University of Oxford
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Charles Wilson's recollections of his time as a POW in Burma

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:22 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Charles Wilson was a prisoner of war on the Burma railway. While captive, Charles' knowledge of the Japanese language continued to improve. He had notes from classes he had taken in Ban Pong and added to these as he learned more phrases. Charles began to be called upon by guards who could not make prisoners understand what they wanted. As he explains in his written account, the reaction of the guards to any failure to comprehend was typical of them: "The unfortunate prisoner concerned was likely to be beaten up due to their frustration. This also proved hazardous for me, unfortunately. I would try to understand what the guard wanted and then relay that to the prisoner. Perhaps the prisoner had been unable to do what was required of him and wanted help. I would then translate what he had said for the guard. If this explanation was not to the guard's liking, he would probably fly into a rage and attack me for what I had said, as if the words were mine and not those of the prisoner concerned."

[See written account for full narrative]


Item list and details

1. Undated pre-Second World War photograph of Charles Wilson. 2. Undated photograph of Charles Wilson in uniform. 3. Photograph of Pam and Charles Wilson on their honeymoon in January 1946, after his return to the UK. They had been engaged since 1940.

Person the story/items relate to

Charles and Pamela Wilson

Person who shared the story/items

Alison Louise Silver

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Royal Signals Museum, Dorset on 19 August 2023.

Record ID

102505 | RSM002