Alexandra Hospital

      Ron - We had some information via the list about 18 months ago on one of the atrocities committed by the Japanese on Friday, 13th February, 1942, at the Alexandra Hospital, Singapore.

      Who was to blame ? this is Harry Thorpe, 1912 - 1991 notes from:

      It gives another point of view.

      We eventually arrived at the Alexandra Hospital to find some terrible sights and learned from the M.O. that several thousands had died in the last few days. There was a story came to light after we were taken prisoners, that during the retreat of our troops in the face of the enemy on Singapore island, one Coy. of an Indian Division had retreated through’ the grounds of Alexander Hospital and used the balconies and balustrades as cover to return fire. Needless to say the Japs had followed them through’ the hospital and many doctors and nursing staff had been executed. Even patients on operating tables had been bayoneted at the hands of the Jap Stormtroopers. This of course comes under the heading of atrocities, but the real culprits were the Indian Troops, or their leaders who were supposed to be mainly British.

      Tony Fuller - Finally catching up on some of the recent FEPOW emails and came across the reference to the Alexandra Hospital. My dad was there and saw what went on, receiving a bayonet wound in his foot for mouthing off at the Japanese soldiers. The Indian Army and the British in India are the basis of my historical research company's work so I have some idea about the role of the Indian Army in Singapore.

      Whilst Harry Thorpe is entitled to his opinion, he is stretching the truth and making really unfounded assumptions in suggesting the rearguard action of the Indian troops may have been the cause of the massacre. The action was debated in some detail after the war and was the subject of an enquiry and that conclusion was never reached by people with a greater understanding of the facts than Harry.

      Harry's assumption that the troops would have been British officered is incorrect. By the time of WW2, there were Indian officers in charge of many regiments in the Indian Army and whilst at the higher (brigade) levels, the officers would have been British/Allied, the more junior officers, especially at Company level, would have been Indian. And the action that was fought in the hospital grounds was, as far as I can make out, very short, the troops were trying to safeguard the hospital (whether orders to do so were received was debated after the war, if the orders were given, there is no evidence to show that the junior officers on the ground received them) but were pushed back through the hospital grounds almost immediately.

      That said, the fact that troops did fire on the Japanese from the grounds means nothing in this context. The patients in the hospital were either sick or wounded. The nurses and medical staff were non-combatant. It was a building complex notionally protected by the Geneva Convention and as such, whether the Japanese were fired on from the grounds or not, was notionally safeguarded from military attack.

      Just to say that "the real culprits were the Indian troops,or their leaders who were supposed to be British" really is a gross distortion and I don't understand Harry's comment at all about "supposed to be British". The culprits were the Japanese soldiers who committed the murders and their officers who either condoned it or ordered it.

      Robin - I agree with Tony, especially since I just finished reading the transcript of the Tokyo War Crimes trial hearing on Alexandra hospital.

      Among the points

      1)the main withdrawal of British troops was hours before the Japanese force arrived. If there were stragglers the trancript doesn't mention that.

      2) The colonel in charge of the hospital made sure that every available extra Red Cross flag was brought in before the British withdrawal and displayed around the hospital grounds.

      3)A British doctor a Major Bull, went out to a hospital balcony with a Red Cross flag only to be shot at. His affidavit says he saw a Japanese officer directing an enlisted man shooting at him.

      As well

      In the prosecution summmation the Alexandra Hospital incident was named as just one among a half dozen hospital massacres in the early days of the war....there were enough hospital massacres to warrant their own separate entry in the summation (which on POWs and civilians alone run for 581 pages)

      Heat of battle had nothing to do with it.

      Sandra - I seem to have missed out on this Alexandra Hospital topic. Would some kind person please let me have copies of these emails?

      I am particularly interested as my father's friend was present at the Massacre. (He and my father were British officers in the Indian Army)

      Ron - >Sandra, Have a look at:

      The emails are there.

      Keith - I have been asked if there is, or was a list of those killed by the Imperial Japanese Army at this Hospital at the Fall of Singapore in 1942. I am trying to trace a member of the Royal Artillery who was killed at the Fall, and it is felt he may have been one of the victims. Any help would be appreciated.


      Peter - I suggest that you contact Alexandra Hospital, they may have a casualty list. There is a book about the hospital which mentions the massacre at the hospital:-

      Alexandra Hospital: From British Military to Civilian Institution 1939 - 1998 (ISBN 981-04-0430) $25.00 Singapore.

      Ms Aida Tay
      Alexandra Hospital
      378 Alexandra Road
      Singapore 159964




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