5956609 5th Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
Ephraim Cole was born around 1916. His family lived at 11 Garden Place, Sudbury.
In January 1941 the battalion was sent up to Galashiels, Scotland to prepare for service overseas. On 27th October 1941 the battalion left Lichfield, Staffordshire for Liverpool where they embarked on SS Reina Del Pacifico, where their final destination would be Singapore. On 9th February the Japanese invaded the island and Singapore fell on 15th February 1942.
After the invasion of many countries in the Far East, Japan had a large number of prisoners and decided to transport them by ship to use as slave labour in the Japanese war effort. These ships were known as ‘Hell Ships’ and they were not marked by the Japanese to show that they were carrying prisoners of war and were therefore open to attack by allied forces, who saw them as legitimate targets.
Ephraim and other prisoners of war, including another Sudbury man Sidney Mumford, were onboard one of these ‘Hell Ships’ – the ‘Kachidoki Maru’ heading for Japan when the American submarine USS Pampanito attacked it on 12th September 1944 North East of Hainan Island, off of China. The ship was sunk with the loss of 400 out of 900 British prisoners of war on board.
Ephraim was lost at sea, aged 28. There is no known grave and he is remembered on the Singapore Memorial. Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. Sidney Mumford also lost his life at sea.
A Cross of Remembrance was laid at Kanchanaburi Cemetery by Mr. Peter Smith in April 2007 for all the Sudbury men who died in the Far East.
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