Family pay tribute to respected and admired local sportsman, police sergeant and ex Prisoner of War Ken Bailey, who died earlier this month aged 96

PUBLISHED: 14:10 27 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:10 27 January 2016

Ken and Pearl Bailey celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.

Ken and Pearl Bailey celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.


Ken Bailey, a prisoner of war and former police sergeant who still played badminton until 16 years ago, has died at the age of 96.

Ken Bailey holding his diary, which was kept hidden from the JapaneseKen Bailey holding his diary, which was kept hidden from the Japanese

His daughter Jane Wool said: “Ken had the respect of all in the community, both as a police officer and in his private and sporting life.

“His personality and immense strength of character was admired by all.

“Considering the hardship of imprisonment he was well known for his fitness and dedication to sport,” she added.

“He took immense pleasure from his 10 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild.

A report in The Cambs Times when Ken reached 70-years-oldA report in The Cambs Times when Ken reached 70-years-old

“The older ones themselves would say how their ‘pop’ has influenced their lives in many ways.”

Born on 6 November 1919 at Parkston Quay, Harwich, Mr Bailey was one of seven, with one brother and five sisters.

After attending Cambridge Grammar School, his first job was in the menswear’s shop Burtons in Cambridge.

He met his future wife, Pearl, in Liverpool before sailing off to the Far East, landing in Singapore.

Ken in the Cambridge Grammar School Cricket Team; seated on the floor on the rightKen in the Cambridge Grammar School Cricket Team; seated on the floor on the right

On February 15, 1942, he was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and spent three-and-a-half years in captivity in the Far East travelling through various prison camps whilst building the infamous Burma Railway.

Ken’s book, ‘Face of Adversity’, was published for his 90th birthday in 2009 and was serialised in The Cambs Times.

It told Ken’s story of imprisonment by the Japanese, travelling through dense, hot and humid jungles, building the railway, watching friends die in horrendous pain and conditions, having very little food and water, no medicines and suffering severe and inhumane punishments by the captors.

He managed to write and conceal from the Japanese guards a diary he wrote in his first few months as a prisoner.

Ken returned home in 1945 and married Pearl in June 1946. He then became the village police constable in Coates. The couple went on to have two sons, Stephen and Stewart, and a daughter, Jane.

In 1955 Ken moved to March where he spent some time as a detective constable and was promoted to sergeant.

He then moved to Chatteris in December 1962 and became sergeant in charge of the police station there until his retirement in 1974.

Ken continued on as the civilian clerk there for four more years.

A keen sportsman from an early age, Ken played football for Whittlesey United, March Town and the Isle of Ely police teams, playing well into his 50s.

Ken also played cricket for Chatteris for over 30 years where he captained the team, as well as playing in the March and Isle Police teams.

He joined the Chatteris Badminton Club and played until his early 80’s, where he was the treasurer for many years, handling the club’s funds and ensuring that its members always enjoyed a good Christmas party every year.

Ken and Pearl enjoyed playing bowls for Chatteris Bowls Club, entering competitions together and travelling to other clubs. They also danced together at police balls and local dances. Ken also played snooker, with his friend Percy Smith, for many years at the Chatteris Conservative Club.

Ken Bailey died peacefully on January 20 with his family around him.

His funeral will be held on February 11 from 2.30pm at St Peter’s & St Pauls’ Church in Chatteris.

It will be followed by private cremation at March with refreshments at Chatteris Conservative Club. All are welcome and any donations will go to Children of Far East Prisoners of War. The charity is dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Far East Prisoners of War and advancing knowledge of the suffering endured and sacrifices made by them during their years of captivity in WW2.

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