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AC1 Les Stubbs, RAF (dec. July 2006)

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Les was called up in 1939, volunteering for the RAF, in fact 605 Auxiliary in Birmingham. A large backlog resulted in his being finally called up in August 1940. A slight eye defect meant that he became a flight mechanic being based at various RAF stations, including being part of a mobile echelon operating in the East of England. He was posted in November 1941, where after a dangerous time at Singapore they finally arrived in Java Ω.

After arrival, with no aircraft to service he was given a rifle and was attached to the Dutch Army, until the Dutch capitulation on March 8th Ω. The Japanese used them on airfield clearance work but even then, danger was present Ω. Initially conditions were not too bad Ω although food was inadequate and poor until the prisoners learned how to cook with very different materials Ω.

A real deterioration started when prisoners were moved to other parts of the Japanese Empire, often the first of many movements. Les was transferred to Ambon Ω. They were employed on making an airfield from the jungle on this coral island while the Australians who were also on the island worked quite separately in the docks Ω. Japanese Army discipline was brutal and applied particularly against any sign of resistance Ω. Eventually the survivors were returned to Java with that same brutal discipline enforced at all times Ω, so when a search took place for hidden money, he was lucky to escape serious punishment Ω. Prisoners were employed in the dockyards or in removing factory equipment for transfer to Japan Ω . However simple skills acquired during captivity provided the means to earn and buy supplementary food supplies Ω; later seriously ill, he was eventually released in Batavia towards the end of 1945 Ω.

 Les & Pam Stubbs book Unsung Heroes of The Royal Air Force ISBN 1 903172 21 7  documents the many movements of RAF personnel and the hardships they underwent.

Extract from a recording by kind permission of the World War Two Experience, Leeds

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