Sketch by Jack Chalker

Jesselton

18th September 1942 -  The ‘Kalgan’ arrived at Singapore with Java Parties 1 & 2, which had sailed from Batavia, the parties disembarked to Changi on Singapore Island.

John had been the Padre at Malang Camp Java and left the beginning of May 1942.

The conditions in Changi although good, were not as good as the camps in Java.

9th October  (Friday) embarked at 1330 hrs.. and sailed from Singapore at 1700 hrs., anchoring in the Singapore Roads and spent the night there. At 0830 hrs. in the morning the ship sailed, destination Kuching in North Borneo. On the 11th it arrived at Sarawak at 1800 hrs. where she anchored for the night. The next day the ship moved slowly up the Kuching River passing many villages and anchored a few miles up the river, that evening there was a tremendous tropical lightening storm.

At 0830 hrs. on the 13th October, 1000 men disembarked,  the food for the men left on board was bad, many used the Red Cross parcels they had. Major Suga, Commandant of prisoner of war camps in Borneo  welcomed the prisoners and informed them they would be going to Jesselton and would be under Lt. Nagata’s command.

On 16th October the ship arrived at Miri where some prisoners disembarked, the red cross rations were getting very low for the prisoners who stayed on board. The next day boredom set in as the prisoners watched the Japanese unloading cargo but the day ended with another beautiful sunset.

The ship sailed on the 18th, the Japanese allowing the prisoners on deck in the rain which persisted most of the day, arriving at Jesselton in the evening. The following day the prisoners disembarked for the old gaol which was three miles outside the town, the gaol was to be their camp.

On 23rd October 230 prisoners were put to work at 7am these include ten officers. This continued until the Sunday when the heavy rain stopped the work.

In the evening at 7.30pm Padre Wanless held a service, the sermon was on ‘how to live together, respecting others’. Holy Communion was held behind the officers cells after the service, with the cross placed on a biscuit tin.

11th November an Armistice Day Service was held at 7.30 pm in the ‘square’ with two minutes silence at 7.45. Padre Wanless read the lesson with lines from Laurence Binyon, ending with the National Anthem. A sing along followed with war time songs and ending with “Land of Hope and Glory” and then “God Save the King”.

At Christmas Communion was held at 7am and at 11am there was a Carol Service. The men sat down for dinner at 6pm in the mess room with menu’s drawn up by Whitworth and Bagnall, streamers were made from newspaper and there was also a Christmas Tree.

The new year started as the old year finished with Communion held every Sunday, but the Japanese were getting more aggressive towards the prisoners with plenty of ‘bashings’ and the death toll began to rise.

At the end of March rumours were circulating about a move to Sandakan and on the 6th April the prisoners sailed with a beautiful sunset, leaving behind fifty-one of their comrades in the cemetery at Jesselton .

 

Jesselton was taken from ‘Kill the Prisoners’ by Don Wall

In the book there is a list of the 51 Royal Artillery and R.A.F. Personnel who died at Jesselton, the remains were later taken to Labuan.

 

 

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[John Wanless] [Jesselton] [Sandakan] [The Rescue] [Operation Kingfisher 2] [Japanese Occupation] [Kranji] [Dispatches - London Gazette]

 

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