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POW's daughter's shock at letter from Chinese president

2023-06-10 19:12:34 [Press center4] source:CNN (Cable News Network)

The daughter of a soldier has spoken of her surprise at receiving a letter from the president of China as part of a campaign started by her father.

Denise Wynn's father Dennis Morley was a prisoner of war (POW) on board the Lisbon Maru when it was sunk in 1942.

Mr Morley was rescued by Chinese fishermen and Ms Wynn is continuing his campaign for their "heroic" actions to be recognised with a memorial in China.

"Hopefully my dad's wish will come true," Ms Wynn, from Chalford, said.

On 1 October 1942 the Japanese ship Lisbon Maru was sunk by a torpedo fired by an American submarine, USS Grouper, which had been unaware there were more than 1,800 British POWs on board.

During the 24 hours it took for the ship to sink, Mr Morley said Japanese troops and crew were evacuated to safety, but POWs were left to force their way out, with many having no option but to jump in the sea.

More than 800 people died.

Mr Morley, then a 22-year-old in the Royal Scots regiment, settled in Stroud after the war and was among the men rescued from the water by Chinese fishermen. He died two years ago at the age of 101.

Ms Wynn contacted a friend of her father's in Hong Kong and he helped her write a letter to the Chinese president Xi Jinping.

"I wasn't really expecting a reply but a few weeks later I got a reply from the president agreeing to look into the matter and things are moving on from there," she told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"The Chinese ambassador's secretary contacted me asking if we could set a date for the ambassador to come and deliver the letter in person to me and he did. I was quite shocked and humbled," she added.

Mr Xi wrote that it had been "a great pleasure" to receive her letter about the "touching story" of the fishermen from Zhoushan.

He told her that he had "instructed competent agencies" to look into the idea of a memorial in Zhoushan to commemorate the incident.

There is a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire marking the rescue but Ms Wynn said her father had always wanted there to be a similar one in China dedicated to the men who saved his life.

"He wanted one in China to show what heroes they were, so that they'll be remembered for eternity and their family and friends can look at the memorial and be proud of them," she added.

Ms Wynn said she only found out the full details about what had happened to her father in the five or six years before he died, believing he was trying to protect her from the terror he faced.

"I didn't know the horrific details. It was a horror story really," she said.

"To have gone through that and survived. It's a miracle. He's been lucky all the way along and to live to 101 was amazing.

"My dad always said if it wasn't for those Chinese fishermen doing that heroic deed then he wouldn't have been alive. He wouldn't have met his wife, had me or had a family."

Ms Wynn was the guest of honour at an event at Hatherley Manor Hotel in Gloucester on Sunday in which 120 relatives of the prisoners on the ship met with each other and the Chinese ambassador.

Mr Morey shared his story with a filmmaker before his death and a documentary about the Lisbon Maru is due to be released late this year.

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(editor-in-charge:Press center9)

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