Observer with the Fleet Air Arm executed by the Japanese – son of the publican of the Rose and Crown, East Lambrook.
William Edwin John Lintern : Sub Lieutenant (Air) Fleet Air Arm, 849 Squadron, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Victorious
William Lintern’s home was the Rose and Crown public house at East Lambrook, Somerset. His father Walter was the publican.
As a child, William attended Ilminster Grammar School, but by 1939, aged 19, he had left school and was a clerk. From the 1939 Register – see below – we know he was living at East Lambrook with his parents Walter and Adelaide, his sister Audrey aged 12 and his brother Brian aged 9.
In the Second World War, William joined the Fleet Air Arm. He was posted to the Far East where he was involved in the war with Japan.
As an Observer with 849 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, he was flying in a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber in attacks against the Japanese oil refineries. This type of aircraft was originally developed for the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
On 29th January 1945 his aircraft had taken off from the deck of air craft carrier HMS Victorious, preparing to bomb oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra.
His aircraft, and one other Avenger, was seen to be hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and the planes crash-landed near Palembang. All of the seven men parachuted to safety on the ground and attempted to evade the Japanese forces, but they were eventually captured on or around the 12th February.
Thereafter, records become scarce and in the end, British investigators at the time were only able to conclude they might have been shipped to Outram Road Gaol, Singapore with two other Fleet Air Arm men.
These nine men are known as the Palembang Nine. They were thought to have been executed in Singapore by the Japanese on or around the 31st July 1945. William Lintern was aged 24.
Their names are inscribed on the Lee-on-Solent Fleet Air Arm Memorial, in Hampshire, England.
There is a memorial to the Palembang Nine in the nave of St.Bartholomew’s Church, Yeovilton, Somerset. The church lies very close to RNAS Yeovilton, and has several memorials to men of the Fleet Air Arm. The emblem of the FAA is on the gates of the church.
In the 1980s, researchers found that it was likely the Palembang Nine were imprisoned in Changi Gaol, and were in fact executed on Changi Beach, two days after the ceasefire – 15th August 1945.
Further research by the New Zealand Fleet Air Arm Museum suggests there were more than nine men executed – see below.
William Lintern is also remembered on the War Memorials in the churches of St.Martin’s, Kingsbury Episcopi : and in St.James church, East Lambrook – the memorial stone is shown in the photograph.