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WW2 Singapore research notes

Research Notes for WW2 in Singapore

I have read so many web pages covering the different aspects I thought it best to produce a list of the most useful:

Covering the whole period

The Missing Years - A POW's story from Changi to Hellfire Pass 1942-45

By Stu Lloyd - This book describes the memoirs of Capt Pilkington who was in the 6th Royal Norfolk Regiment. It is available as a pdf though some later pages are not available.

Roy Collins Memorial

Roy Collins was with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps attached to the 18th Division. This website gives a good overview of their training, the journey out there, and life in several of the camps where Gottses were held.

The situation before war was declared

There are some interesting forums giving the background and preparedness for invasion of Singapore. The big questions are: was General Percival at fault, were the Japanese completely underestimated by the west, given the war in Europe, would Britain ever be able to defend Malaya and Singapore.


POW Camps and Burma Railway


This site has detailed maps of the Burma Railway and short descriptions of life at the camps.


Far East Prisoners of War have documented lots of testimonies, also

COFEPOW (Children, family and friends of FEPOW)


The Australians played a big role especially in Malaya and the Pacific islands. This website has lots of very good information.

Notes on International Red Cross ICRC

The Red Cross struggled to get any agreement to transfer POW information. Reading their  ‘Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities during the second world war (September 1, 1939 - June 30, 1947)’  it is clear how much work they were doing to try and get lists of POWs. At present, I still do not understand where and when some of the lists in The National Archive were produced, or exactly how the information was obtained on which Casualty Lists was based. I suspect the Index cards were located in the POW Information Bureau in Japan and not updated properly.

In this report there is an interesting section on the attitude to prisoners by the Japanese. Their ancestral ideas were that surrender is degrading and deserving of capital punishment. Even in WW2 when a soldier left to join a combatant unit, there was often a ceremony to which his friends were invited, carried out according to funeral rites. A lock of hair was kept by his relatives. From that moment the man was dead and had returned to his ancestors. He could only come back a conqueror and his family wanted no word of him, as news of his capture would dishonour his family. Many Japanese soldiers took on assumed names after the war and made no contact with their families. This may explain some of the treatment of POWs, but does not excuse it.

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