Friday, 16 February 2007

Evacuation and Rescue Ships 1942

This is a list created by Arthur Lane ex-FEPOW as listed on COFEPOW website. It is not complete but but it does give an overview of what happened to some of the ships and vessels that I am researching.

16.1.42 Motor Launch KELANA (R, 88t) - Sunk by aircraft Malaya
21.1. 42 Collier ZANNIS L CAMBANIS (R, 5317t, 1920) - Mined off Singapore
22.1.42 Armed Trader LARUT (R, 894t, 1927) - Sunk by aircraft off E Coast of Sumatra
22.1.42 Armed trader RAUB (R, 1161t, 1926) - Sunk by aircraft off E Coast of Sumatra
27.1.42. Destroyer THANET (1000t, 1919) - Sunk in action with Japanese surface craft off Malaya.
2.42. Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel TIEN KWANG (R, 787t, 1925) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands Singapore area.
2.42. Boom defence vessel DOWGATE (290t, 1935) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into Japanese hands at Singapore.
2.42. Boom defence vessel LUDGATE (290t, 1935) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into Japanese hands at Singapore.
2.42. Examination vessel SOLEN (R) - Presumed lost at Singapore.
2.42. Landing craft personnel (Large) LCP (L) No 180-185 (Total 6, 8 - 11t each) - Lost at Singapore.
2.42. Motor launch ML PENGHAMBAT - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands at Singapore.
2.42. Motor launch ML PENINGAT (R) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands at Singapore.
2.42. Patrol vessel GIANG BEE (R, 1646t, 1908) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands - Singapore area.
2.42. Small craft SHUN AN (R) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into Japanese hands at Singapore.
2.42. Tug WO KWANG (R, 350t, 1927) - Assumed lost at Singapore.
11.2.42. Armed trader LIPIS (R, 845t, 1927) - Believed lost by enemy action off Singapore.
13.2.42. Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel SHU KWANG (R, 788t, 1924) - Sunk by aircraft Dutch East Indies.
13.2.42. Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel SIANG WO (R, 2595t, 1926) - Bombed and beached Dutch East Indies.
13.2.42. Boom accommodation ship SUI WO (R, 2672t, 1896) - Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into Japanese hands at Singapore.
13.2.42. Minesweeper HUA TONG (R, 280t, 1927) - Sunk by aircraft in Palembang River, Sumatra.
13.2.42. River gun boat SCORPION (700t, 1938) - Sunk by gunfire from Japanese surface craft Banka Straits after aircraft attack on 9.2.42.
14.2.42. Armed trader VYNER BROOKE (R, 1670t, 1928) - Sunk by aircraft off Banka Straits, Sumatra.
14.2.42. Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel KUALA (R, 954t, 1911) - Sunk by aircraft Dutch East Indies.
14.2.42. Minelayer KUNG WO (R, 4636t, 1921) - Sunk by aircraft bombs near Lingga Archipelago, Singapore area.
14.2.42. Minesweeper CHANGTEH (R, 244t) - Sunk by aircraft bombs, Singapore area.
14.2.42. Motor launch ML No. 311 (73t, 29.11.41.) - Sunk by Japanese gunfire Banka Straits, Sumatra.
14.2.42. River gunboat DRAGONFLY (625t, 1939) - Sailing from Singapore and sunk by aircraft bombs.
14.2.42. River gunboat GRASSHOPPER (625t, 1939) - Sailing from Singapore and sunk by aircraft bombs.
14.2.42. Tug PENGAWAL - Sunk by aircraft Durian Straits, Singapore.
14.2.42. Tug ST BREOCK (810t) - Sunk by aircraft bombs off Sumatra.
14.2.42. Tug ST JUST (810t, 1919) - Sunk by aircraft Durian Straits, Singapore.
14.2.42. Whaler TRANG (R, 205t, 1912) - Fired and abandoned Cooper Channel, Singapore.
15.2.42. Minesweeper KLIAS (R, 207t, 1927) - Scuttled at Palembang, Sumatra.
15.2.42. Tug YIN PING (R, 1914) - Sunk by gun fire.
16.2.42. Motor launch ML No. 1062 (40t) - Sunk by gunfire Banka Straits, Sumatra.
17.2.42. Minesweeper JARAK (R, 208t) - Sunk by Aircraft bombs Singapore area.
18.2.42. Minesweeper MALACCA (R, 210t, 1927) - Scuttled in Tjemako River, Sumatra.
27.2.42. Destroyer ELECTRA (1375t, 1934) - Sunk by surface craft gunfire Java Sea.
27.2.42. Destroyer JUPITER (1760t, 25.6.39.) - Sunk by torpedo Java Sea.
28.2.42. Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel MATA HARI (R, 1020t, 1915) - Sunk by aircraft in Sunda Strait, Java Sea.
2.3.42. Minesweeper FUH WO (R, 953t, 1922) - Lost by enemy action or destroyed at Singapore.
2.3.42. Minesweeper LI WO (R, 707t, 1938) - Lost by enemy action or destroyed at Singapore.
2.3.42. Minesweeper SIN AIK LEE (R, 198t, 1928) - Lost by enemy action or destroyed at Singapore.
2.3.42. Minesweeper TAPAH (R, 208t, 1926) - Lost by enemy action or destroyed at Singapore.
3.42. Whaler JERAM (R, 210t, 1927) - Presumed lost, Sinngapore area.
1.3.42. Cruiser EXETER (8390t, 1931) - Sunk in action with Japanese surface craft, Java Sea.
1.3.42. Destroyer ENCOUNTER (1375t, 1934) - Sunk in action with Japanese surface craft, Java Sea.
1.3.42. Motor launch ML No. 1063 (40t, 1.42.) - Sunk in action, Tanjong Priok, Java.
1.3.42. Tanker/Oiler WAR SIRDAR (5518t, 1920) - Lost on reef NW Batavia.
1.3.42. Whaler RAHMAN (R, 209t, 1926) - Lost or destroyed Batavia.
2.3.42. Destroyer STRONGHOLD (905t, 1919) - Sunk in action with Japanese surface craft, south of Java.
2.3.42. Whaler GEMAS (R, 207T, 1925) - Scuttled Tjilatjap, Java.
3.3.42. Minesweeper SCOTT HARLEY (R, 620t, 1913) - Sunk, probably by surface craft Indian Ocean.
3.3.42. Tanker Oiler FRANCOL (2623t, 1917) - Sunk by gunfire of Japanese surface craft south of Java, Indian Ocean.
3.3.42. Base ship ANKING (R, 3472t, 1925) - Sunk by gunfire of Japanese surface craft, south of Java, Indian Ocean.
4.3.42. Motor minesweeper MMS No 51 (226t, 26.11.41.) - Scuttled south of Java to prevent capture by Japanese.
8.3.42. Whaler JERANTUT (R, 217t, 1927) - Scuttled Palembang, Sumatra.
25.12.42. Landing craft personnel (Large) LCP (L) No 36 (8211t) - Lost by fire at Chittagong, India. Date given as 24th/25th.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Black Friday - 13th of February 1942

HMS Kedah in her wartime colours

Captain George F A Mulock, D.S.O., R.N., F.R.G.S. (1882-1963) served as Extended Defences Officer at Singapore from August of 1939 until the colony’s fall on February 15th, 1942.

It is believed that Captain Mulock and his staff at Extended Defences, under the in-direct command of Admiral EJ Spooner, co-ordinated the evacuation of some sixteen vessels which sailed from Singapore at dawn on the 12th February, or ‘Black Friday’ as it would later be known.

The exact size of the so-called ‘Empire Star Convoy’ is unknown and numbers range from six to over thirty, but included the Empire Star, Gorgon, Yoma, Delamore, HMS Scott Harley. The light cruiser HMS Durban, HMS Stronghold and HMS Kedah would escort the convoy. It is estimated that only two or three of the dozens of ships to leave Singapore during 11 - 13 Feb 1942 actually made it to safety.

Three ships, which he personally oversaw the evacuation of were Blue Star cargo ship SS Empire Star (which left on the 12th February), the SS Vyner Brooke (left on the night of 12th February), and the SS Malacca (which left on the morning of the 13th February 1942). The Empire Star and HMS Kedah were two of those who did make it without being sunk by the Japanese.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Evacuation of Rear Admiral EJ Spooner & Captain GFA Mulock

Photo of Rear Admiral Spooner and his wife Megan at Admiral House in Singapore

Mr RBD Hughes provides this fascinating insight regarding his Uncle and the evacuation:-

I have been provided with your e-mail address by very helpful members of the FEPOW community in Britain. I have also viewed your blog relating to the evacuation from Singapore. My uncle Captain George F A Mulock, DSO, RN, FRGS (1882-1963) served as Extended Defences Officer at Singapore until the colony's fall in February 1942. He personally arranged the 'evacuation?!' of Rear-Admiral Jackie Spooner aboard a motor launch, and when the Admiral left Singapore, my uncle was in effect SNO, he being the most senior naval officer to be captured at Singapore. I write to you as I know that it is an area of some interest to you.

I believe, from the limited papers relating to my uncle's time at Singapore, that he assumed some control over the evacuation of civilians from the colony, as the government there had more or less let people pursue their own passage. I know that he arranged the evacuation of women, children and a selection of naval officers aboard the Blue Star cargo ship SS Empire Star. Nevertheless, it was the sight of women and children left to fend for themselves in Singapore that haunted my uncle for the rest of his life. He believed, perhaps unfairly given the apathy displayed by the Straits Settlement Government, that he did not do enough.

I would very much like to contribute a small piece for your blog, relating to my uncle, who was the nephew of British Poet Laureate Sir Alfred Austin, and served under Captain R F Scott during the 1901-1904 British National Antarctic Expedition and at Gallipoli in 1915-1916, winning the DSO for saving lives from HMS Ocean and the evacuation form Suvla Bay and the Cape Helles.

I hope that some more information can be gleaned from interested parties, as I know nothing about his time as Extended Defences Officer, except for his brief memoirs, in which he devotes little time to Singapore. I am hoping to re-write and publish his memoirs under the title White Ribbon, White Flag.

With thanks
Mr R B D Hughes
Nephew of Captain George Mulock DSO, RN, FRGS
Head of Extended Defences/Extended Defences Officer for Singapore August 1939-February 1942

If anyone can help with any further information relating to Captain GFA Mulock I would be happy pass the information on.

Christopher Thorne has kindly shared the information below relating to the passenger list of ALL those on the Fairmile M/L 310

KEY: A = Reached Java / B = Died Tjebia / C = PoW / D= Survived / E = Missing / F = Dcd Singapore.

Lt J Bull RNZVR CO A, Rear Admiral EJ Spooner RAMY B, LLt Henderson XO 310 B, Air Vice Marshal CW Pulford ACC Far East B, Mne Day C, Act Lt Brough Coxwain 310 A, Cdr. PL Frampton RN B, StSgt Lockett RE EAB Hill A, Wing Cdr. PA Atkins RAFVR C, StSgt Ginn RE EA B, Oldenall C Lt RAW Pool RN C, StSgt Davis RE BA B, Johnstone C Lt IW Stonor Argyll/Sutherland Highlanders C, Sgt Wright RMP C, AB Flower B, Mr. Richardson, Warrant Bosun RN C, L/C Shrimpton RMP F, AB Hayward B, P/O Keeling B, L/C Turner RMP C, AB Russell B, P/O Firbank C, L/C Schief RMP C, Teleg'st Tweedale C, P/O Sto. Bale B, L/C Stride RMP C, P/O Motor Mech Johncock C, Telg'fst Smithwick RN C A, A/C Smith RAF C, Sto Tucker C , Sgt. Hornby RM B, A/C Bettany RAF C, Sto Paddon C , Mne Sully B, Sto Townsend B, Mne Robinson C , Sto Scammell RN B, Sto Little B, Mne Smith C, Pte Docherty Gdn Hi'l'ers B, Cook "Charlie" Chinese D, Mne Sneddon C , Mr Dimmert RN D'yd S'pre B.

This makes a total of 47 bodies on a boat built for a crew of 6/7

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Artist's image of the last moments of the Li Wo

What finally happened to the "Mata Hari"?

What was the background behind the sinking of the MATA HARI?

There are possibly conflicting records I hope that someone maybe able to verify what actually happened to the vessel.

An Account by H. WALKER, M.B.E., a Civilian Engineer at the Naval Dockyard, Singapore, who stayed behind to destroy the Naval Fuelling Installations gives a very interesting personal account and states that the MATA HARI was captured 10 miles S.E. of Muntok by the Japanese. The captain surrendered because the passengers were mostly women, children and nurses, there was also a few Argylls and Royal Marines on board. They were taken ashore at Muntok on Banka Island

The MATA HARI originally left Singapore on the 12th February 1942 preceded by the VYNER BROOKE and when captured there were apparently no casualties despite the fact that ship had apparently been attacked by over 80 Japanese planes.

The voyage included the rescue of five sailors who were survivors from the gunboat HMS Scorpion who had been swimming about in the dark for five hours and had almost given up hope of rescue. Later that night they reached the mouth of the Moesi river which runs into Palembang but a hitch occurred - a pilot was required and there wasn't one available so the MATA HARI anchored.

H. Walker stated it was a very dark night and during the dark suddenly shells began to 'zip' overhead with two Japanese vessels appearing from behind the shadows of the mangroves and the Captain of the MATA HARI formally surrendered upon the realisation that they were sitting ducks and owing to the large numbers of civilians including women and children who were on board.

When daylight broke the two dark shapes in the night were shown to be a big four-funnelled Japanese cruiser and a Japanese destroyer. The captain of the MATA HARI was instructed to lift anchor and follow the Japanese vessels to Muntok Bay, Banka Island. I understand most of the passengers were then subsequently interned in prison camps.

In it states the fate of the MATA HARI as being:- MATA HARI, Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel (R, 1,020t, 1915) Sunk by aircraft in Sunda Strait, Java Sea, 1942, February 28.

As the eye witness account states that the MATA HARI was "captured" I am looking to understand if the Japanese then sunk the vessel after capture and if so - why?

Sunday, 4 February 2007

What happened to the HMS Laburnum?

In a number of evacuation records the ship "LABURNUM" is referenced. However I could not track down any records of this ship having actually left Singapore. In my request for information I was kindly provided with the following summaries:-

HMS Laburnum
Acacia Class Sweeping Sloop.
Launched by Charles Connell & Company Scotstoun, Yard No: 375, on 10/6/1915 and lost in 1942 Singapore.
1200t normal
76.2m x 10.1m x 3.4m
1 shaft TE, 2 boilers, 1800ihp giving 16.5 knots
2 x 12pdr, and 2 x 3pdr AA guns
Crew 90

1935 became the drill ship in Singapore.
1942 scuttled during the Japanese takeover.

From a another reference on SHIPS OF THE ROYAL NAVY:-
LABURNUM - Sloop 'Acacia' class - Connell (shipbuilders)-10/6/1915. Became a drillship 1935 - Lost 2/1942 Singapore
LABURNUM -(EX WAKATAKA) Drillship, 1890 tons Japanese minelayer seized 17/10/1947, renamed 1949

LABURNAM - Singapore Drill Ship
1) Sloop (1915)- Reserve Drill Ship - Straits Settlement 1935, arrived 10/03/1935, lost 2/1942 Singapore Paid Off 28/02/1942
2) Ex Japanese WAKATAKA, Minelayer seized, renamed LABURNAM as drill ship 09/1949 to 1951

This excerpt from a Royal Malaysian Navy website that I was kindly provided is also interesting:

On 18 January 1935, the British Admiralty presented Singapore with an Acacia-class sloop, HMS Laburnum, to serve as the Reserve's Headquarters and drill ship. It was berthed at the Telok Ayer Basin. HMS Laburnum was sunk in February 1942, prior to the capitulation of Singapore at the beginning of the Pacific Second World War.

In Ralph Armstrong's book "Short Cruise on the Vyner Brooke" where he documents his personal experiences during the evacuation he stated "We were told to report to the HMS Laburnum at the wharves. It turned out to be a land station by that name......"

Ralph Armstrong and family ended up being allocated to the "SS Vyner Brooke" so I assume that based on his description the "Laburnum" it seemed that a number of evacuees were told to report to the "Laburnum" but upon arrival were allocated to other ships.

Various sources have confirmed that the vessel was used as a Navy "land station" and that she was scuttled during the Japanese takeover and so may also have been damaged while berthed. Thank you also for the lead with the photo!

William A Choppin interned in Changi Prision

WA Choppin b1898 in Greenwich was living in Harbour Board accommodation in Bukit Chermin Road at the time of the fall of Singapore. His wife Nora Olive evacuated to UK on the second last ship out of Singapore according to relatives and lost a number of close friends on the last ship out that did not make it.

WA Choppin was the son in Law of AL Lawrence (father of Nora) and voluntarily decided to stay in Singapore for the surrender (aged 43 in 1942) despite being given the opportunity to escape on a Harbour Board Steamer with many other harbour Board Staff. He was interned at both Changi and Sime Road jails and after the liberation he continued to live in Singapore up until around 1949 when this photo was taken.

I was kindly provided with the following Singapore directory record:

CHOPPIN W.A. [William Augustus] b.1898 Greenwich. Ironworker,Dockyard Staff, Harbour
Board Singapore. Aged 43 in 1942. Lived at 20 Bukit Chermin Rd, Singapore. Wife Nora Olive evacuated to UK. Changi and Sime Rd internee. Died 1985 Gloucestershire.

Changi Prison records state that his cell number was 3 2 26 (which he shared with A Lawrence) and his camp reference number was 318. I am looking for any information related to WA Choppin's Changi or Sime Road Prison internment or information related to his tenure with the Singapore Harbour Board.

Alfred Lawrence interned in Changi Prison

Alfred Lawrence arrived in Singapore in 1898 and worked for the Civil Engineer's Dept of the Singapore harbour Board. He reported to HK Rodgers, Chairman of the Harbour Board and spent his years in Singapore primarily focused on the building and construction of the docks in Keppel Harbour. This photo of GW Lawrence was taken around 1933 or 1934.

In the last days before Singapore capitulated he was given the opportunity to evacuate on the Harbour Board Steamer ferry the "Bagan" but refused to do so and made the personal decision to stay in Singapore which had been his home for some 44 years at that point. His son in law, WA Choppin who was responsible for the Dockyards at Keppel harbour (also reporting to HK Rodgers) made the decision to stay behind and not escape despite also being given the opportunity to also depart on the "Bagan".

Upon the official surrender both men went to one of the Harbour Board houses on Bukit Chermin Road which was tenanted by WA Choppin and waited for the Japanese to intern them. Both gentlemen subsequently spent the occupation years in Changi Prison where they shared the same cell and survived to see the liberation but I understand that Alfred Lawrence died not long afterwards having never being able to fully recover from the interment.

WA Choppin on the other hand returned to the Harbour Board after the liberation and continued to live in the same Harbour Board house on Bukit Chermin road up until 1949.

I was kindly provided the following information relating to Alfred Lawrence who was listed in the Singapore directories in 1933 and 1940:-

LAWRENCE A. [Alfred] Foreman of Works, Civil Engineering Dept , Singapore Harbour Board. Aged 62 in 1942. Changi and Sime Rd internee. Wife E. evacuated to UK.

I am looking for any further information on these two gentlemen and in particular any stories, accounts or photos relating to their interment in Changi Prison and Sime road and or during their employment with the Singapore Harbour Board.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

HK Rodgers & Cliff House

I am looking to establish where HK Rodgers, Chairman Harbour Board, Straits Settlements lived before his escape from Singapore in February 1942.

I believe that he may have lived at “Cliff House”on Bukit Chermin Road which is located in walking distance from Keppel Harbour and where some other housing that were originally occupied by senior staff from the Harbour Board still stand today.

Cliff House apparently burnt down or was demolished in the mid 1960s but the site shows that it would have had a very prominent view of the Harbour and as it was actually listed in a 1913 town map of Singapore it would no doubt have been a very prominent house at the time.

Does anyone have any information concerning the history of Cliff House and can confirm that HK Rodgers did in fact live there before the evacuation? The 1938 Malaya Who's Who only gives his address as Bukit Berlayer, Singapore.

HK Rodgers – Chairman Harbour Boards, Straits Settlements

HK Rodgers was the Chairman, Harbour Boards, Straits Settlements based in Singapore who escaped on the "TENGARROH" (There are several different spelling versions of this ship but I believe this spelling is the correct one) on the 14th of February at 1.30 am under heavy shelling. He survived the evacuation and ended up in Fremantle, Western Australia

I am keen to know more about HK Rodgers including his tenure in Singapore, where he lived (Cliff House on Bukit Chermin Rd?) and hopefully track down a photo of him for my research. I was kindly provided with the following information being complied for a 1941 "who's who of Singapore":

RODGERS H.K.[Henry Knight] AMICE b.1900 Glasgow. Educated Sir Joseph Williamson’s School and Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Singapore Harbour Board Chairman 1937-42. Evacuated 14.2.42 on Tengarah. Left Tjilitjap on the coastal steamer Khoen Hoea 26.2.42; arrived Fremantle WA 9.3.42.

Other details include:

1923 Assistant Manager, Messrs Clover, Clayton & Co Ltd, Birkenhead.

1924-1927 Assistant General Manager, Messrs William Beardmore & Co.Ltd

1928-1931 General Manager, the Shalimar Works Ltd, Calcutta

1932-1933 Technical Advisor, Messrs Alcock Ashdown & Co. Bombay

1934 Assistant to Chairman, Singapore Harbour Board

1935 Assistant General Manager, Singapore Harbour Board

Clubs: Royal Societies
Recreations: Cricket, Tennis