Unit: 1/5th Battalion
Service Number: 4967751
Date of Death: 24 August 1945 – Died [PoW]
Age: 39 years
Cemetery / Memorial: Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand
Grave / Panel Ref.: 6. D. 70.
Bertie was born on 13 July 1906 at Cranwell, Lincolnshire, the son of Henry (Scaffolder) (see below) and Jane (née Marriott) Marriott. The 1911 Census (RG 14/19618) shows Bertie living at Knipton Houses, Ruskington, the home of his widowed grandmother, Martha (née Woods) Marriott, with his mother, Jane (Martha’s daughter), and his older brother, George. A year later a younger brother, Reuben Woods (see below), was born.
When War was declared in 1939 Bertie was still living in the family home at 5 Knipton Cottages, Westcliffe, with his 90 year old grandmother, his parents and his brother, Arthur.
N.B. Bertie’s father, Private 27095 Henry MARRIOTT, enlisted in the 6th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, aged 39 years 210 days. He served in France with the BEF from 14 – 24 October 1916, when he was wounded.
N.B. Bertie’s younger brother, Trooper 7881873 Reuben Fallier Woods MARRIOTT, served with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa. He was killed in action on 24 November 1941. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 23, Alamein Memorial.
Without Bertie’s Service Papers it is not possible to say when he enlisted in the 1/5th Battalion. He moved with the Battalion when it was deployed en-route to India for the defence of Singapore.
The 1/5th (Derbyshire) Battalion was a 1st-Line Territorial Army formation originally serving with the 148th Infantry Brigade, part of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division. However, in December 1939, the Battalion was reassigned to the 25th Infantry Brigade and saw service with the BEF in France and Belgium in 1940 and was evacuated from Dunkirk.
In late 1940 the Battalion was again reassigned to the 55th Infantry Brigade, 18th Infantry Division. The 1/5th Battalion after a year in England sailed for the Far East, along with the rest of the 18th Division. It was posted to Malaya to defend the peninsula and the island of Singapore against the Japanese and arrived in Singapore on 29 January 1942, just prior to its capture by the Japanese.
After Singapore fell to the Japanese Army on 15 February 1942, Bertie was one of the Battalion’s men who became a Prisoner of War and was forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway. The men of the 1/5th Battalion suffered horrendously at the hands of the Japanese while working on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway; 450 officers and men of this Battalion died in captivity.
Japan surrended to Allied forces on 15 August 1945, but it was too late for Bertie, who died 9 days later and now lies in Kanchanaburi Cemetery in Thailand.
Bertie is one of 5,084 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery – 84 are from his 1/5th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters Regiment. The CWGC says this of the Cemetery where he now lies:
” The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar).
Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in October 1942. The line, 424 kilometres long, was completed by December 1943.
The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.”
Another Ruskington man to die in captivity was Gunner 940705 Leslie Thomas LOUTH, 122 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, buried in Chungkai War Cemetery.
- I am grateful to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project’ for the photos of Bertie’s Grave and Cemetery.
- The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6388J
- “History of the Sherwood Foresters” – A McDougall