Bank boss risked his life to inform camp

A FORMER civilian prisoner who risked his life to spread news to fellow internees has shared his memories 60 years after the end of the war in the Far East.

A FORMER civilian prisoner who risked his life to spread news to fellow internees has shared his memories 60 years after the end of the war in the Far East. Stewart A. Faulkner was working for an accountancy firm in Singapore when Japanese troops captured the British colony in February 1942.

Now, on the anniversary of VJ Day, the 92-year-old islander has spoken of his experience at Changi camp, where 3,000 civilians were incarcerated during the Japanese occupation.

'We had heard whispers that they were planning to attack,' said Mr Faulkner.

'But we had no warning until Japanese aircraft started dropping bombs on the city.'

Along with other Europeans working in what was then Malaya, they were ordered by Japanese officials to meet at an assembly point.

For the next three-and-a-half years he was on starvation rations and forced to work in the camp's gardens.

'The Japanese ignored the civilian prisoners. They were always polite and courteous and they did not beat us,' he added.

'I spent my time gardening. The work was acceptable but we were basically starved. I was all skin and bones and virtually unrecognisable.'

During his internment, the amateur radio enthusiast risked his life to help other inmates receive news. His scribbled notes of transmitter diagrams were discovered by guards and could have resulted in torture or death had he not outwitted his captors.

'The Japanese had got wind of the fact that some radio sets had been smuggled into the camp.

'They searched all our meagre belongings and I passed my notes off as an ignition system for a sports car.

'Others weren't so lucky. Ten of our colleagues never returned ' they died under interrogation.

'My only thought at the time was I was thankful it wasn't me.'

Despite the harsh penalties, his desire to help his news-starved fellow prisoners was not curbed.

Receiving cigarettes wrapped in newspaper was another way for him to inform the rest of the camp. After having the Cantonese script translated, news about American and British landings in Normandy spread like wildfire.

'The camp went crazy and we knew the end was in sight,' he said.

'Until then the mood among the prisoners had been depressed.

'We tried to remain optimistic and our main objective was to see our families again.

'But when the rest of the camp heard about the Normandy landings, the place erupted.

'We could hardly suppress our joy. 'Fortunately, nobody suffered any consequences from my actions.'

Ulster-born Mr Faulkner moved to Guernsey in the late 1950s, becoming chief executive of Kleinwort Benson merchant bank.

Subsequently involved in setting up NM Rothschild's local office, he went on to establish his own trust company.

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