Name: William Forbes Petrie Brodie


Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve  

Aircraftman 2nd Class, 993595

William Forbes Petrie Brodie was born on 25 January 1914, at 67 George Street, Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

He was born to George Brown Brodie and his wife Peggy Margaret Gow Petrie.  

He was George and Peggy’s fourth son and a daughter would follow, a sister for four boys.

Willie had been a postman before enlisting into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in April 1940.  

Willie was officially registered as becoming a Prisoner of War on 20 March 1942, on Java.  

His R.A.F. Service is quoted as 3 years 226 days.

Father George never knew Willie’s fate because he had died two months before the Suez Maru atrocity.  

Willie was the uncle I never got to meet nor know, but my father and the family kept his memory alive.

I grew up knowing Willie had been a Japanese POW, an uncle who had died when the ship he was being transported in was torpedoed by an American submarine – I would later learn the submarine was the ‘USS Bonefish’.  Someone local to Blairgowrie had returned home and told the family that, as was the custom, Japanese ships carrying POWs never flew a Red Cross flag.  Thus, ‘USS Bonefish’ never knew it was carrying Prisoners of War.  

I don’t know if my father or his siblings ever knew Willie’s true fate – I just know that it was never mentioned to me.  I feel, had my father known, he would have told me. It was when I began researching my family tree decades ago, that I ordered a copy of Willie’s death certificate because I not found a copy within the family.  I Googled the words that appeared on his certificate - Suez Maru.  I feel the emotion even now, when I recall how I felt when I saw and read the results of that search ... hand on heart, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.  That was how I came to learn that he was one of the Suez Maru atrocity’s victims, on 29 November 1943.


None of Willie’s siblings were alive to discuss this revelation with but, if they had never known the truth of their brother’s fate, I was glad they never would.  

Willie is commemorated on:

the Singapore Memorial, Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore;

the Blairgowrie and Rattray’s War Memorial;

the Blairgowrie High School Memorial (Column 429);

Bendochy Parish Church Gateway Memorial; and

Royal Mail Memorial plaque, Blairgowrie Delivery Office.

Willie is also commemorated in Mark Duffy’s book ‘Blairgowrie & Rattray War Memorial – Behind the Names’ and numerous online memorial web pages – including this website.  

Today, I  keep Willie’s memory alive ... Lest We Forget.

Families wish to achieve an apology for the fact that no person was brought to justice for this atrocity, even though the perpetrators were known and held.  All those who perished deserve an apology and all the relatives striving for one will not forget.

Niece Heather A. Johnson

30 April 2024

Research copyright (c) Heather A. Johnson


William Forbes Petrie Brodie

25 January 1914 ~ 29 November 1943

The front of the card (except English sections)

Camp - the three vertical lined characters - JAVA  (1942 (17th year of the the emperors reign) August 15th)

Nationality given as British/English

Place of capture - JAVA, and another character,

PoW number: The box marked No. is the PoW number a man had. I think the crossing out denotes when the PoW was transferred (for the SM men) to the Moluccas.

So I think originally at Java Base, then [moved to] Java Camp III (3). Camp (3) beling Ambon.

The two red vertical stamps on either side of the main box have been translated as ‘Supplement’ and ‘Telegraphed’ - relates to the ‘processing' of the deaths, sending (via telegram)

The red diagonal line across the whole front of the page is a rather callous way to indicate the person was deceased.

Image (c) TNA WO345

Reverse of the index card

Top line: Other Informations

noted that a stamp was made for the first section of red text, and a smaller (4-character) stamp for the end of the same line; the Japanese text  translated-

2nd line: The ship was on its way to deliver the prisoners when it was hit by a thunderstorm. [4 characters after small gap] Suez Maru

3rd line: When the attack happened. [date - 18th year of emperor's reign, 11th month, 29th of the month: 1943, November 29th]  18.11.29 [time of sinking] 09:20   [KA text here - unclear what this refers to]

4th line: [first text, then coordinates] Where the attack happened S 6  20'  E 116  30’  [description of location of sinking] North of Bali Island near Kangayan [Kangean] Island.

Some reverses have additional information, but for the vast majority (of Suez Maru men), their card reverses are identical

Image (c) TNA WO345

Far East PoW Japanese Index Card