Woman looks for boy who helped father in WW2
The daughter of a Royal Navy sailor who spent more than three-and-ahalf years in a prisoner of war camp in Japan has launched an appeal for help to find the Japanese boy who helped him survive the ordeal.
Barbara Mottershaw has spent two weeks in Japan attempting to track down the then 15-year-old youth who appears alongside her father, Gaythorne Bartholomew, in a grainy picture that was apparently taken just days after the war ended in August 1945.
“When we were growing up, my father never really talked about what he went through during the war, and it was not until we were playing a game of cards in 1993 that some of it suddenly started to come out,” Mottershaw said.
Bartholomew, from Worksop in Nottinghamshire, had been an able seaman aged 19 aboard HMS Exeter, a heavy cruiser that was sunk by Japanese warships on March 1, 1942, in the Second Battle of the Java Sea.
Picked up by a Japanese destroyer, he was held in a prisoner of war camp in Indonesia before being transported to a camp close to the city of Nagasaki, in southern Japan.
Bartholomew was later transferred to another POW camp, close to the city of Fukuoka, where he was put to work in local factories and building an airstrip for the Japanese military.
“He told us that some local students had been brought in to work alongside them to get the airstrip finished,” said 69-year-old Mottershaw, who now lives outside Perth in Western Australia.
“Each day the prisoners were given a bowl of rice. It was pretty disgusting stuff and never enough, but somehow he became friends with this boy,” she said. “The boy offered him what was in his own lunch box and from that day on they shared his meal,” she said. “It was a brave thing to do because if he had been caught helping the enemy he would have been severely punished.”