Saturday, 9 October 2010

Jim Hutton PWD on the Kuala

Major Andrew Duncan, late 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles writes....

My grandfather, A. J. S. "Jim" Hutton was Chief Architect with the PWD in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion of WWII. He lived with my grandmother and their three daughters, Barbara, the eldest (my mother) Joan and Marigold at No. 160 Mt. Pleasant Road. My grandfather had seen action in the trenches in France during the First World War as an officer (Captain) of the Royal Engineers. His civilian occupation as an architect led, after the war was over, to his appointment to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to design cemeteries and memorials in France. It was whilst he was living there at Longuenesse, Pas de Calais, that my mother was born.

After a spell with the PWD in Kenya he was posted to Singapore. When the Japanese invasion was imminent his previous military experience led to an Emergency Commission in the army as Lieutenant Colonel. It was his job to organise the civilian evacuation. He sent his family to safety in Australia on one of the early boats to depart Singapore. There my mother joined the WAAAF with who she served as a radio operator, leaving at the end of the war as a Corporal.

My grandfather stayed tio the bitter end, finally boarding the S.S. Kuala on 14 February 1942. Following the sinking of Kuala and with the permission of the other survivors, he and a couple of companions made for Sumatra. Landing on the East coast, they made their way through the jungle, avoiding the advancing Japanese to the West coast of the island where they acquired a fishing boat from a local kampong, planning to sail to Australia. After 3 days at sea they were fortunate to be picked up by an Australian Navy Destroyer and taken to Ceylon. From there my grandfather was at last able to inform his family that he was still alive and had successfully escaped from Singapore.

His adventures did not end there, nor was he able to travel to Australia to rejoin the family. Instead he was ordered to England where he underwent Special Operations training prior to being parachuted into Malaya behind Japanese lines to join Force 136. He was on hand to re-start the civilian government of Singapore after the Japanese surrender and must have been one of the first members of the Singapore government to report for work after the Japanese surrender.

I hope to be in further contact with Andrew in relation to this background and please do contact me directly at daviahope@gmail.com Thank you

1 comment:

Susannah said...

Fascinating to hear about Jim Hutton, and of particular interest to me as I grew up at 160 Mount Pleasant Road during the 1960s and 1970s. The contrast between Jim Hutton's tranquil existence at Mount Pleasant Road and his subsequent experiences during the war could not have been greater. No 160 was damaged during the war and was subsequently divided into two residences. However, it's now one house again and looking very grand. I know that Australian POWs were living on Mount Pleasant Road for a time repairing the damage to various houses there (as well as finding the time to set up a secret radio in one of the buildings). Anyway,loved the blogspot - many thanks for setting this up.