Sketch by Jack Chalker

Deryck Le Mare

Notes by Peter H. Le Mare on DERYCK WATTS LE MARE (1912-1967) from DWL's papers left by his sister and other sources.



Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


Manchester GS.


Somerset Thornhill Scholarship (Nat.Sci.) Brasenose College Oxford.


MA Cl1 Zoology; BSc.  Awarded: 1) Senior Hulme Research Scholarship, Oxford: 600 for four years; 2) Brasenose College Book Prize; 3) Naples Biological Scholarship, Oxford: one year; 4) Colonial Office Veterinary Scholarship which was declined on acceptance of the Naples Scholarship.


At Stazione Zoologica, Naples.


Department of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, Oxford.



  1. Demonstrator in the Department
  2. Lecturer and Tutor of St John's Oxford
  3. Lecturer to the WEA, Oxfordshire.

1937 Nov

Appointed Assistant to the Director of Fisheries, Straits Settlements March 1938 arrived Singapore.


Married Gladys Keay.


Acting sub-lieutenant Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve


(Far Eastern Volunteers web-site); Special Duties: Captain, Intelligence Corps (Dispatches); 


Member of 43 Special Mission, Java; captured 20 March 1942 (as stated by prison record) becoming a Japanese Prisoner of War.


Returned to Malaya;

1948 March

Director of Fisheries, Federation of Malaya and Singapore, back-dated to Aug 1947.

Nov 1948

Seconded for special duties connected with the Malayan Emergency.

1955 Oct-Nov

He and Gladys travelled to England by sea bringing their yacht, Chincharu, as deck cargo.  Chincharu had been built in Malaya to D's design.


awarded Silver Medal by HM King Frederik IX of Denmark for assistance to the Galathea Expedition 1950-52, a Danish world-wide deep sea expedition.


Awarded Companion of the Imperial Service Order for contribution to development of Fisheries in the Federation.

1957 18 Aug

left Malaya in accordance with the policy of Malayanization of the Public Service. On return to UK DWL worked with the White Fish Authority. He and Gladys lived at Brockham Warren, Surrey, until retirement, about 1962, to Lescrow Hay, Fowey, where for a time D cultivated oysters.


War Notes:

DWL joined the Regiment of Major W R Busby (now Lt Col, MBE MC) in Java in May 1942 after, as Busby said in a letter to the Colonial Office 3 May 1971, D "had fought a single handed guerrilla operation for six months in Malaya, and Java". D was in solitary confinement and publicly humiliated by the Japanese but later served as an attached officer (Capt) with Busby until Oct 42 when they were taken to Japan, where D was put in charge of 30 men working in a coal mine.  D looked after his men better than any other officer Busby had known. Throughout 3 years D continued to harass the Japanese whenever an opportunity arose.  Busby recommended that D be decorated for courage and bravery; he was disappointed when D was awarded only a Mention in Dispatches.

W R Busby wrote to Peter H Le Mare on 12 May 1991: Deryck was a personal friend of mine.  He was attached to my Battery, 95 Light Anti Aircraft RA from May 42 in Java until Nov 45 in No 1 Allied P.W. Camp Hiroshima.  We remained friends until he died in 67.  He was a great loss.  He was a wonderful fearless officer, totally unselfish, and an outstanding commander of men.  He served under me. In a telephone conversation on 18 May Walter Busby said that D was also a very good linguist - French, German, Italian, Cantonese and Japanese. Initially D was resented by other officers because they were from England and D had come in via the Malayan army. 

Canon Rupert Godfrey wrote on 17 May 1991: D and I were fellow inmates of Fukuoka Camp Six from Nov 1942 to June 1943 when I was transferred to Zentsuji camp. D was one of about six prisoners brought in to Glodok camp in Batavia some weeks after the surrender and, as you say, lodged in solitary confinement.  We were a little suspicious of them at first because it was thought that one of them was a stool pigeon planted by the Japs.  I believe D had been captured with Laurens van der Post but I may be wrong. We were both on the hell ship Dai Nichi Maru which left Java on 21 Oct and landed at Mogi about 25 Nov.  The draft which were taken from Mogi to Fukuoka were all, except D, members of 48th Light AA which had been sent off from Glasgow to Singapore just days before the war in the Far East began. We never got there but were dropped off in Java instead. I was the regimental padre. The winter of 1942 was not particularly cold but, coming straight from the tropics and with no warm clothing, it played havoc with nearly everybody's health and many there were who died of dysentery and pneumonia.  I think D was probably one of the fittest and I am glad to know that Major (as he then was) Busby, the Camp CO officially recorded his services.  Being in charge of coal mine shifts was no enviable task.  I also remember that D - like me an Oxford graduate - took the trouble during those months to learn the Japanese language and this would have enabled him to harass the Japanese at their own game. I have group photos of the officer POWs and the mining authorities given us by the Japs which shows us all in our motley attire at that time.

Letter from Sir Laurens van der Post CBE, 18 September 1995 in response to a letter enquiring about D's activities in Java.  L v d P wrote an account of his captivity in Java in The Night of the New Moon.

"Of course I knew Deryck Le Mare and remember him extremely well, but I do not think that I can add anything to which you would not have ready access as a member of the family.

 He was a distinguished civil servant, and then of course volunteered for active service in the War, and was captured with some other members of my unit when I had already walked into an ambush myself.  He was briefly one of my officers in Java and an extremely good one at that.

 I just saw him once or twice after the war, and very much regretted that he died--I believe--much too young with still a great deal to offer".

 L v d P states that he had already walked into an ambush when D was captured.  However v d P states in Who's Who and elsewhere that he was a POW during 1943-45.  Busby and Godfrey state that D was captured in 1942 and was moved to Japan in November 1942.  Although there is no doubt that v d P knew D, he seemed not to know when D was captured.



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[Deryck and Gladys] [Deryck Le Mare] [Untitled45]



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