Hector John Webb was a Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force. He is the only serviceman from the Second World War to be mentioned on the Sulgrave memorial. There is no information on any relative in the village in official records. He served in Malaya during the war against Japan. There is no record of his age.  He died on the 29th November 1943 and the manner of his death makes for sober reading.

He is commemorated on the Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery, 22 miles north of the city of Singapore. On 8 February 1942, the Japanese crossed the Johore Straits in strength, landing at the mouth of the Kranji River within two miles of the place where the war cemetery now stands. On the evening of 9 February, they launched an attack between the river and the causeway. During the next few days fierce fighting ensued, in many cases hand to hand, until their greatly superior numbers and air strength necessitated a withdrawal. After the fall of the island, the Japanese established a prisoner of war camp at Kranji. It would have been here or in Changi that Hector Webb spent the next twenty-one months as a prisoner of war of the Japanese.

The Kranji Memorial records him as having died at sea: in the Japanese ship  “Suez Maru” and goes on to state that this ship was:

“Sunk by USS Bonefish, off Kangean Islands 6º 22' South by 116º 35' East. Japanese Captain Kawano orders the shooting of the prisoners in the water. From 14.15 – 16.30 the Minesweeper W.12 massacres the survivors using machine gun and rifles. No survivors.”

This is the full and appalling story from a contemporary account:

In 1943, the Japanese decided to ship the sick back to Java. A total of 640 men, including a number of Japanese sick patients, were taken on board the 4,645-ton passenger-cargo ship Suez Maru. In two holds, 422 sick British (including 221 RAF servicemen) and 127 sick Dutch prisoners, including up to twenty stretcher cases, were accommodated. The Japanese patients filled the other two holds.
Escorted by a minesweeper W-12, the Suez Maru set sail from Port Amboina but while entering the Java Sea and about 327 kilometers east of Surabaya, Java, Netherlands East Indies, the vessel was torpedoed by the American submarine USS Bonefish commanded by Cdr. Tom Hogan. The ship started to list as water poured into the holds drowning hundreds, many managed to escape the holds and swam away from the sinking ship. The Japanese mine sweeper W-12 picked up the Japanese survivors, leaving between 200 and 250 men in the sea. At 14.50, the minesweeper, W-12, under orders from Captain Kawano, opened fire, using a machine gun and rifles. Rafts and lifeboats were then rammed and sunk by the W-12. The firing did not cease till all the prisoners were killed, the minesweeper then picked up speed and sped off towards Batavia (Jakarta) at 16.30 hours.
Sixty-nine Japanese had died during the attack, 93 Japanese soldiers and 205 Japanese sick patients were rescued by the Japanese. Of the 547 British and Dutch prisoners, there is reported to be one survivor, a British soldier, Kenneth Thomas, who was picked up twenty-four hours later by the Australian minesweeper HMAS Ballarat, this has not been confirmed.

Any comment would clearly be entirely superfluous.

Full details of the investigation into this atrocity at: