Please help with an RAF Far East Prisoner of War

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by steved3811, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. steved3811

    steved3811 Member

    I'm hoping someone can help make sense of some fragments of information I have regarding a FEPOW who died in captivity after being captured by the Japanese following the surrender of Allied Forces in the Dutch East Indies?
    Like many of his RAF comrades, 537959 Cpl. Herbert Bassnett (aka Bassinett) was initially posted to Singapore but doesn't appear to have been attached to a Squadron or Unit. His Japanese POW Index Card states that his occupation as a "Butcher" and was captured and made a prisoner of war on 23rd March 1942 at Batavia, West Java.
    According to the RAF Commands website, he appears to have been stationed at Seletar, Singapore, although I'm not sure how long he would have been there (if at all) before he was evacuated to Java...

    Does the fact that he was not officially attached to a unit mean he would have been one of the last RAF reinforcements to arrive in Singapore (possibly as part of the Convoy BM12?), or did he go straight to Java?

    Also, he was seemingly promoted to the rank of sergeant, but I'm unsure if this was an "in the field" appointment.

    Following his capture, he became part of Java Work Party 5A and was subsequently transported to Singapore and then on to Japanese mainland where he died from acute nephritis while in captivity at Hakodate POW main camp, Bibai-Machi.

    Any help or suggestions would be very greatly appreciated.

    Best regards
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    All this is from a Family tree on Ancestry


    Herbert Bassnett (P.O.W.)
    BIRTH 1915 • Macclesfield, Cheshire, England
    DEATH 21 MAY 1943 • Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

    December 1941 England
    One of hundreds of RAF personnel unattached to any Squadron or Unit who were posted to the Middle East with the intention of relieving men who had been on overseas service for three years.

    08 December 1941
    Believed to have embarked for Suez as part of convoy WS 14 (eleven troopships carrying 38,148 British Army and RAF personnel, and 16 other vessels). The convoy would take the longer but less dangerous Atlantic route around the Cape of Good Hope.

    23 March 1942 Batavia, West Java, Dutch East Indies
    Captured and made a Prisoner of War

    11 October 1942 Batavia, West Java, Dutch East Indies
    One of a group of 457 POW's known as "Java Work Party 5", who were transported from Batavia to Singapore on the Japanese "hell ship" Dainichi Maru 3.

    27 October 1942 Singapore, Malaya
    Among the first shipment of POW's embarked at Singapore on the Tofuku Maru. Departed 27th October 1942 and arrived at Moji on the 27th November 1942. Twenty Seven POW's died en-route.

    21 May 1943 Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
    Died from acute nephritis while in captivity at Hakodate POW main camp, Bibai-Machi, 27 Dai-mach, Hakodate.

    Just to add to all that there is also a complete listing of POW's at Java 5 - hope this link works - Java Party 5A

  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    You original post gave his number as 537959, but I assume that we are talking about the same person. I feel certain that you are aware of the following, but just in case it adds anything :

    WO 392/23 POWs in Japan or Japanese Occupied Territory, A-D, 1945
    No. 2934
    Name: Bassinett, Herbert
    Rank/Service number: Cpl 530959
    Service: AF
    Date of capture: 20.3.20 (Note: that is what it says)
    Date of liberation: 21.5.43
    Camp: HA
    Remark: Deceased

    WO361/2009 POWs transported from Dutch East Indies to Japan 1945
    Name: Bassinett, Herbert
    Service: AF
    Rank: Cpl
    POW No: 4368
    Regt No: 530959
    Date of departure: 29/10/17 (Note: that is what it says)

    WO361/1325 British prisoners of war dead or missing in Pacific Area
    Number: 530959
    Name: Bassnett, H
    Rank: Cpl
    Unit: ?
    Information received from & remarks: Britsec etc.: Ashes received by Britsec from Hakodate Main Camp

    WO 361/2211 Prisoners of war, Far East: Java Party No 5a; nominal roll

    Royal Air Force, Party 5a arrived Changi on 17 Oct 1942
    Reg No: 530959
    Rank: Cpl
    Name: Bassnett, H
    Date of departure: 27/10/42 OVS
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Tony56

    The dates where you have said "Note: that is what it says" I think are the dates as written in the Japanese calendar, I could be wrong but remember from the Japanese POW cards several members have mentioned this.

    Tony56 likes this.
  5. steved3811

    steved3811 Member

    Hi Tricky Dicky

    Thanks for replying - the Ancestry Tree is actually mine... I'm using it as a working document to put together Cpl. Bassnett's story!
  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    In light of what transpired on arrival in the Far East, you may see the irony in this description of one of the ships in WS14 at Durban. BBC - WW2 People's War - Mutiny in Durban — The Full Story (Part 1)

    For what little it is worth, I believe that my mothers serious boyfriend (i.e. intended) was on this convoy and she described how he virtually walked off the ship straight into captivity. In the belief he was dead, she met and married Dad......
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Not that it adds any more info, but the book "Unsung Heroes Of The Royal Air Force" - L & P. Stubbs gives the following.....

    Bassnett Herbert 530959 - RAF Seletar - Held Java, Singapore, Hokkaido (Hakadate) Died Hakadate - 21.5.43. Buried Yokohama.

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