Escape from Singapore
Photo of an oil painting kindly sent to me from Alex Norrie. His grandfather owned the painting after serving as an engineer aboard her in the 1920’s
Ahead of Dennis, on January 30th, a convoy of small ships had left with troops and equipment heading for Pladjoe and Palembang in Sumatra. Sam was aboard this convoy. I haven’t yet found out if my dad was with him or Dennis.
The next day, still in Singapore, Dennis’ group came across the 100ft “SS.IPOH,” the only vessel moored up at the quayside lying empty and idle. Dennis heard the captain shouting to the men that he had no fuel (coal), no crew and would not be able to put to sea.
The soldiers looked about the quayside and saw heaps of coal ready to be loaded for ships boilers. Within minutes orders were given and men toiled to shovel the coal aboard as fast as possible. A few soldiers jumped aboard and started stoking up the boiler. The troops on the quayside made their way along the decks, but being so many the boat began to list heavily. Immediately the order was given for a more orderly dispersion of weight across the deck and men were sent below as the decks became crowded.
Eventually the Straits Steamship Company’s little ship cast off and slowly steamed away from the hell of Singapore. Building up speed she headed towards Sumatra, everyone on board praying that the ship would not turn turtle with so many aboard.
Above them a lone Jap bomber had spotted them and released three bombs. Already patched up from previous damage, Dennis wondered just how much more this craft could take as he held his breath watching the line of bombs heading toward them.
Fortune was smiling on them as the bombs hit the water yards away exploding in a line and showering the huddled troops with water. A lad from Bridgenorth, *Jimmy Green of the 6th HAA, suffered an injury to his leg from shrapnel. Dennis did not know if any other injuries occurred to the rest of the men.
* Eventually, Jimmy would have to have the leg amputated in the P.O.W. camp and Dennis would make him crutches.