In February 2017, I wrote a post on my blog about Major Douglas Dewe, a Medical Doctor serving with the British Indian Army based in Singapore during the battle. I fell into the story by chance rather than by design. I was browsing old Hong Kong newspapers when I came across an article in the Hong Kong Daily Press dated 19 August 1941 concerning the divorce of Major Dewe from his wife Rona. They had married in 1934 following the death of Major Dew's first wife.
Major Dew's marriage to Rona broke down in 1938 at about which time Rona had struck-up a relationship with a forty-year-old rubber planter in Malaya by the name of Oswald Cutler. In the August 1941 hearing, the court granted custody of the two children to Major Dewe presumably on account of his wife's infidelity. By August 1941, Major Dewe had become engaged to a charming divorcee by the name of Mrs Peggy Frampton.
The war started in December 1941, a few months after the court hearing. Major Dewe, his ex-wife Rona and Oswald Cutler all ended up in Japanese prison camps for the duration. Peggy Frampton was in Kuantan on the east coast of Malaya at the time of the Japanese invasion. She quickly collected Major Dewe's two sons and her daughter, Rae, and drove in a black Humber all the way to Singapore. Not long after Peggy's departure the Japanese landed at or around Kuantan. As Peggy Frampton drove south, the road bridges were being demolished behind her. She reached Singapore with the three children and got out on one of the last evacuation ships leaving Singapore. Peggy took the children to India where she resided during the war. Her fiancé, Douglas Dewe, survived the prison camps in Singapore and Burma. On release he found Peggy had re-married in India. Perhaps she had assumed that he had died during the battle or during the subsequent incarceration.
While updating the article on Major Dewe, I discovered a little bit more about his erstwhile fiancé, Peggy Frampton. Her husband, from whom she had divorced was Commander Pendarvis Lister Frampton. I found an old newspaper article reporting their wedding in April 1935. She is referred to as Mrs Peggy Fischer (nee Jeffries) the owner of the Garter Club in Mayfair. The couple were married at Marylebone Registry Office. When WW2 commenced Commander Frampton was assigned to HMS Sultan the shore establishment in Singapore. During the Battle for Singapore Frampton served as a Staff Officer reporting to Rear Admiral Ernest Spooner, the Senior Naval Officer in Singapore and Malaya.
Rear Admiral Spooner, Commander Frampton and Air Vice Marshall Conway Pulford were ordered to leave Singapore (just before the Fall) and re-convene at Batavia in the Dutch East Indies. Frampton and the two senior officers escaped from Singapore on the Fairmile-class motor launch ML 310. They left Singapore on Friday 13 February two days before the Fall of Singapore. They never made it to Batavia. All three senior officers died a few months later on a malarial infested island off the east coast of Sumatra. This is their story, their last story and the last voyage of His Majesty's motor launch ML 310.
That afternoon Rear Admiral Spooner called a meeting in his office at Fort Canning. He told us that the decision that Singapore could not hold out had been taken and orders for all remaining Naval and Air Force personnel, as well as selected Army technicians, to leave Singapore had been given. (Lt Pool)
The air was so thick with mosquitos that we could hardly breath without getting them up our noses or into our mouths ; their vicious whine as they hovered round us was unceasing, as were their bites. Outside the hut, the chirping of millions of crickets and croaking frogs mingled with the hum of other tropical insects. (Lt Pool)
Commander Frampton completely lost heart in the venture. A few days later he developed a bad chill, with violent shivering fits. With no doctor in the party, we could only suspect malaria. From this moment on, he appeared to lose all interest in the life and work on the island. (Lt Pool)
Captain Patrick Stanley Heenan, 16th Punjab Regt, was convicted of treason after being caught spying for the Japanese during the Malayan campaign in December 1941 and January 1942. Peter Elphick and Michael Smith in their book Odd Man Out (1988) postulate that he was shot by Corps of Military Police (CMP) guards on 13 February 1942 - two days before the Fall of Singapore. This may have been ordered by Rear Admiral Spooner or by Air Vice Marshal Pulford. It is possible, that the detachment led by a sergeant (Sgt Reg Wright) consisting of four other Military Police were given the task of shooting the alleged traitor. This was done by the harbour-side with his body allowed to drop into the water. Spooner and or Pulford may have then ordered the CMP detachment to join the evacuation in ML 310.
The Admiral's Wife
Rear Admiral Ernest John Spooner (22/8/1887 - 15/4/1942) married Megan Foster (1898 -1987) in 1926. She was a well-known soprano. She accompanied her husband on his last posting to Singapore as Read Admiral Malaya. HMS Scout had departed Hong Kong on 8 December 1941 with HMS Thanet. Scout was alongside the dock at Keppel Dockyard on 9 February when the First Lieutenant, Christopher Briggs, observed a car pulling up alongside the ship. It was carrying Mrs Megan Foster Spooner. Lt Briggs recalled that she was accompanied by the Admiral's steward and the Admiral's coxswain. The admirals wine cellar was brought aboard as a gift for the wardroom. 'We put Mrs Spooner in Lambton's cabin [Captain's cabin]. He had his sea cabin under the bridge. We set off as soon as it was dark, our orders were to proceed to Tanjock Prior, the port of Batavia. .... As soon as we had anchored, a boat arrived to collect Mrs Spooner and the staff. She was taken straight over to a ship, the SS City of Bedford which was sailing for Australia'. (Source: Farewell Hong Kong (1941) (2001) Christopher Briggs.
Crew and passengers of ML 310 ( Source: Lt Stonor & Lt Pool)
R/Adml Ernest John Spooner, RN - Died (Rear-Admiral Malaya)
AVM Conway Pulford, RAF - Died (Air Officer Commanding)
Cdr Pendarvis Frampton, RN - Died
W/Cdr George Atkins, RAF - Survived
Lt Richard Pool, RN - Survived.
Lt Herbert Bull, RN - RNZNVR - Sailed for Batavia (CO of ML 310)
Lt Ian Stonor, A&SH - Survived (ADC to Lt-Gen Percival)
Sub-Lt Malcolm Henderson, RANVR - Died (First Lt on ML 310)
WO Boatswain Richardson, RN - Survivor. (Commissioned WO)
PO Charles Fairbanks, RN - Survived (ex HMS Prince of Wales)
PO Ralph Keeling, RN - Died. (Ex HMS Repulse)
L/S Andrew Brough, RN - Sailed to Batavia with Lt Bull (ML 310 crew)
A/B Leonard Hill, RNZNVR - Sailed to Batavia with Lt Bull (ML 310 crew)
A/B Bert Gibson, RN - Died
A/B Jack Haywood, RNZNVR - Died (ML 310 crew)
A/B Robert Flower, RN - Died. (ML 310 crew)
A/B James Russell, RN - Died (ML 310 crew)
A/B Herb Oldnall, RNZNVR Survived
AB Ronald Johnson, RN - Survived (ML 310 crew)
AB Alfred Robinson RN - Died (ML 310 crew)
Sto Arthur Bale, RNZNVR - Died (Rear-Admiral's driver)
StoPO Edwin Towsend, RN - Died (ML310 crew)
Sto John Little, RN - Died
Sto Edward Tucker, RN - Survived (ML 310 crew)
Sto William Paddon (ML 310 crew)
PO MMecc H S Johncock, RN - Survived (Senior Rate on ML 310)
OrdTel Hector Smethwick, RN -Survived
OrdTel Alan Tweesdale, RN - Survived (ML310 crew)
Sgt Edward Hornby, RM - Died
Cpl Samuel Sully, RM - Died
Pte James Robinson, RM - Survived
Pte James Robinson, RM - Survived
Pte Charles Davy, RM - Survived
Pte James Sneddon, RM - survived
S/Sgt James Ginn, RE - Sailed to Batavia with Javanese (Missing)
S/Sgt John Luckett, RE - Sailed to Batavia with Javanese (Missing)
S/Sgt Richard Davies, RE - Died
Sgt Reg Wright, CMP - Survived
Cpl Stan Shieff, CMP - survived
Cpl Henry Shrimpton, CMP - Died in Singapore two days after return.
Cpl Reg Stride CMP - Survived
Cpl Jack Turner, CMP - Survived
AC Arthur Bettany, RAF - Survived
AC Norman Smith, RAF - Survived
Cook Li Ting - Deserted (Referred to as Charlie) (ML 310 )
Joined group on Tjebia Island
Pte James Doherty, Gordon Highlanders
Sto Leonard Scammell, RN
Aubyn Dimmitt Civilian civil engineer working at naval dockyard
Report by Wing Cdr George Atkins, RAFVR (UKNA WO 344/362/2)
Report by Lt Ian Stoner, A&SH (UKNA)
Course for Disaster Richard Pool
Singapore's Dunkirk Geoffrey Brooke