Women and Children Evacuees &
Escapees from Singapore
This list started from my own research on what happened to women and children when Singapore fell. The lists below name women and children but that does not mean that there were not men on board as well. Thanks to the generosity of Michael Pether and Becca Kenneison, much greater detail of passenger lists of some of the escape vessels is now available on this website. The website: www.netherlandsnavy.nl/Singapore.html gives details of convoys, many of whose ships became escape ships. The growth of this list from small beginnings is the result of people contacting me via the Cofepow website and contributing further information. This helps enormously in piecing together the still very unclear picture of what happened to women and children of all ethnicities, who tried to get away when Singapore fell on Sunday 15th February 1942.Mary Harris, September 2012.
If you would like to add names or make any corrections, please contact me, Mary Harris or Michael Pether via the Cofepow website.
[MH] = Mary Harris, own research and personal communication
[KF] = Kent Fedorowich 'Evacuation of Civilians . . .' in 'Sixty Years On'
[JK] = Joseph Kennedy 'British Civilians & the Japanese War . . .'
[[JM] = Jonathan Moffat's Malayan Volunteers' List - see MVG Newsletter for contact
[MVG] = Malayan Volunteers' Group Newsletter.
[MS] = Margaret Shennan 'Out in the Midday Sun'
[CN] = Cofepow Newsletter
[CM] = Charles McCormack 'You'll Die in Singapore'
[NB] = Noel Barber, 'Sinister Twilight'
[MP] = Michael Pether's list
[IWM] = Personal account in the Imperial War Museum, London
[PE] = Peter Elphick' 'Pregnable Fortress'
[W&S] = Warner & Sandilands 'Women Beyond the Wire'
[IM] = Ian MacCleod 'I Will Sing to the End'
[GB] = Geoffrey Brook 'Singapore's Dunkirk'
[JH] = John Hayter's 'Priest in Prison'
[RM] = Robert Mullock- Morgans
[MM] = Moffatt and McCormick, Moon Over Malaya
TP = Tanjong Priok, the port for Batavia (now Jakarta)
NB 1 There is sometimes confusion over departure dates in different contemporary accounts. This can be because ships sometimes pulled away from the docks which were being bombed and shelled and stood off for a while to clear the bombing zone, return for more passengers, wait to form a convoy, locate minefields, await a tide In addition, for obvious security reasons the names of many vessels were painted out so many people did not know the name of the vessel they left on.
NB 2 The names of people arriving in Australia were recorded on
arrival, and many lists of passengers are now in Australian National Archives,
which you can search on line on at
The NAA also holds a digitised copy of the 1943 Bulletin of the Malayan
Research Bureau, based in Sydney. The Malayan Research Bureau was set
up to collect and sift information on the whereabouts of civilians who
left Malaya, Borneo and Netherlands East Indies after their capitulation.
See Tanjong PInang below for a list that applies particularly to
NB 3 For ships that reached England eventually, lists of arriving passengers should be available, but these must not be taken to be complete lists of people who left, which, if they ever existed, have not survived. Some passengers disembarked en route for England or changed ships.
KPM Cremer (Dutch) (Cremer is variously spelt Kremer, Kramer) - left 23.12.41
Mrs Jean Hembry with John to Batavia then SS Rhuys to Melbourne [MVG]
Gorgon -A full passenger list for Gorgon is now listed separately on the Cofepow website. She arrived in Fremantle on 20th February 1942 with 357 passengers listed among whom are 42 names with military rank pte, sgt or corp and 56 obviously Chinese names. Please also see Lyeemoon below left 22.12.41(Christmas spent on board) for Australia arrived Fremantle 31.12.41
Mrs Kathleen Pether (wife of HE Pether, CC Wakefield & Co) and Maureen
NB Lyeemoon, originally called Gorgon
left Singapore unescorted December 31st and arrived Colombo January 13th carrying
75 personnel [details in MVG 27/21].
Mrs Peggy Frampton, may have been using the name of fiancé Major Dewe, with her daughter Rachael (Rae) (11) and Roddy Dewe (6 ½) and Michael Dewe (1/12) [MVG 26/17]
Mrs Hilda Harrison and Mr John Harrison, with Anita Elaine (9) Beatrice (Yvonne) and Rowena (4). Arrived Liverpool November 5th 1941
Orion - left 31.12.41 for Freemantle arrived 6.1.42 (The National Archives of Australia has now opened an 'Orion' file on their website. details from [JM] are Series No. A433, Conrol Symbol 1942.2.494, Location Canberra, Barcode 3091703. Access open
Derek Allton schoolboy returning to Australia [MS]
Penang SVC(possibly not the name of the boat)
left December 21st, in Roads until 'sailed for South Africa' Dec 23rd, arrived Colombo January 2nd, arrived Capetown Jan 21st [MH] Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Hebditch with David (4) and June (3) now Jackson [MH] Hopkins family, travelling with the Hebditches [MH] Mrs Josephine Wormald and baby, travelling with the Hebditches [MH]
MV Ulysses - left 22.12.41 arrived Fremantle 31.12.41See MVG 14/6 for details
Winifred Harriet Corrke nee Mitchell, LMO, with sons David and Brian
"Arrived Perth about 3 weeks after leaving Singapore" [MVG 28/12]Mrs Corona Hilda Brand with John Anthony Guy (10), Eric Peter Grayden (9) and Corinne Barbara (5) [MVG 28/12
Aorangi - left 16.1.41 Some
accounts say that Aorangi went first to Ceylon, then to Fremantle instead
of Cape Town because of German submarines, arriving in Fremantle 24.01.42.
See entry Narkunda below The Aorangi and Narkunda left together under
escort which left them after 2 days. Passengers on Narkunda who wanted
to go on from Fremantle to Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney transferred to
Aorangi at Fremantle. An outbreak of dysentery on board made some passengers
intending to go further, disembark at Adelaide [Ian Stitt, MVG 11]
Mrs Elizabeth Bean with Christine (now Edmonson) [MVG 6]
Bulan/Bulang - left Singapore ?10/11/12.02.42. Arrived Tanjong Priok, went on to Ceylon [MP]
Charon - (Blue Funnel Line) - left Singapore 08.01.42 - Bob Webb says left on January 16th, reached Freemantle 18.01.42
Barnes family inc. children Geoffrey and Ken [MS]
SS Devonshire Sailed 08/02/42 Same convoy as Felix Roussel and City of Canterbury. Sailing date given in Nat Archives as 7th Feb. Convoy attacked off Berhala Island but seen off by escorts.
Geoffrey Frank (17) [MH]
Duchess of Bedford - arrived Singapore 28.01.42
with 12,000 troops. Left 30.01.42 with 1,221 refugees [MS] for Batavia,
Colombo, Cape Town and Liverpool. Arrived Liverpool 19.03.42. Left with
Wakefield and Westpoint with total of 4000 passengers [MP]
Diana Auten, hospital matron, delivered Diana Bedford Vaughan, see below
Empress of Japan - left 31.01.42 with 1,221 evacuees as causeway being blown. Batavia, then England via South Africa.She arrived Liverpool 19.3.42, some passengers having disembarked in Cape Town. A number of families of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on board. It has been suggested that changing the name from Empress of Japan to Empress of Scotland during voyage was in honour of this. [MM] The 'Argyll families' included Johnstone, Mrs Jessie and children [MM] Mrs McTavish and four daughters including Rose [MM] Munnoch, Mrs and daughter of RSM Munnock [MM]
Mrs Anne Allin, Priscilla Jane 3 and Penny 2 [MH]
Islam/Islamic - left Singapore mid Jan 1942 for India. Possibly this is the one with over 1000 Japanese women and children internees and some allied civiians including
Marnix van Sint Aldegonde - left as Ship 54 from Quay No 6 at 1100 on New Year's Day, for Batavia [MH]
Lady Brooke-Popham with Sir Robert
Narkunda - left 21.01.42 for Freemantle
Phyllis Avery with children Susan 3 and Gordon [MH]
Nellore - (Eastern and Australian Co) - to TP then passengers transhipped to Australia.
Batch of women and children refugees from fall of Penang including
Miss Norah Inge, missionary [MP]
Rohna - sailed 28/01/42
Mrs Esme Kenneison (sister of Phyllis Mayo below) with Kit (11), Ray (8), Noreen (4) and Jacqueline (1)
USS Wakefield (previously Old Manhattan) - left 30.01.42 with Westpoint and D of Bedford arrived Colombo
Mrs Joan Allen with baby Christopher who died in Cape Town [MH]
USS Westpoint (West Point) - left on tide 30.01.42 [JK] with Wakefield and Duchess of Bedford
Please see [MVG 31/20] for an update (July 2012) of people on Westpoint by Henry Langley. Teenagers - Leslie Butler Madden, Sheila Butler Madden and Vicki Proust [MH]Mrs Marjorie May Langley with Rosemary (11), Veronica (9) and Margaret (5) [MH]
Agan (244 tons) - left Singapore 11.02.42. Either reached Palembang or was sunk and survivors picked up by the Tengorah [MP]
150 civilians including women and children
Bulan/Bulang - left Singapore ?10/11/12.02.42. Arrived Tanjong Priok, went on to Ceylon [MP]
SS City of Canterbury - left Singapore ?06.02.42
HMS Chang Teh (or Tay) - left 13.02.42. Sunk in Durian Strait.
Darvil and Kinta left 09.02.42 with Australian 2/3 Motor Transport Co, having fulfilled duties. [PE]
SS Deucalion - arrived Singapore 10.2.42. Impossible to dock so embarked many men, women and children from small boats drifting and being strafed by machine guns. Arrived TP, took on board approximately 480 personnel of RAF,RNZAF and RAAf together with many British civilians including women and children who had previously escaped from Singapore. Left TP 22.2.42 arrived Fremantle 2.3.42
Edang - left 11.02.42 with 11 other vessels in slower part of convoy heading for TP.Empire Star & Yoma. [MP] Survived Japanese dive bombing attack. Reached Tanjong Priok, then Fremantle.
358 - 380 passengers- see Empire Star below
Empire Star - left 12.02.42 with Gorgon under escort. Survived severe attack, reached Batavia then reached Fremantle 23.2.42
Phyl Clyne VAD [MVG]
Fanling - Motor launch. Left 13.02.42. Sunk in Bangka Straits
47 passengers, 4 survivors
Felix Roussel - Free French crew w British captain. Arrived damaged 02.02.42 with convoy BM12. Left Singapore 06.02.42 MP says 08.02.42 with 110 passengers mainly women and children. Colombo, Bombay, Australia
An Anglo-Indian sergeant [DP]
Giang Bee (Chiang Bee) (1200 tons) Chinese owned coaster. Left Singapore 13.2.42. MP says 11.02.42 Sunk by Japanese. Very few survivors. Details in [NB]There is now a separate researched list of passengers on Giang Bee on this website.
200 - 300 old men, women and children. 200 - 240 killed in lifeboats
Gorgon (3533 tons)( Blue Funnel Line) - left 10.02.42 With Empire Star formed advance guard of mass evacuation. In same convoy as Durban, Kedah, Stronghold.
Gwendolyn Mary Oak-Rind nee Grafton [JM]
HMS Grasshopper - left 13.02.42 with Kuala
but ordered back to take more passengers. Left 12.30 14.02.42. Bombed
w Fairmile and Dragonfly. Ran ashore on Sempang island, women and wounded
taken ashore but no water so taken to Sungei Buaya island, heroic work
by nursing sister H V Fisher and naval ratings. Two babies delivered on
Posik Island, mothers' names not known. [GB] Grasshopper blew up. [GB]
SS Hong Kheng (6167 tons) sailed night of 11.02.42
Hong Kwang - left 13.02.42. Abandoned Java 09.03.42 [MP]
SS Ipoh (Straits Shipping Co) - left 10.02.42 Reached TP 14.02.42 [MP]
200 women and children, many the wives of Malaya Survey Dept [MH]
SS Jalavihar/Jalibahar (5330 tons) - left 11.02.42. Heavily bombed in Durian Straits but reached TP then Ceylon
SS Jalakrishna - left 11.02.42 at 1700 hours. Possibly cleared harbour on 12.02.42 in convoy with Delamore, Empire Star, Jalibahar & Li Sang. Damaged by bombs in Sunda Straits but reached Tanjong Priok, then Colombo. [MP]
Mrs Francis Clarke who with others from Singapore later boarded Plancius at Tanjong Priok, though some reports say no passengers [MP]
SS Jalratna (3942 tons) Sailed night of 11.02.42. Reached Tjilitjap, which left on 19.02.42 [MP]
Koh Fuka Maru - ex-Japanese fishing vessel owned by Australian Bill Reynold. Sailed Telok Ayer 12/02/42 with about 50 women and children. After rescuing many more eventually reached Madras. Re-named 'Krait'. After more adventures now moored in Sydney Harbour.
Kedah - small coastal ship Straits Shipping Co. left ?13.02.42. Survived repeated bombing and shelling thanks to Captain Sinclair and eventually arrived Batavia. Survived war to lead RN fleet back into Singapore Harbour September 1945 [GB]
Possibly 750 men, women and children including
SS Kuala - left 13.02.42 at about the same
time as Mata Hari and Vyner Brook. Bomb damaged while waiting to leave
Singapore, 2 killed and buried at sea, many casualties. Sunk by bombing
while at anchor off Pompong island. 14.02.42. Many searing survivor stories
Please see separate entry on this website 'SS Kuala - Researched Passenger List' for Michael Pether's almost complete list of 'Kuala' passengers, which he has prepared as a memorial to them.
Kulit - left Singapore 12/02/42 with a number of civilians- assumed lost or captured Sumatra 02/03/42 (Ships/SE Asia on COFEPOW website).
Kwang Wu - left 13.02.42. Sunk off Pompong island.
Li Sang sailed c 1730 on 11.02.42, might have cleared harbour on 12.02.42 [MP]
Mata Hari - left 12.02.42 [GB] 13.02.42 [MP] Captured by Japanese in Banka Straits and passengers taken to Muntok for internment
300 passengers+ 120 more including
Madura. Reported to have later sailed from Batavia (TP) in last days of Feb. [MP]Sybil and Natalie Darville, 10 other Europeans and an unknown number of Chinese passengers [BBC WW2 People's article ID A4462490]
HMS Monarch (?Dominion Monarch) - left Singapore 08.02.42 for New Zealand [MP]
Nora Moller - date of departure from Singapore not known but attacked by Japanese aircraft off Palembang Feb 3rd, so might have left Feb 1st or 2nd. 57 passengers including women and children. Survivors rescued by HMAS Hobart and HMAS Tenedos and taken to TP.
Estimated 166 - 216 women and children, mainly families of Dutch Indonesian
garrison soldiers at Rhio. To Pompong then Rengat having taken off people
thence and from other islands. These included [GB]
Ping Wo - pre-war Yangtze steamer, 200' long, 6' draft. Left Singapore 11.02.42. Arrived Fremantle 04.03.42 Towed destroyer Vendetta to Fremantle. [MP]
200 civilian passengers [MP]
RAF Petrol Tender/British Navy launch - There are two accounts in [MVG 28/13] which explains the two names for the vessel.
Edwards "Mother, sister and 2 little girls 5 and 3 1/2 of Pilot Officer C P Edwards with sister and brother in law, from St John's Island on February 16th 1942, picked up survivors en route for Sumatra, 35 on board in all. [MVG 28/13]
Rochuissen [MVG 10/6]- Dutch cattle boat with no passenger accommodation. Reached Tanjong Priok 05.02.42 [MP]
200 passeners including 50 Malayan Broadcasting Company personnel
HMS Scott Harley sailed daybreak 12.02.42, arrived TP. For full story see Cofepow website.Most European passengers shipped from TP 21.02.42 to Bombay on Plancius. Some went on to Australia on the Johan de Witt [MP]
[MP] lists 170 women and 30 men, including
Scout - left 10.02.42
Naval personnel and Megan Spooner, wife of Read Admiral Spooner [MH]
Sedjatra - Wooden schooner (30 tons) Left Singapore 04.02.42, later left Tjilitjap
5 civilians [MP]
Women and children [MP]
Silver Larch - left Singapore 10.02.42. Reached Java. [MP]
Sing Wo (2500 tons) - Yangtze River Boat. Left 12.02.42. Bombed and ran aground at Muntok where passengers imprisoned.
230 passengers including Rohan Rivet, author of 'Behind Bamboo.'
HMS Ban Hong Liong (1671 tons) in company with Sin Aik See. Reached TP left 2 days later destination unknown.
Troops and civilians [MP]
Vyner Brooke - left 12.02.42. Built to take
12 passengers, left with 250 [W&S]
June Bourhill, aged 9 (later June Brown) survived sinking while mother drowned.
Reached shore with Armstrong family. [MVG 29/3]
Group of survivors on Muntok discovered by Jap patrol16.02.42, men bayonetted, women marched into the sea and shot. One survivor, Vivian Bullwinkle. [MS, JK, MP]
Name Unknown small coaster left 13.02.42
12 men and a woman named Mary Jenkins. [MP]
Ying Ping left 13.02.42 [RE]
Evacuated by flying boat
SS Angking.Mrs Louise Mowat [Audrey McCormick]
SS Anglo Indian. Reached TP 12.02.42
SS Auby (636 tons) Reached TP
SS Aquarius (6094 tons) Sunk
110 passengers, possibly only 3 survivors [MP]
HMSs Barlane, Barrier, Barricade and Fastnet were boom defence vessels built in Bristol in 1937, specifically for Singapore harbour defences. under Commander G L Baily [RM]
Blumut - Small craft of Johore Marine Dept.
Captured by Japanese off Banka 16/17.02.42
29 passengers. [MP]
Cap St Jaques - Bombay
Mrs Scoular with Guy(2) [MH]
Huang Jao - former Yangtse River customs boat, picked up Giang Bee survivors and single survivor of Giang Tay. Subject of war crimes tribunal, sunk by gunfire, women and children on board.
SS Plancius - reached TP [MP]
Mrs Mary Rawson [MVG 31/15]
USN President Polk on her maiden voyage Bombay to USA under Captain Dutton and Commander Jeffs took the following to the US [DP]
Carol Purdie with Robin 2 and Diana 3 weeks
Rantau (Straits Steamship Co) (75 tons)
SS Redan (531 tons) - Thai Navigation Co. Sunk in Berhala Strait.
89 passengers including 6 women and 3 children. Captain Rasmusson's account says 62 lives lost in attack by 2 Japanese destroyers including "two young ladies, said to be from Messrs Mansfield Co's Singapore Office . . . while typing out the passengers' list in the Chief Engineers Cabin" About 30 people including 4 women and 2 children got away by boat and were captured by the Japanese.
Relau (75 tons) Palm oil tanker of Straits
Shipping Co. Captured by Japanese
Silver Gull - left with 166 women and children, broke down on Rhio. Towed from Rhio by Capt Bill Renolds in his converted Japanese fishing boat Kohfuku Maru, later Suey Sui Fah (later the 'Krait' now in Sydney Harbour) [GB]
SS Sing Kheng Seng Straits Shipping Co.
45 crew from the Empress of Asia and unknown others [MP]
Tandjong Pinang, sometimes called Tanjong Pinang
Please see separate entry on this website, 'SS Tanjong Pinang - Reseached
Passenger List' for Michael Pether's almost complete list of passengers,
which he has prepared as a memorial to them.
Tien Kwang/Tun Kwang. Bombed and sunk at Pompong Island 14.02.02 with SS Kuala. See [MVG13/4] for a description of the sinking
Many government servants and RAF [MP]
Wosang Wells forward and aft crowded with Tamils [MVG 10/6] "Arrived Calcutta about the time of the capitulation" [MVG 10/6]Mrs Mange, Swiss French with daughter Claudie (now Erskine) and 1 more daughter.
Mrs Warden, son John and his brother. Repatriated to England on Stratheden.
"A Eurasian family of mother and 2 boys with a Portuguese name, father a doctor stayed behind" [MVG10/6]