Unique POW diary published

AN extraordinary diary written secretly in a Japanese prisoner of war camp by a Suffolk clergyman has been published – providing a fascinating insight into life for those men who endured the camps.

AN extraordinary diary written secretly in a Japanese prisoner of war camp by a Suffolk clergyman has been published – providing a fascinating insight into life for those men who endured the camps.

The book of Rupert Godfrey's memoirs, which includes 25 sermons he preached to other prisoners during his four years of captivity, has been researched by his son Michael and dedicated to his late father Rupert and mother Heather, who still lives in Woodbridge.

Rupert Godfrey left his parish of St George's in Birmingham to join the 48th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment as chaplain, embarking for Singapore in 1941.

When they reached the Far East his regiment was put ashore in Java and he was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in Java and then Japan.


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He kept a diary before and after his capture and kept 25 sermons that he preached while chaplain at Zentsuji and Fukuoka POW camps.

He recorded events in tiny script in a series of small notebooks from which he drew together his accounts after the war.

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He was to write of the deaths of many comrades and includes such details as night-time air raid alerts, Red Cross supplies getting through, the cold from snow, illness, death and British officers viciously beaten for complaints about shortage of rations.

Now his son Michael Godfrey, from Bristol, has spent four years working on his father's memoirs, which have now been published in a beautiful hardback 170-page book, illustrated with old photographs and records.

Mr Godfrey, a teacher in the West Country, has now had the book, a war diary and sermons from 1941 to 1945 "The years that the locusts have eaten'' published.

He said: "As a child I always knew my father had been a POW in Japan, but we were never to talk about it. When he died he left all his papers in excellent order. Among them were records of his wartime experiences and imprisonment in Japan.

"Reading through his war diary and the contemporary notes he had kept, I became fascinated and wanted to see them preserved.''

Many of his notes were written with a very sharp pencil in tiny script that can only be read with a magnifying glass, some have grown faint and were hardly legible.

Canon Godfrey was born in Peterborough in 1912 and educated at Lancing and the Queen's College, Oxford, where he studied modern history.

After reading theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1936. As a curate at St Helen's, Ipswich, from 1936 to 1938 and St George's, Edgbaston, from 1938 he spoke out strongly from the pulpit against war.

In late 1940 he found his Christian pacifist position had become untenable and was appointed chaplain to the forces and posted to the 48th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment for the duration of the war.

On his return in 1946 he married and moved to Suffolk as vicar of Aldeburgh. From 1959 he was vicar of St Mary's, Bury St Edmunds, until he retired to Woodbridge in 1977.

During his 50 years in Suffolk he became well known for expressing views which were often thought provoking and challenging. He also wrote many "Christian Viewpoint'' columns for the East Anglian Daily Times. He died in 1997.

To order a copy of the book contact Michael Godfrey at 11 Fairlawn Road, Montpelier, Bristol, BS6 5JR or via e-mail: mick.godfrey@ukgateway.net

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