dadthumb From Percy Main to Sumatra via France
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Bovington 1939

France 1940

malaya 1941

Singapore 1942

Capture 1942

Sumatra 1942

Sungei Geron

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Z AOW Roll

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There were many ships leaving Singapore , some like the 'Felix Roussel'  That had brought my Uncle Bill to Singapore were used to evacuate civilians others were used to try and extract some of the Military Personal , but they were all faced with the same problem , which way to sail ? They could sail through the Malacca strait and  head for India  but the Japanese had total control over Malaya and the Air Fields so this option was a perilous one , or the could sail over to Sumatra and hope to cross the country and escape via a ship into the Indian Ocean or they could head for Java , Baktiva or Australia .

From the best information I have, my Father would have been ordered to fall in with full fighting order  on the night of the 12th Febuary along with aprox 80 other R.A.O.C men from 14 Section and they spent the night in the Seamans Mission (the "Z" AOW were by now attached to 14 Section R.A.O.C , so this is the reason some of them were captured in Singapore and ended up in Changi) . The next day they were told they were sailing to Java to set up an Ordnance workshop , they boarded a small vessel named Paula Soegi a 130 Ton River Patrol Boat Captained by Arthur John Waller Martian RNZNVR . they sailed at 1pm on the 13th of February with about a dozen other craft - they had no escort. Looking back at Singapore, it would have been one pillar of flame, rubber warehouses and the oil installations blazing fiercely. The Paula Soegi after sailing through the mine field , had an uneventful voyage and anchored near a small island at dawn on the 14th February,  a camouflage net was pulled over the ship.  The ship weighed anchor at sundown and sailed through the night without incident . The ship continued during daylight and met up with three R.A.F. Launches  . On the 15th a huge i fleet flew over on its way to Sumatra and a large Japanese convoy was spotted and the Paula Soegi altered course to avoid being spotted and proceeded through the Banka Strait at Dusk , but at around midnight they were spotted by a Japanese Cruiser which proceeded to open fire on the ship , the first shell hit the smoke stack and an other salvo hit the ships forward , Major Marsh ordered the men to abandon the ship a further salvo set the ship a blaze and began to list badly and finaly sank (16th Feb) .

banka is


My Father could not swim so he must have clung onto driftwood or a small raft (carley float) , He was evenually picked up by a RAF Rescue launch commanded by Philip Reid under Japanese escort and taken to Muntok  (Present Day Mentok).

Paula Soegi,  Sunk in the Banka Strait :- 8 Crew and  80 R.A.O.C : Survivors 1 Crew and 8 R.A.O.C.

What the escaping personal did not know when they sailed towards the Banka Strait was the Japanese had already landed on Banka Island and Paratroopers had landed in Palembang and a large Japanese fleet was patrolling the Banka Strait , effectively cutting off any chance of escape. One episode out of many barbaric acts during the time was the massacre of 63 Australian Nurses read the link :-

So for the next six weeks my father was working on the Airfield at Muntok on Banka Island .

muntok airfield

 At nigh the men slept in the jail at Muntok , a filthy place already occupied by Indonesian criminals of the Dutch Colonial penal system . The criminals hated the new prisoners as they were European / White and never lost an opportunity of letting them know by obscene and freighting gestures what their fate was to be .

Muntok Jail

muntok jail

 Every Day working parties left the Jail to work on the Air Field , filling in craters and uprooting trees trunks which the Dutch had used to render the Air Field unusable . Chunkuls (A Type of Dutch Hoe) and flat earth carrying basket we their only equipment. It was back breaking work from dawn to very late at night using candles with only two breaks . Another episode occurred that shows the Japanese's total disregard for the Prisoners , After a well was discovered by a Navel Rating called Swift , parties were sent to the well to bring back water to the working parties , two prisoners were undertaking this task when a Japanese Officer pulled up in a car , jumped out and ran his sword through one of the prisoners and then made to cut of the second prisoners head , but the prisoner raised his hand to ward off the blow and had three of his fingers sliced off  , just then a guard rushed up and explained to the officer that the men had permission to bring water and to be on the road unescorted , the officer just sheathed his sword and got back into his car and drove off. After this incident all prisoners sent as water carriers were issued with arm bands but this was still no guarantee of safety and water carrying was regarded as a hazardous occupation.


Muntok Jail

muntok jail 2

After about Six weeks the Air Field was complete and my Father and the rest of the Prisoners were marched to the harbour and onto small coaster for the eight hour journey to Palembang , Sumatra. The coaster was crammed with Prisoners and there basically stood in the same spot for the entire journey without hardly any drinking water of food. They arrived in Palembang , situated some sixty miles up the River Musi (In Dutch Moesi) .


"Z" AOW Roll at the fall of Singapore

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