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Arthur Richard Emm - POW

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posted on 2024-06-05, 17:14 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Father was born on 4 June 1901 and worked for the Shell Oil company. He joined the Territorials in Bristol and, in 1938, he was at the Horfield barracks. I remember him coming home once after being missing for five days in June 1940. He was covered in black, and when we asked where he had been, he said, "Dunkirk!" He spoke French. We went to live in North Wales while he was training with the REME. He was made Staff Sergeant within three weeks due to his background in civil engineering. He was designing tank traps.

We moved back to Bristol in November 1940 and witnessed the air raids in Bristol. We later moved to Cirencester to live with an aunt. We saw Father in Cirencester, where he was directing tanks down the main road. Mother made a picnic and a thermos. This was the last time we saw him.

Father went to India, and the last photo taken of him was at a football match. From there, he sailed to Singapore, straight into Japanese hands. He was a prisoner of war at Camp Kanchanaburi. Cards were sent from there, purporting to be from him, but they were not in his handwriting. Father survived two years in the camp but died on 25 December 1943 from beriberi. Strangely, Father bumped into a cousin in Cape Town during his travels; he was the last family member to see him.

Pauline remembers being hungry and cold during the war. She remembers the bombing in Bristol and Bath and could hear the noises while she hid under the stair cupboard. Pauline recalls staying at an aunt's in Wimbledon. London was being bombed, but they missed the tennis courts. Her cousin slept through the whole ordeal! Mother worked for the GPO, and an aunt was a registration officer, which came in handy!


Item list and details

PDF of documents collated about Arthur Emm.

Person the story/items relate to

Arthur Richard Emm and Pauline Williams

Person who shared the story/items

Pauline Williams

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Father (first-hand memories)

Type of submission

Shared at Portishead Library, Somerset on 4 December 2023.

Record ID

104452 | POR014