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How Dorothy, 91 found answers in 70-year quest to track down pals of her PoW brother; OAP'S NEW INTERNET SKILLS HELP PIECE TOGETHER DANIEL'S FINAL DAYS IN JAPANESE CAMP.

Byline: Sam Dimmer

A 91-YEAR-OLD woman whose brother died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp 70 years ago has tracked down one of the pallbearers at his funeral after learning to surf the internet.

Silver surfer Dorothy Watkins had been desperate to know about brother Daniel Duff's fellow inmates at the Mukaishima camp since he died on Christmas Eve in 1942.

The 24-year-old corporal, who attended the old Stoke Council School, was one of 23 British prisoners who never made it back from the PoW camp, near Hiroshima.

Little sister Dorothy and family only found out how he died from a letter sent by one of the camp's survivors months later.

Now, 70 years on, she can identify one of his close friends in the camp who carried his coffin at a simple funeral service.

Dorothy, of Siddeley Avenue, Stoke, said: "The story starts with this lady who was extremely fond of her grandfather.

"He was always talking about his old friend Danny. He spoke about him so much that she decided to Google him.

"She went all over the place - actually finding a website that my nephew had put together about his family - but eventually she contacted the Japanese Friendship Society.

"They spoke to a different woman whose father was in the camp and she found a page in his diary that recalled the day my brother died and that this man had been pallbearer at his funeral.

"Unfortunately this man has now died but I'm looking forward to speaking to his daughter "I never really knew a great deal of detail. Now at 91 I'm finding out more - it's fantastic."

The letter sent to Eliza Duff, Dorothy's mother, after Daniel died described the terrible conditions in the camp. The soldiers - who had just left a tropical climate - were kept in a freezing wooden hut with no medical supplies and only rice to eat. Despite that, Daniel and his colleagues soldiered on until the dire weather led to a series of deaths on the camp.

His condition started to worsen on December 21 and, as temperatures plummeted, the Coventry corporal died on December 24. A military funeral was held and he was cremated. His ashes were buried on a nearby hillside.

"My mother got a great bundle of letters sent back to her after Dan had died," Dorothy said. "She had written them and they had never been delivered. We were always together. He was a great sportsman and he loved his rugby - he was great fun.

"My father had died in 1937 so it was just my mother and I at the time Dan died. It was terrible.

"Whilst we heard nothing there was still hope."


ANSWERS AT LAST: Dorothy Watkins used the internet to track down one of the pallbearers at the funeral of her brother Daniel. Left, Dorothy with her brother during the war
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 4, 2012
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