Bury St Edmunds soldier John Naylor shares stories about his great uncle Albert who was a Japanese POW ahead of VJ Day

Veteran, Capt John Riggs, has a tour of the Royal Anglians Gibraltar Barracks in Bury ahead of VJ Da

Veteran, Capt John Riggs, has a tour of the Royal Anglians Gibraltar Barracks in Bury ahead of VJ Day. L-R: Lance Corp Lewis Treloar MBE, John Riggs and Colour Sgt John Naylor - Credit: Archant

Albert Dunn was a medic with the army at a hospital in Singapore during the Far East campaign in the Second World War when it was stormed by Japanese soldiers.

Veteran, Capt John Riggs, has a tour of the Royal Anglians Gibraltar Barracks in Bury ahead of VJ Da

Veteran, Capt John Riggs, has a tour of the Royal Anglians Gibraltar Barracks in Bury ahead of VJ Day. L-R: John Riggs, Colour Sgt John Naylor and Lance Corp Lewis Treloar MBE. - Credit: Archant

They attacked, killing the doctors and patients, mainly at bayonet point, but he was one of the few to survive. He was captured and became a Prisoner of War (POW) at one of the notorious Japanese camps.

His relative, Colour Sergeant John Naylor, 40, from Bury St Edmunds, has learned of the “absolutely horrendous” conditions in the camp through his great uncle’s own words in diary excerpts.

C Sgt Naylor, who is with the Royal Anglian Regiment, said: “He lost a lot of weight. Dysentery was rife, malaria, flees, lice. There was people dying all around them just from the disease and there was little food and very little clean water to use. Especially for him as a medic it was difficult for him to keep a sanitary area.”

C Sgt Naylor, who is based in Woolwich, got the chance to share stories with a veteran of the Far East campaign at an event at Gibraltar Barracks, which is the home of the Royal Anglian Regiment, in the town yesterday.


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John Riggs, 95, from Kent, who left the army as a captain, had spent five to six months in Burma where he mainly undertook reconnaissance work, including locating river crossing points, as well as enemies. He covered 800-900 miles on foot during his time out there.

Lance Corporal Lewis Treloar MBE, 26, who is also with the Royal Anglians, also shared in the occasion, where they got to explore artefacts relating to the period in the Suffolk Regiment Museum at the barracks.

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Speaking of his time in Burma, Mr Riggs described how one occasion he heard a shot, and it transpired the Royal Engineer he was with had fallen victim to a booby trap, which injured his leg.

“So we had to get him out,” he said. “I didn’t get caught by any booby traps as it so happened.”

Mr Dunn who left the army as a sergeant, was released from the POW camp after the Japanese admitted defeat in August 1945, but it took until 1947 for him to build up enough strength to return home to England.

Next Saturday marks Victory over Japan (VJ) Day, which this year is the 70th anniversary. C Sgt Naylor and Mr Riggs will be doing a reading together as part of the commemorations at Horse Guards Parade in London.

C Sgt Naylor said: “For me it’s a very emotional event because of what my great uncle went through. We are all a bit more aware of what happened out there because of his actions and what happened to him.”

L/Cpl Treloar, from Norwich, and who was made an MBE after his last tour of Afghanistan in 2012 for his work uncovering caches of weapons and Improvised Explosive Devices, said: “It is important to remember VJ Day. We would hate to think if we do something now that it will be forgotten about so it is important to remember what they did.”

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