In late 2018, my fascination with family history research led me to discover a relative that had served in World War II. I eventually learned that this 2nd Cousin, Bill, was a Prisoner of War of the Japanese. As is the case with anyone with the Lowcock surname that has served in the military, I added him to the Lowcock War Memorial page.
Bill’s Prisoner of War experience struck a nerve, so I started researching for more information. This led me to this POWs of Japan website. There was no record of Bill, but on a whim, I contacted the site owner, Lt. Colonel Peter Winstanley (retired), and asked if he had any unpublished material on Bill.
I didn’t expect a reply, but amazingly not only did Lt. Colonel Winstanley have a record, but he also had Bill’s written recollections of his World War II experience. Which Lt Colonel Winstanley generously sent my way.
Over the next year or so, I went through and structured the memoir so it would make sense for others. This included a lot of research, linking key parts of the story to dates, verifying the names and ranks of people mentioned, location names, and ensuring that vernacular of the time included a translation so modern generations would fully understand Bill’s experience. This included trawling through the Australian War Memorial Archives for photos that would better illustrate the story.
All of this was done not to profit from Bill’s experience. In fact, far from it. Instead, I feel that there is a moral duty to see Bill’s story preserved. It represents an important moment in Australian and world history. Honestly, so much of the experience for me, in researching and compiling the book, educated me about the war in Singapore.
I hope my efforts go part of the way of remembering Bill’s legacy. I also hope it inspires others to do the same with any war journals or memoirs in their possession. If you’re interested in reading Bill Lowcock’s story, it’s now available on Amazon (print and digital), it’s also available on Google Play (digital).
If you’re in Australia, the physical book is exclusively available for sale from Frazer & Bradley.