Betrayal of the 18th
Personal accounts of The Battle for Singapore
Edited by Paul Morrell
In the late October of 1941 men of the 1/5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters sailed from Liverpool aboard a converted P&O liner, the troopship Orcades, for an unknown destination. The 1/5th Foresters along with the 1st Battalion the Cambridgeshires and the 5th Battalion Beds and Herts, formed one of the three Brigades of the British 18th Division, 55 Brigade. They were in fact at that time destined for the Middle East.
In the late October of 1941 men of the 1/5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters sailed from Liverpool aboard a converted P&O liner, the troopship Orcades, for an unknown destinationSingapore. The British 18th Division were to sail into a battle that was already lost. They had travelled over twenty thousand miles in three months to disembark on Singapore Island ``The Guardian of the East" on the 29th January 1942, to reinforce the Island ``Fortress" against the advancing forces of the Imperial Japanese Army. The battle was already lost, they had been sacrificed by our very own ``Whitehall Warriors". The loss of Singapore was later to be described by Churchill as ``The greatest disaster and capitulation in British history." He neglected to mention however the betrayal of a Division, the British 18th Division.
Much has been written of the battle for Singapore, unfortunately very little of it relating to the Sherwood Foresters. Reading the accounts of two Foresters who were involved in the battle for Singapore, Arthur Bates and Les Pearson, has been of great interest and a real privilege for me and has left me with a strong desire to share their story.
Arthur`s recollections come from two sources. Firstly, Arthur`s account of the events leading up to the battle for Singapore, this was written by Arthur in the Chinese High School Exercise Book, while in Changi. Secondly, extracts taken from Arthur`s diary/notebook written by Arthur at the time of the action in Singapore.
Les Pearson`s account was kindly passed on to me by Arthur, this was also written in Changi, again in an exercise book liberated from the Chinese High School.
And we that are left grow old with the years
Remembering the heartache, the pain and the tears
Hoping and praying that never again
Man will sink to such sorrow and shame
The price that was paid we will always remember
Every day, every month, not just in November.
I would like to thank the following people for their kind help.
Susan Bates, Arthur`s daughter-in-law for her time, patience and the kind loan of Arthur`s papers.
Les Pearson for passing his account on to Arthur.
Arthur Bates, for kindly passing Les Pearson`s account on to me.
Arthur was a great help and inspiration to me during the writing of my late grandad`s story Albert`s War. He had sailed for Singapore with my grandad aboard the USS West Point. Arthur was one of life`s survivors, he had served with the Foresters in both France and Singapore, he had survived the Alexandra Hospital massacre and he had survived three and a half years of grim captivity as a Far East Prisoner of War. Sadly Arthur passed away on the 20th of April this year.
He was a remarkable man. I am proud to have been able to call him a friend.