63rd (Oxfordshire Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment RA (TA)
War In the Far East
251 Banbury Battery Prisoners of War in Thailand
In February 1942, Singapore fell and the men of 251 Battery who had been involved in the attempt to defend it became some of the 61,000 prisoners taken by the Japanese. for three and a half years they were prisoners and used as slave labour, made to work in harsh conditions, under the brutal treatment of their guards they suffered the most appalling cruelty and degradation to build the notorious Burma-Siam railway and a bridge over the Mae Klong, later renamed the Kwai Nai. (Bridge on the Kwai)
This picture taken secretly by a prisoner of war shows other prisoners. men of 251 battery carrying rice from a store at a camp in the jungle, practically the only type of food they were given to live on.
In the Far East theatre of war from 1942 to 1944 the Regiment suffered twenty-four casualties. Two officers missing presumed killed after escape attempt in Singapore, three killed in an air raid at Singapore, one killed by mortar wounds in action at Singapore, two men died when onboard a Japanese prisoner of war ship bound for Japan when torpedoed by the United States navy, one of disease (Beriberi) and a further fifteen died in captivity
On the 3rd March 1945, the survivors of 251 battery were marched from Nakom Nai to Pisnaloke, over 400 miles, arriving on the 19th august 1945 where they were finally freed. they were then flown to Rangoon and finally back to England, all suffering from malnutrition, numerous medical problems, and diseases
On the 15th August 1945 Emperor Hirohito of Japan broadcast on the radio the acceptance of the Joint Allied Forces terms of unconditional surrender (VJ Day).