Soldier who survived World War One was killed in second world war

Batley Grammar School Roll of Honour.
Batley Grammar School Roll of Honour.

A solider who was believed to have been captured or killed in World War One returned home but died years later in an Japanese internment camp during World War Two.

Isaac Sykes was born in Batley on July 3, 1893, and reported missing in the Batley News in 1918 after a letter from his commanding officer was sent to his family.

But research by Philip Wheeler, who coauthored a book on Batley Grammar School’s Roll of Honour, showed that Mr Sykes found success as banker in Japan, becoming manager of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, in Yokohama.

Sadly, after surviving the horror of the first world war, Mr Sykes was among many prisoners of war who killed themselves when they were imprisoned and mistreated.

Mr Sykes was born to Joseph, a woollen manufacturer, and Annie Sykes when the family lived in Albert Street, in Batley, before they moved to Occupation Lane and later to North Parade.

Research by Mr Wheeler shows that Mr Sykes joined the army around Christmas 1915.

In 1918 a letter sent home to his family in Batley that suggested he had either died fighting or was taken prisoner when Germany began its spring offensive that year.

Mr Wheeler said the letter from Mr Sykes’ commanding officer was likely correct and that he probably was taken prisoner on March 23, 1918, but he was repatriated on January 6, 1919.

National Archive records show that he was eventually granted the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He continued his banking work after he was returned home, which Mr Wheeler said was likely the reason he moved east.

It is not clear whether he was captured in Japan or on the Chinese mainland.

An Australian newspaper reported on July 9 1942 that 12 men who were interned in Japan killed themselves, which Mr Wheeler corroborated with a similar article from a British national newspaper that appeared to show Mr Sykes was one of their number. Documents alongside his will state that he died April 14, 1942, at Yokohama.