Bakewell, Vernon

Vernon Joseph 


1919 - 1943
Rank Gunner
Service no.943484
Born April 11, 1919
DiedDecember 13, 1943



Vernon Joseph

Gateway School 1929-33.

In October 1941 the 135th Field Regiment travelled to Canada on the Polish ship Sobieski. On arrival in Halifax, the regiment transferred to the American troopship USS Mount Vernon, which departed on the 10th November 1941 for the Middle East. While in a stopover at Capetown, South Africa, the final destination was changed and the Mount Vernon arrived in Singapore on the13th January 1942, during a Japanese air raid. There then followed four weeks of intense fighting, before the British surrendered on the 15th February 1942.

Gunner Bakewell became a prisoner-of-war, and after being held in Singapore he was sent to the notorious Burma-Thailand Railway. Work on the 265 mile long railway began in October 1942 and was completed a year later. Gunner Bakewell was among the almost 7,000 British prisoners-of-war who died during its construction.

He is buried in Chungkai War Cemetery, Thailand, Grave 3. N.12.

History information

The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated

80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar).

Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in June 1942. The two sections of the line finally met near Konkoita towards the end of October 1943 and the completed line, 424 kilometres long, was operational by December 1943.

The graves of most of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.

The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.