A PRESTON man whose grandfather was held captive in Japan for three years is to run a half marathon for a charity which recognises the plight of prisoners during the Second World War.
James Housden, 28, from Lostock Hall will take to the roads for the Great North Run next month in aid of Children of the Far East Prisoners of War charity, of which his father Paul, is a trustee.
Paul’s father Arthur Housden, who was a sergeant in the Bedfordshire and Herts Division, was captured on 15 February 1942 Singapore and spent two years on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway - before being shipped to Japan to work as slave labour in Sakata in northern Japan.
Arthur was on board the Kachidoki Maru ship, which was torpedoed and sunk by the USS Pampanito submarine in September 1944 and spent nearly 40 hours in the South China Sea before being picked up by another Japanese ship and taken on to Japan.
Paul, who is retired and James, who works at British Aerospace in Warton, last year cycled across the North of England from Morecambe to Bridlington the Coast-to-Coast cycle ride to raise money to help COFEPOW commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered, bringing an end to the war.
Paul, 62, who lives in Lostock Hall said: “My father wouldn’t talk about it at all but I always wanted to find out more. I’d been given a book writted by a former POW I contacted the publishers who put me in touch with the author and from there I discovered the Children of the Far East prisoners of war charity and tracked down my dad’s prisoner of war cards.
“I was able to have them translated and uncover this whole story - which was really quite incredible. It led me to me getting involved in the charity’s work and wanting to do more to helping other families researching relatives who were prisoners.”
The national charity manages the Far East Prisoners of War memorial building at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and works to preserve the memory of the Far East Prisoners of War.
The memorial building has many computer generated displays to enhance the visitor experience, but most of the equipment is now 11 years old and desperately needs replacing.
James added: “My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who returned after being a prisoner of war.
“The story of all the captives is told at the National Memorial Arboretum and, by raising funds to help replace the outdated computer equipment at the Far East POW Memorial Building, I can help keep alive the memory of what my Granddad and his fellow captives went through.
“It is really important that future generations remember what happened during the Second World War.”
On September 11 James will line up with thousands of runners in Newcastle upon Tyne for the 13.1 mile run - he will be supported on the day by Paul, his mum Valerie and wife Kathryn.
To sponsor James, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-housden2