Service number: 2025685 | Rank: Sapper | Regiment: Royal Engineers


My gratitude to Sue Oatley, who sent me details about Albert ‘Smoker’ Palmer, her grandfather, who was captured at Singapore by the Japanese in February 1942.  Albert entered the war in the Territorial Army, given the service number of 2025685, and held the rank of Sapper, in the Royal Engineers.  During the war, a bullet struck Albert’s breast pocket, but luckily for him the bullet struck a cigarette case and bible that were kept in there.  The case has a dent in it and the Bible is ragged and torn in one corner.

Albert didn’t return home immediately after the end of the war.  Being a Far East Prisoner of War, he was so badly malnourished that his return home was delayed so he could be fed and strengthened in order to make the journey safely.

After the war, Albert went into flintknapping because he could sit down to work in the flint yard, apparently his legs “were bad from the prison camp“.  He found being on his feet for any length of time difficult.  He had six children, the eldest was named Flanders because he was born on Armistice Day, although he was known as ‘Flip’.  The others were Derek, Johnny, Graham (Sue’s father), Robin and a daughter, Faith.