Sketch by Jack Chalker




The same day as ‘Matador’ was signalled the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. The Japanese were attacking our troops on the Thailand border. About one o'clock in the morning of the 9th started the bombing of Singapore and the targets were the airfields, the harbour and Fort Canning.

We were to come up against the locals who were not co-operative to the army and refused the use of civilian telephone lines or transport for the wounded being brought down from up country. Just another example of the Colonials and their attitude to the army, navy and airforce. What did they think we were out there for, a picnic? Their lack of co-operation played right into the Japanese hands. Their fifth column wreaked havoc with our lines of communication and had been working on their intelligence for many years prior to the invasion. The railway officials were adamant the civilian passenger trains would run as normal, red cross and troop trains were shunted into sidings.

The whole campaign was a shambles, no air support, some of our planes were shot down by our own anti aircraft batteries. To a mere soldier it was chaotic.

Two days after hostilities started the regiment (The Gordon Highlanders) sent up three boy solders (bandsmen) to Fort Canning and I was put in charge of them. There were two brothers aged 14 and 15 and another boy of 16. The air raids by the Japanese continued unabated and no fighter planes to stop them. It was very scary and the boys were terrified, so I put them down in the basement below my office.

Ipoh fell by Christmas 1941 and the army was in retreat and the civilians were fleeing down to Singapore. Our navy had been sunk, including the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, again no defence against the marauding Japanese airforce and their Kamikaze pilots, dying for the Glory of Emperor Hirohito.

During this time the boys had found my gramophone and records in my hut on the side of the reservoir and rummaged through my belongings, particularly my photographs. I chased them out of there and ordered them to stay in the basement. Two nights later, the hut received a direct hit during an air raid and everything I owned, my personal belongings, were lost. I had some clothes and personal items in my office.


Next Chapter

Retreat to Singapore



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