Sketch by Jack Chalker

Life of Riley

This story is not Public Domain. Permission must be obtained before any part of this story is copied or used.


On the 12th December 1941, Jap planes bombed Singapore and luckily, the incoming convoy was saved due to the heavy monsoon rains. Allied artillery fire had brought down ten planes.

The convoy finally arrived in Keppel Harbour on the 13th January 1942.

With his men disembarked from the ship, Major Cutbush RA. sought billets for his men. Poor arrangements had been made for the incoming troops and the Major marched his men to the Singapore Harbour Board Club. Ignoring the arguments of the club committee, the Major commandeered the building for his men. He ordered Dennis and up on the roof with a Bren gun as lookout. He was there all day and watched the trains on a nearby railway line unloading evacuating Australians from Malaya. Jap bombers flew overhead.

“How far away are the Japs?” Dennis heard someone shout.

“Don’t worry, they’ll be here tomorrow”, came back the chilling reply

The following day it was discovered that the equipment and munitions for the regiment were on another ship that was on the other half of the convoy sailing to Basra in Iraq. The troops had nothing to fight with and the Japs were on their way.

The Japs had begun their bombing of Singapore on the 8th December, and torpedo bombers sunk the HMS Repulse and the HMS Prince Of Wales two days later on the 10th. Now with the Royal Navy out of the theatre, this would leave the Japs to continue their amphibious landings unhindered. They saw Singapore as a strategic port that had to be captured to use as a launch pad against the Allies in the area.

Bofors and equipment were issued from Singapore stocks to 6 HAA Regiment and deployed to various gun positions. A gun crew went across the Causeway to defend Jahore, but the Japs could not be stopped and the crew were all killed in the action. The Causeway, the only road to Singapore from Jahore, would be blown up on the 31st January by the Allied Forces leaving Malaya. But this action only delayed the enemy for one week.

Jap planes bombed the city daily and raids were increasing. Eight or nine raids daily were not unusual. The biggest raid consisted of 125 aircraft, but again the monsoon rains averted a disaster to shipping.

With the ever worsening situation the units were ordered to retreat from the smoking, stricken city. Dennis remembered the main road out was the Bukit Timah road.

Ron Petford, a chauffeur to Lt. Gray was instructed to stop his car after just leaving his quarters. He had left something behind. Lt. Gray ran back into the building and upon entering, a direct hit was made by a salvo from a Jap naval vessel. The officer was killed.

The fleeing troops moved on to Nee Soon, then on to Seleta (transit camp) before the order came through to evacuate the island and reinforce the 6th HAA on Sumatra. Here they were to defend an oil refinery at Pladjoe.






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[Life of Riley] [Early Days] [Royal Artillery] [Empress of Japan] [SS Narkunda] [Chaos] [Escape] [Sumatra] [Action Stations] [Pladjoe] [Palembang] [Leaving Oesthaven] [Java] [Japanese at Batavia] [Tanjong Priok Camp] [Back to Singapore] [Batu-Lintang Camp] [Glimmer of Hope] [Liberation September 1945] [Going Home] [Back in England] [Mystery Picture] [National Memorial Arboretum]


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