Banner image - Java FEPOW 1942 Club, 2 logos, with strapline "To keep going the spirit that kept us going..."

What is the Java FEPOW Club 1942?

Bill Marshall.
Bill Marshall
“The Java Club” as it is now known in short, was started by a group of sixteen FEPOWs (Far East Prisoners of War) in the early 1980s who had come together at the annual conference of the National Federation of FEPOW Clubs and Associations in Blackpool. They had all been captured in Java in 1942 but were later drafted to a camp in mainland Japan and had all been in “Hut 4” of the camp known as the “3rd Branch Camp, Yawata, Fukuoka, Japan”. Consequently, the original club, known as the “Hut 4 Club” was started with the objective of reuniting more old comrades.

A committee was formed. Bob Chapman was Secretary / Treasurer, Bill Marshall was Chairman, Reg Beck was Welfare Officer and Ken Leary was Auditor. Bob Chapman dedicated his time to producing a monthly newsletter, which he distributed to the club’s members, other clubs and research teams in Japan. 

Blackpool reunion: l-r Harry Bradshaw, Bob Chapman, Curly Elms, Vic Herman and Reg Beck
Blackpool reunion: l-r Harry Bradshaw, Bob Chapman, Curly Elms, Vic Herman and Reg Beck

These were the origins of what is now known as “The Java Club 1942” and what has come to be known as “The Java Journal”. The Club has subsequently brought together FEPOWS captured in Java but later spread across camps throughout Japanese-occupied territory. For many years it has been holding an annual reunion in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is still attended by many FEPOWs as well as offspring and other relatives of FEPOWs.

In recent years the Java Club has greatly expanded to include FEPOWs’ relatives (widows, wives and children) and in 2007 it has a membership of 207, of whom 95 are FEPOWs, and thus it continues as a living and breathing association. Over twenty years on, the newsletter that first appeared in 1984 is still going strong, and over this period it has expanded into the “Java Journal”, containing FEPOW accounts, useful information, appeals for information, etc. It has therefore also become a useful provider of information for family members researching the personal history of their FEPOW relatives.

August 2007 sees the publication of the book “Prisoners in Java; Accounts by Allied Prisoners of War in the Far East (1942-1945) captured in Java”, which includes a broad selection of those FEPOW stories that have appeared in the Java Journal between 1984 and 2005.

This is an extremely exciting event in the history of the Java Club, as the book represents a detailed personal history of prisoners of war held in the Far East, for posterity and to assist later generations in understanding what the men endured in this brutal theatre of war.