A small discovery

May 30, 2010

I’m still stumbling across things.

This morning I found myself looking through a small address book that I had put away with some of my father’s papers after he died. I hadn’t examined it at the time as it had obviously not been used for many years. But looking at it more closely again today I noticed the names of several people who were with my father at Changi and Kranji, including John Wharton who had been at Alexandra Hospital at the time of the massacre and had given him an account of it. And then it struck me that a number of the names and addresses, including Wharton’s, were not in my father’s handwriting. Presumably, they had entered the information themselves which could only mean that my father must have had the address book with him in Singapore. This had not occurred to me when I was first sorting through his papers as it was not with the other Changi notebooks.

Looking further I came across something that was even more unexpected. Towards the end of the address book is a list of the letters he sent to his fiancee, Sybil, before his capture as well as the dates of the postcards he had been allowed to send either to her or his parents while in captivity. Between July 1942 and March 1945 there were just five of them.

These two short lists provide a more complete chronology of his early movements in Singapore. But they also raise questions. He thinks (but doesn’t know for sure) that his first postcard home arrived in August 1942. I don’t know that for sure either as he didn’t keep any of his correspondence either to or from Changi. This in itself is a bit of a mystery as he kept everything else including the envelopes. But then he used them to write on.

Part of the mystery involves Sybil but I will get to that in my next post.

One Response to “A small discovery”

  1. James L. Clarke Says:

    Dear Brian

    I’ve just stumbled on your WordPress site during one of my periodic FEPOW online rambles. I was so pleased to see a reference to Krangi, as opposed to Changi. My grandfather was in Krangi – aged 50-53 – from the Fall of Singapore to his death in November 1944. (His gravestone is in the semicircle in Kranji cemetery.)

    So your father must have been co-resident with him for a few months. I imagine he might have stood out, being so much older than the army people. He was a rubber/palm oil plantation manager (Jelei?), and a Quartermaster Sergeant in the Negri Sembilan volunteer force (3rd div?).

    His name was Lawrence Lee, and I wondered if it was just possible that he is in your father’s address book? I know nothing about my grandfather’s experiences, my grandmother never talked about it. If by some miracle you had any info on him that would be wonderful – good, bad or vague.

    Or if you could point me in the direction of any books/websites/other about Kranji (or indeed your future researches) I would be so grateful.

    Thank you for your work to date, and for your sharing of it. The only thing I can offer you is this link (which I’m sure you know): http://www.far-eastern-heroes.org.uk/Mister_Sam/html/kranji.htm

    With very best wishes

    James L. Clarke


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