Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

From the Folkestone Herald Published 10 February 2000

Victim of war.

MY FEATURE about former radio and television engineer and electrical contractor Doug Denham came as a pleasant surprise to Terry Hughes, of Marine Avenue, Dymchurch who was a cousin of Aircraftsman Alec Hughes, a cycle apprentice with Doug briefly, until the Second World War so violently intervened.

Both served in the RAF.

Both men ended up in the same Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Far East although unfortunately they never met.

Both suffered from Malaria.

Sadly Alec Hughes died, aged 23, the official cause of death being given as malaria.

Alec Hughes

Aircraftsman Alec Hughes.


But Doug survived.

Doug had told me how, while he was in the large PoW camp, he heard that Alec had been asking after him while he was laid low with illness, but they never met.

Alec was whisked away before he could find him.

Doug heard later that Alec died when he and other prisoners - who were used by the Japanese as cheap labour - were on a forced march of 150 miles.

Terry Hughes kindly sent me a spare copy of a picture of his cousin Alec in RAF uniform to pass on to Doug.

He also sent copies of documents relating to his war service which included a brief news item with a photograph from the Folkestone Herald of February 16, 1946. It announced Alec’s death, on March 28, 1945.

It simply stated that AC2 Alec John Hughes, eldest grandson of Mr and Mrs W Hughes, of Coombe Cottages, Hawkinge, died while a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese.

The news of the whereabouts, or fate of PoWs in Japanese hands did not get back to the UK until Japan was forced to surrender to the Allied forces after it was bombed into submission.

Alec was serving in 242 Squadron RAF when he was captured and his place of death is given on his Air Force War Records registration of death entry as Sandakan, Borneo, and the cause as Malaria.



The war records show he was born in Etchinghill in 1921. His address at the time of call-up in February 1941 was Martello Terrace, Sandgate and his next of kin was given as his uncle, Mr W Hughes, of Alexander Street, Folkestone.

He was posted missing, believed a prisoner of war on March 25, 1942.

At the time of capture his official daily rate of pay was given as six shillings and threepence (about 32p!)

Another entry in his records for 1944 shows the award of a good conduct badge.

The fact that such information is recorded in war records I have mentioned because it may be of comfort or interest to other Herald readers, who, like Terry Hughes, decide to take up some research into their family trees, and don’t know how to proceed.

Alec’s photograph appears to have been taken in Preston on April 5, 1941 before posting to the Far East.

I know that my late father, who served in North Africa with the Eighth Army in the desert campaign, had a fairly minor accident and was in hospital for a while and I sometimes wonder if it is possible to find out more than appears in his old Army paybook that I have inherited.

And I also wonder about his various postings because he never spoke about his war service. But I know he went on to Italy and was at one stage in Holland and Belgium during his service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in which he serviced repaired and waterproofed military vehicles, for which he must have had a crash course, since in civvy street he was a journalist like me.


Lifu Steam Bus

THIS picture, above, is a rather poor reproduction from a magazine or perhaps a local newspaper supplement printed on art paper and is said to depict the first ever motor bus run from Folkestone to Dover under steam power. The Lifu steam bus, called Pioneer appears to be standing outside the Valiant Sailor, Capel after scaling Dover Hill and the picture dates from a century ago. I wrote on the subject of the steamers called Pioneer in my Memories feature last week in our sister paper, the Dover Express, based on the service which ran briefly between Dover and St Margaret’s Bay from June 1899.


Lifu Steam Bus

FESTOONED with flags and bunting this old Lifu steam bus, pictured above, near the foot of the Road of Remembrance, was the “Pioneer “ decorated for the Coronation of King Edward VII and featured in the Herald years ago, but I cannot trace any original copies of pictures of this unusual bus driven by the late Mr A. Salter. I wonder if any Memories reader has a copy they could show me to feature on my page? I would welcome a call on 01304 611665.



Deserters offer services to light in the Boer War.

A NUMBER of army deserters were appearing in local courts after giving themselves up In the hope of leniency and some active service with troops fighting in the Boer War. Colonel Harley, former instructor of the Hythe School of Musketry and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General from 1889-91, was appointed Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of Leut-General Sir H.M.L. Rundle CO of the 8th Infantry Division being formed for service in South Africa. He had latterly been serving in Belfast. He had commanded the 1st Battalion the Buffs on campaign service in 1895. General Sir Redvers Buller at the head of one of the main British armies in South Africa was reported to be confident of reaching the besieged British force at Ladysmith, news that was received with some scepticism. But morale was high, Queen Victoria had sent New Year gifts of chocolate to her troops as well as congregations for their efforts and, as it later transpired the Boers were routed and Ladysmith was relieved on February 16. By then the capitals of the two Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal had been captured. But fighting went on.



General election hustings get under way in district.

GENERAL election meetings were underway, one of the first being held by the Liberal Party, their locally adopted candidate Mrs Ray Ward Bateson being the speaker. She was supported among others by Basil Goldstone, prospective Liberal candidate for Dover. At Elham Moss Murray, Labour’s candidate addressed an open air meeting/ Glowing tributes were being paid to George Lawrie Mackeson, 'father' of cricket In Hythe and uncle of MP Brigadier HR Mackeson, who died aged 85. Recently re-elected President of Hythe CC he was born In Hythe near the old family brewery -now demolished and the site re-developed - which he helped run with Brigadier Mackeson's father Harry until 1920, when he became associated with the Whitbread brewery concern. Frank Hogg, Folkestone’s Entertainments and Publicity Officer gave three months notice of his Intention to resign. No reason for his resignation seems to have been given. He came to the town from Bognor and, at 27 was the youngest entertainments manager in the country when he took up his job in April 1948, During the war he served with the Navy coastal services. He was wounded In 1942, became entertainment officer with various flotillas and shore establishments and rose to the RNVR rank of lieutenant.



Conference debates chaos of district’s bus services.

REPRESENTATIVES of the owners of 48 separate bus ‘companies’ operating in Folkestone and district held a conference in the town to try and thrash out an amicable agreement on how services could be properly run, eliminating dangerous practices such as racing through the streets by drivers of rival firms in their determination to be first to pick up the next group of waiting passengers. During a long debate a rigid timetable seemed to be ruled out but there was some degree of agreement that a system of pooling buses might work. It was agreed to hold another meeting early in February. Herald writer Felix had fond memories of the late Sir Stephen Penfold to whom many townsfolk had recently paid tribute. Sir Stephen had recalled the parish church when it was a strange old place with high and square pews and cumbersome galleries. One of those was used by fishermen, who wore top-hats and sleeve waistcoats. “Folkestone fishermen were not considered properly attired on Sunday without them,” he said. A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest on lorry driver John Wood Belsey, of Waldershare, near Dover, who was killed when his vehicle plunged into Folkestone harbour at low tide, in a gale. This followed a minor collision with a van.



Mixed reactions to Hythe Canal pleasure boat plan.

ON THE jobs front there were hopes of a 4-5,000 probe into the district’s tourism potential. A ‘dig’ In a disused garden in The Bayle near the British Lion revealed large sections of masonry of a two-storey building of around 1650 and an earlier, possibly medieval building. The ‘dig’ spokesman said the finds, which Included pots, bones and a spur, which were taken to Dover Castle for cleaning and assessment, were quite unexpected. A detached house was due to be built on the site. A plan to develop the use of the Royal Military Canal for pleasure cruising was being considered with keen Interest by the Tonbridge branch of the Inland Waterways Association. But the idea met with a hostile reception from two Hythe men who described it as a non-starter and pointed out valid objections raised against it In 1972. Then the dangers of erosion of the banks of the canal, hygiene and pollution were stressed, and interest seemed to die away. Messrs R Macgregor and C Giles suggested a public meeting to Judge local feeling. Inland Waterways Association member Stephen Godden countered that it had been proved motorised boats could actually Improve fishing grounds, by controlling the amount of weed and Improving the generation of oxygen. As to erosion, what about that caused by thoughtless anglers? Toilet blocks could help prevent pollution.


If anyone should have any a better picture than any on this page, or think I should add one they have, please email me at the following address:-