A FORMER prisoner of war is appearing on TV at the weekend to reveal the brutal treatment he was subjected to at the hands of his Japanese captures.
Pensioner Tom Boardman, from Leigh, spent three years behind bars in appalling conditions in Thailand during the Second World War.
The 98-year-old contracted malaria 32 times during his incarceration and his weight plummeted to 6st, but he kept the spirits up of his fellow captured soldiers by entertaining them with a ukelele he made from 'old Red Cross boxes and used telegraph wires'.
The talented ukelele player, who was a sergeant with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, also worked on the ‘death railway' in Burma during the war with Nazi Germany.
He tells his story on BBC Two's Britain at War: Imperial War Museums at 100 on Saturday.
The hour-long documentary starts at 7.30pm and sees Tom discuss his time spent as a POW in Changi, Ban Pong and Chunkai and the fact that the ukelele he played during the war is now housed at Imperial War Museum North in Trafford.
Great-grandfather Tom said: “You had to have willpower to survive.
"If you couldn’t overcome the desperate situation you would die.
“I had to do something and I wanted to give the lads something to lift their morale, if only fleetingly.
"We needed something to take our minds away from the reality of war.
“I had always loved music and played the ukulele, so I set about making one out of the old Red Cross boxes and used telegraph wires for string.”
With the prisons in Thailand being hell on Earth, Tom says many of his comrades committed suicide.
Linda Fisher, from Shoulder to Soldier, an organisation that helps war veterans, said: “In the 100th year of the Imperial War Museums it is only fitting that it recognises the enormous contribution Mr Boardman made.
“He not only defended our country in the Second World War but by making this ukulele he has provided a lasting legacy that lives on now as part of our national history.”
Tom worked for Lancashire United Transport in Howe Bridge, Atherton, after returning from the war.
He was captain of Leigh Golf Club and played many other sports.