End of daughter’s four-year quest for memorial to POWs

Arthur Jones was a POW in a Japanese Prisioner of War Camp.

Arthur Jones was a POW in a Japanese Prisioner of War Camp. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A daughter is celebrating the successful conclusion of a four-year campaign for a memorial to be installed at the site of a former Japanese prisoner of war camp, where her father was enslaved during the Second World War, and where 60 men died.

Linda Nicholls and husband Kevin have just returned from Japan where they attended the unveiling of a memorial built on the site of the former prison camp.

Mrs Nicholls' father, Corporal Arthur Robert Jones, of the 6th Norfolk Regiment, was one of hundreds trapped in forced labour when Britain surrendered to Japan in 1942.

Cpl Jones, from East Dereham, along with 295 other British soldiers, was transferred to Tokyo 13B Omi Camp in May 1943, where he stayed until the war ended in 1945.

Sixty men died during their two-and-a-half-year incarceration, including 15 from Norfolk, four from Suffolk and one from Cambridgeshire. Cpl Jones died in 2008, aged 90.

Mrs Nicholls and her husband, from Gaywood in King's Lynn, campaigned for several years to get a memorial at the site, after discovering during their visit in 2010 that, while there was a memorial at all of the other camp sites, there was none at Omi.

The couple joined the British Ambassador, Tim Hitchens at the unveiling, alongside representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, families and representatives of the former Omi prisoners.

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Mrs Nicholls, a mother of two and retired occupational therapy assistant, said: 'We started this journey almost four years ago and to have it completed is really special in honouring those who died and also remembering the sacrifice made by those who survived.

'We cannot imagine what the POWs went through but, perhaps it is worth thinking about, when we feel times are tough, that it is nothing compared to what they endured during their time at Omi.

'We also believe strongly that this monument offers peace and reconciliation between Britain and Japan and hopefully contributes in some small way in making this world a better place for us all. The memorial cost £150,000 and far exceeds anything we hoped for.'

Back in 2010, after being shown the site, the couple had met the British ambassador and discussed the possibilities of getting a memorial erected, and after three years of wait and frustration, the pair got a response in spring 2013 to promise the installation of a memorial by the Denka Kaguku Company, which the inmates worked for during the war.

The Japanese chemical manufacturing company built the memorial on its own factory land.

Are you fighting to remember a loved one? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk