After disembarking we marched on to the Ketong area of Singapore. The bombing went on most of the night and the next day I was saddened to hear a bomb had hit the Wakefield killing some of our lads in the sick bay and a few Americans. The next day was spent moving equipment from the docks to our camp, getting ourselves organized and meeting some of the 5th and 6th Norfolks who had left our convoy earlier on the Vernon, they had been here a fortnight and had been very badly cut up by the Japs.
I heard about Raffles and wanted to take a look at the hotel, the differences in class and culture was very clear in Singapore, the whites dominated and ruled, the Chinese and Malaya’s did the work. Raffles was the pinnacle of this, it was very grand and seemed like Buckingham Palace to me, but I only saw white faces going in or out of her doors.
The 18th Division was moved to hold the north-eastern part of the island near the Changi Peninsula, this is were war became real, my mate Doggie Hanton was killed while on the bren gun, I was devastated, he was doing the job for 'A' company that I was doing before leaving for Divisional HQ back in England, death seemed like a game of chance, you have a fifty-fifty chance to win or loose.
Singapore was in dire trouble before we arrived, our troops, including the 5th & 6th Norfolks had retreated down Malaya, the orders were now given to retreat to the Island of Singapore and blow up the causeway joining her with Malaya, this action was hoped to stop the Japanese advance. The Japs had about two thousand aircraft and were coming over in waves giving us hell, we had eleven Hurricanes and eight Brewster Buffaloes trying their hardest to defend Singapore, it looked to a common soldier an impossible task. Bombs were not only directed at military targets, the civilian population were suffering terribly.
On the 5th February the Empress of Asia bringing military supplies, including ammunition for the 18th Division, was hit by bombs and went aground on the Sultan Shoal, this did not help the now desperate situation the battalion was in. The following days saw heavy bombing and bombardment from the Japanese. On Sunday the 8th February, using makeshift rafts, the Japanese 18th Division and 5th Division began the movement across the Straits separating Malaya and north-western end of Singapore. The Australian troops who faced them didn't get the artillery support they needed, and shielded by the dense smoke, the Japanese soon got a foothold, the fighting was soon hand to hand.
We knew it was just a matter of time when the airfield was completely destroyed by our own explosives engineers, then one of our planes pulling a white pennant came over and we all knew it was over. We trained eighteen months to fight for seventeen days in an already hopeless situation, what a waste of men and resources.