Sunday, 26 August 2012

SS Grasshopper & the book the Judy Story

Andrew Miller writes from Northern Island
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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.

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