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7688666 Lance Corporal LAWRENCE SPEDDING Royal Military Police.
Extracted from Information with the kind permission of
The THAILAND-BURMA RAILWAY CENTRE
who supplied this POW DEATH RECORD
7688666 Lance Corporal LAWRENCE SPEDDING - a British soldier died, aged 30, whilst serving with the Singapore Fortress Provost Company, Corps of (Royal) Military Police, part of H Force. He died of Beriberi on the 25th October 1943 at Kanchanaburi 'F' & 'H' Forces Hospital No.1 and is now buried in Kanchanaburi Cemetery Plot 2 Row B, grave number 05. L/Cpl Spedding was married to Maud Spedding of Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.
(Extracted from Information with the kind permission of
The THAILAND-BURMA RAILWAY CENTRE Kanchanaburi, Thailand.)
‘H’ Force, left Singapore for Ban Pong by rail in 6 parties between 5th and 17th May 1943. The complement of 3,270 made up of 1,402 British, 670 Australian, 7 American and 2 Dutch ex Malaya; plus 547 British, 35 Australian, 19 American and 588 Dutch ex Java. They were sent to reinforce the group north of Tonchan. In Thailand they remained under Malayan administration.
All prisoners, including the sick, set out for Kanchanaburi (site of the bridge over the River Kwai) on a dirt road. All equipment had to be carried. Excess personal belongings were sold to local Thai traders. It is unclear why ‘F’ and ‘H’ Forces were compelled to march. ‘Dunlop’ and ‘D’ Forces had both been transported to Tha Sao during the dry season and there was no climatic reason not to transport ‘F’ and ‘H’ Forces. It may have been as simple as a logistical stuff-up on the part of the Japanese command.
The march from Kanchanaburi to Tha Sao did not follow the course of the River Kwai (Khwae) Noi River and the ‘Death’ Railway. This would have been too difficult and too slow. The initial stretch to Tha Dan was on dirt tracks. The conditions would have been dusty because May is towards the end of the dry season in the south. The wet season had already started in the north. The men approached the monsoon; the monsoon did not approach the men.
Marching was done at night and resting by day. Men who fell sick on the march had 36 hours during the rest day and night to recover. If they did not they would have to join one of the following parties.
Of the 3,270 of ‘H’ Force, 885 died; a casualty rate of 27%. As with ‘F’ Force the casualty rate was by the highest amongst the British (661 at 34%). The casualty rate of the Australians was 25% (179 deaths), the Dutch 7% (42 deaths) and the Americans 12% (3 deaths).