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Tributes after Hayes Japanese PoW dies

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The son of one of the last remaining Japanese prisoners of war who heard the Atomic bomb drop has paid tribute to his “survivor” father.

Grandfather-of-one Les Hughes joined the Royal Artillery aged 20 and was shipped to India in 1940 for training as a gunner.

He was transferred to Singapore as part of its defence in February 1942 but after just 10 days of active service, he was captured by the Japanese and held for more than three years.

The 92-year-old, of The Green, Hayes, died a widower earlier this month from prostate cancer. His son, QVC channel presenter Colin Hughes said: “My dad never really spoke much about what happened to him because it wasn’t something that he was proud of but he was definitely a survivor.”

Mr Hughes helped build the infamous Singapore to Burmese railway during which time he suffered beatings, dysentery, cholera, malaria and starvation, with his weight dropping to just six stone.

As he was being shipped to Japan, American forces sunk the boat he was aboard and he and 1,600 others were thrown overboard.

Some 1,000 perished but Mr Hughes survived by spending two days adrift on a plank of wood in the water.

He was picked up by Japanese troops again who took him to a Nagasaki work camp. While working there, in August 1945, he heard the Atomic bomb drop on the city.

Returning home, he suffered nightmares from what he had witnessed and been subjected to while imprisoned .

His friend Alan Essex said: “I worked in the early 60s as a young man with someone whose wartime experiences were very similar to Les but he was eaten up with hatred, his domestic life was in ruins.

“He died in peacetime a broken man but Les was a survivor.”

Mr Hughes continued to accompany his banker son on long road trips in England and Europe until shortly before his death as well as helping out with car boot sales.

He leaves behind sons Colin and Keith.


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