John MITTON 1920 – 1945

D/SSX 32939 Able Seaman John Mitton RN, HMS Jupiter, died 23 August 1945 aged 25.  He is buried at Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia[1] and commemorated on West Auckland War Memorial and the Church Lads Brigade memorial in St. Helen’s Church St. Helen’s Auckland, Bishop Auckland.

Family Details                                                                                                                              

John Mitton was born 1920 [2] the son of James and Mary Mitton[3].  In 1919, James Mitton married Mary Bradley, registered at Auckland.[4]  In 1939, James and Mary Mitton are recorded as living at 12 Perkins Street, South Church, Bishop Auckland where James worked as a coal miner.  John is not recorded.[5]

Service Details

The service details of Able Seaman John Mitton have not been researched.

HMS Jupiter, a class J destroyer, pennant F85, was commissioned in June 1939.  She joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet then after a short time with the Mediterranean Fleet, joined Force Z to attack the Japanese invasion force in the Pacific.  HMS Jupiter was in the vicinity of Indonesia, to the north of the island of Java.  At this time, Java was part of the Dutch colony known as the Netherlands East Indies.  It is now the Republic of Indonesia.  Batavia was the capital city, now known as Jakarta.  Batavia was the main port by which British and Commonwealth troops entered the country in February 1942 when evacuating Singapore due to the threat from the invading Japanese forces.


17 January 1942: HMS Jupiter was under the command of Lt. Cdr N.V.J.T. Thew.  She sank the Japanese submarine I-60.[6]

25 February 1942:  HMS Exeter, Electra, Encounter and Jupiter and HMAS Perth sailed from Batavia to join the Eastern Striking Force at Souraboya before meeting the Japanese in the Battle of the Java Sea.[7]    HMS Jupiter was sailing near the northern coast of Java in the evening of 27 February 1942.  At 21.25 hours, a violent explosion hit her at position 06˚45’S, 112˚06’E.  She stopped immediately and sank in 8 fathoms of water at 0130 on the 28 February 1942.  The explosion killed 12 ratings and wounded 7 of whom 2 subsequently died.  The ships commanding officer, 1 other officer and 95 ratings were captured by the Japanese, including Able Seaman J. Mitton.[8]  Four officers and 66 ratings were missing.  At the time it was thought that HMS Jupiter had been torpedoed but later it was found that she had struck a mine laid by HNLMS “Gouden Leeuw” as she steamed with the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command cruiser force.  There were no Japanese forces in striking distance at the time of the explosion.[9]

1 – 5 March 1942:  The Japanese landed on Java.  By the 4th, the Dutch ordered an evacuation and by the 5th Japanese troops occupied Batavia.

Source: By Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Most of the Allied POWs were concentrated in POW Camps around Batavia but it maybe that John Mitton was held at Medan, North Sumatra.

John Mitton died 3½ years after the sinking of HMS Jupiter therefore it is assumed that he died when being held as a prisoner in a Japanese POW Camp.  Japan had actually surrendered 15 August which ended hostilities but the formal surrender did not take place until 2 September 1945.  This ended the Second World War.  John Mitton died 23 August 1945, between these 2 dates.  Red Cross records would need to be researched to find out the reason for his death but it is reasonable to assume that years of ill treatment, malnutrition and illness would have combined to make life unbearable, like so many others held in captivity by the Japanese, resulting in his death


D/SSX 32939 Able Seaman John Mitton is buried at grave reference 2.B.13, Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia.  Prior to 1961, he was re-interred from a cemetery at Medan, North Sumatra, reference 2.F.10.  The cemetery contains over 1000 burials which include those who died in the defence of Java and Sumatra during the swift Japanese advance of 1942 and those who perished as POWs afterwards.[10]

Church Lads Brigade Memorial, St. Helen’s church


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.599 1920Q3 Auckland

[3] CWGC

[4] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005 Vol.10a p.5013 1919Q3 Auckland

[5] 1939 England & Wales Register


[7] CWGC

[8] UK Allied Prisoners of War 1939-1945: POW Far East Batavia, Nominal Roll of all Non-Dutch Personnel

[9] &

[10] Commonwealth War Graves Commission