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Bamford Fletcher, Joan (1918–79)

In 1945 Regina’s Joan Bamford Fletcher captured headlines in Canada and Britain after shepherding some 2,000 Dutch civilian captives from a Japanese prison camp through the Sumatra jungle to safety: while commanding seventy vanquished but armed Japanese soldiers she guided the evacuees through territory swarming with hostile Indonesian rebels. This remarkable feat earned her an MBE, a Samurai sword, and public renown. Born in Regina in 1918, Bamford Fletcher came from a family of prosperous cotton merchants in England. After early years spent on their dairy farm near Regina, she attended boarding school in England in the 1920s, and took further schooling in Belgium and France. After the outbreak of World War II Fletcher first trained as a driver in the Canadian Red Cross transport section, then traveled to Britain around December 1940 and joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). In Scotland she worked as a driver for the exiled Polish army. At war’s end she was sent to Sumatra, where her rescue feat took place. Later she was posted to the British Embassy in communist-held Poland, but eventually returned to Canada, where she died in 1979.

Ruth Wright Millar

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Further Reading

Millar, R.W. 2004. Saskatchewan Heroes and Rogues. Regina: Coteau Books.
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