Cross carved from Hadleigh church pew is laid on grave of Suffolk POW buried in Japan
- Credit: Archant
A cross carved from a pew from Hadleigh church has been laid at the grave of a 23-year-old Suffolk prisoner of war buried in a war cemetery in Japan.
Former teacher Paul Murray, whose father Major Francis Murray acted as chief medical officer at seven Japanese prisoner of war camps during World War Two, contacted the East Anglian Daily Times in February asking for help in tracing the family of Suffolk soldiers who had been mentioned in his father’s diaries.
At great risk to himself, Major Murray had kept a detailed accounts of his time in the camps in the form of love letters to his future wife back in Belfast.It included details of 13 men who died on his watch, including 23-year-old Private Raymond Suttle from Hadleigh.
Private Suttle died following five days of solitary confinement without a blanket in sub zero temperatures.
Since his father’s death in 1993, Mr Murray has been trying to locate relatives of the fallen soldiers detailed in his father’s diaries to let them know what had happened to them.
Private Suttle’s niece, Diane Bayliss, got in touch with Mr Murray after a friend spotted the story in the newspaper.
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After meeting up in July, Mrs Bayliss gave Mr Murray a small cross, carved from pew from Hadleigh church, to lay on Private Suttle’s grave at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Yokohama near Tokyo.
Mr Murray described his trip to Asia as an ‘emotional rollercoaster’.
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“Of the 13 prisoners of war in my father’s diaries, Diane is the only relative I’ve been able to get in contact with.
“To see the grave of Private Suttle was quite emotional.
“Meeting Diane and hearing about Private Suttle has been wonderful and something I never expected.”
Mrs Bayliss, who lives in Hadleigh, said: “When I saw the photo of Paul at the grave side I was so emotional I was in tears.
“Seeing him sat there with his hand on my uncle’s grave, it was very special.
“I didn’t know much about Raymond until now, nobody liked to talk about what had happened in the POW camps after the war.
“He used to visit the church regularly as a young man - he may even have sat on the piece of pew the cross was carved from.
“It is just a miracle this has all happened.”
Mrs Bayliss is travelling to St Peters High School in Gloucester on March 10 to see a talk from Mr Murray about the incredible history he has gleamed from his father’s writings.