130963 Bombardier John Anthony Gerard IVES 52 Coast Observer Detachment, RA: 05/021942

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by squawk, Feb 22, 2022.

  1. squawk

    squawk Junior Member

    Good afternoon, - could I ask for some guidance in researching the above. He was Killed in Action in the Malaya operational area on 05-02-42 (RA Casualty Card), with no known grave. He is the subject of an 80th anniversary commemoration this Remembrance Sunday.
    Bombardier John Anthony Gerard Ives | War Casualty Details | CWGC

    His nephew is applying for the service record, with an estimated 12 months delivery time, but I wonder if Singapore experts may know where 52 COD were on 5th, and to whom they were attached. I know the causeway had been blown on 31st January, so Singapore is more likely than Malaya. He was dead before the Gunners were converted into support infantry.

    I understand Singapore was under pre invasion bombardment at this time. I see from Percival’s post war despatch that he established observer posts, “with small escorts” on Pulau Ubin island to the north. Suggestions are that the infantry (escorts?) there were 4 Norfolks. Could the observers be Gunners?

    The Coast Artillery MTB defence point there was established by this time, but without armament. I think it came under the Changi Fire Control, 9th Coast Regiment, but casualties from that unit which straddle the date of IVES death were initially buried in Singapore main island cemeteries, later concentrated at Kranji.

    Pulau Ubin was subject to deception attacks (including shelling) by the Japanese, with sources giving dates from 5th - 7th February, before final occupation on 8th, when Percival states the British forces were withdrawn.

    To close a further possibility, I wonder if anybody has the full list of military missing on the Empress of Asia after the attack on 5th February - WO 361/411.

    Only two further members of 52 COD are listed by the CWGC, both dying as slave labourers to the Japanese well after the fall of Singapore.

    I believe a War Diary for 9 Coast Regiment in February 1942 has survived and is in the National Archives - so a trip in store for when I am more mobile again.

    From the information I have, it is conceivable that IVES was sent to Pulau Ubin as an observer, but killed there by shelling and not subsequently recovered. But WW1 research taught me that what seems conceivable may not be what actually happened. Of course, an accurate bomb or shell strike on Singapore itself would also account for him not having a grave.

    I now understand more about Singapore and its last days, but still next to nothing about IVES. A push in the right direction would be very welcome.

    Many thanks for reading this,

    CL1 likes this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

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  3. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I cannot see Ives listed in WO361/1203 (Register of Deaths in Singapore). I note that the Casualty List for 1943 shows him under 'Previously posted Missing 15.2.42 now reported Killed in Action' with a date of 'Approx 5.2.42'. This would seem to indicate that there will be information in a Missing Personnel file, but for which unit I do not know. If you can give me the names of the other two 52 COD, which I am unable to identify from CWGC, then I could look at their Japanese Index Cards. There is a very faint chance that they might mention the parent unit to which 52 COD were attached.

    dbf likes this.

    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    I have found six;



    DIED PW BURMA 01/11/43

    IVES JAG 130963 MISSING MALAYA 05/02/42

    DIED PW 26/06/44

    DIED PW BURMA 03/12/43

    Apart from Ives all of them were captured at Padang, Sumatra 17/03/42, which is a bit odd.

    No clue as to any attachment of 52 COD, but possibly worth double-checking, as you suggest.
    timuk likes this.
  5. squawk

    squawk Junior Member

    Thank you all for your help.

    The two 52 COD PoW dead with graves I picked up were 1805203 Yarwood and 1805346 Humphrey. Interestingly 1805151 Russell is officially listed by the CWGC as 52 Coast Regiment. He is on the Singapore memorial because he was lost at sea on the Harugiku Maru 26-06-44 when it was sunk by HMS Truculent.

    From my limited reading, I understand there were official evacuations from Singapore to Sumatra, followed by an independent small boat flotilla on 14/15 February 1942 for military and civilians alike. It seems 1000+ military escapees were detained from mid March when the Japanese overran and took Sumatra. Perhaps the remaining 52 COD men were part of these evacuations, hence their capture place and date?

    Best regards

  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I have checked the names supplied by Jitter Party against their Japanese Index cards which gave no clues. I then checked them against the RA Roll compiled at Changi. Interestingly they are all listed as 3 HAA with Humphrey being listed as
    3 HAA (COD). Oddly though Ives does not appear on the Roll.
    It is correct that there was an official escape route through Sumatra to Padang and although some escaped a lot were also captured. For info Gomer, Grafton, Humphrey and Yarwood are listed as being in the POW Party known as the British Sumatra Battalion sent by train to Medan and then by sea to Burma. The book 'The British Sumatra Battalion' by A A Apthorp says that of 187 Royal Artillery in the 'Battalion' 118 were from 30 Battery 3rd HAA who had all escaped from Singapore as one group in a large Chinese junk.
    Doesn't help much with Ives, who it would appear, was killed much earlier.
    It might be worth checking WO 361/249 - 3rd HAA Missing Personnel.

  7. squawk

    squawk Junior Member

    Thank you Tim for taking the time to cross check, and uncovering the HAA connection which I would not have spotted, and can follow up. Thanks to other forum members for setting me on a different direction. Much appreciated.

    I will also see if the ICRC may have any available record like their WW1 index.

  8. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

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  9. squawk

    squawk Junior Member

    Many thanks ozzy16 for posting the RA casualty card.


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