Wyndham John Hillman was born on 20 November 1918 in Bridgwater. In October 1937, aged 18 years, while his parents were living in Swindon, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery. In December 1939, he joined 9th Coast Regiment in Singapore and was captured when Singapore surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.
Later that year, he was sent to Thailand to work on the Burma Railway, which was hacked out of the jungle by Allied prisoners and local people under brutal conditions in which 16,000 prisoners of war died from disease (particularly dysentery, malaria, beriberi and cholera), starvation, overwork, inadequate accommodation and sanitation and brutal Japanese and Korean engineers and guards.
Hillman was next heard of on 29 July 1943 when a postcard sent to his parents was returned to the police with their change of address not known. By then, they had moved to Dutch Road, Mark.
In January 1944, his father advised the War Office that his son was at No 1 Camp, Thailand at Non Pladuk at the southern head of the Railway. By 25 September, Hillman had returned to Singapore, however he was shipped to Saigon in Vietnam in February 1945.
He was killed on 9 April 1945 when US aircraft attacked a train full of prisoners en route to Japan north of Saigon. His death was confirmed in March 1947.
He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal and Defence Medal. In 2010, his grave in Kranji, Singapore was photographed for the Mark War Memorial project, probably the first time it had been visited.