history of the Royal artillery regt Far East theatre 1941-46 by Farndale

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Patwalker, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. Patwalker

    Patwalker Junior Member

    Knowing how many experts and researchers there are on this site from having viewed many items over the months, I wish to find out if there is anybody who has a copy of the book by Farndale.
    It is called " The History of the Royal Regt of Artillery Far East Theatre 1941 -46 "
    As some people will know from my previous posts I am researching the story of the 6 Regt HAA and its three batteries 3rd, 12th, & 15th. They did not have a very long career and there does not seem to be very much at all about them in many sources. They were unfortunate to be caught up in the Singapore debacle and the Burma railway etc.
    If there is anyone who would be prepared to let me have a loan (postage paid of course) I would be most grateful, or if they could look up to see if this regt has any details given for their period in the Far East Singapore, Sumatra and Java. Jan 1942 - March 1942 I would be grateful too. My local library can not get hold of a copy either.
    I have so far gathered over 55 pages of text and a dozen pages of suitable pictures to go with it but still many gaps.
    Also their time in France as part of the BEF
    My thanks to any one who could help.

  2. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    If the price of the Farndale that you want is anything like the price of the Farndale
    Western front 1914-18 I doubt whether too many members would have one, but you never know. Libraries in Oz don't appear to have any Farndales.
  3. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Patrick. I have the book. I will check to see if there are any mentions later. I will also check the other 2 volumes in the series that I have The Years of Defeat 1939-41 and AA Artillery.

  4. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    The first mention in Far East Theatre is that the convoy they were travelling in was diverted to Singapore.

    Convoy WS14 was diverted to Singapore in late December 41. This convoy carried a number of AA units who arrived without their guns. They were re-equipped from the Singapore stockpile and then re-embarked for Batavia (Djakarta). They took with them 6 HAA less 3 Bty.

    On the night of 13/14 Feb 42 a Jap convoy was sighted in the Banka Strait and attacked by all available aircraft which had now been evacuated from Singapore to Sumatra. The Jap aim was to capture the 2 airfields at Pangkalanbentang & Praboemoelih known as P1 & P2 and the town of Palembang including the nearby oilfield.

    6 HAA dispositions were 15 HAA Bty at P1 with 8 x 3.7 inch guns and 12 HAA Bty at P2 with 4 x 3.7 inch guns. Air attacks were began right away and many RAF aircraft were destroyed on the ground.

    The first major attack at P1 was carried out by Jap parachutists which landed nearby on the 14th. 15 Bty shot down 3 aircraft. Some Dutch troops and RAF men formed a local defence force and the Gunners prepared for a ground attack. It started with snipers high in the trees picking off anyone exposed to view. These were soon dealt with by a 3.7 AA gun firing over open sights into the trees. Later a Bofors gun was rushed and captured but a direct hit from a 3.7 destroyed the gun and its captors.

    While this was going on, 12 HAA Bty along with 78 LAA Bty had accounted for 16 enemy aircraft and defended the oilfield against ground attack until some Dutch troops arrived.

    More to follow
  5. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member


    The situation at P1 had become precarious so it was decided to concentrate at Palembang. On their way there 12 Bty & 78 LAA Bty met a Jap road block and a fierce fight took place. Gnr Geordie Allen dealt with an enemy patrol with a Bren until Capt Alpass found a way round.

    The Japs overran the airfield and pressed on to the oilfields where they were beaten off by the Gunners who lost 1 officer & 16 men killed, 36 men wounded and 1 missing. Subsequent attacks were held off with hand to hand fighting and the AA gunners firing over open sights. They were now surround and attacked on all sides by the parachutists. By last light all the equipment had been destroyed and the survivors set off through the jungle to P2.

    The Japs followed up and overcame the garrison at Pladjoe and dug in around the oil refinery but were counterattacked and scattered into the mangrove swamps by a group of AA gunners.

    The Dutch now took over command of this area but with more and more enemy arriving and the news of the fall of Singapore, the Dutch commander decided to pull out on the 15th. British and Dutch troops were to head for Oosthaven where they were to cross the Sunda Strait to Java. By this time 15 Bty was down to about two thirds of their strength.

    On the road to Oosthaven several bridges had roofs that had to be sawn off to allow the gun tractors to cross. Some bridges were blown early which meant either destroying equipment or making long detours, but somehow the majority got through. On arrival at Oosthaven any remaining equipment was destroyed and 6 HAA, 78 LAA Bty and what remained of 2 Troops of 89 LAA Bty arrived in Batavia to act as infantry.

    The final mention of 6 HAA in the book is the fight for Kalidjati airfield on the 1 March.

    The airfield at Kalidjati was captured after a bloody fight, the Japs giving no quarter and by 1230 hrs the garrison was wiped out. The gunners of 6 HAA Rgt had fought a bitter and unequal battle and paid the supreme sacrifice.

    A Troop 12 Bty was overwhelmed and the Battery Commander Maj Coulson was killed in action. At this point they also lost their CO Lt Col Baass. Maj Hazel took command with Maj Moxon as second in command and Maj Alpass took command of 15 Bty. The remains of this splendid regiment then concentrated at Garoet in central Java to await orders.
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  7. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Patrick, another book you may like to try is The Sparrows by Tony Paley. It is the story of 79 LAA Bty and there some mentions of 6 HAA in the chapters on Java. In the appendix there is a brief history of 6 HAA and a report by Maj Baillie 6 HAA on the lessons learnt in defending airfields including a sketch map of P1 airfield. There is also a Roll of Honour of all AA units in the far east in Jan & Feb 42 including date and place of death.

  8. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    Do you know if that ROH in the "The Sparrows" book lists the casualties for those AA units for the entire period they were POW's.

    Patrick and I have looked through the CWGC database using Geoff's search engine and have found a few extra one's over the last couple of months. There probably won't ever a be a complete list, but it would be nice to try.

    Cheers - Rob
  9. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Rob, yes it does. The list covers 77 HAA, 21 LAA, 6 HAA, 35 LAA, 48 LAA plus 4 other gunners whose unit is not listed. Mens home towns are also given.

    Buteman likes this.
  10. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA


    Many thanks.

    Another useful source that Patrick can use to cross check the info he already has.

    Regards - Rob.
  11. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    To continue with 6 HAA from the Farndale book The Years of Defeat 1939-40. There are a number of changes to the Btys in these accounts. I don't know if these are correct or errors in the book so I will quote them as found.

    6 HAA Regiment mobilised at Blackdown under Lt Col Milligan with 3, 12 & 15 HAA Btys and 1 LAA Bty (it was normal at this time for LAA Btys to be attached to HAA Rgts - my note). It moved to France via Cherbourg and deployed for defence of the concentration area at Le Mans. Now part of 1 AA Brigade it deployed to Bellancourt on the Somme, then to the Aubigny area at Berlette. Here it carried out its first engagement against a Heinkel He111 at 1100hrs on the 21 November 1939. It was reorganised in Jan 40 to consist of 2, 12 & 18 HAA Btys. under Lt Col Brittan. Col Milligan was promoted Brigadier to command 1 AA Bde.

    6 HAA was in action defending GHQ at Habarc on 10 May when it was ordered to cover the advance in to Belgium. Eventually it had 3 Bty at Tournai, 15 Bty at Brussels and 19 Bty at Ath.

    The next entry is for post Dunkirk and gives the location of the regt after re-equipping and reinforcement. They given as:
    6 HAA - 3, 12, 15 Btys - 3 inch guns - Aberystwyth

    The final mention in this book is for them being on their way to the middle east:
    Convoy WS 12Z was at Durban when it was redirected to the Far East. On board were 6 HAA among other Artillery units.

    I will post again later with the entries from Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914-55 from the same series.
    von Poop likes this.
  12. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    The first entry in the AA book is 2 OOB's for 1939-40.

    Nov 39 - 6 HAA 16x3 inch & 8x3.7 inch guns
    May 40 - 6 HAA, 1 AA Bde - Corps assembly areas and routes forward

    The next entry adds some small details to the regt's fight on Sumatra.
    During the attack on P1, at the refinery the Bty Commander of 12 Bty formed a BHQ party with small arms to attack the Jap dropping zone nearby. Here they engaged the parachutists in a 5 hour infantry battle.

    Next on Java
    6 HAA at Kalidjati & Tjililitan fought a hard ground battle before they were overrun.

    This volume only makes brief mention of regiments concentrating mainly on AA Bde levels.

    I will scan and post the sketch map of P1 airfield later as it shows the position of the guns.
  13. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Maj GWE Baillie of 6 HAA wrote a report on lesson learnt from the parachutists attack on P1 airfield. The report is headed "at sea en route for India March 1942". The report had a sketch map of P1 airfield attached which you can see in the attached .jpg

  14. Patwalker

    Patwalker Junior Member

    Dear Derek
    Many thanks for that, in fact I have all that info already from multiple sources,plus quite a lot else. What was new was the names of the officers killed. they appear to have got through my and Robert`s net. Is that the correct spelling of Lt Col Baass or should it be Bass ?
    I have asked my local library to try and get me `The Sparrows` book a couple of weeks ago.
    I need to try and get more on the Regiments story while part of the BEF.
    I have most of their unfortunate experiences on the hell ships and between Robert and myself have about 420 death details of their members.
    I also have copies of two letters written by survivors on their return to the UK
    When I went to the NA in London I trawled through what little they have on them and came across the report by Maj.Baillie which I have photocopied. It is almost exactly what you have detailed from the book.
    Another book that gives a brief glimpse of P1 is contained in Terrence Kellys Hurricane over Sumatra and the Battle for Palembang which is almost word for word the same..
    When they reached Sumatra four guns of the 12th Bty were split up between the two oil refineries, two at Pladjoe and two at Soengei gerong. Because they needed a ship to get them back two were destroyed to prevent capture.
    I live in the UK near Wolverhampton and can be contacted on Patwalker37srpen at aol.com I would be most interested in anything you can come up with.
    What started as a project to discover something about a battery which was stationed near here during the war has now become a project to put together their story which seems to have been neglected.
    best regards for now Patrick
  15. Patwalker

    Patwalker Junior Member

    Dear Derek
    The sketch map is a superb addition. The bit you quote on their initial BEF deployment I got from a source in America, I had no idea where he was getting it from but suspect your book. !!
    Their history from Aberystwyth to embarcation I have in great detail including travelling all over the midlands as mobiles. Lots of good details on locations but very few individual named personnel.
    I believe the Regt started off in Sept 1935 but abroad (Hong Kong ??)and came back to the UK. Of its two batteries 12 and 16 , 16 became 15 a few months later.
    For obvious reasons there is very little about 3 Bty in Singapore but I have come across a couple of pages worth.
    Best regards Patrick
  16. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Patrick, you are right about the early history, there is a brief precis of the unit's history in The Sparrows.

    Lt Col Baass or Bass is a bit of a mystery. He only has the one mention in the book where it is spelt Baass. I presumed from the text that by "lost" it meant killed. I checked the ROH in The Sparrows only to find no officers listed. I then checked the list in the RA Commemeration Book and no Baass or even Bass with the rank of Lt Col or above.

    Have you seen the English Heritage book by Colin Dobinson "AA Command". There is a very useful list of permanent HAA sites in the UK with their number, name and modern Grid Ref.

  17. Patwalker

    Patwalker Junior Member

    Dear Derek, thanks for that too. I checked on the name of Baass which if it is correct sounds more Dutch or S African than anything else and could not find a mention though Maj Coulson is detailed in the CWGC records. During the course of the researches I have started to keep a list of known survivors and this is now over thirty and the known deaths has reached 425, not all form KIA but most from the affects of Japanese treatment.
    I have read Colin Dobinsons book on AA command and it is very good although the mentions the 6 regt get are very few. There are within this area where I live four known AA sites from the war. Bits of debris can still be seen in some but the ones on the Common here are totally gone. Not surprising really since they were mobile 3.7" and would have left few reminders. When I visited Singapore before Christmas I had just twenty minutes in Kranji to try and find any names I could but without luck. Sadly lots of Royal Artillery graves but for some reason they dont usually give their Regt or Battery.
    I was thinking about Lt Col Baass and it is possible that when they say they lost him it might have meant he was captured not killed ?
    If I can get the most from this story I will write it up and then have a go at the Battery which was part of the 134 Regt HAA who were static 3.7" not far from here. 4 Guns which provided a defence for the north west of Wolverhampton and for Birmingham. From the sound of it you have something of a specialist library and I am most grateful for all the help and looking up you have done for me. I am now trying to fill in a lot of the blank areas for the 6 Regt from whatever sources I can. I have read dozens of books but they are very ellusive !! I am just in contact with a lady whose Grand father was in either 12 or 15 bty and I hope to get some more details shortly, He was a survivor and only died last year in his 90`s. I have a very comprehensive list of all the locations the 6 regt were in during their year in the UK before going to Singapore, during which time they were split up into batteries and sections all over the place. Their bad luck ran from Dunkirk, Singapore, Burma Railway, Rakuyo Maru, Kachidoki Maru, Sandakan marches and Ballale Island.
  18. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    I don't know if this helps, but checking the London Gazette for the name Baass throws up the following:


    at Bishton Manor Albrighton in the county of Salop
    a Lieutenant-Colonel in His Majesty's Royal Regiment
    of Artillery a natural born British subject,
    hereby give notice that after the expiration of
    twenty-one days from the date of publication hereof
    I intend to assume the surname of Baillie.—Dated
    this 16th day of September 1941.
    (in) G. W. G. BAASS, Lt.-Col., R.A.

    There are a few other hits for WW1 for this officer and his promotions
    Derek Barton likes this.
  19. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Well done Dave, that's our man. I've just rechecked the book and his initials are GWG. Can't see there being 2 Lt Cols in the RA called GWG Baass:)
  20. Patwalker

    Patwalker Junior Member

    Dear Dave, many thanks for that which does raise an amazing coincidence and leaves more questions than answers. Firstly Bishton Manor is one of the places that various HQ`s of the 6regt stopped in during their wanderings in the West Midlands and is not many miles from my house here on Penn Common.
    Secondly there was a report written during the war by an officer from the regt who managed to escape from Java by sea during the end of the fighting. His name was Major G W E Baillie. For such an unusual name it does seem more than mere coincidence. The lower rank does seem odd though. His report was written during 4th March 1942 (at sea) shortly before the final loss of Java. I notice the report is signed with the rank Lt Col.
    Since the report is hand annotated at the beginning and said to be by a Major G W E Baillie it is therefore possible that the writer of this note got the rank wrong ?? However it is a very interesting piece of info and seems to clear up a mystery. Great stuff then.
    The different initials G W E against G W G could also be an error at the time by someone who did not know him personally.
    Funnily enough the date of 16th Sept 1941 is about the time the Regt got its mobilisation orders for Iraq. Many thanks indeed for this `gem`

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