Charles Sheppard

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Article highlights

  • The career of a World War Two Intelligence Officer

  • Sheppard's early career

  • Transfer to the Far East

  • War with Japan

  • Naval Intelligence Work

  • The end of the War

War with Japan

There was an increasing possibility of war with Japan in 1941. Sheppard therefore helped with the arrangements for the evacuation of British nationals from the Far East, sailing to either Australia or India. The Foreign Office advised, rather than ordered, people to leave.

Sheppard's wife sailed from America in order to visit him around this time. The ship stopped at Manila, located in the Japanese occupied Philippines.

Rosemary Sheppard therefore ended up in San Thomas internment camp, although was later brought by sea to Shanghai. She suffered a breakdown due to this experience and never fully recovered.

The Allies declared war with Japan in December 1941. Japanese naval personnel arrived at the Embassy a few weeks later.

They informed the employees that all British Naval staff working in the Embassy and Consulate were now prisoners of war. The naval staff separated from the diplomatic staff and a bus drove them to Kiangnin Camp.

Sheppard and the other inmates were looked after better than many POWs held in Japanese territory. Sheppard acted as an interpreter for the camp since none of the guards could speak English.

Sheppard and the other British Naval staff transferred to Woosung POW camp in June 1942. There were around 1600 prisoners incarcerated here, mainly employed in the camp's vegetable farms. Sheppard writes in his memoirs that:

'Discipline in the camp was strictly enforced and punishments were inflicted en masse. They consisted of standing at attention in all weathers for long periods, being deprived of food, slapping, a confinement to punishment quarters and solitary confinement.'

Sheppard and the other naval staff luckily secured their release on 7 August. There was a reunion with his wife, then the couple boarded a Japanese repatriation ship and sailed to East Africa. A Naval Officer met Sheppard on his arrival at Laurenco Marques in Mozambique and ordered him to fly home to England.


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