Denaby Gunner Welcomed Home – Worked in Japanese Copper Mine (picture)

December 1945

South Yorkshire Times December 8th 1945

Worked in Jap Copper Mine
Denaby Gunner Welcomed Home by Club Mates.

Mr Hulley handing the gift to Gunner I.W. Elwell.
Others in the group are Messrs, W Astbury, G Constantine, I Feeney, W Pearson,
J Straw, Rev M Clarke, Gnr W Barnett and Corpl T Waters, M.M.

Img_0735 jap

The fourth presentation members of Denaby Main Institute have made, through their comforts fund, to Service members, took place on Friday, when president of the Institute, Mr. Norman, Hully (agent of Rossington and Dinnington collieries), handed savings certificates to gunner Isaac William Elwell, R. A., of 35, Annerley Street, Denaby, home a month ago from 3 1/2 years internment by the Japanese at Singapore and in Formosa. The Ven Maurice Clarke, vicar of Denaby, also spoke.

Mr Hully, who was until recently agent at Denaby colliery, expressed pleasure at being invited to Denaby again and attended a welcome to the vicar on his first visit to the Institute.

Approximately 100 members, said Mr. Hulley, had served in the forces – a very fine record. Each member went with the best wishes of the institute and when they had returned no one had been more pleased to see them than they. There was, he understood, something like £800 in the comforts fund, which would in due course be distributed to serving members as they returned.

They must not forget that although the fighting war was now over it was due to the efforts and sacrifices thousands of survey men had made. Had it not been for those sacrifices the war might have been a different story. It was not possible for the Institute to pay a personal tribute to all those thousands, but they could show their gratitude and appreciation to Gunner Elwell as a representative of those men. Out of five years in the forces, Gunner Elwell had 3 ½ years in the hands of the vilest enemies in the history of mankind. He went away from Denaby colliery – a good worker and a man respected by his mates and colliery officials alike – and a few days later landing at Singapore he was taken prisoner, and seven months later transferred to Formosa where he had been working in the copper mines. “Many of us who are in their minds are apt to think our job is not as good as it might be,” Mr. Hulley went on. “We are not always satisfied with it, but I am certain that, however difficult it is, it must have been 1000 times better than his job in the hands of the Japs,”

He hoped that Gunner Elwell would suffer no ill effects from the trials and vicissitudes he had gone through. One way in which, as citizens, could repay the sacrifices of the forces, of which gunner Elwell was a symbol, was to make this country worth coming back to. It might be difficult – probably there were even harder years ahead than the years past – but he was certain that if all pulled together this way of showing the high regard in which our serving men were held would be achieved.

Gunner Elwell, received the gift and thanked Mr. Hulley and the Institute members for making the presentation, and for the welcome they had accorded him since his return. He wanted to forget the past, he said, and look to the future.

“I have had many jobs as a parson, but I have never had one of which I was more proud than I am of being vicar of Denaby Main,” said Mr. Clarke. He said that because he liked the people and he realised what coal meant not only to them but to everyone. If he could help those who were helping in the greatest of our industries, then he felt he was doing a job worth doing and he would do it for all he was worth. As a gunner himself in the last war, he was pleased to give a welcome to Gunner Elwell who was one of those captured in defence of their most strategic port in the East and the provider of many of the goods we have enjoyed in the past and would in the future.

Mr. Clarke had a word of advice for those now serving and those who would enter the forces. “I want them to look to the future and train in the army so that they will be more efficient than if they had stayed at home. We need to be better than ever we have been before. It is the only way we could pull through,” he said.

Mr. W. Astbury (financial secretary) thanked Mr. Hulley and the vicar for attending the presentation, at which were present Mr. WM. Pearson (gunner Elwell’s stepfather), ex-corpl. Thomas Waters, M. M., and gunner Wilfred Barnett (recipients previous gifts), Messrs. G, Constantine (general secretary), J. Feeney and J. Straw (Vice presidents).

For his work in the Adit copper mines of Formosa, in which he worked eight hours a day, gunner Elwell received payment of 10 cents a day, in the form of chips for the prisoner’s canteen. Salt, curry and dried bananas were available there, but salt, of which the prisoners had great need because of the intense heat, costs 10 cents – a day’s wage for a teaspoonful.