A WOMAN is calling for the UK to honour Far Eastern prisoners of war after researching the "unimaginable suffering" of her York grandfather during the Second World War.

Kerrie Bird says Leslie Nowell survived brutal conditions as the Burma death railway was built and died while being transported on a ‘hellship’ to Japan which was torpedoed and sunk.

“I am very disheartened that this country does little to honour or remember the Far Eastern prisoners of war,” she said. “They sacrificed so much and went through unimaginable suffering.

“I and many others with family connections to Far Eastern prisoners of war have been wanting the government to make VJ Day an annual national commemorative day. I feel very strongly that my grandfather, and all that suffered, deserve better.”

Kerrie said she had always known that her grandfather, who worked before the war as a council roadsweeper and lived in Tang Hall with his wife Eleanor and children Leslie and Christine, died in the war but had decided 11 years ago to find out more, and finally completed her researches recently.

“He was captured by the Japanese in Singapore when Singapore was taken and was detained in Changi prison,” she said.

“He became part of the 700 men called The Saigon Battalion, who were forced to clear the jungle and set up a camp to get it ready for the thousands of other prisoners to start work on the Thai Burma death Railway.

“They were forced to work from dawn to late at night with little food to give them the energy.

“Once the camp was built the men then had to march through the jungle which was a treacherous journey. They were all subjected to flesh eating and blood sucking parasites.

“After the railway was completed, 500 men were selected to go to Japan to be forced to work there. My grandfather and the other men were transported on the hellship The Katchidiko Maru.

“The conditions were beyond unimaginable suffering. The men were crammed back to back in to bamboo cages that were stacked from bottom to the top of the ship in the hold.

“This is where it gets really tough. Many of the prisoners were already very malnourished with malaria, dysentery and tropical ulcers and suffering from Beri Beri; they were going out of their minds.

“The ship was hit on September 12, 1944, by a torpedo from an American ship the Pampanito. Sadly, my grandfather was killed and there were only 50 survivors.”