More than nine lives

an article from the Aldeburgh Gazette

More than nine lives

MORE THAN NINE LIVES

The true World War II story of Ernest Frederick Linsell, painter decorator, typically quiet, good citizen of Aldeburgh, who died recently, aged 80, after a long illness, is astonishing. The gazette is indebted to John Whatley-Smith, a former President of the British Legion, Aldeburgh branch, for being able to publish it.

Ernest Linsell was born in Aldeburgh and lived as a boy in a flat over Smiths the bakers. An accomplished footballer, he was one of Aldeburgh Town’s stars. He joined the Territorial Army, and in 1942 was with the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment in Malaysia. Came the Japanese invasion and the tragic retreat of the British troops, the remnants reaching Singapore to face surrender and capture. As a prisoner of war Linsell was put on a Japanese warship , soon sunk by American bombers. One of the few survivors, he was picked up by another ship, in turn sunk, by an aerial torpedo. Again a rare survivor, he was rescued by a Japanese fishing vessel. Arrived in Japan, he was sent to work in the mines of Hiroshima, target of the first atomic bomb.

Back home at last, in due time to earn the epitaph ‘a very respected figure in Aldeburgh town’, in the best tradition of the British Army he was known to his friends as ‘Darkie’ – because of his white hair.

 Thanks to John Whatley-Smith and the Aldeburgh Gazette

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