FEPOW - Missing now not missing

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by SteveB, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. SteveB

    SteveB Member

    I am trying to find out about 2045309 ADJ Finch, reported missing on 15th February 1942 with the 5th Search Light Regiment at Singapore.
    He appears in a later casualty report from a couple of months later as "Missing, now not missing" along with another 20 men from the same regiment. On a prisoner roll he is annotated "M-PAD?", which I've been advised is missing, Padang, Sumatra.

    I'm making the assumption he was able to escape in the aftermath of the fall of Singapore, but presumably was initially captured, as otherwise how would he appear on a POW role? And how did he end up being missing in Padang, when the regiment was at Singapore?

    Any comments welcome.

    Thanks alot
  2. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    I read an account recently of a Sergeant in the RAOC he too feature on those `PoW` listings but was never a PoW although it was assumed he was. His unit had been at Singapore but he and a detachment had been on neighbouring Johor . He was in charge of a mixed unit of commonwealth and Native troops manning trenches and road blocks but the Japanese never came and following the capitulation of Singapore a Colonel had given them permission to try and make a break for it.
    The group despite being harrassed by the Japanese managed to board a ship for Sumatra . Once there they treked across on foot,train ,barge and lorry surviving on rice and tinned fish with little water (they used coconut milk but became even more thirsty) Eventually they reached a port where a Dutch steamer took them to India and comparative safety? Maybe a similar tale to Finch?

  3. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    You say L/S Finch appears on a prisoner roll. I am wondering whether you are referring to the RA Roll or the 5th Searchlight Regiment Roll produced by the Bureau of Records and Enquiry (BRE). The BRE was surreptitiously operated by POWs under Captain David Nelson in Changi. They compiled Master Rolls etc from Regimental Rolls and recorded all known information on the movement of servicemen. Most FEPOWs passed through Changi and the BRE were able to record their movement and at the same time obtain information on others who did not do so. The notation M-PAD? indicates that L/S Finch was Missing and that the BRE had information that he had possibly gone to Padang. This information was not confirmed hence the '?'. It does not mean he was captured, in fact it indicates the opposite.
    Padang was a known escape route from Singapore. Prior to the Fall of Singapore some were given permission to try and escape some just legged it.
    Obtaining Service Records may be the way to go. L/S Finch obviously made it as he appears on the 'not now missing' casualty list.

  4. SteveB

    SteveB Member

    Thanks for the replies both, really interesting.
    Tim, the prisoner role I referred to, not sure of it's title, but it was on Find My Past.
    Sounds like there's an interesting story behind this, which as you say, will hopefully be revealed by service records.

  5. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The Service Records are highly unlikely to have anything regarding an escape from Singapore. What they should show is that he went missing in Singapore and where he was eventually recovered. They will have nothing on the intervening period.
    This is going to be a difficult one for you to find the story of the escape. Your best bet for starters is to look at this file in the National Archives:
    Casualty Branch made extensive enquiries into missing personnel and there is every chance that Finch is mentioned. If your lucky there will be a response from someone who was with Finch or even from Finch himself. If you are very very lucky someone may have provided a description of their escape (this though would be exceptional).
    Bear in mind that many were trying to escape from Padang. Many never made it and were captured there. Many who actually made it to a ship were drowned when the ship was sunk, and there were a lot. It was chaos with no records, passenger lists etc.
    Also keep in mind that all you're going on at the moment is the BRE entry M-PAD?, which is only the BRE's best estimate of where Finch went.
    It will be a long haul with every possibility that you will never find the answer. Best of luck and keep this thread going with your discoveries.

  6. SteveB

    SteveB Member

    Thanks Tim

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