Captured at Singapore
By Jill Robertson & Jan Slimming
Copies can be purchased from: Pen & Sword
What would it be like to leave your loved ones behind knowing you may never see them again? Then depart on a ship in the dead of night heading for an unknown destination and find yourself in the heat of a battle which concludes in enemy conditions so terrible that your survival in captivity is still under threat?
Cultivated from a small, faded, address book secretly written by a young soldier in the Royal Army Service Corps, Captured at Singapore, is a POW story of adventure, courage resilience and luck.
In 1940, Londoner Stanley Moore became Driver T/170638 and trained for desert warfare along with many others in the British Army’s 18th Division. Their mission, they thought, was to fight against Hitler and fascism in the Middle East. But in a change of plan and destination, he and his fellow servicemen became sacrificial lambs on a continent much further from home.
After tough rudimentary combat training in England, Stan’s division set off on a secret overseas mission. After months at sea, and several unexpected ports of call, their convoy was redirected to the other side of the world as the Imperial Japanese Army rampaged across Manchuria, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. Singapore was under sole British jurisdiction and a large naval base had been built after the First World War to defend the island at the foot of the Malay Peninsula. The British Government believed Japan would never attack their prize territory and so left Singapore to fight for itself with limited troops and outdated equipment. But after an attack on Pearl Harbor, the under-trained and under supplied 18th Division was redirected to fight the Japanese.
Using extensive research and personal documents, the authors’ account - via their father’s small, faded, diary and his 1990 tape recording - tells of Stan’s journey and arrival in Keppel Harbour under shellfire; the horrific 17 day battle to defend the island, the Japanese Admonition and the harrowing forced labour conditions after capitulation.
Only a small percentage of the 85,000 British troops returned after the war. Captivity and years of trauma ultimately stole years of the young soldiers’ lives, which they were later ordered to forget by the British Government. The aim of this work is to provide information for future generations to understand how ordinary men died under horrific conditions of war, and how the lucky survived.