RAF veteran selling poppies in Bournemouth in memory of Japanese prisoners of war (From Bournemouth Echo)
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RAF veteran selling poppies in Bournemouth in memory of Japanese prisoners of war
A FORMER RAF officer with childhood recollections of seeing Japanese prisoners of war being mistreated is preparing to sell poppies in their memory.
Phil Pring, 80, served in the RAF for 35 years, during which time he was stationed all over the world and earned a string of medals.
But it is his abiding memories of being thrown into a Bangkok prison cell when he was just eight years old that are uppermost in his mind as he once again sells poppies at the Asda store at St Paul’s, Lansdowne, Bournemouth.
The centrepiece of Phil’s eye-catching poppy stall is a special home-made wreath in remembrance of Japanese prisoners of war.
Phil moved to Thailand with his mother and sister in 1937, to join his father who worked for the Royal Thai Railway.
But they found themselves trapped in the country when the Japanese invaded and in 1941, he was yanked from his bed at night and imprisoned in a cell at the police station with his mother and sister. His father, who was working away at the time, was never seen by them again.
They were eventually freed by members of the Thai underground resistance movement, who took them to a fishing village, Hua Hin.
Phil, of Sunnyhill Road, Southbourne, said: “If it wasn’t for the Thai people, we wouldn’t be here now. They would tell us when the Japanese were in the area and when it was safe to come out.
“I saw cruelty you would not believe. I can still see it all today. The Japanese prisoners of war are never really recognised but they suffered the most.”
He has supported the Bournemouth poppy appeal for around 10 years and said: “Being in the air force I lost quite a few friends. Plus, I’ve been shot at, sworn at and spat at and I think those poor blokes out there need our help.”