Sep 15 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
MILITARY historians are looking for information on the early life of a Coatbridge soldier who lost his life as a World War II prisoner.
Lance Bombardier John Hendry was a member of the 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery.
The 23-year-old died in December 1943, having been put to work on the notorious “death railway” built between Thailand and Burma.
Now volunteer researchers from the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group are searching for details of his life as part of their project to ensure that the troop is no longer the county’s “forgotten regiment”.
John first travelled to serve in the jungles of the far east in March 1941 and was engaged in fierce fighting across Malaya for more than a year.
However, he was then captured and became a prisoner of war, first being set to work with fellow Lanarkshire soldiers at the Singapore City docks loading captured booty onto ships bound for Japan.
In October 1942, John and his comrades were then sent to slave on the infamous 414km railway, where it has been calculated that a life was lost for every sleeper laid in the intolerable conditions.
John died on December 10 the following year, and is buried far from his Monklands home, at the Kanchanaburi war cemetery in Thailand.
Campbell Thomson of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group said: “We are determined to ensure that the memory of these amazing local men is never forgotten.
“It has been unknown for too long, but their courage, fortitude and sacrifice stands as an example to the younger generation of today.”
The group comprises families of former regiment members, who are available to give talks as well as conducting their search for relatives and details of veterans.
Group members led a session at Gartcosh Historical Society last week – and learned of another local veteran, the late George Mair, who had also been on the notorious railway.
Relatives of John Hendry or anyone else who knew of him can contact the group by emailing email@example.com or calling 01698 382330.