Other troops had evacuated direct from Singapore to Batavia, the capital of Java, to even more chaos.
The little steamer was run aground on the beach and everyone abandoned ship. The local natives thought they were being invaded, but were reassured when it was explained who they were.
The commissioner of the island drove up to the group and questioned where they were from. When they explained he said it was impossible. Japs patrolled the straits regularly. They all agreed that they had been VERY lucky not to meet them.
Transport was found and they drove to an abandoned school to make camp. Dennis remembered this school as being named “MR CORNELIUS SCHOOL”. Who Mr Cornelius was, Dennis never found out.
After a few days, they were off again and camped that night at a disused army barracks. Again a few days were spent here, until one morning Major Cutbush called certain groups together and told them of the predicament they were all facing. The Dutch had now capitulated and he asked the men if they wanted to escape on their own. Guns and ammunition would be supplied. Two men stepped forward. Dennis stayed with his group and headed for the mountain area.
After a few weeks wandering aimlessly around, Dennis came across a native tinkering with the engine of his Norton motor cycle. As Dennis had a BSA motor cycle back home, he got talking to the native and to his delight, helped with the repair.
It was while with this native that Dennis was to receive orders for the entire troop to make their way to Tjilijap, a point where all were to surrender to the Japs. But his mate, Peter Musson, had come down with a bout of malaria and Lt McCorkindale ordered Dennis to stay with him ‘till he recovered. They took the ailing soldier to a hut and the officer told Dennis they would send a truck back in a few days to collect them.
The native made his two new friends meals while Dennis finished the repair. Dennis described the meals as ‘something he’d sooner forget about’.