Former prisoner of war dies

Second World War Far East prisoner Jack Phillips has died at the age of 94

A SECOND world war veteran who was held prisoner in the Far East has died at the age of 94.

Jack Phillips, from Rothbury, Northumberland, who was a prisoner of the Japanese in Singapore for three years, died on Tuesday.

Jack joined the 9th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in 1939. He fought in France and was part of the allied troops which were evacuated through Dunkirk in 1940.

Jack was later deployed to the war in the Far East where he fought the Japanese at Singapore.

In 1942, the British surrendered and he was taken prisoner. Jack worked on building the war cemetery at Changi and would later be moved to Thailand to help construct the Thai Burma Railway. While being held prisoner, he caught dysentery and had to undergo a lifesaving operation.

Jack’s war ended in October 1945 when he was shipped back to England, and hospitalin Newcastle, where he was to meet the first of two wives.

A career as a registrar followed his war years, before Jack took over a village newsagent which still carries the family name, helping deliver newspapers up until around 10 years ago.

The veteran, who had two children, David and Howard, grandchildren and great grandchildren, returned to Singapore more than five times over the years.

Jack lost some of his wartime memorabilia after his Rothbury bungalow was flooded in 2008, after which he was out of his home 13 months.

He meet the Duchess of Northumberland and the Countess of Wessex when they visited the village.

In latter years, Jack would attend the annual dinners of the Morpeth Golf Club Burma Star Association at the venue each VJ Day.

A keen golfer as well as a Newcastle United fan, he and David became the first father and son senior members of the Rothbury club.

Jack died at Rothbury Community Hospital after spells there and at Wansbeck General in Ashington.

Son David said: “He was a great father and a great grandfather and I think he was a loving and great person to all his family.”

Jack’s funeral takes place at All Saints church in Rothbury on Wednesday at 3pm.


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
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Mark Douglas
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