Topics / People/Wartime/Sam Dimmock

SAMUEL DIMMOCK

Samuel Dimmock was born on the 7th September 1919. His father Frank Dimmock, a coal miner and son of a blacksmith, and his wife Elizabeth, both came from Quarry Bank Staffordshire, South Dudley. They were married in 1905 at the age of 35 and 19 respectively and had a least 8 children. All but 2 were born in Griffydam:-

 

Florence                      1905 born Coalville

Elizabeth                     1906 born Belton

A child who died by     1911

Alice                            1909

Zilpha   we only know of her as she wrote to Sam in the War

Frank                           ?

George (Brom)            1914

Phyllis             died age 9

Samuel                        1919

 

Frank and Elizabeth initially rented a 2 up 2 down cottage on Main Street (now Elder Lane) before moving to a larger house in the same street with an acre of land. Upstairs was a landing, originally designed to sleep the older children, off which was the parents’ bedroom, small children slept in a room off that. Downstairs was a large kitchen where the family lived and carried out all the domestic tasks. There was also a parlour to the right of the central door. Outside was the privy, pig sty, coal house, orchard, vegetable garden and a paddock. They kept poultry and a pig which would be fed on food waste from the neighbouring families.

 

The pig would be slaughtered by George Kilby who lived next door. As the butchery was a long process and there were no refrigerators, the work would be carried once it started to get frosty. The leg and back would be salted for bacon and ham; the rest of the meat would be distributed around to helpers and friends.  The fry (internal organs) would be used to make faggots. The head was made into brawn and the intestines would be turned and thoroughly cleaned to make chitterlings; nothing needed to be wasted.

 

Sam was schooled in Griffydam, when at 14 years old, he went to work at the colliery. Sam’s father died in 1935. In 1939 Sam was living with his widowed mother and older brother George. They were both loading tubs on the coal face, most likely at Lount Colliery.

 

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Sam enlisted with the 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment on 15th November 1939 at the age of 20. His war record listed his next of kin as his mother Elizabeth Dimmock at Main Street (now Elder Lane), Griffydam and his profession a Coal Miner.

 

His basic training took place at the Glen Pava Depot/Barracks, South Wigston, then he was posted to India where the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was based at that time. Sam achieved the rank of Lance Corporal there. The 1st Battalion remained in India until February 1941 when it transferred to Penang.

Following a further period of training in Penang, the Leicesters’ sailed to the mainland of Malaya in May 1941. They were stationed at Sungei Patani and became part of the 11th Indian Division. By June things started to get serious as war with the Japanese was looming.

By the time the Japanese invaders had begun pushing into Malaya, the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was in position at Jitra, Malaya. On the night of the 10th /11th December, contact was made with the enemy. Allied defences at Jitra were not completed when this broke out. The battle lasted from the 11th to 13th December 1941. During this time, the Leicesters’ fought hard and well against a little known enemy.  Following defeat at the battle at Jitra, the Leicestershire regiment and East Surrey Regiment amalgamated to form the famous British Battalion.

The British Battalion later withdrew to Kampar where it held a relatively strong defensive position from which they could observe the enemies advance from the hill side. They engaged in battle on 30th December 1941 and both the Japanese and the British Battalion suffered heavy losses over a three day period. Sam Dimmock must have fought at the battle of Kampar with the British Battalion as he is not recorded on his war records as being a POW at this time.

Sam was eventually captured and taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore on February 15th 1942 and records show that he was at Changi, Singapore as a POW. Sam’s mother received a document from the “Record & Pay Office” in Shrewsbury, dated 23rd February 1942, which must have come as a great shock as it states that Sam had been reported missing, but they would continue to pay her an allotment of 7 shillings per week until 7th June 1942 and should no further news be received before that date, a communication would be sent to her by the War Office. Clearly he had not gone missing and there must have been confusion in communications somewhere along the line which is hardly surprising due to the chaotic situation at that time.

Sam remained in Changi until he was sent to work on the ‘Burma To Thailand Death Railway’ on March 23rd 1943. He worked on the Railway until late June 1944. However, like many others, Sam was hospitalised and spent from .January to May 1944 in the Chungkai Camp hospital suffering from tropical leg ulcers. He left there in May 1944 and was sent further down the line to Taimuang camp.

It was around this time that life took yet another unfortunate twist for Sam. He was selected along with over 2000 other POWs to go to another POW camp in Japan. They were made to travel a 1,200 mile horrific journey to River Valley Road Camp in Singapore to await transportation to Japan. The first party arrived in Singapore on the 29th June at 2.00pm. For two months after arrival, they were held at the Valley Road camp where they had to work doing various jobs on the docks.

 

Later, on September 4th, 1944, the Australian and British prisoners of war, who had survived the building of the Death Railway, were marched the three miles from the Valley Road camp to the docks at Keppel Harbour Singapore to board the passenger/cargo ships headed for Omuta, Japan. The Japanese ships that transported POWs were commonly known as ‘Hell Ships’ for obvious reasons. Sam boarded the Kachidoki Maru and a convoy of around 9-10 ships set off.  At the same time USA submarines were patrolling the area. They knew nothing whatsoever about POWs being transported on this convoy and the ships were subsequently torpedoed, some sinking instantly. One hit the Kachidoki Maru splitting its seams along the water line, which instantly caused flooding. The engine stopped, and at 23:15, the skipper ordered, "abandon ship". Soon after, Kachidoki Maru took a heavy list and slipped into the water at 23:37. A total of 476 passengers and POWs lost their lives. Sam Dimmock miraculously survived. His daughter recalled her father talking about being alone on a raft with only a rat for company, but she wasn’t aware that he had been sent to Japan or had been on a ship that had been sunk by an American submarine, or even that he could swim.

 

Sam was eventually picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and his final destination was to be the Electro-Chemical Industry Company Branch Camp, Fukuoka 25B at Omuta in Japan where he was interned as a POW from 31st September 1944 until the end of the war. The entire party of POWs in Fukuoka 25B camp, including Samuel Dimmock, worked in the Carbide Plant. Men from other surrounding camps worked in atrocious conditions in the mines. The Carbide Plant was within the Electro Chemical Industrial complex on the side of the Ōmuta River. Sam was forced to stoke a furnace, fusing Tungsten and Carbon at 1400 to 2000 deg C, to form Tungsten Carbide with no protection against the heat.

 

During July 1945 the Americans destroyed Omuta and finally the factory. The meagre rations now ceased and they were forced to make soup from the camp dog. In August 1945 the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 40 miles away and the Nagasaki 50 miles away. They saw the mushroom clouds but did not appreciate the significance or radiation fall out that resulted. The Japanese Emperor finally surrendered on 15th Aug 1945, this was against the Japanese code of no surrender.  The last Japanese Solder Hiroo Onoda did not surrender until 1974 in the Philippines. To his death, he condemned the Emperor’s action.

 

On the 24th August they took cover as B 29’s flew low over the camp, only to find they were dropping food and leaflets informing them of the surrender. Sam was eventually liberated on 16th September 1945. Incredibly Sam had managed to survive slave labour, lack of food, beatings and a ship wreck. He went to hospital in San Francisco for convalescence and rehabilitation before returning to his beloved Griffydam.

Sam was a very quiet shy man, rarely spoke of his ordeal, and was haunted by his memories that resulted in nightmares when he relived the terrors he had experienced. He had no help or support from the Army in coping with the trauma and felt they were the forgotten Army. Not only was he severely under nourished but the war had left him mentally scarred.  He attempted to return to work at New Lount Colliery but could not work underground with its noise, confinement and dark.  He eventually got a job as a Shot Firer at Breedon and Cloud Wood Quarries.

 

A year or so after his return Sam received £200 back pay from the Army and used it to purchase the house.  He met and married Barbara Green from The Moor in Coleorton in 27th August 1947. Barbara was a great support throughout their 54 year marriage.  Barbara and Sam had two girls Mary and Susan. The house was typical of domestic homes of the time. Downstairs was a kitchen where the family washed, ate and lived. His mother Elizabeth used the downstairs parlour as a bedroom.

 

The wall on the rear elevation was below ground and permanently damp. Barbara suffered with Asthma so they sold the house and a bungalow was built next door for their retirement. Sheila and Bill Fisher, the new owners of Sam and Barbara’s previous home,  remember Barbara and Sam as kind caring neighbours. Sam let out their dogs when they were at work and cultivated their vegetable garden.

 

Samuel Dimmock died on the 18th January 2002.

Click here to view Samuel T Stewart's publication 'In Memory Of 3 Japanese Prisoners Of War From Griffydam & Peggs Green'

Description Of Sam's Medals (Left to Right)

  • The 1939–1945 Star -  A military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom on 8 July 1943 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War.

  • The Pacific Star - A military campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 awarded to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Pacific Campaign from 8th Dec 1941 to 2nd Sept 1945, during the Second World War.

  • Defence Medal -   Awarded to service personnel for three years service in a non-operational area (e.g. India) or six months service overseas in territories subjected to air attack or otherwise closely threatened.   (Obverse) the uncrowned head of King George VI, (reverse) two lions flanking an oak sapling crowned with the dates at the sides and wavy lines representing the sea below.  The words THE DEFENCE MEDAL appears in the exergue

 

  • War Medal – Awarded to all fulltime personnel of the armed forces wherever they were serving, so long as they had served for at least 28 days between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945 were eligible for this medal.  (Obverse) effigy of King George VI; (reverse) a triumphant lion trampling a dragon symbolising the Axis Powers. It was granted in addition to the campaign stars and the Defence Medal

Young Samuel Dimmock (2nd Left) With His Pals In The Cunneries, Griffydam 

Samuel Dimmock in India (far left) 

An extract from the original 25B Camp Roster listing Samuel Dimmock as number 102. Source and copyright Roger Mansell, Palo Alto, CA

Liberation Questionnaire & Japanese Index Card Records

Sam & Barbara's Wedding Photograph

?,?, Alice Stone nee Dimmock, Ben Stone Jnr, Elizabeth Dimmock,?, Ben Stone Snr (landlord of The Griffin pub), Sam Dimmock, Barbara Dimmock, Frank Green, Marge Green, Norman Bun Green, Evelyn Green Barbara’s mother, Jim Hill, Joan Hills nee Green

Flo & Alice Dimmock

 Barbara Dimmock With Son-In Law Stuart Smith (married to daughter Susan) pictured in front of their house in Elder Lane

Photograph Of Sheila Fisher Taken At The Rear Of The Property

© 2018 Griffydam Village History Group

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