Alexandra Hospital Massacre
May 23, 2009
Originally uploaded by Brian Spittle
The massacre of prisoners and patients at Alexandra Hospital on February 14 and 15, 1942 is one of the more notorious incidents of the war in Malaya and Singapore. Even as a young child I remember hearing stories about it though never from my father. In fact, he was busy making notes about bed bugs and latrines on Pulau Tekong at the time. As it turns out, however, what happened at Alexandra Hospital was of a good deal on interest to him.
After my father died I discovered three detailed eyewitness accounts of the incident among the notes he had hidden away in the attic. All were in his own hand writing.
One of these accounts was by someone he knew quite well as a fellow bird watcher at Kranji, J. Wharton. An extract from his account appears in the illustration. Another was from a Private Gurd, and has been quoted in other published accounts of the incident. The third, by a Lt. F.T. Moore, can be found in the following BBC site, WW2 People’s War:*
It is identical to the account in my father’s notes.
I have no reason to think that my father knew either Private Gurd or Lt. Moore. Presumably their accounts were in general, if clandestine, circulation in the camp. Neither can I be sure when my father copied them. He used discarded Roberts Hospital memos from August 1942 on which to do so but could have equally well used his notebook, My guess is that the accounts were copied down much later, possibly when he was at Kranji.
I later learned that my father had another connection to the incident. The sanitary assistant he relieved on Pulau Tekong was subsequently posted to Alexandra Hospital. He was to be killed there.
* WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar