Monday, 15 August 2011

HMS Grasshopper

Thank you to Andrew Miller from Northern Island who wrote in the guest book recently:-
Hi David, this is fascinating. My grandfather was on board HMS Grasshopper when it came down from Shanghai to Singapore in '39; he then left Singapore on the 13th Feb '42 with some 150 nurses, royal marines, women & children (in that order of priority, apparently) swelling their complement of 55 to some 200 on board. Let's just say it didn't end well, in fact he was sunk TWICE, the second time while being transferred back to Singapore from Indonesia in 1944. After 4 weeks in the River Valley Camp the 200 survivors were returned to Sumatra to work on the Pekan Baru railway and remained there until liberated by Lady Mountbatten.

I'd like to recommend the book "The Judy Story" by Edwin Varley, 1973, to add a little colour to the life of a matelot on the gunboats at the China & Singapore Stations, life for Europeans at the brink of war in the Far East, the subsequent evacuation up to the 14th Feb, and the imprisonment of military and civilian personnel after the fall of Singapore. As is often the case with FEPOWs, it is where our family had to go to get the detail of what happened to our grandfather as he and the dog were POW's together! It's an incredibly personal story interlaced with 'the bigger picture' at the time and our family hold it in very high regard for obvious reasons.

Many copies come up on eBay and for bargain prices as people clear their parents' houses out.

I work offshore and I am hoping to get detailed onto a project my firm is carrying out in Australia soon. If successful I would very much like to visit Singapore and Indonesia and see the locations that had such a great effect on my grandfather.


Michael Pether said...

Interesting story Andrew, was your grandfather on another ship or the "Grasshopper' when he left Singapore. I am aware of the "Grasshopper' story after it left Singapore and was bombed - so thatthe Captain ran it aground on a beach of a small island - bu one day will research the story further and would apprecaiet the clarification.

Barney Neill said...

My father-in-law was on HMS grasshopper when it left Singapore for the last time.
He talked about being attacked by Japanes aircraft and about a bomb hitting the ship killing 40 plus, mainly civilians. He was injured in the bombing but managed to wade ashore after the ship was beached. He was captured by the Japanese in a village hospital.
He was able seaman Lawrence Hurndell. He died in 2000

David Ingram said...

I never met one of my uncles, Tommy Ingram (Leading Seaman Thomas W R Ingram RN), because he was on HMS Grasshopper leaving Singapore in February 1942 and was killed when the ship was forced to beach near Singkep. The story fascinates me and my interest is in finding more detail about that fateful day.
I have an idea that I'd like to visit the wreck site in the next year or two. I don't know of anybody in my family who has been to see the place where Tommy fell. I've looked on Google Earth and, using coordinates from a wreck locations website I think I may have seen a blurry image of what is left of the ship.
I'd therefore be interested to hear from anybody who has been there in more recent times to find out what there is to see and to obtain pointers for planning a trip from the UK.
I'd appreciate any information of this kind, thank you.