This site is dedicated to the memory of the

Reverend (Squadron Leader)

John Thirwell Wanless RAF VR,

1904 - 1945

Service Number 77336

Died as a POW in the Far East 1945


John Wanless was born on 13th December 1904 into a poor coal-mining family at Crawcrook, Ryton-on-Tyne, Co Durham, the fourth in a family of ten children.

He was ordained into the Methodist Ministry in 1932, and commissioned into the RAF as a Free Church Chaplain on 1st February 1940.

Evacuated from Singapore as it fell, John Wanless was taken prisoner at Tasik Malaje, Java on 8th March 1942.

He died on 30th June 1945 of starvation, sickness and savage treatment in Jungle camp no 2, at Ranau, Sabah (then British North Borneo) East Malaysia.

No known grave.



Sandakan Sandakan

Kranji War Memorial Kranji War Memorial

Dispatches - London Gazette Dispatches - London Gazette

Sandakan Memorial Sandakan Memorial




Sandakan was based on:

Laden, Fevered, Starved - The POWs of Sandakan, North Borneo, 1945

Researched by Dr Richard Reid

with assistance from Robert Pounds and Courtney Page

Knights of Bushido by Lord Russell

London Gazette - 1st October 1946


Further reading:

Sandakan: the Last March by Don Wall

Selfpublished: originally 1988, now in its revised fifth edition 

Don was 2/20 and F Force himself.


Kill the Prisoners by Don Wall


From Hell to Eternity by Peter Firkins,


Sandakan by Lynette Silver

(1998); Athol Moffitt, Project Kingfisher(1989), an account of the secret plan for a rescue which never happneed


Borneo: Australia's Pround but Tragic Heritage by Kevin Smith


Escape From Hell by Walter Wallace




Part Of


Honorary Life Membership





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