This site is dedicated to the memory of the
Reverend (Squadron Leader)
John Thirwell Wanless RAF VR,
1904 - 1945
Service Number 77336
Died as a POW in the Far East 1945
John Wanless was born on 13th December 1904 into a poor coal-mining family at Crawcrook, Ryton-on-Tyne, Co Durham, the fourth in a family of ten children.
He was ordained into the Methodist Ministry in 1932, and commissioned into the RAF as a Free Church Chaplain on 1st February 1940.
Evacuated from Singapore as it fell, John Wanless was taken prisoner at Tasik Malaje, Java on 8th March 1942.
He died on 30th June 1945, the Japanese gave cause of death as Acute Enteritus but we now know it was from starvation, sickness and savage treatment in Jungle camp no 2, at Ranau, Sabah (then British North Borneo) East Malaysia.
No known grave.
The Rescuer - John Allen Hodges
Kranji War Memorial
Dispatches - London Gazette
Borneo Investigation Report
Sandakan Roll - Australian and British
Australian Booklet (pdf document)
Sandakan was based on:
Research at KEW
Laden, Fevered, Starved - The POWs of Sandakan, North Borneo, 1945
Researched by Dr Richard Reid
with assistance from Robert Pounds and Courtney Page
‘Sandakan - A Conspiracy of Silence’ by Lynette Ramsay Silver
(1998); Athol Moffitt, Project Kingfisher(1989), an account of the secret plan for a rescue which never happened
‘Knights of Bushido’ by Lord Russell
London Gazette - 1st October 1946
‘Sandakan: The Last March’ by Don Wall
Selfpublished: originally 1988, now in its revised fifth edition
Don was 2/20 and F Force himself.
‘Kill the Prisoners’ by Don Wall
‘From Hell to Eternity’ by Peter Firkins,
‘Borneo: Australia's Pround but Tragic Heritage’ by Kevin Smith
‘Escape From Hell’ by Walter Wallace