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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Cumbrian former Japanese prisoner of war dies aged 96

One of Cumbria’s oldest war veterans, who spent three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, has died at the age of 96.

Stan Sharpley, of Upperby, Carlisle, was believed to be the last survivor from a prisoner of war camp based in the notorious Changi Jail.

After being captured in Singapore in 1942, Stan spent three years in the prison before being released at the end of World War Two.

Aged just 17 and armed with a false date of birth, he joined the Second Battalion Royal North Lancashire Regiment in November 1935, and was posted to Shanghai a year later.

Speaking in 2005, Stan told of some of the horrors of living in a prisoner of war camp.

He spoke of how if any of the prisoners took the ‘Mickey’ out of a guard they were tied up with barbed wire, how they were so hungry they were forced to eat a dog and had to sleep on concrete floors.

When he returned home, aged 28 years old, he weighed just seven stone and took eight months leave to build himself back up.

Stan passed away on Thursday and leaves behind a large family including sons Alan and John, daughter Margaret, daughters-in-law Suzanne and Maureen, son-in-law Mick, as well as seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Despite his interesting history Stan kept most of his wartime stories private but made provision so his memories could live on.

“He wouldn’t really tell the family anything about what happened.

“My dad was a very proud man and liked his independence,” said his son Alan, 62, who lives near Durdar, Carlisle.

“He wanted to donate the medals that he collected and diary he kept while he was a prisoner of war to the Lancashire regiment he was in. They are very interested in taking them which is nice.”

He regularly attended reunions for prisoners of war and travelled to a 40th anniversary commemoration in Singapore several years ago.

Originally from Cheshire, Stan and his sister Dorothy were put in a workhouse in Liverpool before being taken in by a family in Shap, bringing him to Cumbria.

Alan added: “He was right [when he said we had to remember] as they suffered a lot and without what those guys did we wouldn’t have the life we have now.”

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