I always wanted to know what happened to my father Harry. All I knew was that he’d set sail for Singapore in 1941, not knowing where his ship was bound for. They never knew where they were going not until after they had been at sea for some days. All I knew was that he was with 1,000’s of others were captured at Singapore by the Japanese.
I went through most of my life not knowing what had happened to him, I knew that he had survived the war and was released by the Americans at Nagasaki and put aboard the hospital ship USS HAVEN as he was so very ill with BeriBeri, he died the very next day and was buried in the sea with full military honours from off the British Aircraft Carrier the HMS SPEAKER at Nagasaki.
Photograph of Bernard as a young boy which his father carried with him throughout his captivity.
It wasn’t until 1997 that I read a front page story in a news letter in the Fulcrum an organization of ex POWs, I had joined them as they were struggling to get compensation from the Japanese. On the front page was a picture of the St Georges cross Changi, the story was about a British staff Sergeant in the RAOC, it was he that had made the Cross but unfortunately they only had his Christian name of “Harry”.
I read the story over and over and in my head I could only think that this man “Harry” must be my Father. I decided to telephone the writer of the story, I was really glad that I did because he confirmed that it was indeed my Father. What were the chances of me finding out about my Father without this story? I taught myself to use the computer and I have searched every avenue and I have managed to get most of the information about my Father. I managed to find Louise Cordingly the daughter of the Padre who gave the plans for the Cross for my Father to make and between us we have put this story to print.
We would like to think our story will be a benefit and a inspiration to others.
Front page of The Fulcrum, the newsletter of the Japanese Labour Camp Survivors’ Association, in which Bernard first saw the story about Harry making the cross.
Bernard Stogden talks about his father, Harry, and the Changi Cross, on the Roy Noble Show on Radio Wales, 16th August 2015:
A 4 minute video telling the story of Bernard Stogden and his father, Harry Stogden, who made the Changi Cross out of the brass of a 4.5” Howitzer shell case. The video was made by two Chinese students for their media studies course in Wales.
Bernard taking the cross to put on the altar of the new Chapel at Changi Museum February 15th 2001.