5828303 5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment
Attached ‘D’ Company
Robert McIntyre was born 23rd April 1910 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the son of Archibald and Margaret McIntyre. Robert was a textile designer and married to Cecilia (Celia?). The family lived at The Retreat, Cornard Road, Sudbury.
In October 1941 the 5th Battalion sailed from Liverpool via Halifax in Nova Scotia, down along the South American coastline then across to Cape Town, arriving in Singapore on 29th January 1942. As they landed the Allied forces were being withdrawn from the mainland to defend the island. The Japanese attacked the island on 9th February 1942, Singapore fell on 15th February and Robert was taken prisoner.
Many of the prisoners were forced to work on the notorious ‘Death Railway’. A railway they were forced to build through dense jungle from Thailand through to Burma living in appalling conditions, on half a cup of rice issued twice a day. There were scarce medical supplies and many died from disease or punishments metered out by their captors. They were paid 1 penny a day and they used this to buy fruit from traders who passed by the camps to add to their meagre diet. Approximately 13,000 prisoners of war and 100,000 civilians died during the construction of the railway.
Robert died aged 33 on 19th October 1943 in Chungkai Camp from exhaustion and acute diarrhea. He lies buried in Chungkai War Cemetery, Thailand.
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.
Some of this information came from a secret diary kept by Reg Gray, a fellow prisoner of war. The diary is held at the Suffolk Records Office.
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