Loving tributes paid to former PoW hero Len

IPSWICH: He was captured after just four days of fighting in the Second World War and spent the next three-and-a-half years in a Singapore prison.

Today the family of Len Barber, who was known throughout the town for his humour and fun-loving personality, have paid a tribute to him following his death at the age of 97.

Dedicated family man Mr Barber, of Adelaide Road, Ipswich, died in Ipswich Hospital on February 1 after being admitted four days earlier.

The father-of-two, who had lived in Ipswich for 50 years, was called up to serve as a driver mechanic in the Second World War in 1940 and was then sent to Singapore.

After fighting for four days, Mr Barber was captured and spent the next three-and-a-half years in Changi Prison, Singapore.

Mr Barber – treasurer of the local branch of the Far East Prisoners of War for decades – was eventually released from the camp and returned home weighing less than six stone.

His wife of 66 years Betty, 94, said the treatment he received in the camp affected him for many years.

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She said: “I met Len at a dance in Saxmundham – where he was born. I was 14 and he was four years older than me. We were together ever since.

“The way he was treated in the camp was dreadful and I just never knew whether he would be coming home or not. We went back to the camp in Singapore in 1979 and I think that helped him with his fears.

“Len had a great sense of humour, he was always the life and soul of a room. He made people smile and he was very well known.”

His son, David Barber, recalled stories his father told from his days at the PoW camp.

He said: “He was plotting and scheming alongside other prisoners of war, then all of a sudden a Japanese officer appeared and told my father that he spoke English and fully understood what he was saying.

“He tried to get one up on them all the time. He used to fill match boxes with bugs and throw them over to the officers so they would get bitten.”

His funeral will be held on Wednesday, February 22.

n Send us your memories of Len Barber. Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.