SIMPER, John Arthur

No.5827625, Private, John Arthur SIMPER
Aged 25

1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment
Lost at Sea (in Captivity) on Tuesday, 12th September 1944

Arthur John Simper was born on 14th 1919 in Honington (Thetford Q2-1919 4B:446) son of Alfred and Edith Ellen SIMPER(née CLARKE).

The 1911 census records that Edith had born 2 children that had both since died.

The 1939 register has the family at 1 Malting Row, Honington, father [10-10-1879] a farm labourer and mother [10-8-1886], with one closed record. Probate has his address as 1 Malting Row, Honington still.

Captured at the surrender of Singapore on 15th February 1942. On 4th September 1944 convoy HI-72 left Singapore, amongst the vessels were two ships with over 1,2000 prisoners of war on board being taken to mainland Japan for forced labour. About 900 were on the 'Kachidoki Maru' and 1,300 on the 'Rakuyo Maru'. On the morning of the 12th September the US submarine 'Sealion' torpedoed the Rakuyo Maru and just before midnight that same day the US submarine 'Pampanito' torpedoed the Kachidoki Maru.

At 22:54, LtCdr Paul E. Summers’ USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) fired three torpedoes at KACHIDOKI MARU and got one hit in No.7 hold that caused flooding. At 23:15, KACHIDOKI MARU stopped and foundered. At 23:37, she sank by the stern. 12 sailors and 476 passengers (including the POWs) were KIA. The escorts rescued 521 POWs and transferred them to KIBITSU MARU for Japan. American submarines later returned and rescued 159 survivors of whom seven died enroute to Saipan. In all, 92 Australian and 60 British ex-POWs survived


These Japanese vessels came to be known as the "Hell Ships" due to the inhuman treatment of the prisoners on board. None carried any indication that they were carrying prisoners.By this time the Allies were aware of all Japanese movements but until "Papmanito" picked up some survivors they were not aware of the mass transport of prisoners around the Pacific.

photo from

John Simper is commemorated on the Singapore memorial, column 60

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details