Books for July

What Price Bushido by Alf Baker

      George - This evening was the first that I had seen your page my father was one of the 600 35th Rgt 144 Batt RA.

      Alf baker is still alive and kicking and has just had his new updated book published I did not have a copy of his first book but did manage to read it This latest book has been updated and is most intresting .

      Many thanks for your mail. I am passing on details of my father, Sgt A M Blinko 35th Rgt 144 Batt RA one of but the Ballale 600. I had a sad but worthy visit to Singapore to visit my fathers memorial. My mother had died last year and one of wishes was that if possible I would make the visit, so my wife and went with the British Legion.

      Ron - Have added the book to the database with a short intro.

       "What Price Bushido" is available from Rev Alf Baker as below:

      Price 12.50

      Postage & Packing 2.50


      Rev Alf Baker

      "The Anchorage"

      111 Trelawney Road


      Plymouth PL3 4JZ

      Keith - I have read the original edition of this book, and have just purchased the update, which is being read from cover to cover. I had the pleasure of speaking to Alf Baker the other day on the telephone looking for a possible answer to an enquiry I had been working on. Alf's book mentions that same enquiry, as he was asked the same question towards the end of last year. The enquiry was in relation to 1605186 - Gnr. I .T. Powell.
      542937 Sgt. A.M.Blinko, 35th LAA Regiment, 144th Battery RA. Is also mentioned in Don Wall's book "Kill the Prisoners", which includes Ballalae in it write up of horrors perpetrated by the Japanese. You are not alone in your search, and if you look on FEPOW Community under the subject index, you will find Ballale Island. The three people I have exchanged messages with were looking for information on the following POWs;
      1605186 - Gunner Ivor Thomas Powell - 3rd HAA Regiment, 30th Battery
      5378004 - Gunner Herbert William Sutton - 3rd HAA Regiment, Battery to be confirmed.
      1523727 - Gunner Edward George Boswell - 35th LAA Regiment, 144th Battery.
      Each of these people I have put in touch with a lady called Beryl Canwell. Beryl helped her cousin Mrs June Woods in the research as to the fate of her late father;
      1831431 - Gunner Alfred William Burgess - 35th LAA Regiment, 144th Battery.
      Beryl can fill in more details than I, and I feel it is better that someone who had lost a relative there responds with another in the same situation.
      Earlier this year Beryl asked me for a contact in the RA which I supplied. One letter from her lead to another, the result being the RA are going to supply a plaque in commemoration to those lost at Ballalae, and this will be placed on the island. If you would like more details, please contact me direct at and I will supply them, or put you in touch with Beryl. A copy of this message will be forwarded to her.
      Ballalae, this is the spelling used by the locals, so I am informed by the son of one of the Rabaul survivors, so that's the spelling that seems the most appropriate.
      Kindest regards
      Keith Andrews
      Eldest son of 777379 B.S.M. R.V.Andrews.
      7th Coast, 11th Coast, and 9th Coast at Singapore, Penang, Singapore, who by the grace of god did not go with the Gunners 600 Party.



The British Battalion

      'The British Battalion' by Chye Kooi Loong

      The British Battalion was an amalgamation of 1 Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and 2 Battalion E Surrey Regiment, formed 19.12.41 after their losses at Jitra.


Prisoner on the Kwai

      Peter - Basil Peacock (1966) Prisoner on the Kwai Edinburgh. William Blackwood and Sons Ltd.

      The author had been an infantry subaltern on the western front during the First World War. At the fall of Singapore in 1942 he was commanding a Searchlight Battery, Royal Artillery. He left Changi in charge of a party of 200 hundred officers and men. Half were “our own”, others were Scots, gunners and 70 from the Malay Volunteer Force. It seems to have been one of the earlier parties to leave. At Ban Pong they were set to work “making ramps up to a level crossing and a new track for railway lines”.  He was there several weeks before being asked to lead another party of 200 on another “job for the Japanese.” The group’s Japanese “taskmaster” was Sergeant Yotanne, also known to POWs as Crazy Gunso. They were the first party to work on the construction of Chungkai and provides an account of the early days there and the arrival of the main parties. The party stayed there until after Christmas 1942 and “..spent months making an enormous cutting through a low hill, most of which was solid rock.” Early in the new year they were ordered to make up battalions to go up river. They were set to work again at “Monkey Bend Camp”, “ ..building a small bridge like a large culvert…under the embankment.” When the task was completed they marched on to “Bankao Camp” where they were laying sleepers. Their next stop, about 23 April ‘43 was at “Wang Yai or Tarso”, a little isolated from the main camp. There the main task was loading sampans going up river and receiving sick and dying prisoners on their way down. Very soon after their arrival the railway reached Tarso. They unloaded these trains and loaded the goods onto the sampans. There he comments on the arrival and departure of H force. From June 1943 he made several trips up river on a sampan run by a Chinese family – the Changs. He provides interesting accounts of some of them including trips to Takanun. He was there when the camp broke up and left with one of the parties that were dispatched to Chungkai by train. He provides a fairly detailed account of life at

      Chungkai in 1944.  From there he went to Kanburi and there is an account of life there in 1945. Here he returned to the practice of dentistry in which he had qualified between the wars. There are brief accounts of the journey from there to Nakhon Nayok, of his last days there and of his repatriation via Rangoon.



The Burma-Siam Railway: The secret diary of Dr Robert Hardie 1942-45

      Peter - Dr Robert Hardie (1983) The Burma-Siam Railway: The secret diary of Dr Robert Hardie 1942-45 London Imperial War Museum. Text illustrated with the author’s own war time sketches and water colours. Introduction by Christopher Dowling. Personal note by Elspeth Hardie.  The chapter on Singapore is a general account. He began keeping a diary in July 1942 at BanPong. There are regular entries from then on covering:

      Kanburi 02.10.42 – 21.01.43;

      Wan Tow Kien 04.02.43 – 23.03.43;

      March up River 08.04.43 – 04.05.43;

      Takanun 15.05.43 – 24.02.44;

      Chungkai 10.03.44 – 06.06.45;

      Tamuang 28.06.45 – 06.09.45.


An Angel on my Shoulder

      Ron - An Angel on my Shoulder - author Geoffrey Monument (Pte RASC)

      Pub. A Lane publishers, 61 Charles St Stockport SK13JR

      Date 1996

      Left behind after the evacuation from Singapore, one man's story of his survival, of how despite fearing the worst, things always got worse after he left. with a slant to the humorous side.



The Changi Connection

      David - British military history is a selective enterprise. Victorious campaigns attract many writers, and defeats will be celebrated wherever possible as victories. The evacuation of Dunkirk, and even the disastrous Dieppe Raid, are obvious examples. But no such shadings of the truth are possible with the capitulation of Singapore in February 1942. It was an unredeemed catastrophe, and one of the most inglorious failures in British warfare. Some 50,000 British and Australian servicemen, most of whom had barely arrived, surrendered their indefensible "fortress" to the advancing Japanese. Those who survived - and a quarter of them did not - endured an appalling three and a half years of disease, starvation and privation in Changi and other prison camps. Even after their release, their service and sacrifice was never recognised - at least until November 2000, when the surviving 7,000 British former prisoners of war were given a gratuity by the Government.

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