December 1941 - February 18th 1942
Hogmanay celebrated in a quiet way by the Argyll’s and Gordon’s, who are at present stationed out here, The outbreak of hostilities with Japan spoiled all their plans.
Spent very quiet New Year in contrast to one at home. Heavy air raid during the night-large fire in centre of town. Enemy still advancing on all fronts-no reinforcements here as yet.
Speaking to Stevenson during the middle. Heard of Mewse and Birch’s (Leonard Mewse, Tel DJX 160004 and Joseph J Birch, O Tel CJX 258890) escape from Port Swettenham.
Considerable numbers of Dutch airmen now operating from our airfields. Had our emergency rations issued today. Fear the worst.
Had first quiet night for some time. Received some pay today (10 dollars) - expect at least other 10$. Cost of living dear here – 3/- goes as far a 1/- at home.
Ashore in Singapore with Stubbs and went as usual to the pictures. Leave now from 1 till 6.30, ample time, is not much to do. Japs reported using two men submarines.
Convoy of troops arrived today with 5 transports, which should steady our position. Hope to receive some mail from home soon.
Usual air raids during the night. The searchlight crews are excellent and as a rule always pick up the planes. Daylight and darkness equally divided here-12 hours each during summer and winter. Have 2 summers and 2 winters each year.
Russians now advancing on all fronts and we have captured Bardia (Al Bayda/Bardayah in Libya), thus freeing Cyrenica of enemy. Japs now landing on west coast, south of our positions coming from Penang. Wrote to Mairi and Barker.
Convoy of four merchant ships arrived last night. Hope they have some mail. Japs have now captured Kuantan drome, thus less than 200 miles from Singapore. Small tanker caught fire during the night-sunk her to put it out- result was oil burning on water all over docks.
Most of the women and children now evacuated from Singapore to India and Australia. Fear this will be another Hong Kong unless they buck up.
Natives now becoming a bit alarmed and ready, more or, less to give up. Some reported to refuse to fight up north, thus Penang was left intact. Stevenson now left CDO.
Heard there was some mail at FSA (Fleet Shore Accommodation) for us-hope to get some, if that is the case. Gordie Cowan left CDO for Nanking. It is a shame the way they are shoving the survivors about without kit. Plane shot down.
Sunday 11th .
Galatea sunk in Med. On 10th. By U-boat. Struck by 3 torpedoes at close range and went down in three minutes. Only 120 survivors out of crew of 600. Many of my pals would also go down.
Japanese propaganda talking of these kilted devils from Argyll. 1000’s of dollars worth of money burned at Penang. Most of P. of W. ratings sent there managed to escape and now back at FSA.
Had 6 hours daylight air raid. Some of our fighters shot down by AA fire. Reports received that Kuala Lumpur has been captured, which opens the way south now to Singapore. 125 Jap planes.
Another daylight air raid - long day raids now the order of the day. Slowly, but surely Singapore is being surrounded and cut off. Convoy of 4 merchant ships arrived tonight heavily escorted.
Argyll’s arrive back from the front -130 is all that is left of a whole battalion. 100 of them to hold a 30 mile front. Some hurricanes arrived with convoy, should now hit back a bit harder.
Had air raid as usual, all forenoon and some stuff dropped. Heard there is definitely some mail at FSA for PoW. Very heavy rain today. Now in middle of wet season.
QE left yesterday after taking convoy of troops. Aussies now in action. Dutch ship caught in minefield and some 70 lost. Enemy over during the forenoon, 3 brought down, dropped number of mines in channel.
Air raid today by 80 planes flying in perfect formation in clear sky. Dropped bombs – lay on ground for safety. No fighters up. Large fire started in town. Life now a bit grim. Enemy still advancing – fear the worst for Singapore.
Air raid as usual, large number of bombs dropped – down in trench and heard them whistling past and exploding all around. The feeling that each is a personal one certainly shakes us.
Enemy now only 150 miles from Singapore, so the siege will soon begin. Wrote home today.
Had raid during the morning. Feel a bit squeamish today so visited the doctor and sent to Alexandra hospital, next morning by ambulance.
Entered hospital today in middle of intense air raid. Feel none too grand and suspect that I have malaria, or dengue. Had bad night and very restless.
Temperature today 104.2°F and feel extremely helpless. Can scarcely eat or, stand. Blood tested for malaria-result negative. Got violent attack of dysentery.
Much better this morning and feel fine. Although a military hospital run by nurses, I get the best of attention and put on a special diet of soups and puddings.
Much better now and feel normal although temperature over 100°F. Enemy still advancing, especially against Aussies. The crash does not seem very far away.
Hospital situated out in country in beautiful surroundings, but petrol tanks all round it, making it vulnerable to air attack.
The Malays prove a treacherous band and sell us everywhere. They act as guides to Japs and desert in 100’s. The Chinese good fighters and at least loyal.
Air attacks now becoming more intense and on large scale. Still withdrawing according to plan.
Feel fine now and allowed up, but the dregs of dysentery still persist. Visited each day by Chaplin,(?Surname) Harris man, from Tarbert and takes a special interest in me.
Feel a bit weak after being in bed, but able to knock top off an egg so can’t complain. Fed well, all from tinned stores.
Got 40 cigarettes from Australian Red Cross which proved handy and kept wolf from the door. Mostly all malaria cases in ward with me so I must have been bad.
Got mail from home and read it greedily over 3, or 4 times. This gave me great joy to hear how things are there. A letter is as good as medicine here.
Enemy still continues to advance and now threatens the island. Read through mail again with great delight.
Heavy air raids during the day. Our forces withdrawn during the night from Johore, unsuspected by enemy, who left them severely alone.
The Argyll’s were piped across the Causeway this morning(on 31st Jan.),, the last to enter the island. Causeway blown up (on 31st Jan.), so now the siege of Singapore has started. I fear it won’t be long unless reinforcements arrive, especially aircraft. Everything depends on fighters.
Singapore now becomes a military town and the natives get panicky. Shops close down, labour hard to find, chaos sets in.
Still in hospital. Expect to be discharged in few days. Enemy now preparing his positions in Johore and an attack may be expected anytime.
Oil tanks all over island burning fiercely. Naval base abandoned and more or, less destroyed, but an enormous amount of goods and ammunition left behind. Someone should pay for this neglect.
Naval base shelled by heavy guns and for most of our positions on northern end of island. Gunfire heard in town.
Heavy pall of smoke now covers the island from the burning oil dumps. The enemy knows everything and undoubtedly we are being sold at every turn.(?spy, Heenan) Aussies commandeer Mata Hari.
Heavy gunfire increases on both sides and the delayed attack of the enemy now seems to be imminent. The Aussies hold N.W. part and full of wind. Terrific artillery duel during the entire night-1000’s of shells.
Enemy landed in force during the night. Aussies holding that part of the line let us down badly. Reportedly nearly all drunk. I fear now that Singapore is a doomed city. Chinese staff leave hospital and everything is disorganised. No doubt we have been sold every time.
Enemy landed in N.W. Singapore at Kranji Creek, in force. Our forces withdrew. Fierce fighting continues. Air raids every few minutes. Our air force leaves island and goes to Sumatra, so that’s our forces left without air support.
Oil tanks set on fire outside hospital. Town shelled and bombed continuously. Argyll’s advance 3 miles with bayonet!
Discharged from hospital to army MRC (Mixed Reinforcement Camp). Put in “B” Company, but left for Fort Canning. Fort heavily shelled all night and day but escaped any injury.
Shelled and dived bombed all day at Fort Canning. Hear shells screaming over rock and crashing in town behind . Large fires all over town. Aussies roaming in town - leaving front. Army left to fight it out - no retreat.(Order)
Shelling now intense. Left Singapore at 8 p.m. in M.L.(Motor Launch) 432, (With 5 Royal Navy and 55 Army personnel aboard.) Consider date. Rammed Changteh (HMS Minesweeper –244t, sunk 14.2.44, by aircraft bombs) in the dark and crossed minefield. Singapore a mass of flames. Smoke like fog.
Attacked in company with Grasshopper (River gunboat 625t) and Dragonfly (River gunboat 625t), by at least 150 aircraft. Both sunk. We run ashore for safety on an island, (Singkep Island) put 60 soldiers ashore and wait till dark. Ship high and dry at night.
Singapore fell today at 7 a.m. Still on island and slept in open jungle with snakes and ants crawling around us. Motor Launch’s blades damaged and still unable to float her. Feed on coconuts and juice with bananas and hard biscuits. All water boiled before drinking. Slept again in open. Aircraft about all day. Bathing all day on sandy beaches.
Floated her at high tide. Expect to proceed tonight. Unable to contact soldiers in jungle. Queer tides around this coast - go ½ out by day and enormous ebb at night.
Left island tonight at 7, for Banka Island, where intend to hide by day. Heavy sea running and she rolled a bit.
Captured at dawn by Jap cruiser (?Light Cruiser Sendai Class) and taken to Banka. Japs looted ship –all ships which left Singapore on 13th, I fear captured.