Bob - Whilst doing family history I learned about an uncle, Sgt Edward Taylor of the 2nd Battalion, Loyal Regt who together with others was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore. They went to Changi, to Keijo, Korea, and finaly to Osaka and Kobe in Japan where he died in December 1943. I would appreciate any information at all and I would be eternally gratefull to get a photograph of him
Davidcatherall - My father, who died in 1976, was a Sergeant in the 18th Recce (Loyals) Regiment ('The Loyals')which was on board the Empress of Asia when it was sunk whilst en route to Singapore. Like many other from the ship he managed to get on shore in the clothes he stood in, and nothing else. After fighting with borrowed equipment in the Bukhit Timah area of Singapore he became a prisoner on 15th February 1942, along with all the rest of them. He spent three and a half years in Singapore and Taiwan, mainly Taiwan. The final camp he was in on Taiwan was Shirakawa, which coincidentally housed his cousin Jack who was in the RASC at the fall of Singapore. They travelled home together on the Empress of Australia after being on an American destroyer until Manilla. Through the good offices of the regimental museum in Preston Lancs, I have been given a photocopy of the original nominal role of the regiment. I have tried (on three occasions) to start to write up an account of the experiences of the two men during their three and a half years, but keep finding that work is getting in the way. However, if there people out there who would like confirmation of names ranks etc of the men of the regiment then please drop me an E Mail. Cheers David Catherall
Tanya - I believe my grandfather a trooper william john baker bervoets was on the ss empress of asia at the same time as your father although i dont have alot of information on him or his movements i would love to exchange information with you. looking forward to your reply.
Keith - >Tanya, It would appear your grandfather passed away on 12/10/43, and is buried at the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Myanmar, the modern name for Burma. I think this would mean he was on the Burma -Siam Railway. I do have an address you could write to in the hope of finding more details. My main area of interest is Artillery, so apart from what I have read, I do not know as much as David about the Loyals.
Tanya - I'm looking for infomation about my grandfather a Trooper William John Baker Bervoets who i believe to have either died in singapore, changi prison or on the thai-burma railway? i would also like to know which ship he was on, i think it could have been the USS WAKEFIELD or possibly the SS. EMPRESS OF ASIA also any infomation about his battalions movements would be apreciated. any infomation would be gladly excepted. many thanks hope to hear from someone soon.
Ron - >Tanya, I have included your grandfathers memorial from the Commonwealth War Graves.
THANBYUZAYAT is the Burma end of the Thailand - Burma railway. The Australians started this end where most British troops started in Thailand. This and the date leads one to think he was with F or H force.
These two forces travelled by rail from Singapore to Ban Pong, Thailand and were pushed further up North from Ban Pong, Thailand, mostly by foot through virgin jungle. The prisoners who lost their lives were buried at Thanbyuzayat.
Also have a look at:
The 5th Loyals were with the 18th Division.
All my best in your search
Debt of Honour Register
In Memory of
WILLIAM JOHN BAKER BERVOETS
18th (5th Bn. The Loyal Regt.) Regt., Reconnaissance Corps
who died on
Tuesday 12 October 1943 . Age 22 .
Additional Information: Husband of Joyce Rose Bervoets, of Chudleigh Knighton, Devon.
Cemetery: THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERYMyanmar
Grave or Reference Panel Number: B3. E. 6.
Location: The village of Thanbyuzayat is 65 kilometres from Moulmein, and the war cemetery lies at the foot of the hills which separate the Union of Myanmar from Thailand. At present the only way in which the cemetery may be visited is by train. This is a long and uncomfortable journey and three days should be allocated. Only those in good health should attempt the journey. Prior permission is needed to travel to the cemetery, which is close to areas of unrest. Enquiries about the possibility of obtaining permission to visit the cemetery should be made to the nearest Union of Myanmar (Burmese) Embassy, or a Commonwealth Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon).
Historical Information: The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar). Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in October 1942. The line, 424 kilometres long, was completed by December 1943. The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. Thanbyuzayat became a prisoner of war administration headquarters and base camp in September 1942 and in January 1943 a base hospital was organised for the sick. The camp was close to a railway marshalling yard and workshops, and heavy casualties were sustained among the prisoners during Allied bombing raids in March and June 1943. The camp was then evacuated and the prisoners, including the sick, were marched to camps further along the line where camp hospitals were set up. For some time, however, Thanbyuzayat continued to be used as a reception centre for the groups of prisoners arriving at frequent intervals to reinforce the parties working on the line up to the Burma-Siam border. Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the northern section of the railway, between Moulmein and Nieke. There are now 3,149 Commonwealth and 621 Dutch burials of the Second World war in the cemetery.
Mike Wright - My father, Frank Wright was a young lieutenant (I think) on the Empress of Asia when she was bombed, he died in 1991. I believe he was in the 18th Reconnaissance Regiment (5th Loyals). He didn't talk much about his experiences as a POW etc., but I do know he got off the burning ship without even getting his feet wet direct to another ship, so was probably taken off from the stern by HMAS Yarra. I saw a message from David Catherall saying that he had a nominal role of the Regiment. I would be most grateful if he (or anyone else) was able to confirm whether he was in the Regiment at that time, and if I am correct about his rank. He was 23/24 at the time (his birthday was 15th February) and I think his army number may have been 160568. During his captivity he worked on the Burma-Siam Railway building bridges, but I am not sure where, although I think he may have been at Kanchanaburi at some time. If anyone has any information that would throw any light on where he was during his captivity, I would be most grateful.
Many thanks in anticipation - firstname.lastname@example.org