DIARIES of a Japanese prisoner of war will be shared at a family's farewell to the former soldier and local rugby stalwart who died aged 94.

Stanley Pringle, who lived in Bierley, Bradford, never spoke much of his time in the prison camps as a young army gunner, but a few years ago decided to write his experiences down in diary form.

When he died peacefully on Valentine's Day, his family decided to share those war experiences as part of the celebration of life today at Parkwood Crematorium in Elland.

Son Robert Pringle said: "I used to ask dad about the jungle and if he'd seen any snakes but he never spoke much about it! I think it was something he wanted to stay in the past until recently. He said he'd been one of the lucky ones"

Mr Pringle had enlisted at Valley Parade on April 26, 1939 and embarked for Singapore via Freetown, Capetown, Mombassa and Bombay on bonfire night 1940.

As a prisoner-of-war, he had to endure forced labour in Korean coal mines and on the Japanese docks, grateful for being allowed to rummage in rubbish bins for scraps of food by the more lenient guards. His weight plummeted to just seven stone.

His son said: "I suppose being moved from Nagasaki two weeks before the Americans dropped the A Bomb was lucky, as was surviving beriberi while the bloke in the next hammock had to be buried at sea on the way home."

After convalescing in Canada, he returned to Bradford, settling back into a career in the wool trade and lunching in Sunwin House where he fell for a waitress called Margaret, wooing her with a threepenny-bit tip, and married her in 1949.

They lived in Laisterdyke, bringing up their son and daughter Kathryn in DundasStreet until it was demolished to make way for flats in 1959 and they bought a house in Bierley hall Grove where they lived for the rest of their lives.

Sport always played a big part in Mr Pringle's life, in and out of his army days, playing cricket for Little Horton Congs and then rugby union for Wibsey until the grand age of 53.

He was widowed in 2002, which hit him hard but he kept up his independence and was determined to stay at home until the end. He also had four grandchildren and four great granddaughters.

His younger years were colourful, growing up in the 1920s in hard times, going scratting on the spoil heaps around Tong cemetery looking for leftover coal and running behind the greengrocers's horse and cart to pick up any vegetables that had fallen off. One winter in Westgate Hill, his family were evacuated from their cottage when heavy snowfall caused their cottage roof to collapse.

Life was not without its scrapes, said his son, who also remembered his dad telling him how as a small child he had got lost wandering the streets of Bradford and was found by nuns from St Patrick's Church.

Then there was the time when his bike wheel got caught in the tram-track, sending him over the handlebars suffering concussion and being kept in a darkened room for two weeks.

Donations at the crematorium will go in Mr Pringle's memory to a Children's Charity.