A WWII veteran who survived the hell of the notorious Death Railway while a Prisoner of War in Japan has died aged 100.

Lance Corporal Robert ‘Bob’ Hucklesby endured torture and beatings at the hands of his brutal guards after being captured at the Fall of Singapore in 1942.

At first the 21-year-old was imprisoned at the infamous Changi PoW where hundreds of British soldiers died from ill-treatment by their captors.

Later, he was forced marched through the jungle to Burma and spent three years constructing the 250-mile railway between Thailand and Burma.



Prisoners at Kanburi camp on the Thailand-Burma Railway queuing for a meal

It became known as the Death Railway as the conditions were so horrific that over 12,000 Allied PoWs used as forced labour died from starvation and disease.

The plight of these men was immortalised in the classic 1957 film The Bridge On The River Kwai.

Bob of the Royal Engineers and his comrades were subjected to repeated beatings by their inhumane Japanese captors.



Lance Corporal Robert 'Bob' Hucklesby in his prime
Lance Corporal Robert ‘Bob’ Hucklesby in his prime

He had to carry on toiling through illness like dysentery and malaria to show he was capable of working otherwise he would have been killed.

At one point his condition was so grave he was put into a ‘death hut’ with other dying men.

He forced himself to stay awake by having comrades make him a back brace from bamboo which kept him bolt upright and stopped him from falling asleep.



The hero endured horrors
The hero endured horrors



Bob, centre row right, at the final (43rd) 560th R.E Field Company Reunion in 2000
Bob, centre row right, at the final (43rd) 560th R.E Field Company Reunion in 2000

By the next morning 20 men around him had died in the night and he was the only survivor.

By the time Bob was liberated in August 1945 he was just ‘skin and bones’.

He spent many weeks convalescing in Burma and India then caught a boat back to Southampton.



Former prisoner of war Robert Hucklesby at his home in Poole, Dorset in 2013
Former prisoner of war Robert Hucklesby at his home in Poole, Dorset in 2013



Former prisoner of war Robert Hucklesby, sat, pays his respect at a service to mark VJ Day in Poole, Dorset in 2016
Former prisoner of war Robert Hucklesby, sat, pays his respect at a service to mark VJ Day in Poole, Dorset in 2016

Recounting his return to Britain, he said: “I shall never forget it. The people of Southampton could never know what that welcome meant.”

In later life, Bob worked as a baker and in a council planning department in Poole, Dorset.



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After the war he married wife Ada in 1947 and they were together until her death in 2003.

They had two children, Robert and Stephen, two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.





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