Fergus Anckorn
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VJ Day: Prisoner's life-saving magic tricks

Fergus Anckorn, 96, was a prisoner of war in Japan for almost four years during World War Two.

He was held captive in Singapore along with 10,000 other soldiers from his division - the 118th Field Regiment Royal Artillery.

He survived the massacre at the Alexandra Hospital in which many of his comrades were slaughtered.

Now the longest serving member of the Magic Circle, Mr Anckorn did magic tricks for the guards as a way of getting food. He found that if he used the guards' food as part of his tricks they would let him eat it afterwards.

He was taken with four other prisoners into the jungle to be shot by his captors, "just for fun" he said. They were all lined up against the trees waiting for the bullets.

Then, for reasons unknown to the prisoners, the guards put their guns away and took them back to the camp.

The war had been over for three days, they found out on their return.

After being liberated, he was not allowed to go home for several months while he put on weight, for fear his appearance would shock his friends and family. When he arrived home he still only weighed six stone (38kg).

Mr Anckorn, who now lives in Hassocks in West Sussex but is originally from Kent, says while he used to have nightmares about his time in captivity, he now lives life to the full and is afraid of nothing.

  • 14 Aug 2015