The sons and daughters of an "unsung hero" have written to Prince Charles to request their late father is officially recognised for his bravery during the war.

Hazel Bancroft and her family are seeking a posthumous award for Gunner Basil William Bancroft, who was enlisted in the Royal Artillery and later became a Prisoner of War in the Far East.

South African-born Mr Bancroft, who raised his family in Borehamwood, never shared his story with his children and it was only after his death and the birth of the Internet that his family learned of his acts of heroism.

In her letter to Prince Charles, youngest daughter Hazel said: "Like so many veterans of the Far East, our father rarely spoke about his experiences as a Prisoner of War.

"It was only after his death in 1986, with the publication of The Prisoner List in 2010 by fellow Prisoner of War Reuben Kandler’s son Richard, and the release of documents by the National Archives, that we learned of his bravery and resilience.

"He (Basil) risked his life countless times to escape overnight from the Saigon Prisoner of War camp to bring back much needed medical supplies, food and money even though two previous escapees had been caught and executed.

"In September 1943 he was the first Prisoner of War of the Japanese to successfully escape from the Saigon camp. Aided by French underground units, over a period of eight months he made his way through Indo-China to the Chinese border.

"With the help of the British Army Aid Group in China he made his way to India where it is believed he was recruited as an undercover operative by Allied Intelligence."

Borehamwood Times: Basil William BancroftBasil William Bancroft

Mr Bancroft first came to the UK in the 1930s as a merchant seaman, and in 1938, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery. In 1941, his regiment was deployed to Malaya.

Hazel says that research has uncovered her father was recommended for an award in October 1945, that was never followed up, and that she believes he and his wife, Daisy, were never aware of.

The Bancroft's have written to Prince Charles ahead of the 76th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day on August 15.

Hazel concludes her letter to the Royal: "We respectfully request that you please consider a posthumous award recognising that Dad’s actions mattered then and still matter today.

"It may be 76 years after the end of the war in the Far East and 35 years after he passed away; and yet we regret that we never had the opportunity to tell him how proud we are and to tell his story.

"We believe that his spirit lives on in us, and in his grandchildren and great grandchildren. A posthumous recognition of his bravery would mean the world to us all."