University of Oxford
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Ray Stubbs, Royal Navy, a Japanese prisoner of war for 5 years

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:37 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

These are mementoes left by the contributor's father, Ray Stubbs, who spent 3 years as a Japanese prisoner, when the Japanese captured Singapore in September 1940. In the Royal Navy Ray was a signaller - he sent Morse code using flag codes (semaphore?).

When in Camps, the POWs made cards for birthdays and Christmases to keep in touch with civilisation.

Ray was in Japan until the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the War Ray joined a writing group and wrote about his memoirs, later published in a book "Prisoner of Nippon". The cover used illustrations with the permission of the artist, fellow POW Ronald Searle. The book includes portrait photographs of Ray Stubbs taken in July and then September 1940, and after captivity in November 1945. Other photos were saved by burying them in Palembang, Sumatra in 1942.

The book brought by the son of the copyright holder includes the blurb"Ray Stubbs received his call-up papers and was selected for the Royal Navy in the early summer of 1940. He left home on July 10th and along with a motley crowd of 'Hostilities Only' young men spent the first few weeks of his training at a former Butlin's Holiday Camp, re-named HMS Royal Arthur. Three months later, after brief spells at HMS Wellesley (Liverpool) and HMS Pembroke (Chatham), and a few days' leave during London's blitz, with an arm numbed by inoculations, he found himself en route to Liverpool again to join one of His Majesty's destroyers. It was to be five long years before he returned home... The third day of September, 1939 was an unforgettable day in many lives, the world over. For the author, Ray Stubbs, it marks the beginning of his wartime recollections. From the "phoney war" the reader follows in his footsteps from one of London's Civil Defence HQs, through his brief Naval training and off to sea just three months from being called up. The chessboard of Naval actions in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean soon saw his ship, the Destroyer HMS Encounter deployed to Singapore to join HMS Prince of Wales, and HMS Repulse, in the ill-fated Force Z. Following the fall of Singapore and an abortive attempt at escape on a small minesweeper, Ray and his companions were captured by the Japanese. The three and a half years which follow contain graphic descriptions of horror, deprivation and starvation in the jungle of Sumatra, with only memories of home and the comradeship of friends to maintain sanity and keep hope alive. 'Prisoner of Nippon' concludes with the Japanese surrender, freedom and repatriation. The book closes with several interesting Appendices - not least being details of the subsequent War Crimes Trials of his tormentors. The author wishes to thank Ronald Searle for his permission to use his illustrations in the jacket design."

The prisoners of war were flown from the camps by American liberator aircraft.


Item list and details

1. Book cover, blurb, and illustrated pages from"Prisoner of Nippon" by RS Stubbs; 2. Bible - Stamped front cover; 3. Dog tag for POW - R-S Stubbs 476. 4. Spoon made from aeroplane metal, marked faintly 476; 5. Cards - made by the POWs; 6. 6 Royal Navy hat bands. And Ray's skill badge for Code;

Person the story/items relate to

Raymond Stubbs

Person who shared the story/items

David Raymond Stubbs

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Ray was David's father.

Type of submission

Shared at West Berkshire Museum, Newbury on 17 January 2024.

Record ID

115840 | NEW013