In 2020, Roger Townsend set up the FEPOW75 website to mark the 75th anniversary of the repatriation through Southampton of prisoners of war from the Far East following the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).
The Commemoration event Roger Townsend had planned for 2020 was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic and restrictions, but is taking place this year on Thursday 18 November at 11am in Southampton’s Town Quay Park, French Street.
Town Quay Park is home to a memorial plaque which “commemorates the repatriation of men, women, and children who survived Far East captivity,” and were brought back to the UK on ships arriving in Southampton between October and December 1945.
In the Far East, the Japanese took prisoner almost 140,000 Allied servicemen, including 50,000 British and of whom 12,500 died in captivity. Of the 40,000 prisoners of war and civilians repatriated following the end of the war, almost 22,000 came through Southampton.
And the FEPOW75 website was set up to “pay tribute to the courage and fortitude of those survivors and to honour the memory of all those who never returned home and still remain somewhere in South East Asia.”
Rev. Pauline Simpson, National FEPOW Fellowship Welfare Remembrance Association (NFFWRA) Chaplain and daughter of a Far East prisoner of war, will officiate at the Commemoration on 18 November, and which will be attended by the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton. Bert Warne, a Far East prisoner of war and now 102, will read the FEPOW prayer.
At the end of the formal Commemoration service, a cherry tree donated by NFFWRA will be planted in memory of their former President, Bob Hucklesby, who died in February 2021. Bob Hucklesby served in the Royal Engineers, was taken prisoner in Singapore, and arrived back in the UK at Southampton on 18 November 1945 on board the Italian hospital ship, Principessa Giovanna – and was responsible for the erection of the repatriation memorial in Town Quay Park in 2013.
Anyone attending the ceremony on 18 November will also have the opportunity to lay a wreath or plant a wooden cross close to the memorial, in memory of a FEPOW relative or friend.