Sketch by Jack Chalker

A Soldier Battles On

A Soldier Battles On - Singapore

 

Courage and fortitude

A solder battles on

Flanked by memories

Of battles won

Often great decisions

Had to be made

Soul destroying in itself

Yet he gave so freely

But not in wealth.

 

Now that history is

Hazely wrapped in the past

And still this gallent man

Defies the days hurrying fast

With sites set high

And battle roar

This old warrrior

Will charge no more.

It was a very quick disembarkation, we were rushed up to fight and one of the things that stuck in everyone's mind was food especially bread because while we were on the Wakefield the bread was very good, it was the first time we had come across sliced bread and there was always plenty of it. I remember thinking if only I had put a few slices in my haversack it would have been much nicer than the bully beef and biscuits. Little did we realise at that time it was to be the last bread we were to have for the next three and a half years.

We started to move up Singapore to meet the Japs there was a lot of men coming back down the side of the road all wounded. One man had bandages all over his head and face I asked how it was up there and he replied “Bloody awful, the Japs came in to the hospital where I was and put a bayonet into the patients, tied up the nurses poured petrol over them and set them alight” it was Alexandra Hospital. On asking where he came from, he replied “Ipswich, Suffolk a place called Bramford”. It was very strange him coming from the same village as me so I asked his name, he replied “Edgar Sealey, and when you get up there give them Hell”. I only lived a few doors away from him and his family. After so many years and thousands of miles from home strange isn’t it to come across a man, who, when at school had us younger kids looking up to him, treating him with the greatest of respect.

Before we landed at Singapore our weapons were changed and in my case I got a 3-8 revolver after handing in a 4-5, a relic from the first world war. The only problem was I only got 5 rounds of ammunition, which was in short supply. It didn't matter really because I'd never fired a revolver before and always on a motorcycle I couldn't be expected to perform like a cowboy on a horse. However we found a truck with dead Australians and in the cab was a lot of ammunition and a 4-5 revolver so I was back to square one. I was with the CO and was told to fire into the banana grove as something was moving well I pulled the trigger and the thing nearly broke my wrist after that I was glad to be back on my motorcycle. The other thing was that we didn't even know what a Jap looked like it makes one shudder now to think about the situation we were in at that time.

During the last few days of fighting I was with a Major Hollowell or Holloway and I set off with him on the back of my motor cycle, he had with him a large biscuit tin and some other gear. Near the Bukit Timah golf club house we stopped as  the Japs were plastering the area with mortar Bombs. A hole was very quickly dug, he filled the tin with bank notes wrapped in an old gas cape then another old cape around the tin, then covered it up. I believe the money was Battalion funds and I don't know if it was ever found as the major died. On my visits back I’ve only visited the golf course once, but somewhere around that area the money could still be buried.

Singapore capitulated on the 15th February 1942, when General Percival surrender to General Yamishita at the Ford Motor Factory at Bukit Timah.

An article appeared in the local Ipswich newspaper with a list of missing Ipswich men.

 

The muffled march of distant feet

The silent drummer poised to beat retreat

Back goes the memory many years passed

The agony of war, how long would it last

When every home knew the terror of war

Fearing the dreaded knock on the door

 

How everyone stood with their backs to the wall

Determined she wouldn’t fall

But now so bewildered we’ve become

So what of the war and it’s final sum

A tragic thought those rows of graves

That stand as sentinel, to our warriors brave

 

Next Chapter

When Hope is Gone - Changi

 

 

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