Friday, 19 November 2010

Stanley Saddington Ex RAF, Tien Kwang Survivor & former POW

While I was in the UK recently I had the good fortune to meet up with 90 year old Stanley Saddington. What an amazing man! Stanley was 21 when in Singapore in 1941 working for the RAF with the early and classified new radar technology that had been set up in Southern Malaya and later moved near Changi before being destroyed to avoid falling into enemy hands before the fall of Singapore. Stanley recalled how the radar picked up two large shadows over the ocean and when he and his colleagues went to a vantage point to investigate they saw the HMS Prince of Wales and the Repulse sailing Northwards. These two capital ships were sunk during that voyage of course and the rest is history. Stanley and his RAF colleagues were evavcuated on the HMS Tien Kwang on Friday the 13th 1942 two days before the fall of Singapore. After sailing overnight the Tien Kwang sought refuge with a second ship the Kuala off Pompong Island. However both ships sank as a result of a japanese air raid with a large loss of life. Stanley and a number of his RAF colleagues eventually made it to Padang Indonesia only to be captured by the Japanese after the Dutch declared it a open city. Stanley then saw out the war on the Thai Burma Railway. Of his many stories one of the most poignant was his description of how just before the end of the war when friendly fire dropped a large bomb on the prison camp that killed 18 of his colleagues ironically not long before surrender and certain freedom. For his age Stanley is incredibly sharp, well read and it was an honor to have spent several hours with him and his family. I was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Stanley.

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