Reverend Eric Leicester Andrews

Eric Leicester Andrews (born 1885 Hakodate) the youngest son of Helen Paterson and Walter Andrews.

The following biographical information was written by Peter Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of Japanese at Cambridge University and Deputy Warden of Robinson College, Cambridge, for the Sandon Parish Magazine 2020.
Eric Andrews was born in Japan in 1886. His father, Walter Andrews (1852-1932), a Cambridge graduate, had gone out to Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, in the early 1880s as a missionary working for the Church Missionary Society.
Eric spent the first 15 years of his life in Japan and, like most expatriate children in Japan, learnt Japanese from his nanny. In 1900 he travelled to England to complete his education at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and was ordained in Durham Cathedral in 1910. After two years as a curate, he returned to Japan, where his father had in 1909 become Bishop of Hokkaido, and he became his father’s domestic chaplain. In 1914 he returned to England and became a chaplain in the Royal Navy. In 1916 he married Dorothy Eva Bartley and in 1921 he took his young family to Japan and he resumed his work as a missionary, this time in northern Japan. By 1934 he was on his own, his wife and children have returned to England, and he, too, returned in 1935. Probably they had two reasons for returning. One was to be closer to their children, and the other was the rising tension in Japan following the invasion of north- east China by the Imperial Japanese Army.
On the last day of 1935, Eric Andrews, his wife Dorothy and their children arrived in Sandon. He had been appointed Rector by Queens’ College, Cambridge, and he was formally inducted on 13th January 1936. In March 1940 the War Office put an advertisement in The Times calling for ‘fit men between the ages of 25 and 40 …really fluent in at least one language, preferably learnt in the country of origin’. Eric Andrews did not really fit the bill, for he was already over 50, but he sent in his name. In May 1941 he took leave from the Rectory and became a Captain in the Intelligence Corps. He was sent out to Singapore, and probably arrived before December 1941. It seems that his job in Singapore was to teach Japanese to military personnel who already knew a little. One of his students was Richard Storry, who later became Professor of Japanese History at Oxford. In February 1942 it was obvious that the garrison in Singapore was not going to be able to withstand the Japanese assault, so prior to the surrender those who knew Japanese were ordered to leave. Richard Storry did just that, barely escaping with his life. Why didn’t Eric Andrews? He may literally have missed the boat, but it is possible that his instincts as a clergyman came to the fore and he decided to remain to minister to the needs of his fellow captives and to act as their interpreter with their Japanese captors.
For most of the rest of the war Eric was at Adam Park camp for prisoners of war in Singapore. While there he managed to construct a chapel, recruit a choir and even paint some murals. He was later moved to the notorious Changi Gaol, where he constructed a memorial altar to the fallen. By the time he was freed from captivity in September 1945, his health was irretrievably ruined as a result of malnutrition and the terrible conditions. During his years of enforced absence, services at Sandon had been taken by clergy from the Church of the Ascension in West Ham, but Eric resumed his duties as Rector in 1946, even though he was now officially disabled. He died in September 1951, before his 65th birthday. He had put his knowledge of Japanese and his ministry at the service of those who were in desperate need of both, and in the long run it cost him his life.


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