Page 52 – 53 / 1941 – 42

Right Hand Page

‘Endurance’ by Hank F Quin. Evening Standard Correspondent. Includes personal account of the Battle of Kranji (second day of the Battle of Singapore, 9th February), on race course near Bukit Timah Road.
Continued from page 46-47

‘As far as I could see by the light of this fire, there appeared to be few of the enemy about and I resolved to make a bld face of it and cross the open race course to a line of the road which ran along the far side of it. We made it in safety and reached the houses and stables hear the road where there was ample evidence of recent occupation by British troops.’

‘We moved on under cover of the hedge running along the side of the road, going slowly and exercising greater care because now we must for certain be nearing the enemy’s front line, the roar of the artillery fire was much nearer and occasional shells from our own batteries came whistling overhead. Rifle and machine gun fire was also distinguishable and it heartened everyone to think that we must be nearing the front and our friends on the other side of it.’

‘Suddenly from the darkness of a building to my left, only twenty yards away came a challenge. THe glint of moonlight on a bayonet – the tense breathing of my men. I fired my revolver and with a groan the sentry toppled over. Another came running from the building to be shot by the Tommy gun of the Corporal behind me, but the damage was done and the noise had aroused the remainder of the guard. Five or six Japanese came running out of the building, but I moved on. The men in the rear of my party panicked at the sight of the Japanese and ran off towards the left in spit of my orders always to follow in any eventuality. Only four of our party now remained besides myself and rather disheartened we pushed on. Nothing was to be gained by turning back expect certain death.’

‘I kept the road as my guide and we moved on in low ground covered still by a thick hedgerow, stopping every few minutes to look and listen. After a little time came the sound of footsteps moving in our direction. Quickly down on our face behind our ally the hedge we waited. Two Japanese sentries carrying rifles passed scarcely five yards from where we lay. As soon as they were out of sight we moved again, but had scarcely traversed more than two hundred yards when again came the challenge – ‘Tan Yan’. Again I plugged the sentry with a lucky shot and Corporal shot his No.2. as he came running up. The four of us dodged off to the left as hard as we could go and came to a point which overlooked a track where lorries and guns were parked. This time we spotted the sentries by the light of their cigarettes and satisfied that the coast was fairly clear again and that we were not being followed I got the compass bearing and we moved on down the hill. At the bottom a small stream was running, the water was clear and cool, and I was grateful for this unlooked-for find. By now all of us were nearly dead with fatigue and thirst and hunger, and only the will to go on, now that we had got so far, kept us from falling down and sleeping where we were. The water refreshed us greatly and we rested there for a while. I reckoned that at this point we were about two miles from our lines.’

‘At one o’clock we moved on again and covered half a mile without incident. We were in a small rubber plantation, picking our way from tree to tree, when suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a part of Japanese. THere must have been about a hundred of them, sitting with their backs to the trees and smoking. We had struck the rear of the bivouac. A sentry cried out a challenge. I separate the party, sending the Corporal and two men to the left, myself and my runner going to the right. We never stopped, so well did the Corporal understand my idea. The Japanese were excited and scared, thinking that they were being attacked. Shouting and scrambling they grabbed for their arms in the darkness. Under cover of the noise I and my man got round to see a form in front crouching behind a tree. It must be the Corporal? I touched him and whispered ‘Is that you Kerrison?’ He straightened – a knife glistened in his hand. It was a Jap. I blew his head off, so close was the muzzle of my revolver.’

‘Firing broke out to the left all of a sudden. There was no sign of my runner. I ran off to the right, tripped and rolled headlong down a steep bank. My pistol lanyard broke and I lost my steel helmet. From where I lay I heard the steady fire of a Tommy gun and three rifles. They were putting up a good show, but against impossible odds. I never saw those chaps again.’

‘I made my way and came to a track. I came upon it suddenly round a corner of a bush. It was stiff with lorries and tanks. There were drivers sitting round smoking. There appeared to be no sentry. I walked down the center of the track pretending to be a Jap, expecting

Continues onto page 54-55