Inspirational Journeys: School Trips & Media Links

IWM North…

FEPOW, Sgt Tom Boardman RAOC, from Leigh in Lancashire, strums his homemade ukulele after disembarking the SS Corfu, the first repatriation ship to arrive back in Britain from the Far East (Rangoon), 7 October 1945. Taken by the Daily Sketch and published 8 October

The Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays has a large collection of artefacts relating to the FEPOW story.

As part of the project year 7 girls visited the museum to meet a FEPOW, 92 year old Tom Boardman. He was a POW in Singapore and in Thailand. He made, and brought home with him, a wooden ukulele using Red Cross packing cases. A few years ago he donated it to the museum where it is on permanent display.

Tom Boardman, 92, giving his first ever powerpoint presentation to the whole of Pensby's Yr 7 at the IWM North in Salford Quays, November 2010. He told them how he had built two ukuleles while he was a FEPOW in camps in Singapore and Thailand, 1942-45IWM North staff hosted the visit. They arranged for the ukulele to be taken from its display case and put on display in the lecture room for the pupils to see. Tom gave a Power Point presentation on his experiences in the camps, which was followed by a question and answer session.

Also present was Professor Geoff Gill, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who delivered a short session on medical inventiveness in the camps and posed problems which the year 7’s had to try to solve.

Tom Boardman, 92, strumming a tune on Professor Gill's ukulele.  IWM North, November 2010Later, in the main exhibition hall, Mrs Sally McQuaid whose father, Captain Ronald “Jack” Horner, was also a prisoner of war in Singapore and Thailand presented elements of her father’s diary in front of the display case in which it is housed.

This trip brought FEPOW history to life for the youngest pupils in the school, who really enjoyed the chance to meet Tom and hear his stories. It was a good example of connecting museum exhibits to living history.

The National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) has close links to the Far East prisoner of war (FEPOW) experience.

In October 2010 we took members of the senior choir to visit the Arboretum. Its moving memorials, relating to all kinds of groups in society not just the victims of war, are inspiring.

The centrepiece of the site is the magnificent elevated memorial to the members of the Armed Services who have died in conflicts since the Second World War. The pupils found the stone tablets inscribed with the names of soldiers from the Afghanistan conflict particularly poignant. But it was their visit to the FEPOW Memorial building - a wonderfully detailed exploration of events presented in a very clear and comprehensive way - that formed the mainstay of their visit.

Some of the girls are pictured here in front of the school display at the conference at the National Museum Arboretum.The choir had been invited to attend the 3rd International Researching FEPOW History conference. They performed two songs, “I am a small part of the world” and “You raise me up” before an audience of 120, which included veterans of FEPOW and civilian captivity, children of FEPOW and internationally-renowned historians, curators and researchers. The choir’s involvement is detailed on the music page of this education section.

It was a marvellous collaboration between the school and the FEPOW research group. Afterwards FEPOW Fergus Anckorn, who had visited school in February 2010, said, “It’s a very good feeling to know that young people will keep the story alive for their children and their children’s children.”

Members of the choir are pictured outside BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool. A former FEPOW, Maurice Naylor is pictured on the right next to Stanley Buchanan (left), who was serving as a crewmember on board the SS Orbita in the autumn of 1945. This is the ship which brought Maurice Naylor and his fellow FEPOW back home from Rangoon in Burma following their release from captivity. It docked in Liverpool on 9 November 1945.Some weeks later, on 9 November 2010, the choir performed the same two songs live during a radio programme at BBC Radio Merseyside. Listen to them sing on the Music page.