Historian hopes to trace relatives of Bradford soldier who died in Burma (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Private Leslie Cryer died behind enemy lines in Second World War, aged 27
A historian is hoping to learn more about a Bradford soldier who died behind enemy lies in the Second World War.
Leslie Cryer was a private of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who was fighting in Burma in 1942 when he escaped surrounding Japanese forces.
He lived in the wild for a fortnight before being taken in by the Karens, a Burmese ethnic group who supported the English during the war.
Despite being nursed by a group of Karens, Pte Cryer eventually died of pneumonia aged 27. He was buried near Pawmuder, in a grave marked by bamboo canes and crosses which is still tended by villagers to this day.
London-based historian Philip Davies came across the story of Pte Cryer while researching Major Hugh Seagrim, another soldier who was trapped behind enemy lines, about whom he is writing a book.
Part of the book will deal with Pte Cryer, who Mr Davies says: “epitomises the fate of so many young men” who were sent to the Far East during the war.
Before being conscripted, Pte Cryer was a natural history photographer. He survived an attack by the Japanese at Martaban, living in the surrounding forests by surviving off leaves and herbs. Eventually his hunger led him to a nearby village, where he was nursed by the sympathetic Karens who lived there.
Mr Davies, who hopes to release his book England’s Lost Warrior – Seagrim of Burma later this year, has been unable to find any living relatives of the private, and hopes someone in Bradford may know his family.
It is also possible that his sister, Jeanne, of whom Pte Cryer regularly spoke of and was nine years younger than him, might still be alive.
Mr Davies has tracked down letters written by Pte Cryer’s parents Harry and Beatrice, to the people who looked after him in 1947. Their address at the time was Wharncliffe Road, Frizinghall.
Mr Davies said: “Pte Cryer’s fate was common amongst many who died in similar circumstances.
“Many died simply because they gave up or simply lacked the will to live in the face of what must have seemed impossible odds and acute physical hardship.
“His grave still remains in Pawmuder tended by the local villagers.”
A letter written by the Cryers says: “You can be assured that we are deeply grateful to you for your efforts to save our son’s life.”
Anyone with information about Pte Cryer or his family can contact Mr Davies on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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