Singapore

 

 

Singapore was sighted on the morning of the 13th of January, 1942 (an unlucky 13th for us all). As we approached the Island, we could hear the Air Raid sirens being sounded, that wailing sound we had come to know so well in Britain. I heard an officer say, "now we're in for it". Twenty-seven planes could be seen approaching from the north and ack-ack puffs appearing all around them. Just then it began to rain. It came down in torrents. I had never seen tropical showers, and this shower was a real snorter. In a few minutes vision was reduced to a few yards, but the rain was our savior since the Japs couldn't see us, so we sailed safely into the dock.

 

 

Singapore seemed to be a hive of activity. Everyone hurried about full of importance, and all were draped in some kind of uniform. Had I met a Jap I'm sure I would not have known him as a Jap. While in Singapore City after an air raid I noticed that the native quarter had been bombed badly and gangs were out clearing up the debris and bodies. Lorries were being loaded with bodies of men, women and children. They were being picked up by the shoulders and feet and flung into the lorries where they flopped like animal carcasses, some with heads missing. Most were like lumps of bloody mangled flesh and bone. It was a dreadful sight and it made me feel quite sick. I thought to myself, "What if I, a Medical Orderly, get men smashed like this to attend to?"  I offered a silent prayer that such wouldn't be the case, and if it was, for me to have the guts to deal with it.

 

 

My company was quite comfortably installed in Tanglin Barracks and I considered that I was having a reasonably good time despite the fact that the Japanese were only a few hundred miles away and advancing on Singapore very rapidly. Our chief worry at this time was the air raids, and at night a real dread of anything that crawled. I had been told that there were plenty of scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes and snakes. At the thought of these, a chill ran up and down my spine.  Every night before retiring I folded my clothes carefully and put them under my bedding, the bedding first being well shaken, then my boots would be wrapped in paper and tucked under the bottom of my mattress. Then I would get into bed and tuck my mosquito net well under the mattress. I was taking no chances. During the night I would be hot and sweat profusely, but the warning buzz of the mossi and the dread of crawlers and creepers kept me rolling and turning under my net. It was the same with the other men. All night long they could be heard rolling and turning in their creaking wooden beds. Occasionally a snore would break the monotony and a curse from one or the other.  We called it "Midnight Melody".

 

 
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