Sketch by Jack Chalker

The White Flag

flag

The White Flag

By

Tommy Thompson

Born in old Killingworth village on the 12th September 1918, Tommy worked as a Joiner before joining the army in 1939 when he was still only 20.

This is his story of the time he spent as a Japanese POW for three and half years between 1942 and 1945, and for a large part, working on the infamous Burma Thailand ‘Death’ Railway.

The white flag passed by our very noses as we sat in our machine-gun nests in the front line on the Island of Singapore, and my comrades and I thought someone must have gone berserk, for even at this crucial stage we had no thoughts whatsoever of surrendering, and even defeat was the last thing on our minds.

Tommy before sailing

Tommy before sailing off to war in

February 1942

My regiment was the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, and the 9th Battalion had reached Singapore as part of the 18th Division on the 5th February 1942, and here on the 15th only 10 days later, we were on the point of capitulation. Our minds were in a whirl, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, as we had had a right roughing-up by the Nips since we arrived, with continual high altitude bombing, shelling from the sea, and on terra-firma a fanatical army pounding us with mortar and small arms.

At that time we were in a tricky position, due to a forward thrust by the Nips during the night, and instead of supporting the infantry we were in front, as the infantry had withdrawn through our lines under heavy and continual fire power from the enemy. When dawn broke we had to open fire on the Nips who were only yards from us and many of them bit the dust before their mortars were ranged on to our area, but the positions were held until that white flag appeared.

We had arrived on Singapore after virtually traversing the world, sailing from Liverpool more than three months beforehand.

 

    Chapter I Chapter I

-

Liverpool to Halifax

    Chapter II Chapter II

-

Halifax to Mombassa

    Chapter III Chapter III

-

Mombassa to Bombay

    Chapter IV Chapter IV

-

Bombay to Singapore

    Chapter V Chapter V

-

Real Friends

    Chapter VI Chapter VI

-

Preparing for Action

    Chapter VII Chapter VII

-

Capitulation

    Chapter VIII Chapter VIII

-

Changi - Our First Camp

    Chapter IX Chapter IX

-

Keppel Harbour

    Chapter X Chapter X

-

March to Paradise

    Chapter XI Chapter XI

-

Wampo Viaduct

    Chapter XII Chapter XII

-

Kinsayo

    Chapter XIII Chapter XIII

-

Kon-Kwita

    Chapter XIV Chapter XIV

-

Repair Work

    Chapter XV Chapter XV

-

Chilly Valley

    Chapter XVI Chapter XVI

-

Non-Pladuk

    Chapter XVII Chapter XVII

-

Bangkok

    Chapter XVIII Chapter XVIII

-

San-Pat-Soo

    Chapter XIX Chapter XIX

-

When We’re Free

    Chapter XX Chapter XX

-

Homeward Bound

    Chapter XXI Chapter XXI

-

Back to Geordieland

    Chapter XXII Chapter XXII

-

Retribution

 

After the war he married Francis and together had a son Russell. He continued his career in the building industry and worked his way up to being Chief Building Surveyor for Gateshead Local Authority.

Tommy died on the 26th July 1985 aged 67.

 

Notes:

The following table cross-references some of the place names that Tommy refers too in his story with the names from maps of the death railway referenced from the fepow community website.

Tommy

Map References

Non-Pladuk

Non Pladuk / Nong Pladuck  (start point 0km)

Ban-Pong

Ban Pong (5km)

Kan-buri / Kanburi

Kanchanaburi (51km)

Chugkai

Chungkai (Hospital) (57km)

Wampo

Wang Po / Wampo viaduct 3 camps (114km)

Tarso

Tarso – 3 camps (130km)

Kinsayo

Kinsaiyok (168km)

Rin-Tin

Rin Tin (181km)

Tomajo

Tamajo – camps (237km)

Kon-Kwita

Konkuita (258km)

Nikki

Nikhe / Nikki – 2 camps (282km)

San-Pat-Soo

?

 

 

 

Sharing information with others is rewarding in itself, the pieces from the jigsaw begin to fit together and a picture begins to appear. Improve your knowledge and help make the Fepow Story an everlasting memorial to their memory.

Any material  to add to the Fepow Story please send to:

Ron.Taylor@fepow-community.org.uk

and their story will live on.

 

[The White Flag] [Chapter I] [Chapter II] [Chapter III] [Chapter IV] [Chapter V] [Chapter VI] [Chapter VII] [Chapter VIII] [Chapter IX] [Chapter X] [Chapter XI] [Chapter XII] [Chapter XIII] [Chapter XIV] [Chapter XV] [Chapter XVI] [Chapter XVII] [Chapter XVIII] [Chapter XIX] [Chapter XX] [Chapter XXI] [Chapter XXII]

 

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