Mayor to Remember Fishermen Who Saved British Troops

Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Kathy Williams, will welcome a delegation from China on Friday to remember the heroic actions of a group of Chinese fishermen whose actions saved around 1,000 British servicemen.

The Mayor along with the Sheriff, Councillor Justin Hudson, will be meeting representatives from Zhoushan in China where fishermen helped save British prisoners of war after they were attacked by their Japanese captors in 1942. 

The Mayor and Sheriff will then attend a special dinner in nearby Hatherley Manor Hotel being held by the Chinese Ambassador where they will meet descendants of the fishermen and Denise Wynne from Chalford, whose later father Dennis Morley was among the rescued servicemen.

The group survived after locals rescued them from being shot at by Japanese soldiers who were trying to prevent them from escaping from the ship in which they were being transported to work as slave labour in Japan. 

The ship called the Lisbon Maru was carrying the 1,816 already weak and malnourished POWs, in rat infested conditions, with little air, meagre rations, and no washing facilities. Dysentery was rife and the troops didn’t even have space to lie down to sleep.

After their ship was attacked by an American submarine unaware that there were British troops on board, it began to let in water which the British troops were ordered to pump out using only a hand pump for many hours.

They were eventually abandoned and barricaded into the ship’s hold, left to suffocate or drown.

However, on trying to escape they were then attacked by their captors with 828 dying from being shot or drowning.

Local fishermen from the nearby islands of Zhoushan saw what was happening and rowed out to rescue nearly 400 POWs taking them back to their homes and giving them much needed food and water from their own limited rations.

In total they saved around 1,000 British servicemen as the Japanese also allowed the POWs to board their own ships realising that their actions were being witnessed.

Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Kathy Williams, said: “This is an extraordinary story of courage, demonstrated both by the British troops who endured these intolerable conditions serving their country and by the fishermen and their families who risked everything to save them. It’s an honour to welcome their representatives and the Zhoushan Deputy Mayor, Mr Liu Mayor to remember this terrible incident and how people can show such bravery to help others.”