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Bradford POW who survived Japanese camp dies at 87
A former prisoner of war who lied about his age to join up when he was 16 has died at the age of 87.
Alf Michael Peterson, who was born in Singapore, enlisted when the Japanese invaded the island in the Second World War.
Alongside his brother William, who was even younger at 15, he joined the Royal Medical Corps.
Both were taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and somehow survived a three-year ordeal at the hands of their captors.
Mr Peterson was one of thousands of prisoners left half-starved on basic rations of rice and forced to build the Thai-Burma railway.
He and his brother were later awarded the British Empire Medal for their work with fellow prisoners in a camp for prisoners with cholera.
After the war Mr Peterson followed a fellow prisoner of war, Ronnie Hant, to Bradford and then settled in the city.
He worked in a clerical position for about 49 years at Provident Financial Group. During this time he met his second wife, Jackie.
Outside of work his hobbies included gardening and studying the stock market.
At the age of 80 Mr Peterson returned to Singapore sponsored by Heroes Return, and visited the graves of thousands of war dead buried on the island.
The Heroes Return project saw many being given a chance to revisit places they served in during the Second World War.
Mr Peterson visited his old school, St Joseph’s, where he was welcomed as a hero.
During his trip he visited the Kranji War Cemetery along with Jackie. While there they saw the graves of fellow POWs and friends in the Royal Medical Corps.
When he returned he told the Telegraph & Argus of his reception at his former school.
He said: “They were clapping and cheering but I am not a hero. I just did my duty and was lucky to survive.”
Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Peterson said: “Alf was a very special man and will be sadly missed by myself, and the rest of his family. He was very proud of his British Empire Medal.”
Mr Peterson’s brother died more than 25 years ago.
He is survived by his wife, sons Peter and Tony, daughters Jeannie and Zoe, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
His funeral takes place at Nab Wood Crematorium tomorrow at 11.30am.
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