East Surreys

East Surreys

      Susan - I am writing to you from Atlanta Georgia, USA - my Grandad was a pow of the Japanese - his name was Walter James Sutton and his Regiment was the East Surrey - my mother was born in Kingston Barracks. My Grandad never ever talked about his experiences and he died a couple of years ago. I now feel that I would like to know more about his life - I am afraid that because he never spoke about it, we never seemed to care. That is of course, wrong, we loved him very much. He told me once that the Korean guards were the worst, and he could never eat very much. Not much to go on I am afraid but if you could help I would be grateful.

      Ron Taylor - Quote:

      "Saeki decided to attack the troops at Jitra during the night of the 11th and in doing so suffered heavy losses by the allied positioning of their machine guns. Saeki then decided to throw everything he had at the centre of the British defences and succeeded in driving a deep wedge into their positions before he came up against the Leicesters and the 2/2nd Gurkhas who stopped the Japanese attack, the 2nd East Surreys then counterattacked to help the Leicesters. By the 12th December Major-general Kawamura commanding the 9th Infantry arrived at Jitra and sent his 41st Regiment down the eastern side of the main road and the 40th Regiment down the western side to assist Saeki who was still being held by the Leicesters. Murray-Lyons ordered the Leicesters to withdraw behind a stream called the Sungei Jitra, the Leicesters had fought bravely and their good positions were argued but they had to obey the order. Later that evening with rumours about positions being over run he signalled Heath that he wanted to withdraw to behind the Sungei Kedah at Gurun. Heath and Percival who were still in Singapore agreed and Percival gave the order"

      Then Later

      "That night the Japanese attacked in numbers and drove a gap in the Punjabi defences and reached the 2nd East Surrey headquarters and then the 6th Brigade headquarters, killing everyone there, when Murray-Lyon saw the damage he immediately ordered a seven mile withdrawal, but finding the numbers of troops left, sent more orders to withdraw behind the Muda River."

      There is no more mention of the East Surreys in Malaya, did they combine with another regiment as their headquarters had been wiped out ?

      After being taken prisoner, they left for Bam Pong, Thailand by rail on the 5/11/42 in the Letter Party 'M', 650 men in the party from the Southern Area. Roll 43. under Lt.-Col. G.E.Swinton, 2/East Surreys

      Keith Andrews - Ron, you've got more info than you think, the London Gazette may yield some info. Page 1280, right hand column, item (g), the East Surreys and the Leicesters were amalgamated to what became known as the British Battalion, not to be confused with the one that served on the Burma Siam Railway. Item (h) tells of the appointment of an officer to succeed Murray Lyon, the official version that is, my fathers note on that page buy this entry just reads "kicked out".(No future in the Diplomatic Corps for my dad.) This could be why there is no further mention of the East Surrey's in Malaya.
      Singapore, The Inexcusable Betrayal by George Chippington, Published by the Self Publishing Association, ISBN 1 85421 150 1 covers both Regiments, and should be available through the library, or Abe Books. Try David Langton, he's your man for the Leicesters and may be able to help more than I.
      Not all of the East Surreys went to the Railway however, there are records of some being shipped to Japan before that.
      How far along in her search has Susan got, Army Records etc.? There may be something at the PRO under war diaries, WO172/100 - East Surreys - 2/41 - 2/42.
      Let me know, and I will see if I can dig up more, but try David.

      Ron Taylor - At the moment when I think of the London Gazette, I think "More Typing" completely forgot to look at the pages that hadn't been typed out.
      It will be easier when they are on the site live and a search can be carried out on them.
      There are alot of pages and at the moment it is Percival viewing the situation before the Japanese attack.

      Susan has very little, just regiment, Singapore and a mention of Dover Castle. Susan is getting the Army Records next.

      The British Battalion, an amalgamation of 1 Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and 2 Battalion E Surrey Regiment, formed 19.12.41

      This was a direct result of the East Surreys H.Q. being wiped out and their combined loses at Jitra, Malaya.

      In David Langton's story of the Cambridgeshires:
      The Cambridgeshires were sent to relieve the "British Battalion" at Batu Pahat in Jahore.

      David Langton - Can't add much more, but confirm "British Battalion" was formed on 19 Dec 1941.
      David A Ryan has that regiment as "Corps Reserves" Malaya Command 8 February 1942.
      In George Chippenhams book "Singapore - The Inexcusable Betrayal" He only concerns himself with the battle for Malya, and Singapore. However there is a Roll Of Honour, covering both The Leicesters, and The 2nd East Surreys.

      A good deal of information about The East Surreys, and all Regiments involved in Malaya, and Singapore, can be obtained from Richard Holmes & Anthony Kemp's book "The Bitter End" ISBN 0907319 03 3.
      Not just another 'history' but a book with something to say! Highly recomended!

      Jonathan Moffatt - Yes, the surviving Leicesters and East Surreys were amalgamated into the British Battalion under Lt Colonel Charles Esmond Morrison DSO MC. They fought magnificently at Green Ridge, Kampar January 1st and 2nd 1942 against the Japanese Kawamura Brigade. Try to get hold of Malaysian historian Chye Kooi Loong's History of the British Battalion. Two streets in Kampar were later named after British Battalion company commanders.

      David Langton - Found some info at the following address, which Susan may be interested in

      Wendy - I was reading your message board and came across your request early last year for regimental photographs.

      I have attached a file with three photographs all taken in Penang I believe. One is of a group of men (my father is the third from the left) whom I assume were all in my fathers regiment (East Surrey Regiment). The other two are of my father - on the left - with a mate (don't know his name).

      My fathers name was Charles William Connelly (died 26/7/1986) and he was a Japanese prisoner for 3 1/2 years. Like most other children of FEPOW's I know little of these years only that they were too painful for him to talk about. I believe he was in Changi, worked on the Burma railroad, transported on a hell ship and at the end of the war was working in a factory somewhere. I know that when he was taken prisoner he was with two mates he made in the army and they were still together at the end of the war - once again I don't know their names. My father was transported back to England on a three month journey via the Canadian Rockies to fatten him up, possibly on the Queen Mary (he arrived home weighing five stone and with large sores on his body).

      My mother received a letter saying he was missing in action when Singapore garrison surrendered.

      She did not know if he was alive or dead until she received a phone call from a ship that had berthed at Southampton with ex FEPOW's on board saying that he was on that ship.

      I would like to know more of my father's whereabouts during the war. I emailed the East Surrey Regiment Museum several months ago, but never received a reply. It would be great if anyone could help me as it is very difficult to do from so far away..

      We came to Australia in 1953 as my father could not stand being enclosed, he wanted to be in open places. I look on the bright side. If this had not have happened to him we may never have come to Australia and I would never have met my husband and had the terrific family I have.

      Ron Taylor - This book has been on sale now for some years Destination Kwai by Jack Shuttle. Jack records his hardships encountered during the time he was a prisoner, As a member of the 2nd Batt. East Surrey Regiment. He was in various camps along the Burma - Thailand Railway. His story is written without bitterness whilst retaining a sense of humour.

      East Surrey Regiment Posted 2-12-2002 17:00


      Alan - So far I have only seen one other person on our membership list who had a relative in the East Surrey Regement. I suspect there were not many out there, however, I have read one book which indicated that they didn't fair very well. My families recollection is that they were marched off the ship at Singapor and surrendered directly to the japs, which also doesn't tie in well with the book. Is there anyone with information on the East Surreys as I would be very pleased to find out what happend

      Brett - As far as I know the Surreys were transferred from China To Singapore before Jap hostilities.I have a book 'The British Battalion' which was the amalgamation of Surreys and Leics.after their heroic stands in Malaya.The above book contains the roll of honour for both battalions.Interested in any more info. Brett

      Ricky Yin - I saw a comment was made by Jonathan Moffatt regarding the Malaysian historian Chye Kooi Loong's History of the British Battalion. Two streets in Kampar were later named after British Battalion company commanders.

      Is there a link to this article? I would like to add this article to our ex-Kampar ACS web site.


      Any help is most appreciated.

      DavidLangton - Found some info at the following address, which Susan may be interested in

      Kanga - Somewhere I have read a message on the East Surreys for information .
      This might help -While working on the Burma railway ,I had the good fortune to meet a leader of men ,a Segeant Paddy Gallagher.

      Many years later while having a quiet beer in a Brisbane hotel and in a crowded bar, I heard this distant Irish voice. He had taken his discharge there ,because he had sent his family there on the outbreak of the war.I am pretty sure he told me his regt. had come down from China to Malaya ,could not be sure .
      I met Paddy a number of times later to talk and have a beer together ,He was then working for Australia Post (P.M.G's Dept.
      Again-- Paddy stood out amongst men ,as a leader while working on the Burma Thai raiway.
      I hope the above might help the seeker of info.on East Surreys

      Alex Wilson - I have 2 Great Uncles who both served in the 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment, one survived the war and one died of malaria as a POW. I am trying to build a picture of the part the East Surreys played in the Malayan campaign and in particular the roles my Great Uncles had within it. It appears easier to obtain information on those who died, hopefully at some point it will be possible to view service records at the Public Record Office but I understand they have only just been able to publish all the records from the First World War. The Queens Surrey Regimental Museum at Guildford has some information and publications on the East Surreys including records kept during the time as POWs. So far I have established that the battalion was at Shanghai in China from 1938 until they were moved to Singapore and then Malaya in 1940. They were part of the 11th Indian Division and were stationed in the far north on the Thai/Malay border at Jitra, consequently when the Japanese invaded they were involved in the fighting from the start. The East Surreys suffered heavy losses and after 10 days of action they were amalgamated with the Leicesters to form the British Battalion, this composite Battalion inflicted huge losses on the Japanese at the battle of Kampar over the new year period. Eventually the men were involved in the defence of Singapore and were taken prisoner by the Japanese when the island was surrendered on 15 Feb 1942. During the next 6 months prisoners were taken to prison camps further north into Thailand to work on the Burma/Siam railway. Approximately 12500 British POWs died in captivity, 1 in 4 of those captured, my Great Uncle Frank died shortly after completion of the railway in November 1942 and is buried in the Kanchanaburi Cemetery. alexwilsonptid@lineone.net

      Alex - If anyone else asks questions about the East Surreys it would be worth pointing them in the direction of the Regimental museum near Guildford at Clandon Park.

      Jonathan Moffatt - >Ron, Yes, the surviving Leicesters and East Surreys were amalgamated into the British Battalion under Lt Colonel Charles Esmond Morrison DSO MC. They fought magnificently at Green Ridge, Kampar January 1st and 2nd 1942 against the Japanese Kawamura Brigade. Try to get hold of Malaysian historian Chye Kooi Loong's History of the British Battalion. Two streets in Kampar were later named after British Battalion company commanders.

      Kenneth .H. Black - k.h.black@btopenworld.com

      Found, personal Army effects of an East Surrey SGT.

      Can anyone help me to contact SGT COOPER.P. NO:6142050 or any of his family or known associates,as I have recently come into possession of a number of items relating to him and the time he served during W.W.11
      i.e. TAGS,Photos,Ribbons,etc.
      All I know is that he came from the Surbiton,Surrey, area.

      Richard Thompson - richardthompson12@btinternet.com
      Grandfather in East Surreys
      All your messages and the hardships your loved one's went through are heartbreaking and harrowing. If only we were today as tough and resiliant as they were. I understand from this website that you are concernered with parents/grandparents who fought in the second world war. However I am just starting a quest to trace my grandfather's service record. I know he fought in the first world war and from his uniform he was an Officer[ from a photo my mother has,pips on his sleeves ]the Cap badge is I'm sure East Surrey Regiment. My mother's family were living in the Wimbledon/ wandsworth area at the time, I have tried other websites but they seem to need the battalion where the Soldier was serving to advance a search. I hope you can help as I would like to honour my grandfather for the depravation's he endured and the courage he must have shown. His name was SAMUEL PERKINS . ps I never knew this brave gentleman!

      Alex Wilson - >Ron

      I am attempting to peice together as much info as possible about The East Surreys in Malaya as I had 2 great uncles who were captured on the surrender of Singapore, one died and one survived. Its my aim to produce some sort of personal document and so far my research is going well. I have found many useful snippets and sources of information from your site, it must be a labour of love for you. If anyone else asks questions about the East Surreys it would be worth pointing them in the direction of the Regimental museum near Guildford at Clandon Park.

      DANIEL PRAKASH JAMES - d_warmonger@yahoo.com



      We are conducting free tours of the battle site called Greenridge where the British Battalion fought their famous battle.

      Ron - I have enclosed an email from Daniel, as below. There is some information on the British Battalion which is of note. Daniels email address is also attached if anyone would like to contact him.

      "Dear Ron,

      Hi there! Thanks for your reply.

      I would like to supply you with some information regarding the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.

      The Japanese occupied Malaya from December 1941 to September 1945. It was a period of extreme suffering. During the Malayan Campaign of 1941-1945, there were many who died. Many books were written but many of these books could never bring out the stories of the tired and heartbroken British and Indian units who fought gallantly all the down along the Malayan peninsula till the fall of the fortress island of Singapore on the 15th of February 1942.

      Many units were caught undertrained and under armed against a very powerful and well trained jungle force of fanatical Japanese soldiers. The much underrated enemy who was superior in the air, sea and land in the Malayan Campaign stunned the British. The gallantry of the British and Indian units were never told because these brave men fought and lost in the greatest British military disaster in the fall of the Fortress of Singapore.

      The British regimental hybrid was formed under the most trying circumstances of the ill-fated Malayan Campaign. At the epic four days Battle of Kampar from 30th December 1941 to 2nd January 1942 the gallant British Battalion won the full battle honours when they gave the powerful Japanese 5th Division from Hiroshima a mauling and held them for four days.

      The formation of the British Battalion between the 1st Leicester Tigers and the 2nd East Surreys was itself unique. It was the only occasion that two British regiments have ever been amalgamated on the battlefield. This was the result of the tremendously heavy casualties that was suffered on the battlefield and this regiments were amalgamated in Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia on the 20th of December 1941.

      The British Battalion defended 3 ridges against the Japanese. Only Greenridge remains intact today, after 60 over years nearly all of the firing positions and trenches remain intact and virtually undisturbed. There have been report from the locals that British soldiers have been seen around Greenridge at certain times. I believe they are returning to the place where they sacrificed their lives.
      I can be contacted at d_warmonger@yahoo.com. We conduct free tours for various military and civilian associations in Malaysia and the rest of the world

      with regards,




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