Lance Bombadier - Royal Artillery - 241 Battalion, 77 Regiment - Service No. 1587861
Roy William James was born on 28th April 1913 in Gravesend, Kent. His father was Oscar James, his mother was Florence Ellen (née Ivers). The first school that he attended was Cecil Road School in Gravesend.
In 1924 Roy James joined The County School for Boys – now known as Gravesend Grammar School. The Head Master at that time was the Reverend Samuel Lister. The County School for Boys was located in Darnley Road, Gravesend close to the Railway Station (now the Victoria Centre for Education). In 1938 the School moved to brand new premises in Church Walk, Milton, Gravesend opposite to Milton Church.
The School’s Admission Register lists Roy’s address as 64 Ferndale Road, Gravesend.
In 1929 Roy left the School and started work as a Clerk at the Gravesend Waterworks Company. In the 1939 Census he is listed as a Collector for the Groundwater Company. In 1940 Roy married Sybil Mary Pettitt, and they lived at Park House, Park Place, Gravesend.
Roy later enlisted in the Royal Artillery, Service number 1587861, serving as a Lance Bombardier in the 241 Battalion, 77 Regiment. He was sent to Soerabaja in Java, then moved to the Tjilatjap area. Overnight on the 28th February 1942, the Japanese landed on the North coast of Java with tanks. By the 9th March all British and Dutch forces had surrendered. Roy James became a Prisoner of War. There were large Prisoner of War camps mainly in the Batavia area, where, from October 1942, prisoners were either used as slave labour in the mines in Japan or on the Burma-Thailand railway via Singapore. In November 1943 Roy James was being held on the island of either Hasuku or Ambon in the Moluccas. In the previous six months nearly 400 men had died due to disease, starvation or beatings by the Japanese guards, and a further 700 were too sick to work.
On the 29th November 1943, Roy James was being shipped out of Port Amboina, Indonesia back to Java on the Suez Mara, together with 422 British and 127 Dutch sick Prisoners of War. The Suez Mara was sunk by a torpedo from USS submarine Bonefish. Of the 547 British and Dutch prisoners only one was reported to have survived. Roy James was 30 years old. He is remembered at Singapore Memorial Column 10
There are links below to Newspaper Clippings and Photographs from the Gravesend Grammar School Archives.
Below are links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and a few other websites that might be of interest: