Turner, William Arthur

William Arthur Turner’s birth was registered in Hawarden in 1920 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/26A/79), the son of Joseph & Clara Turner (nee Pearson).   The War Deaths Register gives his date of birth as the 12th July 1920.

They married circa 1896, possibly in West Bromwich as on the 1911 census they are seen living at 52, Ash Grove, Shotton, Flintshire and some of the children had been born in West Bromwich and some in Shotton.   Joseph, 35, was a Roller (Sheets) at the Ironworks (John Summers & Sons) and Clara, 35, tells us that they had been married for 15 years, 6 children had been born to them and they were all still living.   The children who had been born in West Bromwich were Clara Elizabeth, 14, at home, doing Domestic Work and Ada, 10.    The rest of the children had been born in Shotton – Lucy, 7, Mary, 4, Joseph Thomas, 2 and baby Lilian, 6 months.

William Arthur was a pupil at St. Ethelwold’s Church School in Shotton as his name is recorded on their “Roll of Honour.“ (See below)

I do not have William Arthur’s Attestation Papers, but I suspect that he had enlisted or was already in the Royal Navy when the 1939 National Register was taken on the 29th September 1939, the War had had been declared on the 3rd September, which is probably why he is not seen on it.   There are redacted records on it, but I don’t think it would be William.

The 1939 National Register shows the Turner family living at 52 Ash Grove,Shotton.  Joseph Turner William Arthur’s father had been born on the 18th July 1875 and was a Steel Worker Roller, Heavy work, his wife Clara’s date of birth was the 21st July 1877.   I believe that William Arthur’s sister, Ada, born  the 4th August 1900, married after 1939, as Williams was written above her surname and a date to the left  – 18th Dec. 1956, but I have found a marriage that might fit but in 1954 – (Hawarden   Vol. 8a Page 1077), so it could have been a clerical error.  Another sister Irene’s date of birth was  the 16th April 1916 and she married Frank R. Bennett in St. Etholwold’s Church, Shotton in 1942.   There were 2 redacted or closed records and another sibling, Walter D. Turner born  the 22nd March 1930, so was probably at School.

William had enlisted in the Royal Navy, and the Commonwealth War Graves gives his ship as the Tamar, but this was a Shore Station that was used for administration.    He was probably one of the many Prisoners taken at the Fall of Hong Kong in December 1941, possibly stationed there, with the Tamar as his shore base.    His story is such a sad one, but very reminiscent of thousands of these young men and boy’s stories, but sometimes you wonder at the bad luck that fate threw their way.   They must be remembered.

HMS Tamar (Chinese: 添馬艦) was the name for the British Royal Navy’s base in Hong Kong from 1897 to 1997. It took its name from HMS Tamar, a ship that was used as the base until replaced by buildings ashore.

William was a Prisoner of War with the Japanese, but he was one among many who were put on the Lisbon Maru, a Japanese Steamship in October 1942 and was Missing, Presumed Killed when the Lisbon Maru carrying POWs, that according to the description had room for 28 passengers, but had more than 1816 prisoners on board, was sunk by US submarine Grouper off Shanghai, many died, but others escaped, some of whom died over the succeeding weeks.

Lisbon Maru (里斯本丸) was a Japanese freighter, an armed troopship that transported prisoners-of-war between China and Japan.

So did William Arthur survive the sinking and then was one of the men who swam away, and died on the 2nd October 1942, the date must have been wrong, but then perhaps his death wasn’t recorded till the next day, or because of time differences, it may have been in the early hours of the morning of the 2nd October that he died, in any case he was “Missing –Death on War Service  presumed .” gives a description of the ship.   It’s fate – Torpedoed off Dongfushan in the Zhoushan Archipelago 1 October, and sank on 2 October 1942

When she was sunk by USS Grouper (SS-214) on 1 October 1942, she was carrying, in addition to Japanese Army personnel, 1,816 British and Canadian prisoners of war captured after the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941. The British government insisted that over 800 of these men died either directly as a result of the sinking, or were shot or otherwise killed by the Japanese while swimming away from the wreck. The ship was not marked to alert Allied forces to the nature of its passengers. However, over 1,000 Allied prisoners were rescued by the Japanese military. The Japanese Government insisted that British prisoners were in fact not deliberately killed by Japanese soldiers and chastised the British Government.

A reunion of survivors was held on board HMS Belfast on 2 October 2007 to mark the 65th anniversary of their escape. Six former prisoners attended, alongside many bereaved families of the escapees.


A memorial was placed in the chapel of Stanley Fort, Hong Kong, which was moved to the chapel of St. Stephen’s College, Hong Kong, due to Honk Kong’s change in sovereignty.    a wonderful website , and then click on :-

A page on the 1st Website, this is a page dedicated to William Arthur TURNER.    Gives details of his fate on the 2nd October 1942.   This is wonderful, please take a look.

Details of the American Submarine:-  Also:-

Although the naval base and dockyard in Hong Kong was collectively known as HMS Tamar there actually was a ship called HMS Tamar. An ancient RN Troopship used in Hong Kong as the depot ship. She was scuttled just off Wan Chai on 18 Dec 41.

As far as William Turner is concerned it may be he was serving on one of the smaller ships, MTBs etc which would have used Tamar as their Accounting Base.

Two books which might be of interest.…preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch  and…preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

All this information came from the WW2 Talk Website and the wonderful Forum members, to whom I am indebted, also thanks to Wikipedia for all their input too.

If anyone has any information to help tell William Arthur’s story, please get in touch with the website.



Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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