Stanley, James

Stanley, James

Stanley, James: see Derby, James Stanley, 7th earl of.
Flight Sergeant Stanley James Woodbridge, GC, (August 29, 1921February 7, 1945) was a British World War II recipient of the George Cross. He was born in Chelsea, London, and during World War II served as a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, with No. 159 Squadron RAF. Woodbridge was captured by Japanese forces along with five other members of his crew, when the 159 Squadron, Consolidated Liberator aircraft he was flying in crashed. Woodbridge, who was the crew's wireless operator, was subjected to torture, and eventually beheaded along with the three other non-commissioned officers from his crew. The two officers from the crew were taken to Rangoon Jail and found alive when Rangoon was liberated. Throughout his ordeal, Woodbridge defiantly refused to give information to his Japanese captors, about his codes or radio equipment.

In 1948 Stanley James Woodbridge was awarded the George Cross posthumously, in recognition of his courage, and devotion to duty.

George Cross citation

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to - 1393806 Flight Sergeant Stanley James Woodbridge (deceased), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 159 Squadron.

Flight Sergeant Woodbridge was a wireless operator in the crew of a Liberator aircraft which crashed in the jungle in Burma whilst engaged in an operation against the Japanese on 31st January, 1945. Together with five other members of the crew he was captured by the Japanese. All six were subjected to torture at the hands of their captors in an endeavour to obtain information which would have been of use to the Japanese Intelligence Service. Eventually the four non-commissioned officers were separated and conveyed by motor transport to a forest, where they were put to death by beheading. Three officers and three non-commissioned officers of the Imperial Japanese Army were subsequently brought to trial by a Military Court charged with the torture and murder of the four airmen, they were all found guilty. Three were hanged and three sentenced to terms of rigorous imprisonment. At the trial it was revealed that the Japanese concentrated their efforts on Flight Sergeant Woodbridge, the wireless operator, in an endeavour to obtain technical information regarding wireless equipment, secret codes, wavelengths, etc.

A Japanese technical officer was detailed to make the interrogation and the services of two interpreters were engaged, but, in spite of repeated torture, including kicking, beating with belts and with a sword, Flight Sergeant Woodbridge steadfastly refused to reveal any information whatever. The final interrogation took place actually at the place of execution, when it was obvious to the unfortunate prisoner that he was to be put to death, even so he maintained his courageous attitude to the end, merely remarking that if the Japanese were going to kill him they should do it quickly. After all efforts to make him speak, including further torture, were found to be fruitless this gallant non-commissioned officer was beheaded on 7th February, 1945. Flight Sergeant Woodbridge behaved throughout with supreme courage His fortitude, loyalty to his country and his complete disregard for his own safety, even unto death, constitute one of the highest examples of valour in the annals of the Royal Air Force.

Published in the London Gazette, September 28, 1948


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