to hear that he is no longer with us but am truly thankful to have known him and will never forget just how much he helped me.

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