Arthur Bates

Arthur`s Account

Written in Changi POW Camp

Exercise Book-1

A true account of what happened on Singapore

Only one more bloomer made by our glorious government.

Our Division which is called the 18th Division landed at Singapore on the 29th of January 1942. Attached to us was a newly formed  Recce Battalion which was armed to its teeth. We all got bombed coming in, the only aircraft we saw were Japs, none of our own met us in.

One boat got a direct hit from the bombs she was the Empress of Asia a big troop ship. On board was our famous armed Recce Coy. along with RAMC and RAOC. They rescued all they could but the casualties were high. They managed to beach the boat and went back afterwards to sink it. That was our heavy armed Battalion and machine guns gone to the bottom of the sea and a lot of men as well. We other boats managed to get in safe with all our AA guns blazing away along with all those on land as well.

``What a site, Londons never seen anything like it or as bad up to us coming away." That`s what the London lads said about it, even those who had been on leave in the worst of the blitz.

We got off the boat and walked a little way  before getting into some trucks driven by Australians. They greeted us by saying ``hello prisoners of war". We set off for an unknown destination, we had to keep stopping to take cover lying flat in malaria drains full of smelly water but that was nothing when it was raining bombs. Some of our lads got hit with pieces of flying shrapnel, this caused one or two casualties.

Eventually we arrived at our billets only to find that they had been bombed to the ground. They had to find us new billets, some went into civilian houses and shops we went into the Chinese High School. Some of the lads got bombed out of the houses and shops that night causing two more casualties. We got very little food to eat, all we had was what we bought off the boat.

Our lousy Quarter Master was too damned scared to go out and find out where the supply depot was, oh too many bombs dropping for him to venture out. The same old balls up as it was in France. ``Wheres`s my son ? Find me my son !"

We got a little sleep in during the intervals of the Jap bombing. We managed to scrounge a little breakfast, tinned bacon and army biscuits. After breakfast they sent for all our M.T. drivers to go and draw some trucks from a depot, we went and got our light tanks and Bren gun carriers all of which were in a bad condition. Some had come out of the line only a week or so before from up the mainland. We got them all back to HQ and they were distributed out to our Coys. Where they were all loaded up with the necessary things we needed for fighting.


The Battle for Singapore

We got bombed coming in on arrival at Singapore 29/1/41. We got off the boat, the Australians met us with trucks we got in them and started off for our unknown destination billets. We got bombed all the way we went. We had two casualties and one or two wounded. When we got to our billets they had been bombed almost to the ground so they went chasing around for more billets. They got us some houses the civilians had left. Some of our lads got bombed out of them at night A Coy. and C Coy. The London lads said it was worse than any London raid. The RAF was missing again, there was plenty of A.A. barrage that did a lot of damage but the Japs did what they liked in the air.

Well we had one night in our billets and my what a night it was, it was murder. We had breakfast next morning and we were told to go and draw some trucks. We went and fetched our lorries from a big dump, we got them loaded up and they told us we were going straight into battle as the Japs was only just under 100 miles away. They had broken through the Australian lines (again) on the mainland. So we went that day to our defence lines and took up our posts.

The Japs had landed on the island that night we knew it too. Their snipers played hell with us. We got stuck into them at daybreak next morning, casualties were high on both sides. Daytime came and they retreated back again. We had to keep under cover because of their air force, the sky was black with planes. They had also got an observation balloon up so we could see we had no planes near with that being able to stop up.

We got stuck in for three or four days and nights, it was hell believe me.

tanks -1

I got knocked out on the 13th of Feb. The Jap tanks came along and started firing their cannons at us. We had an order to withdraw from our trenches near the road ------ and -------- Rd, we did and whilst doing so a tank came along and let us have it. I got wounded while I was trying to help George Gee who was wounded before me and we both caught another packet together. Frank Greasley got killed then and a lot more were wounded. They bandaged our wounds with our field dressings and started out to move us to hospital. We walked out of the jungle, which took us about seven or eight hours, at last we hit the Singapore road. They called up the first truck we saw and got us put into it with other wounded who were already in it. I was wet through with blood from my wound, I was beginning to feel weak, hazy and numb. We eventually landed at a terrific big hospital, later on I learned its name, it was the Alexandra.Alexandra_Hospital

They carried me in and nurses got to work washing the wound and cleaning it up. They cut all my clothes off (I felt shy). They took me into the X-ray room and X-rayed me, then took me straight out of there to the operating theatre. They gave me this injection and that's all I could remember till I woke up the next day about 10 am. An Australian nurse was at the side of my bed sitting in a chair, she said she had been with me through the night holding my tongue up to stop me from choking.  

 She said I had made a remarkable recovery as it was a very serious operation, the surgeon had removed a big piece of  shrapnel out of my head and stitched it up, it had fifteen stitches in it.

At eleven o` clock that morning all nurses were given the order to evacuate as the Japs were only 13 miles away. They got a few of their personal things together and the nurses out of our ward came up to wish us all the best of luck and hoped they met us in the next hospital they went to as we were due to evacuate ourselves. We had a card around our necks saying what part of the boat we had to go on, but we were unlucky as the Japs were to quick for us they had our hospital surrounded that night. It was hell, I have never experienced anything like it in my life before. We were all frightened I admit.

Bombs were dropping just outside, a shell came through the ward at the bottom end, so they evacuated us all down stairs into a room which had been a store, to our advantage. A damn good blast was felt all around the place, the Japs hit that hospital with everything they had, it was a miracle that any of us came out of there alive, it was only god that saved us.

We had had nothing to drink for three days, we only had bully beef and biscuits for those who could eat it, until they could find us something else to eat. The water mains had been burst by a bomb and that had cut all the water off.

It rained heavy one afternoon and some of the patients ran out with their mugs to catch some for a drink. There was also enough rainwater caught and boiled to make us a quarter of a mug of tea. It was heavenly to have a drink as we were dying for a drink and parched up.

That morning the Japs broke into our ward, they were front line troops and had no officers with them. They started kicking us about, they bayoneted two or three of our wounded as they lay on the mattresses, I thought they were going to kill us all. They was (bastards), they looted the place took off us what we had, food, cigs, watches and rings if they wanted them. They clouted us with their bayonets and the brooms which the orderlies had to sweep up with. It was awful, hitting and bayoneting the wounded as they lay there helpless and unarmed. It had been going on for some time when a Jap officer or two walked in and saw what they had done. They shouted something in Japanese and just stood there and watched one of them taking a watch off a patient. One of the Jap officers shot the thief as he moved he was dead.

One of the Jap officers could speak English, he was we later learned a medical officer, he dressed some of the men the troops had wounded. We all made statements as to what their troops had done to us in the ward and what they had stolen off us. The next day a big Jap General came and apologised for it. He said all the offenders had been shot as they had been warned to keep away from Red Cross field tents and hospitals.

We had to clean up that horrible awful mess they had made before we received any further treatment for our wounds.





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