The Southsea mum who never gave up on her son in 1984

Proud mum Alice Vidler with a picture of her son Victor.
Proud mum Alice Vidler with a picture of her son Victor.

A 91-year-old Southsea mother could never accept that her only son had died in the confines of a grim prisoner-of-war camp. 

But she had finally come to terms with her loss after discovering a glowing tribute to him in the Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW) magazine. 

‘I was sure in my mind he would return. I was so afraid that he would come back and I would not be able to greet him,' said 91-year-old Alice Vidler, of Hester Road. 

Victor Vidler was a Bandmaster of the Royal Marine Band in HMS Exeter which was sunk in the Java Sea, Indonesia, in 1942. All the survivors were captured by the Japanese and taken to Macassar in the Dutch East Indies – Alice’s 28-year-old son was among them. 

Adrian Bortslap was a  Dutch internee who battled alongside Victor. In one edition of the FEPOW, he wrote: ‘In a word, Victor was a gentleman.’

And patient searching brought Adrian to Southsea and Alice. 

‘When Adrian came to see me I felt it was the Lord’s way of letting me understand that my son was gone,’ said Alice, ‘I couldn't believe it before.’