We can excitingly now announce three more speakers for our June conference! Remember, to be the first to hear this news, make sure you are signed up for our newsletter.
Mary Monro is an osteopath based in Edinburgh. She wrote a biography/memoir of her father, Lt Col John Monro MC, RA (1914-81), called Stranger in My Heart (Unbound, 2018). Her father (Brigade Major at the time) fought at the battle of Hong Kong, was imprisoned at Sham Shui Po and then escaped 1200 miles across China to the wartime capital at Chongqing. He was made Assistant Military Attaché in China 1942-43 and hatched a plan to evacuate the PoWs he’d left behind. He ended his war in the blood and sweat-stained hell of Burma 1944-45.
Mary transcribed her Dad’s wartime letters and diaries and comprehensively researched the context of his story. Not satisfied by the written word, she learned some Mandarin and retraced her father’s escape route across China. At her book launch, she was honoured by the presence of other families whose loved ones had served and suffered in Hong Kong.
Ken Hewitt’s father, Colour Sergeant John Hewitt, served with the Leicestershire Regiment during the Malaya Campaign and became a prisoner of war with the fall of Singapore. In 2006, 20 years after his father’s death, Ken started to research his father’s military career, and this led to an interest in all 936 men of the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment during the Malaya Campaign and subsequent captivity.
In 2015, to commemorate VJ70, Ken presented his research findings in an illustrated talk to FEPOWS, FEPOW relatives and other interested parties. Following this, he was strongly encouraged to document his research more formally and in 2022 Tigers in Captivity was published.
Ken has given a number of talks on various topics relating to his FEPOW studies, and the veteran’s association of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment now recognise Ken as the authority on this period of the Regiment’s history and refer all relevant enquiries to him for response.
Gautam Hazarika grew up in India and moved to Singapore 20 years ago. He is a history enthusiast and is researching the lesser-known aspects of World War II in the Far East. This started when he acquired a manuscript We Published in Prison typed in Changi Prison in 1942.
The authors Harry Miller and Gus Harold Wade of the Straits Times were the publishers of the Karikal Chronicles and Changi Guardian newspapers issued in the male civilian internee camps in wartime Singapore. Miller/ Wade were among the over 4000 men, women & children interned. Most of these men were British colonial officials, planters, rubber/palm oil brokers, doctors, lawyers, priests and teachers. The women (mainly housewives) and children were segregated. Their experiences were both similar and different from that of the POWs. He has spoken and written about this as he continues his research.
Gautam is also researching Indian POWs in Singapore. Many joined the Indian National Army, and most of the rest went in Hell Ships to New Guinea/ New Britain near Australia to forced labour camps with death rates of over 70%. He is doing oral histories with children of the few survivors, has found an unpublished memoir, and even met a member of the Rani of Jhansi (INA) regiment, a still sprightly 95-year-old grandmother.