Boyd, Andrew Conor (No. 13615)

Boyd, Andrew Conor

Corporal

No. 13615, 1st (Perak) Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVR)

Died of disease as a Prisoner-of-War on Saturday 5 June 1943 (aged 38)

Buried:

Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Myanmar (Grave B3. O. 14)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club Memorial Plaque

Trinity College Dublin War Dead 1939 – 1945 Roll of Honour

Malayan Civil Service Memorial in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore

BIOGRAPHY

It is recorded in the CWGC Debt of Honour website that Corporal Andrew Conor Boyd (No. 13615) was a son of Robert and Sarah Boyd, and the husband of Nesta Maud Boyd of Crosshaven, Co Cork, Republic of Ireland.

Nesta Maud (sometimes Maude) Boyd’s maiden name was Hayes.

Andrew Conor (sometimes Connor) Boyd was born on 29 December 1905 in the townland of Creevytenant, Annahilt, Co Down, and he was a son of Robert and Sarah Boyd (nee Thompson).  His father, a Presbyterian Missionary Clergyman, was in India when Andrew was born.  Originally named as Andrew Crawford Boyd in civil birth registration records, his second forename was officially changed to Connor on 24 February 1906.

The Reverend Robert Boyd and Sarah Thompson were married on 15 December 1886 in the Free Church, Bombay. India.  This was reported in the 16 December 1886 edition of the Belfast Newsletter.

Rev Robert and Sarah Boyd (nee Thompson) had seven children including:

William Ryder (born around 1888 in India; in 1911 (aged 23), he was a scholar at Trinity College Dublin)

Robert Gardner (born around 1891 in India; in 1911 (aged 20), he was an undergraduate)

Sarah Margaret (born around 1894 in India; in 1911 (aged 17), she was a scholar)

Mary Agnes (born 9 September 1895 in Princetown Road, Bangor)

Patrick Gardner (born 29 May 1899 in Panchgani, India; baptised 23 July 1899 at Miri, Bombay, India; attended the School for Sons of Missionaries, Blackheath London)

Andrew Conor (born 29 December 1905 in the townland of Creevytenant, Annahilt, Co Down)

In 1901 Sarah Boyd (nee Thompson) was living in Agincourt Avenue, Belfast with William, and Mary Macauley (nee Thompson), her brother-in-law and sister who were married on 8 January 1848 in May Street Presbyterian Church Belfast.  Mary was a daughter of Charles Thompson, a confectioner.  Also living there were three of Sarah Boyd’s children – Sarah Margaret Boyd (aged 7), Mary Agnes Boyd (aged 5) and Patrick Gardner Boyd (aged 1).

In 1911 Sarah Boyd (nee Thompson) was living at 50 University Street, Belfast in a boarding house run by the widowed Helen F. McCausland.  Also living there were four of her children – William Ryder, Robert Gardner, Sarah Margaret, and Andrew Conor.  In 1911 Sarah Boyd declared that she was 50, had been married for 24 years, and had seven 7 children, 6 of whom were still living.

Andrew Conor Boyd attended Eltham College, London, and Trinity College Dublin where he obtained a BA degree.

Andrew Conor Boyd worked as a civil servant and on 3 November 1933 he sailed from Belfast aboard the Duchess of York bound for Singapore via Montreal.  Abroad, Andrew Conor Boyd worked for the Malayan Civil Service.  He was the Chairman of the Sanitary Board, Taiping (a municipality in Perak).

During the Second World War, Corporal Andrew Conor Boyd (No. 13615) served with the 1st (Perak) Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF) and he was a Prisoner-of-War when he died.  He died of cholera in Songkrai (Sonkrai) Prisoner-of-War Camp, Thailand.  This was a Japanese POW camp close to the Thailand Burma border and prisoners worked on the Burma Railway.  Prisoners suffered extreme hardship from poor rations, disease, and brutal treatment.

Corporal Andrew Conor Boyd (No. 13615) was buried in Sonkrai Cemetery, Siam, later exhumed and reinterred in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Myanmar, and there is an inscription on his CWGC memorial:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS

The first Volunteer Forces of Malaya originated in 1854 at the time of the Crimean War.  They were active during the Boer Wars of 1899 – 1902 and again during the First World War when they took part in the suppression of the Sepoy Mutiny in Singapore.

As the threat of war in Europe increased in the 1930s, many men from all walks of life and nationalities joined the Volunteer Forces. They came from all branches of the Malayan Government Service, from the Mines and Plantations, from the business communities, from the Medical Profession and from the Church.  The men remained in their civilian employment and received military training at night and on weekends. At this time the forces were reorganised along the lines of the British Territorial Army.

The units of the force were based on the administrative area of Malaya in which the men worked and had enrolled, for example:

  • The Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements (S.S.)
    The Straits Settlements were administered by a British Governor ((Sir Shenton Thomas) who was also High Commissioner for the eleven Malay States. The Straits Settlements consisted of Singapore, Penang and the Province Wellesley, and Malacca (and Labuan and Christmas Island).
  • The Federated Malay States (F.M.S.)
    These States were ruled by Sultans, but each had a British Resident to whom they were accountable.  The Federated Malay States consisted of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang. Volunteers from these States were organised into 4 Battalions:
    Perak – 1st Battalion F.M.S.V.F.
    Selangor – 2nd Battalion F.M.S.V.F.
    Negri Sembilan – 3rd Battalion F.M.S.V.F.
    Pahang – 4th Battalion F.M.S.V.F. 

The Burma-Siam railway, built by Prisoners-of-War, was a Japanese project to support its Army in Burma.  During its construction, some 13,000 Prisoners-of-War died and were buried along the railway.  An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died – mainly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies or conscripted in Siam (now Thailand) and Burma (now Myanmar).  Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre.  Work began in October 1942 and the 424 km long line was completed in December 1943.

Thanbyuzayat became a Prisoner-of-War administration headquarters and base camp in September 1942 and in January 1943 a base hospital for the sick was set up there.

The camp was close to a railway marshalling yard, and heavy casualties were sustained among prisoners during Allied bombing raids in March and June 1943.

The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway line into three cemeteries, including Thanbyuzayat.

Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, designed by Colin St Clair Oakes, was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all burials along the northern section of the railway, between Moulmein and Nieke.

Nesta Maude Hayes was born on 15 May 1914 in Crosshaven Co Cork, and she was a daughter of Francis George Hayes and Alma Caroline Hayes (nee Barron).  Francis George Hayes was a described as a gentleman.

Records show that Nesta’s uncle, Colonel Pierse Francis Hayes who was born on 15 January 1911, served in India during the Second World War, and died in England on 11 July 1991.  She was also a niece of George Desmond Barron who worked for the Malayan Civil Service in Taiping.  Nesta was living with her uncle and aunt Elspeth in Malaya when she and Andrew Connor Boyd got married.  Only a short time after they were married, he was called up to join his unit.  Nesta and her uncle and aunt travelled to Singapore and the two ladies escaped on the Empress of Japan in February 1942.  The RMS Empress of Japan was an ocean liner built in 1929/30 by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland.  At the outbreak of war, she was requisitioned and refitted for war service as a troop ship.

Nesta and her aunt Elspeth eventually reached England via Capetown.  Nesta travelled on to Crosshaven House in County Cork.  George Desmond Barron became a civilian detainee in Singapore for the duration of the war and he died in 1957 (aged 66).

Word of Andrew’s death only reached Ireland in late 1945 so Nesta would not have known until then what had happened to him.  She never remarried.

Nesta Maud Boyd (nee Hayes) of Riverview, Crosshaven, Co. Cork, died on 18 July 1989 (aged 75) and was buried in Templebreedy Graveyard, Crosshaven, Co. Cork.  Also buried in that grave was her father, Francis George Hayes, who died on 13 November 1945.

In several records, Andrew Conor Boyd’s address in Northern Ireland at the time of his death was Aram, Ardlee Avenue, Holywood.  This is the address that his brother, William Ryder Boyd, came home to after he retired from foreign service in 1939.

His father, the Reverend Robert Boyd of Aram Ardlee Avenue, Holywood, died as the result of a coronary thrombosis on 16 March 1939 (aged 83) and was buried in Dundonald Cemetery (Grave D4 99).  His mother, Sarah Boyd, of 53 Gilnahirk Road, Belfast died on 14 November 1946 (aged 85) and was buried in the same grave:  Dundonald Cemetery (Grave D4 99).

When Andrew Conor Boyd of Aram Ardlee Avenue, Holywood died on 5 June 1943 he was described as a civil servant and CSM in the FMSVF.  Administration of his estate was granted to his brother, William Ryder Boyd.