In the Second World War Bob Hucklesby was on his way to Iran when his unit was diverted to Singapore. Unfortunately their equipment wasn’t, and they were left to face the invading Japanese Army with a severe lack of supplies.
Bob served with the 560th Field Company Royal Engineers.
“We landed at Singapore on 29 January 1942. Civilians were on the dockside waiting to be taken away, so we knew the situation was serious.”
Just a month later Bob was taken prisoner and transported for hundreds of miles in a cattle truck with scores of other prisoners.
He was to spend the next four years in Japanese Prisoner of War camps, facing horrific conditions. He was forced to work on the infamous Thai-Burma railway, a railroad over 250 miles long which cost over 12,000 Allied lives.
“One night I was put in a death hut with around 20 others… I was determined to sit up and keep my eyes open, wanted to survive. The next morning I was the only one still alive out of all of us in the hut. That experience is one of the reasons why I personally think it’s so important not to forget all the people who lost their lives during that time”
Bob Hucklesby with fellow veterans and Far East Prisoners of War at the Festival of Remembrance.
When Bob was liberated he weighed only 7st after surviving on a diet of rice and watery stew.
He returned home on the Princess Giovanna, which landed at Southampton on 19th November 1945.
“I shall never forget it. There on the quayside was a band to welcome us home and one tune I particularly remember was the Cole Porter hit, Don’t Fence Me In…..The people of Southampton could never know what that welcome meant. We had all been away at least four years, some as long as seven”
Bob is currently Chairman of the National FEPOW Fellowship Welfare Remembrance Association. This year he’s taking part in The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, sharing his memories for future generations.
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