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Gorleston Far East POW John Howes dies at age of 102

PUBLISHED: 14:16 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 11 July 2017

John Howes, as a 100-year-old FEPOW raising the Commonwealth flag at the Cliff Hotel, Gorleston to mark Commonwealth Day.

Picture: James Bass

John Howes, as a 100-year-old FEPOW raising the Commonwealth flag at the Cliff Hotel, Gorleston to mark Commonwealth Day. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A former soldier who was imprisoned by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore and worked on the infamous Burma railway has died at the age of 102.

John Howes with his beloved wife Irene, who he married after meeting on Yarmouth seafront.John Howes with his beloved wife Irene, who he married after meeting on Yarmouth seafront.

John Howes, from Gorleston, was one of the 80,000 British Far East prisoners of war and spent three and a half years in captivity.

Mr Howes, who died at the James Paget University Hospital, was serving with D Company, 4th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment when he was shipped out to Singapore.

In August 2014 Mr Howes celebrated his 100th birthday and at the time described how as a prisoner he had no medical treatment and his body got used to having no food.

Mr Howes also recalled how one of his best friends called Johnny Ayres, from Great Yarmouth, never made it home as his POW ship was torpedoed.

John Howes pictured in uniform in 1939.John Howes pictured in uniform in 1939.

He said at time: “We always talked about going home. We didn’t all make it of course.”

Mr Howes also recalled how in active service he came close to death several times with dud shells landing within 10ft of him and bullets whizzing past him as he walked along a hedgerow.

Mr Howes was a member of the Great Yarmouth Far East Prisoner of War Association and after it folded in 2013 he joined the Royal British Legion.

He prided himself on laying a wreath at a seaside service on the Sunday closest to November 11.

Mr Howes was educated at St George’s Infant School and the Nelson School in Yarmouth. At 16 he started work in a barrel factory.

He was called up to serve his country just before the outbreak of the war as he was in the Territorial Army.

In 1939 while guarding Sandringham he had recalled how the Queen Mother had sent him a cup of tea as a thank you after he helped one of her corgis who had its lead trailing behind it.

In 1938 he married his wife, Irene, and the couple had two children, John and Pat, and had two grandchildren Caroline and Darrell.

For 33 years he worked for the electricity board. His wife died 12 years ago.

His son, John, said his father never talked about his time as a POW until about 10 years ago after he saw pictures of Burma his son had taken on holiday.

Mr Howes, 78, from Lowestoft, also said right up until his father’s death he enjoyed a weekly pint with him at the Cliff Hotel on Fridays. He said: “Not only was he my father, he was my best friend.”

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