Patrick Edward McGrath 18th (5th Bn. The Loyal Regt.) Regt. Reconnaissance Corps

Discussion in 'Recce' started by Maria McGrath, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. Maria McGrath

    Maria McGrath Member

    I am trying to find out which ship my uncle was on when he died on 5th February 1942 near Singapore. He was a trooper, number 3857095 in the above regt. Thank you
  2. CL1

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

    Hello Maria
    Send for his service records Get a copy of military service records - GOV.UK

    For info the link below has a lot of info re the Empress of Asia but does not mention Patrick McGrath as a casualty (it does state the list is incomplete though) although I would suggest he was killed whilst on the ship.
    Empress of Asia

    From Only the Enemy in Front

    Among those who marched into captivity were soldiers of 18th Battalion, The Reconnaissance Corps who had arrived with 18th Division shortly before the surrender. Formed from 5th Loyals at Madeley Heath, Staffordshire on 30 April 1941 the battalion's personnel officially transferred from The Loyal Regiment to The Reconnaissance Corps on 9 May 1941. Training continued through that summer and the issue of tropical kit indicated a move to North Africa. With no Reconnaissance Corps cap badges the battalion made do with Corps flashes,* issued in early June, and with painting Reconnaissance Corps markings in a diamond shape on their helmets.

    * This information is taken from the War Diary; the flashes are presumed to be the arm of service strip.

    Following inspection by the King on 22 October the battalion embarked on an odyssey that was to end in the tragedy of Singapore. The first leg took the convoy to Halifax, Nova Scotia where 18 Recce transferred to the US Army transport Leonard Wood and sailed from Halifax in a convoy protected by the aircraft carrier, USS Ranger. On 18 November Leonard Wood was accidentally rammed by Joseph Dickenson and its fuelling tanker. Next day the convoy left Port of Spain in Trinidad but Leonard Wood soon fell behind, although a destroyer escort was provided. Cape Town was reached on 9 December where, thirteen days later, the Battalion learned that its destination was Bombay. It finally reached India on 27 December and disembarked on the last day of 1941 to move to Ahmednagar. From India 18th Division sailed for Singapore as a result of the worsening situation in the Far East.Although the main body of the division had landed to join III Indian Corps, 18th Reconnaissance Battalion, together with other divisional troops:

    did not arrive off Singapore island until the morning of 5 February. It was...a glorious sunny morning, not a cloud in the sky or a ripple on the sea, and the white wake creaming back from the majestic ships ...with just 10 miles to go to reach Singapore, that bastion of the East, with its so-called impregnable defences.

    What a rude awakening was in store for us, the bombers and Zeros came in from every angle and had a field day.1

    At about 1100 hours, when the leading ships were close to Singapore and the slowest ship, the Empress of Asia, was south-west of the Sembilan Islands, the convoy was attacked by enemy dive-bombers. The Empress of Asia received several direct hits and soon began to sink.

    ...troops had to take to the water owing to fire on the ship. Some great acts of gallantry were performed, especially by members of the hospital staff. Rescues were quickly effected by the Royal Navy. The loss of life fortunately was small, but nearly all weapons and equipment on board were lost... It thus happened that some of these units landed without their equipment. They were re-equipped as far as possible with small arms and fought thereafter as infantry.2

    By the end of the war 264 members of the regiment had died as prisoners against 55 killed at the time of the surrender of Singapore. Officers and men of 18 Recce were imprisoned in a camp at Changi until November 1942 when those fit to work were moved to Thailand to construct the Bangkok-Rangoon railway which task ceased in mid-1943 after which the prisoners were put to work in labour camps.

    18th(5th Bn. The Loyal Regt)Recce

    Service Number 3857095

    Died 05/02/1942

    Aged 20

    18th (5th Bn. The Loyal Regt.) Regt.
    Reconnaissance Corps

    Son of Michael and H. McGrath, of Glencairn, Co. Waterford, Irish Republic.

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  3. Maria McGrath

    Maria McGrath Member

    Thank you
  4. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

  5. Maria McGrath

    Maria McGrath Member

    Thank you so much, where did you get that extract from please?
  6. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    War Casualty list WO 417/41
    I can forward the page if it is helpful?
    Owen, Tony56 and CL1 like this.
  7. Maria McGrath

    Maria McGrath Member

    Thank you, that would be really helpful
  8. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Hi Maria welcome to the forum.

    Attached is some information about your Uncle from

    WO 361/221 Malaya: Reconnaissance Corps; missing personnel 1942 Jan 01 - 1946 Dec 31

    There are some discrepancies about the spelling of your Uncles name & how he died.

    McGrath Tpr Brown saw him jump in & not surface

    McGavin Tpr Twisse saw him drowned ; Tpr W Gordon saw him pulled into screw stream of Empress of Asia

    MacGraff Tpr Twisse & Tpr Breakspear saw him drowned

    Megavin Tpr W Gordon saw him pulled into screw stream of Empress of Asia

    Mcgralt**? Tpr Eaves witnessed an attack by sharks

    Remember that these reports were made well after the event & hence might not be accurate. Eye witness accounts do vary even immediately after the event.


    Attached Files:

  9. Maria McGrath

    Maria McGrath Member

    That's incredible to hear what happened to my uncle, thank you so much. My uncle was actually Edward McGrath, only 17 and too young to sign up, so he used his deceased brother's birth certificate, Patrick aged 20, to enlist. He was a stoker too, it must have been so frightening at that age and I know he couldn't swim.

    Thank you for taking the time to find this information, I really appreciate it.
    Recce_Mitch likes this.
  10. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

Share This Page