Evacuation from Singapore
Personal accounts of the battle for Singapore
Edited by Paul Morrell
In the late October of 1941 men of the 1/5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters sailed from Liverpool aboard a converted P&O liner, the troopship Orcades for an unknown destination. The 1/5th Foresters along with the 1st Battalion the Cambridgeshires and the 5th Battalion Beds and Herts, formed one of the three Brigades of the British 18th Division, 55 Brigade. They were in fact at that time destined for the Middle East.
World events however would decree a very different destination, Singapore. The British 18th Division were to sail into a battle that was already lost. They had travelled over twenty thousand miles in three months to disembark on Singapore Island “The Guardian of the East” on the 29th January 1942 to reinforce the Island “Fortress” against the advancing forces of the Imperial Japanese Army. The battle was already lost, they had been sacrificed by our very own “Whitehall Warriors”. The loss of Singapore was later to be described by Churchill as “The greatest disaster and capitulation in British history.” He neglected to mention however the betrayal of a Division, the British 18th Division.
Much has been written of the battle for Singapore, unfortunately very little of it relating to the Sherwood Foresters. Reading the accounts of two Foresters who were involved in the battle for Singapore, Arthur Bates and Les Pearson, has been a great interest and a real privilege for me and has left me with a strong desire to share their story.
Arthur`s recollections come from two sources. Firstly, Arthur`s account of the events leading up to the battle for Singapore, this was written by Arthur in the Chinese High School Exercise Book, while in Changi. Secondly, extracts taken from Arthur`s diary/notebook written by Arthur at the time of the action in Singapore.
Les Pearson`s account was kindly passed on to me by Arthur, this was also written in Changi, again in an exercise book liberated from the Chinese High School.
Foresters On Singapore