February 1942

Feb

17

1942

Marched into captivity on Singapore

There are several accounts of the Japanese troops using civilians and prisoners of war for bayonet practice, sometimes as an initiation rite for new recruits.

Next I saw a column of at least a hundred Chinese civilians being marched across a pedang in the same direc- tion as us. They wore white shorts and white T-shirts but were blindfolded. It struck me then as strange that we had not also been blindfolded. The future of these hapless Chinese, I thought, looked especially gloomy. It was obvious that they were about to be killed.

Feb

16

1942

Heroic work saves HMS Thrasher from oblivion

The British T class submarine HMS Thrasher under way. She survived the exceptionally hazardous Mediterranean war and went on the a successful war in the Far East, sinking over 20,000 tons of Japanese shipping.

I got a rather startled report back that there was what appeared to be a bomb lying on the fore-casing just under the gun, and there was a hole in the casing which seemed to indicate that something had gone into the casing and which might be causing this noise. I went up on the bridge myself and went down to investigate, and there, sure enough, there was a bomb lying on the casing – about two feet long it was.

Feb

15

1942

The Fall of Singapore

Lieut. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese Commander faces Lieut. Gen. A. E. Percival, British commander.

It later transpired that the Japanese had brought up their veteran troops. As we had defended our ground so well, they thought we were a crack regiment under the direct command of General Wavell. These enemy companies acted more or less independently, and had few lines of communication. Their leaders had therefore not been able to inform them of the cease-fire, and as a result this was our worst period, as, without weapons, we were picked off one by one.

Feb

14

1942

The last gallant battle of HMS Li Wo

This is is a reconstruction of the end of HMS Li Wo, making an attack on a Japanese transport ship.

H.M.S. Li Wo hoisted her battle ensign and made straight for the enemy. In the action which followed, the machine guns were used with effect upon the crews of all ships in range, and a volunteer gun’s crew manned the 4-inch gun, which they fought with such purpose that a Japanese transport was badly hit and set on fire.

Feb

13

1942

Desperate last hours in Singapore

A launch returning from an island in Keppel Harbour at Singapore after Royal Engineers had set fire to oil storage tanks there, January 1942.

Down below I found an air raid shelter built entirely of large tins of corned beef, and as I dived in, it was explained that the bomb splinters could slice through the sides of a ship, but could not penetrate the corned beef. Good old Admiralty ham. As the bombs exploded all around us I thought of those children standing on Clifford Pier unprotected.

Feb

12

1942

Heroic attempt to halt the ‘Channel Dash’

A Fairey Swordfish Mk.I from the Torpedo Training Unit at Gosport drops a practice torpedo during training.

After ten minutes flight his small force was heavily attacked by Messerschmitts and F.W. 190’s; despite these attacks, which had inflicted some damage on all his aircraft and separated him from his fighter escort, he flew on undeterred. He them encountered a withering anti-aircraft fire, which shot saw most of his port wing, but was observed to regain control of his aircraft , straighten up and fly on steadily towards the battle cruisers. In this manner he led the whole of his formation over the enemy destroyer screen into a position where they could launch their torpedoes.

Feb

11

1942

The Japanese view of a ‘serene death’

The Retreat into India: Electrical equipment at the Yenangyaung oilfields being destroyed as part of the 'scorched earth' policy pursued by the British in the face of the Japanese advance.

The rest of the company, armed with rifles and bayonets, advanced in high spirits, bypassed the west of the hill where the enemy might be positioned, and kept moving south along the River Salween in the early morning light. Unexpectedly we found several tents. We advanced and stabbed a few men who were outside.

Feb

10

1942

The final stand begins on Singapore

Thousands of civilians were killed by the relentless Japanese bombing of Singapore.

In these circumstances the defenders must greatly outnumber Japanese forces who have crossed the straits, and in a well-contested battle they should destroy them. There must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population. The battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs .

Feb

9

1942

The attack on Singapore begins

Men of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders training with a Lanchester six-wheeled armoured car in the Malayan jungle, 13 November 1941.

One of the boy-buglers from the Prince of Wales. He was then “nearly fifteen.” “On the night the Japs invaded the island everything went haywire,” he said. “During the fighting a Jap sniper who had been hiding up a tree jumped down on me and wounded me in the wrist with his bayonet. I couldn’t stick him myself, so I called the sergeant, who finished him off.

Feb

8

1942

Red Army boys attack on the Eastern Front

A publicity shot of a German soldier in a snow lined trench somewhere on the Eastern Front sometime in early 1942.

I struggle to describe in detail the horror of the hand-to-hand fighting with these children. Anyone who has not been here will never be able to understand what unfolds here. Grown men, many of whom have sons who are the same age, have had to engage in brutal, bloody fights with the children! I will not be able to forget these horrible scenes for a long time.