James Clayton

James Clayton from Gilford, Co. Down was a prisoner of war at the brutal Japanese Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp in Borneo when he died on 2nd March 1945.


James Clayton


James Clayton, known to family and friends as Jim, was a prisoner of war in Borneo for more than 3 years during the Second World War. He died on 2nd March 1945 although it was many months later before the news reached Gilford, Co. Down.

Corporal James Clayton (970707) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. Born on 19th March 1917, he was the son of James Clayton and Martha Clayton of 3 Prospect Terrace, Gilford, Co. Down.

In January 1942, his name was on a list of recipients of a Red Cross Package from the local headquarters in Gilford, Co. Down. He was an Acting Pilot Officer and Radio Operator at the time.

James died on 2nd March 1945 aged 28 years old. He was a prisoner of war at the Sandakan Camp, Borneo, Malaysia for almost 4 years. In September 1945, the Clayton family received a postcard stamped from the POW Camp in Borneo from James stating he was “in excellent health”. He also said spirits were high and he had received mail from them.

World War Two Memorial in Gilford

WartimeNI Photo: The names, regiments and townlands of the men of Gilford and other nearby villages who gave their lives during World War Two. Photo taken on 10th September 2016. Copyright Scott Edgar - WartimeNI.

By September 1945, the reality was that the Sandakan Camp had closed. Many of the men had been sent out on what became known as “Death Marches”. Treatment of prisoners at the camp by Japanese guards was brutal. The family learned of the death of Jim in December 1945.

Corporal Clayton has no known grave. His name is on the Kranji War Memorial, Singapore having first been on Column 452 of the Changi War Memorial, Singapore. His name is also on the Gilford War Memorial, Co. Down.