Les Pearson

Les Pearson`s Account

We arrived at Singapore on the 29th of January to fight in the battle, being greeted by Japanese bombers.

Singapore Docks - 2

Within an hour of docking we were taken by trucks to our temporary billets, ours being a Chinese High School nearly in the centre of Singapore. The time being spent scrounging about the vicinity getting coconuts and more or less looking for trouble.

Our stay here however was very short and within a day or two the Battalion moved to a rubber plantation about four miles from where we were, all open country. Our experience here was really something to remember and I always will. There were no billets to enter this time or ready provided sanitary facilities, just a few trees and a hill to live on for an indefinite period. Our comfort depended on ourselves we had bivouacs to erect with our couple of groundsheets, our own latrines to dig and also our own slit trenches in case of possible ground and air attacks. This part of Singapore gave us a chance of studying the mode of living and the very peculiar habits of the very poor Chinese and Malayan natives. Their huts as we should call them were very crude and dirty, made only of wood and dried palm leaves. The natives themselves were very clean, clothes nice and white and very smart in their own way.

After a day or two`s stay here orders came through for us to move again to what was known as the Wireless Station.

Now here is where our troubles began. Barbed wire was to be erected, which we worked on day and night, slit trenches were dug for our own protection, the place being nearer to the enemy and of course well within range of enemy mortar shell fire. To make it more dangerous and uncomfortable for us the R.A.`s came with their guns and placed them round our tents. That being a sure sign of mortar shellfire from the enemy for us to bear sooner or later when our guns opened up.

One day Jap did have a go at us but only for about fifteen minutes, at the time we were erecting wire. The warning whistle of the shells came and down we flopped, everything was OK after that spell with us, but an artillery gunner was killed. Our tents were lowered into the ground after this because rest was very precious, we expected more however and we got more the next day but not on such a large scale. We had plenty of toffee and cigs to uphold our spirits of endurance. Time was the factor we knew the clash with the enemy was imminent. A couple of days later the Foresters had orders to move and take up a position at the reservoir on the Bukit-Timah Road prior to going into action. The news was flashed to C Coy. (being my Coy.) As it happened we were about to begin a morning`s work wiring, however the work ceased and we prepared for a move to our new position four miles from the advancing enemy. Valises and blankets were left behind, fighting order only being worn.

After a few hours we arrived at our new and final destination. Trenches were dug for our own protection being surrounded by a roll of danit wire and a trip wire. Small trenches were dug for all round protection, each one big enough to hold three or four men. I remember being greeted on our arrival by three waves of Japanese bombers who bombed our forward comrades in their new positions. At night a sharp look out was kept from each trench, being in no immediate danger but looking out for our own safety and that of others was logical. Japanese snipers or men of fatalistic achievements as they are to my mind were very confusing. There were two or three around our part of consolidation, this being one of Japs numerous tactics to try to confuse and hinder, to kill before coming to actual opposition. The next morning we were told to advance on the enemy and we went right through the Norfolks, Recce, Australian and Indian lines to attack the Japs frontline troops. We found these to be Mongolians, very big fellow`s, they could not be controlled by the Japs they were like savages. An Australian Captain told our Officers it was suicide to attack but we still went on, we had just gone through a Chinese graveyard which the Japs had mortared. My Platoon Sergeant got hurt in the foot but I could not get near him as we were being machine-gunned, but I found out later he managed to get to one of the hospitals and that he was alright.

We managed to silence their machine guns by our own 2"mortar fire (I was No.1 on the mortar), we then advanced again to Bukit Timah village. On entering the place we were mortared ourselves and quite a number of my platoon got hit but still we kept on and finally we drove them back to the west coast of the island. We stopped there in a defensive position ready for another attack by the Japs, but they must have fallen back quite a bit as we never heard from them for some time. Their bombers came over and tried to bomb us out but we stuck like glue to our positions never daring to rest at any price. You had to keep your eyes open or they would get you as you stood, they would come and snipe all night long so we had to send out patrols to watch for them.

The next day we were called to go and defend Bukit Timah Road as they expected an attack at that point so we were relieved by another Battalion. You should have seen us, no sleep for days, nothing to eat only six army biscuits a bit of fish and water to drink. They could not get meals up to us we only got one hot meal in three days. We were worse than tramps, we were dirty, our clothes were torn and we were badly in need of a shave, but we didn`t care so long as we knew that it was for our loved ones at home that we had to fight.

We were all in high spirits when we went to our new position.

Street Fighting Singapore -1
We were greeted by Jap tanks they blew one of our ammunition trucks up which killed some of our boys and injured others, one fellow in my Coy. was underneath it  when it went up. It was just like hell for about an hour, it mowed trees down with its cannons and everyone was in an uproar trying to get to a place of safety. I was lucky as I was behind a tree, but I had a piece of my rifle butt shot away. I thought for a bit that I was a gonna but I got over my shock and everything stopped, there was silence, the tanks had gone back to their own lines. I got up and looked at the tree, it was half shot away. I thanked my lucky stars that I had picked a tree with a big trunk.

We held that position for three days until we capitulated and was I glad it was over (I`ll tell the world I was.) Every moment I spent in the Battle of Singapore I said my prayers for you all at home, to keep you safe from all harm and to send me back safely unharmed to you who I love very dearly.

We all knew we were going into a battle that was already lost, but never mind it is over now and my conscience is clear to know I did my little bit in trying to save that little island of the British Empire called Singapore and for my King and Country. We were told too that by holding out as we did we saved Australia from the terror of the Japs. It would have been a big loss to the British Empire if it had been taken by these yellow people.

I haven`t told you all about my experiences in the Battle for Singapore because it is awful and I hate talking about it, but maybe when I get home and you ask me different things about the place, I might tell you a bit more then, but I say you must see things with your own eyes to believe what I say. So for the present we will forget about it or that I was ever in it, so I will end now.





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