William John Bedford (Born April 1919, died September 1999)
A short narrative by his granddaughter Jen.
During WW2 a young man called William John Bedford enlisted in the army.
Private W J Bedford service number 6459205. He enlisted with the Royal fusiliers who have their garrison at the Tower of London.
At some time during his service he transferred to The Royal Army Medical Corp. and was with 32nd RAMC at the fall of Singapore on the 15th February 1942.
The Queen Alexandra hospital came under heavy Japanese shelling. A Japanese soldier was sighted and a British soldier went out to meet him pointing at his red cross arm band recognised to protect military personnel during armed conflict. The Japanese soldier ignored this and shot at the soldier though he missed. Further information can be found here:- BBC WW2 peoples War
I cannot envisage what happened next but the survivors, about 200, were tied up and forced to march to buildings a fair distance from the hospital. Many were not spared on the journey.
These survivors were divided into three rooms with no ventilation or water, some died during the night.
11 am the following morning men were told to leave in groups of two on the pretext of getting water . As the screams and cries cold be heard it became clear that the Japanese were executing the prisoners when they left their room . Those that survived became Japanese prisoners of war.
Why Bill Bedford, as known after the war, was spared I do not know, he very rarely ever spoke of war, probably to protect his children and grand children . I know he bartered for his life. I know that he helped save Japanese lives to spare his own. The funny thing is, if you ever asked him, he would say it was never that bad.
How he got home I am not too sure as he is no longer with us and the army records have no proper record of him returning.
This is a small part of the history I have of a remarkable man that without him I would never be.
The war years were never good for the living or the ones that died.
He only met my nan because her mothers house was bombed when a lot of family were home on leave, and as his sister was dating one of my nans brothers. Many of who died when the bomb fell on my great grandmothers house - but that is another sad story of love and sadness
LEST WE FORGET those that died, those that endured , all that fought to give us hope. Let us show respect not just for one day but in how we live our lives everyday.
Retrieved from the War Office Records: