Robin W Yearsley d.1945

Kindly shared by Robert (Bob) Baldwin (descendent)

Robin W. Yearsley - b.abt 1906 - d.1945

Robin was a Canadian national born in Manila, Philippines abt 1906. His parents were Robert John Yearsley and Pearl Irene Hatt, both of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Robert John and Pearl eloped in 1904, went to the west coast of Canada, took the "slow boat to China" in 1904-05 and ended up in Manila in 1905`.

Robin worked for his father (movie theaters and appliance stores) and was fairly prominent in the local business community.

In 1930, he married Helen Ellison, an American and they had two daughters; my mother, Mary Louise (1931-1974), and (living).

In December, 1941, after the Japanese attack on the Philippines, Robin, although a Canadian national, volunteered to serve with General MacArthur's American/Philippine forces in the Battle for the Philippines. Due to his local prominence, he was commissioned an officer in the US Army (1st Lt.) and fought in the Battle of Bataan with General Wainwright's Army group.

He was captured either after the fall of Bataan (April, 1942) or Corregidor (May, 1942)...We believe it was Bataan, and that he was a participant in the infamous "death march". Either way, he ended up first at the transitional prisoner of war holding prison Bilibid and then on to Cabanatuan (the famous POW prison camp depicted in the film "Great Raid").

On December 13. 1944, he, along with many others, was moved to the Japanese ship Oryoku Maru for transfer to the slave labor camps in Japan. The OM was one of Japan's infamous "hell ships", due to the treatment of POWs on board. The American invasion of the northern Philippines was imminent (Jan., 1945). And he missed being freed by American forces by less than a month.

The Oryoku Maru was held over in Formosa on the way to Japan due to American air and submarine activity. We believe he was then transferred to the Brazil Maru which proceeded to Japan. His death was listed as 1/26/1945 and his name is not included on the lists of POWs in Japanese camps, so we believe he died at sea.

His name was mentioned during the Tokyo war crimes trials as a victim of inhumane treatment by the Japanese on the hell ships of 1944-45.

He was survived by his wife Helen (who later remarried), his parents Robert J. and Pearl and his two daughters.

He has eight surviving grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

I hope this information is helpful...I also hope he is remembered for the courageous man he was.



Gordon Ameson Yearsley d. 1941

Leading Aircraftman Gordon Ameson Yearsley (R/78680). Royal Canadian Air Force. He enlisted in London in April 1940 and was completing his flight training as a Pilot at No. 1 Service Flying Training School, Camp Bordon, Ontario, when the Harvard aircraft he was flying in crashed. Died 19 October 1941. Son of Gordon and Alma E. Yearsley, of 528 St James Street, London. Commonwealth War Dead. London Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Lot 99. Sec. V.

Photo: Canadian Air Force Harvard Aircraft