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Fighterbeau 11th July 2019 13:11

Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
I'm new here, last signed in in 2009, so please forgive me if I am not using the system correctly.

We have in our local church a reredos in memory of RAF Cpl William Henry Lucas, buried at Ambon CWGC cemetery in Indonesia. He died while a Japanese prisoner of war.

I'd like to get more information than exists on the CWGC site. No one knows what the reredos represents, although there is an almost hidden carving which gives bare details of who put it there.

Can I get something more here? Air Historical Branch were helpful when I first started looking at him some time ago, but records seem to be sketchy - not surprising given the theatre.


wwrsimon 11th July 2019 20:19

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs

Some FEPoW records are available on The available records show his service number as 572086, not 572486 as per the CWGC website. There is a form with the following information:

Date of birth: 1922.6.24
Unit: 81 Repair and Salvage Unit
Date of Capture: 17.3.8
[Presumably this is Japanese year notation. I understand 17 is the 17th year of Hirohito's reign (he came to the throne in 1926), so March 8th 1942 - see newspaper article below.]
Father: Frederick John
Mother: Gladys Lilian
Place of Origin: Lovitts Farm, Shilton, Coventry.
Destination of Report [where news of his capture was to be sent]: Mr. Lucas, Coombe Park Dairy, Brandon, Coventry.

Another document shows that he died due to beri beri.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph of November 22nd 1945 reported the following:

Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Lucas, Coleshill Farm, late of Coombe Park Dairy, Brandon, have received information that their eldest son, Corporal William Lucas, R.A.F., died on November 8, 1944, whilst a prisoner-of-war in Japanese hands. Corporal Lucas attended the Technical College and from there he went to an R.A.F. training school. After training he was sent to the Japanese theatre of war and was taken prisoner in Java in 1942.



RSwank 11th July 2019 20:33

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
He appears on this page listing men who received their training at RAF Halton. He was based at Seletar (Singapore). March 8th, 1942 was the date of the surrender of Java.

Here is a summary of the withdrawal of men from Singapore who ended up being captured on Java, he may well have been one of them.

Leendert 12th July 2019 18:14

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
A story here of a member of 81 RSU which reflects conditions at Ambon too:



Fighterbeau 12th July 2019 18:42

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
I never expected to receive such detailed responses, and so quickly, for which many thanks. I take visitors round an interesting church, and point out William's memorial. William's name is also read out at the annual Remembrance Service, with many others who left here never to return.

William's story so far has been a single sentence in an out of print church guide book.

The next edition will be far more informative thanks to your much appreciated help.

Frank Olynyk 12th July 2019 19:27

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
You might also check the book Unsung Heroes of the Royal Air Force: The Far East Prisoners of War by Leo Stubbs.



Col Bruggy 14th July 2019 08:47

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs

Appendix I - RAF Halton - Entry Numbers and Intakes:

Entry No.: 36
Service Nos.: 571605 - 572851.
Arrival Date: August 1937
572486 William Henry LUCAS.

History of Royal Air Force Halton - No.1 School of Technical Training.
Tunbridge, Paul.
London:Buckland Publications,1995.

and ...

Far East Prisoners of War - The Roll:

LUCAS, William Henry - 572486 - 81 RSU - Held Java, Moluccas (Haruku, Ambon), Celebes (Muna) - Died Muna - 8.11.44 - Buried Ambon.

Unsung Heroes of the Royal Air Force - The Far East Prisoners of War 1941 - 1945.
Stubbs,Les & Pam.
Grantham:Barny Books,2002.

and ...

Graves Registration Form (not the one located at the CWGC)/Lexicographical Index:

Surname: LUCAS.
Other names: William Henry.
Rank: Corporal.
No.: 572486.
Royal Air Force.
Age: 22.
Religion: Not recorded.
Next of Kin: Not recorded.
Relationship to Next of Kin: Information held (7/7/48).
Nationality: BRITISH.
(Photo. No. WGM/A410)
Date of Death/Burial: 8/11/44.
Place of Burial: Raha Village Cemetery, N.75 (Island of Muna, SE Celebes.).
Exhumed/Reburied: 25/11/46 - Makassar War Cemetery, Celebes Is., N.E.I. J.B.16.
Information to 1 WGC, 22/4/47.
Reburied: 8/12/61 - Ambon War Cemetery, 33.B.10.


RSwank 14th July 2019 14:13

Re: Loss of RAF ground crew FEPOWs
Using the information the Col has provided along with what we already know, I think a good case can be made that William Henry Lucas was probably with David Harries (see link given by Leendert in post #4) “all” of the time. In particular, Harries (probably with Lucas) says he was first moved to Ambon on August 1, 1944.
“When the Americans invaded one of the neighbouring islands” could probably be referring to Morotai, which was invaded in September, 1944. At that point Harries (with Lucas) was moved from Ambon to Muna for six months where the death rate was 50%. The Col’s info has Lucas dying on Muna on November 8, 1944 and he is buried at Raha Village on Muna. The body is later moved to the Makassar War Cemetery, Celebes Island and then in 1961 (at the request of the Indonesian Government) to Ambon.

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