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Extract From War Diary

Alexandra Military Hospital

On the 14th, 15th, 17th and 19th February 1942.

During the morning the water supply was cut off, shelling and air activity became intense, some shells bursting in and many near the Hospital. These appeared to be mainly enemy mortar fire with an occasional 'short' from our artillery. The enemy were drawing nearer and approaching the rear of the hospital in the Ayer Rajan Road direction. The number of the incoming casualties had lessened considerably and there was little or no transport on the road to be seen. During the morning routine work continued. Japanese troops were seen for the first time at 13.40 hours and were attacking towards the Sisters' Quarters. Lieut. Weston went from the Reception Room to the entrance with a white flag in order to indicate the surrender of the hospital to the enemy. The Japanese took no notice of the white flag and Lieut. Weston was bayoneted to death by the first Japanese troops to enter. Japanese troops now ran into the Hospital and ran amok on the ground floor. They were very excitable and jumpy and neither pointing to the Red Cross Brassard nor shouting the word 'Hospital' had any effect.

The following incidents commenced at approximately the same time:-

(1) One party entered the Theatre block (at this time operations were being performed in the corridor between the Sister's Bunk and the Main Theatre, this being the best lit and most sheltered part of the block.) The Japanese climbed into the corridor and at the same time a shot was fired through the window wounding Pte. Lewis, R.A.M.C. in the arm. About ten came into the corridor and all the Medical Personnel held up their hands. Captain Smiley pointed to the Red Cross Brassards but they appeared very excited and took no notice of them. The Japs then motioned the staff to move along the corridor which they did - then for apparently no reason whatever the Japs set upon these unarmed staff with their bayonets. Lieut. Rogers, R.A.M.C. was bayoneted twice through the back of the thorax and died at once. Capt. Parkinson was bayoneted to death, also Cpl. McEwen and Pte. Lewis. A patient on the operating table was bayoneted to death, Capt. Smiley was bayoneted but struck the bayonet aside and it hit his cigarette case in the left pocket of his shirt. Capt. Smiley was again lunged at and wounded in the groin, the previous thrust having cut his thumb and wounded him in the left side. He then pretended to be killed and fell over, colliding with Pte. Southern who was unarmed. Capt. Smiley fell over the top of Southern and remained still but called out to the others to keep quiet. The Japs then left the corridors. After lying thus for 15 to 20 minutes Capt. Smiley saw the C.O., Lt. Col. J. W. Crayen R.A.M.C., coming along the corridor.

(2) Another party of Japs went into the Ward and ordered Nursing Orderlies and patients that could walk to go outside the Hospital. In one Ward two patients were bayoneted. Two Japs went upstairs and gave similar intimations. These two seem to have been slightly more humane as they motioned patients on crutches to remain behind. Patients and personnel numbering about 200 were taken outside the Hospital and had their hands tied behind their backs with a slip knot, one length of cord being used uncut for groups of four to five, some of the patients could only just hobble, some had only one arm, some were in plaster and others very very ill and could only just walk. Many of the ill patients showed signs of distress and one or two collapsed and had to be revived. Everybody in the party was marched off by a circuitous route which eventually ended behind the oil tank. Here they were herded into some servants quarters, 50 to 70 being placed in each room, the size of which varied, and were estimated to be 9' x 9', 10' x 8' and 10' x 12'. Here they were literally jammed in tightly, it took minutes to raise one's hand from one's side to above the head, sitting down was out of the question and people were forced to urinate against each other. During the night many men died and all suffered severely from thirst, and the suffocating atmosphere, water was promised but not given. When dawn came the Japs could be seen with cases of tinned fruit which they kept entirely to themselves. By the afternoon the shelling was at its maximum, the shells were bursting all round. One struck the roof injuring some of the prisoners and blew open the doors and windows. When this happened a total of eight made an attempted escape, some successfully, the others being hit by machine gun fire. Just prior to this, the Japs had been leading off small groups out of sight and ensuing yells and screams, coupled on one occasion with a Jap soldier returning wiping blood from his bayonet, left little doubt as to their fate. Except for the extreme few who escaped none of this party have ever been seen again. Capt. Alderdyce who could speak a very little Japanese, and Cpls. McDonough and Wilkins were taken off. Capt. Alderdyce was under the impression that he was either being taken away as a hostage, or the Japanese wanted some wounded attending to. However, he was only seen again during the night and the next morning up at the servants quarters where the doomed 200 were imprisoned. It must be assumed that he and Cpl. Wilkins suffered a similar fate to these. The body of Cpl. McDonough was found outside the Hospital and it would appear that he was killed by a piece of shrapnel when leaving the Hospital.

(3) One party of Japanese came into the Reception Room shouting and threatening patients and orderlies who were congregated there. Sgt. Sherriff, R.A.M.C. was bayoneted twice and subsequently died and the remainder similarly attacked

(4) Another party went into the Wards 16 & 17 bayoneting and causing slight injuries to two patients entering the kitchen of these two wards and killing Pte. Bruce, R.A.M.C. The nature of his wounds seeming to indicate that some tommy gun was used. The party also, when shown the Red Cross Brassard by Capt. Bartlett, replied by firing and throwing a hand grenade into the Sisters' bunk - possibly the grenade was thrown through the window.

It is difficult to understand the reason for the barbaric attack on the hospital and investigations were carried out to find any possible reason or excuse for this behaviour. A rumour was started that Indian soldiers were the cause of it, but all the exhaustive enquiries along this line could elicit was the fact that five or six Indian sappers or miners, who had been digging a tunnel at the back of the hospital, had presumably been sheltering in it during the morning. When the Japs advanced these people, unarmed, made a bolt for it, and in doing so entered the hospital at the rear and left by the front. The idea of the massacre having been caused by someone first firing on the Japanese troops must be ruled out, because the Japs did not trouble to search the upstairs at all, only a few Japs even bothered to go to the first floor.

About 16.00 hours, 40 to 50 people were herded into the corridor by the Stewards' Store and a guard placed over them. They were told to remain there. Later the guard went away and at about 22.30 hours Capt. Bartlett went out to investigate but found no sign of the Japs. However the parties remained there until dawn.

February 15th

Shelling around was very heavy and a few hits on the Hospital buildings occurred. On the ground floor the main corridor was used by the Japs, ready for battle. This did not however interfere with the duties of the Hospital Staff. At about 18.00 hours a Japanese armed party took off a party consisting of Sgt. Anderson and about 20 N.C.O's and other ranks. They marched out with tied hands and were ordered to get into a drain beside the Sgt. Major's Quarters. They were kept here all night but were given cigarettes and raisins.

About 08.00 hours the Japanese looters arrived and got busy on the cigarettes, food, watches, clothing etc. At about 10.00 hours a Japanese M.O. of high rank corresponding to a D.D.M.S. arrived. He made a tour of the Hospital and saluted all our dead. He also complimented the Hospital Staff upon the way in which the patients had been cared for, he provided an armed guard to clear the Hospital of looters and kept them away.

February 17th

The Japanese G.O.C. called at the Hospital and expressed his regrets at the hard time the Hospital had had, and assured the staff that they had nothing to fear in future. He told the O.C. Hospital that he was to regard his visit as that of a direct representative of the Emperor and that no higher honour could be paid to the Hospital.