Royal Navy restores memorial to forgotten massacre

Sailors from HMS Tamar came ashore to refurbish a memorial dedicated to hundreds of POWs who died or were murdered in a forgotten, months-long atrocity wrought on brothers-in-arms from the British Army.

The memorial, on uninhabited Ballalae in the Shortland Islands group (part of the Solomon Islands) is not a registered Commonwealth War Grave, so is not regularly maintained. Nevertheless, it is a powerful reminder of what occurred there 80 years ago.

In November 1942, 517 Royal Artillerymen – captured in Singapore and including the first-class England cricketer Norman Bowell – were transported to Ballalae island. Forced to clear trees for a new airstrip, many POWs succumbed from exhaustion, tropical disease and unrelenting conditions as they were forced to labour in the brutal climate.

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