100-year-old former prisoner of war remembers his comrades 75 years on

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mary Stanley

It is 75 years to the day that a Hampshire veteran returned home after being held in a prisoner of war camp in the Far East for three and a half years.

In that time 100-year-old Bert Warne had suffered yellow fever, dysentery and malnutrition with his weight falling to six and a half stone.

Bert worked on the Burma Railway for 18 months. Credit: Pathé

For 18 months he worked on the notorious Burma Railway where the men faced brutal treatment, sickness and starvation. Thousands of his comrades died.

It was monsoon season and we were doing the embankments and you were ankle deep in mud and all you had one was a g-string and hat and the water is pouring down your back like it's on a roof and you're stood there eating your rice. That's what it was like you know. We didn't know what day it was, what week or month. We hardly knew what year it was.

Bert Warne, Former prisoner of war

Bert considers himself fortunate as he was taken to a camp hospital.

He said: "They told me when they saw me that I was about 6 and a half stone but all the rest were about the same. I worked out I was in that sick bay for 7 months."


men died while working on the Burma Railway

Bert remembers the day he was told he was free: "We walked in and the sergeant who was in charge of the camp came over and shook our hands and said the war is over. There was no cheering or celebration but I can't explain it to you that feeling."

20,000 prisoners of war were brought back to Southampton by boat. Credit: Pathé

75 years ago the P&O liner Corfu carried the first of 20,000 prisoners of war back to Southampton. 

Another 17,000, including Bert, were taken to Liverpool. They then boarded a train back to his family and fiancé.

People lined the shore to greet the prisoners of war. Credit: Pathé

We were greeted by a band and flags and everything like that. I came home on October 20th. On the 1st December I was married.

Bert Warne, Former prisoner of war

A memorial in Southampton's Town Quay Park remembers those who came home and the struggles they faced, as well as the thousands who did not return. 

75 years on, Bert still does not like to talk about the horrors he saw but wants to tell his story to ensure we remember and learn lessons for the future.

A plaque was installed at Southampton's Town Quay Park to remember them. Credit: ITV News Meridian