Saturday, 16 June 2007
SS Kuala sunk off Pom Pong Island
The Kuala was sunk off Pom Pong Island and Michael Pether sent me a note that he met with an elderly lady, Mrs. Brenda Macduff, (now 95 years old but with a sharp mind and memory) recently whom he has come to know well in his research.
She was a British nurse, married to a British lawyer who was serving in the Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces, working in Ipoh who ended up nursing in Alexandra Hospital as the Allies retreated into Singapore. She and other Alexandra nurses were strictly ordered to evacuate on 13 February 1942 from Singapore and boarded the "SS Kuala" which was bombed and machine gunned (with about 500 people on board) as it tried to camouflage itself a day later off Pom Pong Island in the Rhio Archipelago. Many (possibly 100-150) were killed in this cruel event and then another 200 (mainly women ,children and wounded) of the complement died when they were "rescued " from Pom Pong island a few days later by the "SS Tanjong Pinang" which was sunk by the Japanese on its way to Sumatra.
Brenda was rescued with the remainder (by the famous Capt Bill Reynolds and his converted Japanese fishing boat - the one that was later renamed the "Krait" and which took the Australian Commandoes to Singapore to blow up Japanese shipping) and continued nursing the wounded on the escape trail across Sumatra to Padang so as a result arrived at Padang after the last evacuation ship had left there - she ended up in a Japanese POW camp in Sumatra for the remainder of the War.