Re: EMPIRE MARCH
Posted by: david george
Date: May 08, 2018 11:58AM
Wish I had found this site years ago. I wonder if any of the relatives of survivors have more info about what happened to them after landing in Singapore. My father, Stan Reader (a merchant seaman before and after the war), was on the Empire March when sunk. He had joined it in Calcutta after being dropped off by his earlier ship to have his appendix out. The Empire March was his ship back to UK!
I regret not quizzing him more before he died in 2000. He did say that the gun crew were all machined gunned down trying to get to their sole armament. The water was very oily and he thought a shark had got him when he felt a tug on his leg, but it was another survivor. Like many of his generation he didnt speak much of his experience.
He spent a few months in Changi before going to Japan, firstly to Hakodate and then transferred to a nearby cement works, camp Kamiiso (I have a photo of all the POWs), and near the end of the war he was sent to camp Bibai, a coal mine, and liberated from there.
I have visited Japan several times and been to all the camps; the cement factory is still in production and the coal mine is now within a Japanese anti missile base.
If anyone is still interested in this episode I would love to get in touch. I note the grandson of John Livie mentioned hearing of many tales from his grandfather about the ship. No doubt my father knew him.