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William Robert Warner

Able Seaman


William's Birth Certificate - click for a larger view (20039 bytes)

The original grave marker - click for a larger view (14476 bytes)

Major Apthorps letter - click for a larger view (17708 bytes)

William's Birth Certificate 
Held by the Ministry of Defence from 1937 until October 2002

A photograph of the original cross placed on my Uncle's grave in Thanbyuzayat, when he was re-buried there after the war

The original letter sent to my Gran by Major Apthorp, when he sent her a copy of his diary

Medals - click for a larger view (23342 bytes)

 William's medals (bottom row) below his Father's medals (top row)

William's grave marker - click for a larger view

William's grave marker

There are other pictures of Thanbuyazat cemetery here

Able Seaman William Robert Warner (Click for a larger view)

Bill Warner's service history (Click for a larger view) (40962 bytes)

His official service record

Click on any of the pictures above for a larger view

My Uncle Bill survived the sinking of Repulse, but died as a POW during the Japanese occupation. He was 21 years old.

My surviving Uncle (who is 80 years old) told me that when Bill came ashore after the sinking of the Repulse he was sent to Sumatra. They were subsequently told that if they could get themselves to the West Coast of Sumatra that the Royal Navy at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) would come and pick them up. Uncle Bill reached the West Coast, however, the Navy didn't turn up, but the Japanese did and he was taken prisoner. 

My Uncle disputes the information given on the attachment regarding what happened to my Uncle after the sinking of the Repulse.  Apparently at the end of the war a Petty Officer went to see my Gran, William's mother, and told her that after being taken prisoner at the West Coast of Sumatra, the Japanese marched them up to North Sumatra, where they were put on a boat and taken to Malaya.  As you can see this differs from the information given by the MOD their official service records give his place of death as Singapore, but he is buried at Thanbyuzayat cemetery, This cemetery is about 1000 miles to the north of Singapore.

My Uncle Bill's medals are; 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Pacific Star with a bar (Burma) and the Victory Medal


Latest update 3rd December 2002, information originating with Keith Andrews from the FEPOW community website:

After speaking to my surviving Uncle further, he confirmed that Bill was evacuated to Sumatra from Singapore. He thought that Bill was put to work on the 'death railway'. However, since then Keith has emailed me and said that Uncle Bill never worked on the railway, but died in Tavoy and was working on repairing the airfield there.

Apparently Bill became part of the British Sumatra Battalion formed after the surrender to the Japanese in Padang, Sumatra, I have copied part of a further email Keith sent me with dates etc of their movements:

'You are correct that your Uncle Bill died before being put to work on the Railway, and something struck a cord. Before I go any further, you will notice I have copied this message to Carol Cooper, the founder of COFEPOW. Carol I believe knows how to obtain a copy of the book in which I found your Uncle's name, and I hope can supply you with the details of where to obtain a copy. The book in question is "Sunset over Saigon" by Ken Maguire.  This covers the story of the British Sumatra Battalion, from its time of formation after the surrender to the Japanese at Padang, to the Japanese surrender in 1945. The term book is a little incorrect as it is only 64 pages, but very informative. The commander of this force was Captain (later Major) Dudley Apthorp, and I believe that a copy of the British Sumatra Battalion history and maybe his diary are with the Imperial War Museum. Next time I visit, I will have a good look, but I do know he has records there, as I have seen them. 
The next port of call for you that should provide more information is;
British Far East Prisoner of War Grave Archives,
23, Page Street,
Mill Hill,
London, NW7 2EL.

Peter was one of the Royal Marines on the Prince of Wales, and fought in Singapore as part of the Plymouth Argyll's. He spent three and a half years on the Railway.

Please enclose a stamped self addressed envelope to keep his costs down. Please feel free to tell him I pointed you his way, and to use any information I have supplied. He may be able to tell you how and where your Uncle passed away.

The Sumatra Battalion departed Padang, the capital of Sumatra 9/5/42, arrived at the Medan 12/5/42 and the small port of Belawan Dewi. They sailed on the "England Maru" for Mergui in Burma.

Conditions on board were not good to say the least. They arrived at Mergui on 25/5/42, and left for Tavoy on 10/8/42, arriving on 11/8/42.
They left Tavoy bound for the Burma end of the Railway on 21/10/42.
By then your Uncle had passed away, his death being noted as 14/9/42 at Tavoy. 
His grave at Tavoy must have been well marked, as after the war, all identified and known graves from the Burma area and Burma end of the Railway were reburied in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat, where he now rests.
Looking at the CWGC site, the grave reference is B5. B. 6. I also note that he is listed as serving with HMS Sultan, Royal Navy.
This is interesting, as I bet this may not appear on his official service record, although I could be wrong. HMS Sultan was I believe a Singapore shore base, which would follow as the Repulse had been sunk before the Fall of Singapore.



Please contact myself or Andy (webmaster) with any information.

Ann Norton

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

Information provided by
Ann Norton

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record:

In Memory of
Able Seaman
D/JX 152064
H.M.S. Sultan., Royal Navy
who died on
Monday 14 September 1942 . Age 21 . 
Additional Information: Son of William Walter and Kathleen Ellen Warner, of Colchester, Essex. 
Grave or Reference Panel Number: B5. B. 6