Singapore 1942 - Escape Reports

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Skoyen89, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    A number of individuals escaped from Singapore either just before or when it fell. Did they routinely complete 'escape reports' and if so are they held somewhere?

    In particular I am looking for any accounts of the escape of a group of Royal Engineers from 18th Division including the CRE T/Lt Col P St B Sydenham, Capt HY Buchanan, Capt JMH Lewis, Lt AD Marmont, Lt RRL Harradine and about twenty Other Ranks. They made their way to Sumatra and then to Ceylon via Padang.

  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    18th Division Royal Engineers | COFEPOW
    First, the CRE, Lieutenant Colonel P St B Sydenham, Captains H Y Buchanan (HQRE) and J M H Lewis (288th) and Lieutenants R R L Harradine (287th) and A D Marmont (251st) together with 14 ORs were members of a party ordered away from the island on 13 February by the General Officer Commanding, 18th Division, Major General M B Beckwith-Smith. Three ORs of this party died, two on 13 February and one on 27 February. During their escape, up the Inderagiri River (on Sumatra's East coast) to Rengat and through Ayer Molek and Sawalunto to Padang and Emmahaven and thence to Colombo, they were co-opted into helping with the Sumatra Escape Route.

    Maybe -
    Roll of 18th Division Royal Engineers, Second World War | Imperial War Museums
    a cyclostyled copy of ts lists with covering letter (6pp, April 1942) of British service personnel who had arrived in India, having escaped from the South West Pacific and the Far East

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  3. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Thanks Tricky Dicky. I had found the first one which is where I got the list of the names - I am trying to find out the fate of Sapper/LCpl Hall WW who was part of this party and went missing in Netherlands East Indies (probably Sumatra). Hall is probably the one who died on 27th February - I know from the Missing Men file at Kew that he was part of Lt Harradine's party.
    The second is interesting but probably will not help directly in my main quest although it may help me list the others who were in the escape party.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    For information

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: William Hall
    Given Initials: W W
    Rank: Corporal
    Death Date: 27 Feb 1942
    Number: 2091267
    Birth Place: Cambridgeshire
    Residence: Cambridgeshire
    Regiment at Enlistment: Royal Engineers
    Branch at Enlistment: Other Corps
    Theatre of War: Netherlands East Indies
    Regiment at Death: Royal Engineers
    Branch at Death: Other Corps

    From a family tree on Ancestry
    William Walter Hall
    BIRTH 26/12/1915 • Chesterton,Cambridge,England
    DEATH 27/02/1942 • Singapore

  5. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Thanks again TD. I have quite a bit on him from his family, have found him in Casualty Lists on FMP, have the Missing Men file from Kew where he is mentioned and know he was with the group mentioned in the original post. But I am trying to find out what happened to him in Sumatra, either shortly before the party reached Padang or in Padang itself. Hence my questions.
  6. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    There may be something is this chapter that helps?

    Attached Files:

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  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I can't see where the above extract has come from but there are a couple of books (neither of which I have) which may help:
    The Escape from Singapore by Richard Gough and Singapore's Dunkirk by Geoffrey Brooke.
  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The only FE escape reports I can see would seem to be held within WO 208. For instance: Sergeant L J H Guest (service number 851929). Service: Army, 7 CD Regiment, RA [7th... | The National Archives but there are not many.
    I found a very interesting copy of a letter by a Captain Barham Savory, 5th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, covering his escape by boat from Malaya, evacuation from Singapore and evacuation from Java to Colombo. It had however for some unknown reason been filed in CAB 106-20 (Report of Action at Pelambang by 6th HAA) !!
    Another avenue you might explore is to search the IWM with your individuals' names to see if any have lodged private papers.
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  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    The Flight from Singapore chapter is from my book Ebb and Flow, Evacuations and Landings by Merchant Ships in World War Two.
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  10. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    A big than you to Roy for the chapter which is really useful, especially for the overview of the sailings. A fair bit of work went into that!

    Tim - I managed to read some of the titles you suggest through Google Books online (but of course some pages were missing). I will look into WO208 next time I visit Kew and ferret around generally on this subject there. It is a bit of a tangent from my normal research (Imphal and Kohima in 1944 and Stoplines and Defences in Southern England 1940-41) but interesting and one learns so much by straying a bit!

    Tim: Did you copy the escape report from Savory?
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  11. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Savory's letters copied, then transcribed and can be seen here Letters to Tom
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  12. daisy1942

    daisy1942 Junior Member

    "A number of individuals escaped from Singapore either just before or when it fell. Did they routinely complete 'escape reports' and if so are they held somewhere?"

    Hi Skoyen89,

    you and I need to get together and swap notes.... I am also looking for lists of escapees from Singapore. Dad left on the harbour water boat Daisy on night 13/14 February travelling via Djambi river and town, thence to Padang - but where he went after that is a mystery! I have a number of reports describing that escape route. I shall check my research to see if I have anything on the names you mention.

  13. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Hi Daisy
    Can you message me a phone number and I will call you. I'm not an expert on this theatre but it may be worth comparing notes and ideas for lines of research.
  14. Christopher Slaney

    Christopher Slaney New Member

    For information.
    My father, W/O 1C Charles Slaney - Sherwood Forresters, escaped Singapore on the afternoon of Feb 15 1942. He describes the craft as a 'small motor launch' carrying around 30 including 4 officers. As they were leaving one of the engineers was shot through the arm. They quickly became lost and ran aground in a mangrove swamp, but 24 hrs later made the Sumatran coast and motored up a river, arriving at the small town of Rengat (possibly misspelled). After crossing Sumatra by lorry and sometimes on foot, he was evacuated on a tramp steamer to Colombo.

    Can anyone in this forum corroborate this account with any similar escapee testimony or diary records? I am especially interested in learning the identity of a Mr. King my father mentions. He was quite possibly a brother officer. This Mr King acceded to the capitulation orders and perished as a POW.

    I am also interested in the name of the tramp steamer which embarked escapees from Pedang on February 29 for Colombo.

  15. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Alieneyes - don't think so. According to previous post Mr King acceded to capitulation and perished as POW. Date of death of your Mr King is before Fall of Singapore on 15/2/42..
  17. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member Patron

    Christopher, this maybe a complete red herring or your father maybe the man I’ve been looking for for many years!
    After reading this post I just checked out the FMP casualty list and found who I presume is your father as being a POW and officially escaping. He is recorded as being in the Ordnance Corps as a WO1 Conductor. Did your father serve at Imphal after his escape?
  18. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    There were many small craft that left Singapore as it collapsed and the route your father followed to Rengat and then overland to Padang on the far side of Sumatra was a common route. There is a list on the internet of ships that sailed from Padang to Colombo. Many were bombed or torpedoed and lost but others like the one your father was on were lost.

    Routes for you to try are:

    At Kew there is a 'Missing Men' file for most of the Battalions so I suggest you get a copy of the entire file for the Sherwood Foresters as you may find an account in there. You may also be able to build up a list of others who were in the party your father was in.
    See if there are Escape Reports for your father or others in the Sherwood Forresters.
    Use Google to search for the ships escaping from Padang on February 29th.
    Get his personnel records from the MOD which may have something on them.

    Good luck!
  19. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member Patron

    Skoyen, the details about Slaney are that he was RAOC. He may have originally enlisted into the Sherwoods but I’m thinking he was a pre war soldier. You don’t normally get to be a Warrant Officer without a bit of service under your belt!
    With an unusual name like Slaney I’m pretty sure he is my man but waiting for Christopher to get back with further details to confirm this.
  20. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    For those who haven't noticed Post 14 also appears on:
    Surrender Of Singapore
    If we're not careful we will get duplication of effort.
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