Thursday, 25 August 2011

Federated Malay States Volunteer Force FMSVF - Mubin Sheppard

Taman Budiman – Memoirs of an Unorthodox Civil Servant, by Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard

Prisoner & Postman 1938 – 1945

- 1938 – Mubin Sheppard (MUBIN SHEPPARD) was appointed 2nd assistant Secretary to Government in the Federal Secretariat, Kuala Lumpur

- accepted Command of D Company, Selangor Battalion Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (2nd Battalion FMSVF)

- MUBIN SHEPPARD went to Klang and Kuala Selangor every week to supervise training of 3 Malay Platoons and 1 European Platoon (Mainly rubber planters)

- 1938 June, Governor of Straits Settlement, appointed MUBIN SHEPPARD as honorary Aide De Camp (ADC)

- 1939 August, FMSVF HQ held a mobilization exercises for each of the 4 battalions.

- In Selangor, MUBIN SHEPPARD held a Company Rifle Meeting, before attending a Battalion Camp in Port Dickson

- Sultan of Selangor visited the Battalion in camp and dined in the Volunteer Officers Mess. His family members were officers and NCOs of D Company

- 1939, Nov, MUBIN SHEPPARD was engaged and by end of Jan 1940, married the sister of a fellow Malaya Civil Services(MCS) Officer in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore. He was 34 yrs old and the bride, 36.

- 1941 Sep, MUBIN SHEPPARD reported at the District office in Batu Gajah, Perak and took charge of the Land Office- the largest office in Federated Malay States (FMS). Same time, took over command of C Company of the Perak Volunteer Battalion (1st Battalion FMSVF)

- MUBIN SHEPPARD gave top priority to Volunteer training

1941 Oct, Jungle training weekend organized for the company of Malay Volunteers, was met by sarcasm from regular army officers in the Kinta Club Bar

- local sense of complacency about preparing for the war with the Japanese was prevalent

1941 1st Dec, General mobilisation of all troops and volunteers in Malaya was ordered

- MUBIN SHEPPARD told Williams, the District Officer and friends that he would be back to celebrate Christmas. He never saw his house possessions again from that date.

1941 8th Dec, C Company, 1st Battalion FMSVF camped in company tents and in thatched huts on the perimeter of the Ipoh Airfield.

- detachment of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel was positioned at the end of the runway with a few small fighter planes and a large stock of fuel

- RAAF also manned telephone exchange, connecting D Company to the town of Ipoh and 1st Battalion FMSVF Volunteer HQ

- Japanese planes had morning and evening bombing raids and dropped anti-personnel bombs on huts and machine gunned trenches, without destroying the runway.

- FMSVF only equipped with Lewis guns with maximum range of 2,000 feet, hence ineffective against Japanese planes

- RAAF withdrew from the airbase one evening, but FMSVF D Company of 4 platoons remained at their posts till 23 Dec 1941 and was ordered to protect the civil engineers that destroyed the runway

1941, 24 Dec, FMSVF D Company handed over the defence posts to a company of Indian Regulars and withdrew to Kampar High School

- a handed typed signal from Military HQ Ipoh was handed to MUBIN SHEPPARD when he has paid the mobilization allowance to his men and was watching the distribution of cooked meal for them on the evening of 24 Dec 1941

- MUBIN SHEPPARD was informed to hand over command to second in command and report to Col Warren at Station Hotel, Kuala Lumpur immediately

- Col Warren was a Royal Marine and was in Singapore 6 months prior to set up a secret school for sabotage operations

- MUBIN SHEPPARD was to join “Stay Behind” parties to be located at the Sungei Lembing to Bundi area, off Kuantan at the East Coast of Malaya

- His duty was to operate wireless transmitters and carry out guerilla operations behind Japanese lines – in anticipation of British counter attacks when reinforcements arrived in Singapore (!)

- Col Warren was finalizing “Stay Behind” parties and has mentioned operatives like Spencer-Chapman, John Davies and Richard Broome

- John Davies was also organizing “Dalforce” which is a company of Chinese Communists from his house in Bellamy Road Kuala Lumpur (?)

1942 9 Jan, MUBIN SHEPPARD was however hospitalized in Singapore General Hospital as he was down with Tropical Typhus

1942 15 Feb, last issue of Straits Times published in the morning – single sheet, tabloid size with caption heading – “Singapore must stand: It shall stand, HE The Governor”

1942 15 Feb, 6pm – General Percival, GOC Malaya Command signed the surrender to the Japanese. 8.30pm, all hostilities ceased.

1942 16 Feb, Morning – Before Japanese take control of Singapore, Leslie Davis, Capt Clement( ADC to the Governor) and MUBIN SHEPPARD drove to the Government House to collect the Governor’s belongings.

- MUBIN SHEPPARD removed the Union Jack Flag which was flying over Government House till 12 Feb 1942. MUBIN SHEPPARD kept the flag sewn inside a sarong, concealed in a pillow case for the whole period of imprisonment and it was hoisted again on the 1st day of release in August 1945. Same year that MUBIN SHEPPARD was conferred a Major rank in the FMSVF

Extracted from Taman Budiman by MUBIN SHEPPARD

1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force - Baba Nonnie goes to war

Baba Nonnie goes to war by Ron Mitchell

Ron Mitchell was working with Fraser & Neave Singapore. At age 17, he joined the Intelligence Platoon, 1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force, with his brothers Ian and Malcolm

- Registered at Manpower Bureau, giving date of birth as 17th Feb 1923 instead of 1924. ( 18 yrs old instead of 17)

- interviewed and accepted by Copt Holiday, OC Intelligence Platoon 1SSVF

- The Platoon was a motor cycle unit riding the 500cc side valve BSA

- Volunteers had to undergo 2 months full time training and attend weekly parades and weekend exercises

- As part of the Intelligence Platoon, Ron had to know the North West part of Singapore keenly

- He was able to enjoy the comfort of a bar and lounge available to all ranks in the Drill Hall on Beach Road

- Mobilised for full time services on 1 Dec 1941 and was given 36 hrs to get things in order

- Full uniform was khaki shorts and shirts, with hose tops and puttee, issued for personal keep to attend weekend exercises and normal parades

- Wore topee that was shaped like helmets worn by the Royal Marines, without the spike on top

- Tin hats, revolvers, extra webbing, bedding and blankets were issued on arrival at the drill hall on mobilization day

- Military preparations were not evident in Singapore for a strong defence of the island.

- Ron was a dispatch rider (a Don R). Whilst delivering messages in the north of Singapore, there were no building of pill boxes or trenches to be seen

- On day of surrender, 15th Feb 1942, Ron was still a dispatch rider for another day, wearing a Japanese armband. He had to deliver messages to units telling them of the Japanese orders. He was stopped continuously by groups of Japanese troops and was robbed in the process off his personal possessions

- 17th Feb 1942, on Ron’s 18th birthday, he marched to Changi and captivity

Extracted from Baba Nonnie goes to war, by Ron Mitchell

Monday, 22 August 2011

1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force

Pencil Portrait of Paul, POW Camp, Changi 1942

Paul Gibbs Pancheri, employee of Harper Gilfillan. Probably joined Singapore Volunteers Corps in early 1940 as a private in 1st Battalion SSVF, S Support Company (Machine gunners) – Scottish Company

Before the War…

- Regular Tuesday evening “drills” at Volunteer HQ, Beach Road 5 – 7 pm

- Field days on Sundays, practiced “tactical withdrawals” as withdrawals claimed to be more difficult than advance

- King’s Birthday with parade at Cricket Club Padang. S Company donned kilt, sporran, diced hose, spats & bonnets

- HQ Mess – after parade sessions in Mess consisted rounds of “stengahs” ( small whiskey, lots of soda & water) & “makan kechil” ( cracker biscuits with small sardines & Tabasco sauce, with crisps & nuts)

- 2 months training in July & August 1940 at Telok Paku, Changi Camp.

- Daily routine in Camp:

· Dawn parade for PT

· Shower, shave, dressing, breakfast & inspection

· Morning Field Exercises

· Afternoon ( 2 – 5.15pm ) back to office

· Evening Parades – lectures, indoor gun drills & machine gun “lock” exercise

· After dinner/after parade sessions, in the mess

- During training, weekend passes were available, but most have to return to camp by 2359hrs

- S Company QM Sgt – Tommy Laffan (Chartered accountant with McAuliffe, Turquand, Youngs & Co.)

- John Swallow, Company Commander S Company transferred Paul Gibbs Pancheri to Battalion QM stores under Capt. Harry Proud (Manager in Singapore Gas Company) as corporal.

- Regimental QM Sgt Harry Goodman ( Stores Manager United Engineers)

- Paul has observed that Volunteers could have been useful as guides and interpreters (applied more to planters & tin miners) but SVC should have “honour” of fighting as a separate unit.

- 2 months mobilization training in April & May 1941. Lt Col Chamier, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, was posted to Penang. Lt Col Newey ( Senior Post Office Official) took over command

- New QM, Lt “Jock” Snell ( Assistant in Whiteaway Laidlaw)

- Spring 1941, S Company’s kilt, sporran, bonnets were kept in store. Volunteers were fitted with 2 pairs of shorts ( 1 for Scottish company), 1 pair of slacks, 2 shirts, 1 tunic and 1 pair of boots – made to measure by Chinese contractors

- Jan 1940, conscription was introduced by Governor of Straits Settlement. Army “issued” kits were handed out instead of made to measure ones. Weaponry consisted of WW1 rifles, Lewis & Vickers guns. Armored Car company had WW1 “Armored “Daimlers with Lewis guns. They were heavy vehicles with narrow tires; only good for movement on metalled roads. Subsequently replaced by Bren Carriers with guns of non-standard bore and only 800 rounds.

- Rations for the battalion drawn from Alexandra Depot.

- May 1941, whilst training at Telok Paku Camp, Volunteers saw the arrival of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ships with Australian troops.

- Volunteer Other Ranks were forbidden to enter to their own clubs if in uniform

- 1st December 1941, 1st Battalion SVC mobilized and deployed HQ at Geylang English School premises. S Company occupied concrete pill boxes along the coasts from the Singapore Swimming Club to the town area. B & D companies prepared defences positions at the rear of this are

During the war…

- SVC 1st Battalion QM’s routine was indenting and drawing rations for the volunteers

- SVC deployment on beach posts from the Swimming Club to the city, and companies in reserve behind the posts

- Pioneer Sgt Bill Teasdale ensure slit trenches and beach defence wiring for defence works

- Sgt George Mytton – Cook Sgt for Battalion ( Cold Storage Company Manager)

- Breakfast was fried bread and baked beans and occasional tough fried egg

- Lunch was fat mutton curry mostly

- Alan Walker ( Sun Life of Canada ) & Cpl Sonny Matthews distributed the rations

- Christmas 1941 – Battalion dining area was the school canteen

- 2 platoons of S company SVC sent with half of 2 Gordon Highlanders to reinforce Australians troops in Johor when Japanese advanced to Yong Peng and Batu Pahat

- 31 Jan 1941, QM drew 2 day’s rations for 1 battalion of Norfolk and 2 battalions of Cambridgeshires that arrived in Singapore and was billeted at Tyersall Camp with the Argylls.

- SVC HQ S Company relocated to near Cairnhill circle, off Orchard Road in terraced houses.

- SVC S, B & D companies deployed in Holland road area and towards Ayer Raja Road

- Alexander Depot ceased to function and SVC Battalion HQ has to raid godowns for essential supplies namely food. And in one occasion, Vichy Water ( which was important later due to cut in water supplies)

- Sgt Ken Stevens (Dunlop Manager) joined Battalion HQ.

- Task of QM stores were to destroy liquor stored in cellars of Goodwood Park Hotel.

- 15th of Feb 1942, 2200hrs CO of 1st Battalion SSVF sent word of surrender and that all volunteers to stay at their posts, with weapons stacked and ready to be handed over to the victors.

Extracts from “Volunteer” by Paul Gibbs Pancheri

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hong Kong Singapore Royal Artillery (2)

HKSRA Gunners manning a 3 inch Anti Aircraft gun on the coast of Singapore cir 1939. Note the gunner without his helmet- against regulations? Call the CSM! source : Life

Hong Kong – Singapore Royal Artillery HKSRA (1930 – 1942)

1920-30’s – HKSRA expanded for defenses of Singapore & Hong Kong with the construction of the Naval Base in Singapore due cheaper to deploy Asian troops than British Soldiers.

1930’s - 3 heavy battery in Hong Kong and 1 in Singapore. By 1938, 2 more heavies added including 1 Heavy battery in Penang

Anti aircraft (AA) units were included in the HKSRA Regiments with 9 AA battery (6 fully operational) and 3 coastal battery available in Singapore by Oct 1941 (OCT 1937 – 1 HKSRA battery established). Further plans to include 12 guns manned by HKSRA in Penang and positions and plans for expansion of AA defenses to be completed by 30 Jan 1942

By 1941 (less than 4 yrs) – 3 HKSRA regiments with 14 battery was formed

Rapid expansion has created problems as:

- Singapore units are less experienced than Hong Kong units

- New battery formed faster than available guns

- Recruits were in army for few months when battery formed and officers and men were still picking up skills

- Rarely practice with live rounds and communication were poor with primitive radios

- Shortage of experienced officers and NCOs – made worse when Aden formed more battery; milking experienced gunners

1938 – Built a new cantonment in Nee Soon to house HKSRA with the largest officer’s mess outside UK (dining capacity for 90)

Malaya (1941 – 1942)

- 20th Heavy AA Battery formed in Malaya on 11 Mar 1941 (location possibly KUL?)

- 9th Battery of 1st HKSRA Regiment at Kota Bahru ( LT J C Close) & Alor Setar

- 13th Battery at Sungei Petani ( Battery Comdr Maj PE White) – 6 guns

- 14th Battery at Ipoh – shot down 5 aircrafts ; pulled out 24 Dec & 27 Dec to reach KUL

- 16th Battery to cover 3rd India Corps – deployed to protect bridges & key cross roads, B troop involved in Slime River. Equipped with Bofors

- 2nd HKSRA Regiment under LT COL HV Allpress was commanding AA defenses of Malaya. 3 battery was deployed in KL Airfield with 5 planes shot & probable 7 kills

- HKSRA shot down 51 planes and claimed 30 probable kills

- 14 HKSRA AA guns were destroyed and lost when Malaya was abandoned

- 1st HKSRA Regiment defended Diary Road location with A troops of 9th battery losing guns to Japanese mortar fire

- 20th HKSRA Battery was forced to destroy guns and retreat when HQ22 Australian Infantry Brigade withdrawn

Bibliography : Forgotten Regiments by Barry Renfrew

Hong Kong Singapore Royal Artillery (1)

HKSRA Gunner - Note the brass shoulder titles - HK-SRA on a red felt backing

Hong Kong – Singapore Royal Artillery HKSRA (1842 – 1924)

1842 May - A Royal Artillery Company based in Hong Kong for the first time:

- Suggested native auxiliaries to spare British Gunners to move guns & ammo

- Plan to use Malay Soldiers serving in the British colonial units. They declined to be coolie laborers.

1847 - 90 Madras were recruited as Gun Lascars (laborers for artillery)

1848 – Royal Warrant approved employment of Lascars by resident Royal Artillery Garrisons as laborers and guards

1865 – Men from Asiatic Nations recruited as lascars to form A Company, China Gun Lascars.

1881 - War Office Directive approved 2nd Lascar Company for Hong Kong - B Company comprising of Sikhs.

1891 – 2 double companies of lascars formed i.e. 1 company of Sikh and 1 company of Punjabi Muslims (hence men from other races weeded out). Formation was renamed Hong Kong Asiatic artillery. Formation of local artillery company with Indian troops in Singapore.

1893 – Hong Kong Unit became Hong Kong Company, Royal Artillery and Singapore Unit became Singapore Company, Royal Artillery.

1898 – The Hong Kong & Singapore companies were grouped as Hong Kong –Singapore Battalion

1899 – The battalion was renamed, Hong Kong Singapore Battalion, Royal Garrison Artillery (HKSRGA). The HKSRGA has 3 companies based in Hong Kong, 1 company in Singapore and 1 company in Mauritius. The 5 companies rotated around the 3 bases, for coastal defense duties.

1915 – HKSRGA company based in Singapore helped suppress revolt by 5th Light Indian Infantry. No. 1 company with 210 officers and men and 6x10 pdr guns mountain battery embark to Egypt to serve with the Imperial Service Calvary Brigade.

1916 – the battery was stationed in Abassia attached to Imperial Camel Corps – with guns transported by camels instead of mules. Saw service in Palestine in battles of Maghdada & Rafa.

1917 – Re-equipped with 2.75 inch guns instead of 10 pdrs. Took part in battles for Gaza, the capture of Jerusalem and the attacks on Ammaw, Es Salt, Abu Tehnib & Megiddo.

1924 – Final organizational change – HKSRGA renamed as Hong Kong – Singapore Royal Artillery (HKSRA)