Skip to content
CfA UKAS Mark of Accreditation for Customer Service Excellence logo
Accredited Archive Service logo

Papers of William H. Allchin

Archive reference: Cwl ALLC

This archive documents the efforts of a Hampshire psychiatrist and FEPOW (Far East Prisoner of War) towards reconciliation with his Japanese captors.

Dr William H. Allchin

William Henry "Bill" Allchin was born in Harrow, Middlesex, on 27 March 1921. During the Second World War, as a Lieutenant in 18 Battalion Reconnaissance (Recce) Corps, he was captured at the fall of Singapore and spent three and a half years as a prisoner-of-war, first at Changi from February 1942-May 1943. He was then one of the POWs who worked on the Thailand-Burma "death railway", until he was sent back to Changi in December 1943, where he remained until liberation in December 1945. At Changi, he learned Japanese to try to communicate with his captors.

After war service he trained as a doctor, eventually specialising in psychiatry with particular concern for children and young people. He moved to Hampshire in 1961 to work at Leigh House, near Eastleigh, the Wessex Regional Health Authority adolescent unit. From 1976 he practised as an independent psychiatrist. He was also an adult education tutor with the Workers' Education Association. 

He returned to Thailand in January 1976 with a group of POWs: he concluded that as a survivor of the camps he was "under an obligation to work for peace and reconciliation". Thus he supported a plan by a Japanese interpreter from the camps, Mr Nagase Takashi, for a reconciliation at the River Kwai. When this proved impossible for most British ex-POWs, Dr Allchin helped organise a meeting at Westminster Abbey to bear witness. He continued to correspond with Mr Takashi and to work for reconciliation with the Japanese.

Dr Allchin was a member of the Labour Party and stood four times in general elections as a Parliamentary Candidate for the Winchester/Andover constituency. He was involved with various campaigning groups, including the Ex Servicemen's Anti-War Group and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He was Chair of the Winchester Peace Council and worked with homeless people with the Winchester Housing Action Group. He became a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Dr Allchin published many journal articles concerning his psychiatric work and also was a  poet, many of his poems relating to his reconciliation experiences. Dr Allchin retired to Bangor with his partner of many years, Tom. He died there on New Year’s Day 2001, aged 79. A bursary for Peace Studies students at the University of Bradford was set up in his memory.

The Archive

This archive mainly concerns Dr Allchin's efforts for peace and reconciliation with the Japanese from the 1970s to the 1990s. It contains much correspondence, with Mr Nagase Takashi, with other Japanese contacts, with FEPOWs, and with many campaigning organisations. There are press releases, circulars, and other publicity materials and press cuttings, many from local Hampshire papers or Far East publications, and a few photographs. The Archive also includes typescripts and manuscripts of books, articles and poems by Dr Allchin and other authors.

We have produced a basic catalogue to make the material available to the public. Note that some sections containing personal correspondence are restricted under the Data Protection Act pending further research.

The Books

The archive is complemented by our collection of Dr Allchin's books relating to his work for reconciliation, including many with inscriptions or other provenance.

If you require this information in an alternative format, please contact our team. You can also read our Website Accessibility Statement.