Prisoner of war who was at the bridge on the River Kwai dies, aged 104

Horace 'Lyle' Hutley was forced to construct the Burma Railway over the River Kwai

Horace 'Lyle' Hutley was forced to construct the Burma Railway over the River Kwai - Credit: Supply by Alex Dixon

A former prisoner of war from Suffolk, whose experience at the hands of the Japanese inspired the Oscar-winning David Lean film The Bridge on the River Kwai, has died.

Horace 'Lyle' George Hutley, of Mildenhall, was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and spent three years building the Burma Railway on the River Kwai under pressure from his captors.

He was the last surviving forced British labourers before his death on June 21, aged 104. 

Horace 'Lyle' Hutley was a gunner in the Royal Artillery Service Corps.

Horace 'Lyle' Hutley was a gunner in the Royal Artillery Service Corps. - Credit: Supply by Alex Dixon

His great-great-nephew Sam Dixon said he was someone who never let anything bother him but was reluctant to talk about World War II. 

Mr Dixon, 27, said: "When he started talking he would still have not said much about it. 


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"He saw people decapitated, murdered. He was badly affected and still had nightmares. 

"He went through a lot." 

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Mr Hutley would spend three years forced to build the Burmese railway for the Japanese after he was captured and was taken to Changi Prison in Singapore. 

Ivy and Horace 'Lyle' Hutley were married a year before he became a prisoner of war

Ivy and Horace 'Lyle' Hutley were married a year before he became a prisoner of war - Credit: Supply by Alex Dixon

He was freed and returned home to his wife, who he had married in May 1941, when Japan surrendered in September 1945. 

At this time he had gone lost some hearing and lost all his teeth from the lack of proper nutrition. 

"When he went back home with Ivy again, he went back to his life as normal and returned to work," Mr Dixon said. 

"Everyone says he had a fantastic sense of humour."

Mr Hutley, originally from Bermondsey, London would spend life after the second great war working at Dreadnought Fireproof Doors and moved with the company to Suffolk, where he settled with his wife in Mildenhall.

There he spent his spare time winning local gardening competitions. 

"He could be out all night with the family and be completely drunk and get up the next morning when everyone was hungover and start gardening. 

"He didn't let anything stop him. He just kept going. 

"He was driving up until a few years ago and would still cycle around to my nan's [Eileen, 89]."

Mrs Hutley died in 1997 and in the last few months before his death, Mr Dixon said he wanted ot be reunited with her. He said: "He would say I want to go and be with Ivy. And then say he would like to carry on, and he did."

Mr Dixon, who lives in Thurrock, added: "Towards the end of his life, he became quite lonely and he would ring my nan up at silly o'clock and would be up at all hours. She's really going to miss him."

A funeral will be held on Friday, July 9 in Mildenhall and Mr Dixon hopes people will pay their respects. 

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