FEPOW Memorial Church

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Spr. Maurice Rooney, 288th Field Coy. Royal Engineers (dec. April 2003)

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Maurice and his brother, both in the Territorial Army were mobilised in September 1939 and were posted overseas in October 1941. Originally destined for the Middle East, they, as part of 18th Division, arrived in Singapore on 30th January 1942, where they were ordered to surrender on 15th February 1942.

On the second day they were marched to Changi but were separated after a month. His brother was in the advance party for the Burma Railway and died on 28th August 1942.

Maurice was used on repair work in Singapore before being transported on the Dainichi Maru to Formosa Ω. He worked for 2½years in the notorious Kinkaseki mine, reached with difficulty from the POW camp Ω, and under difficult and dangerous conditions Ω.  Their lot was considerably worsened by the monsoon season Ω.  Despite this, the spirit of the POWs was captured by “Trumpeter” Arthur Smith’s (The Robbie Burns of Kinkaseki) composition “Down the Mine” Ω.         

The harsh conditions in the mine required regular exchange with the other camps on the island Ω and the limited medical care was only made possible by the dedicated help of medical staff and senior officers Ω. One Red Cross shipment was received during his captivity, although little got to the prisoners –“Robbie Burns” was at work again Ω.  The mine was closed in mid May 1945 and they were moved to a new camp Ω. In mid August 1945, news of the end of the war finally came Ω. He was liberated by US Marines on September 6th 1945 and transferred to Manila Ω and thence across the US to arrive in Southampton on November 25th 1945. He sums up the feelings of many who were prisoners of the Japanese Ω.         

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