Journey to Thailand
The lorries were due to pick us up at 4:15 a.m. and at 4:10 a.m. they started coming in and we began loading. Some lorries were used for the cookhouse gear and extra stores. There was even a piano to be loaded, which, I learned later, was the best we had at Changi and was being taken so that we could carry on with our musical shows at the new camp.
...I couldn't see much of the countryside owing to it being so early in the morning and visibility was very poor. We arrived at Singapore Station at about 5:30 a.m. and went straight over to the train. The trucks were smaller than I had imagined them and I knew that we were in for an unpleasant time. We found number thirteen truck and all scrambled in. Once all were inside, we discovered that we were crowded standing up. Of course our kit and Q.M. kit took up a lot of room so we set about trying to hang it up. Our buckets, tins, cans, etc., were all hung on hooks outside the truck. and packs, etc., were hung on a long rope inside the truck. The remainder being left on the floor, we then just managed to find room to sit down. But if we wanted to stretch our legs then someone would have to move. It seemed ridiculous to think that we would have a long journey to travel in a cramped position like this, so inquiries were made and we were horrified to learn that we were to remain in the trucks for about a week. There was no alternative so we had to make the best of it.
It became rather stuffy so we looked around for ventilation, only to discover that the truck was made of steel and the only openings were two sliding doors, one on each side about 4 foot, six inches square. We hoped it wouldn't be too bad when the train started.
The train pulled out at about 7 a.m. and the cool morning breeze that came through the doors was very welcome and refreshing. The R.S.M. had thought of this and placed himself near one of the doors from where he was able to keep an eye on his brood. He snarled at us if we came near the door, dubbing us fools for taking the risk of falling out.
As the hours passed and the sun came out, our truck became stiflingly hot. We discovered that the steel had become so hot that we couldn't lean against or even bear our hands on it. The truck became like an oven and by midday two men had fainted.
We had to be very sparing with the water as we didn't know when we would get a chance at more. All on the train were suffering alike and I thought that there must be serious results, as all our men were suffering from some form of malnutrition: many had not been long out of the hospital and weren't strong. Most had diarrhea or dysentery and were weak, so the terrific heat just bowled them over.