|SMC Polytechnic Public School|
|Santo Tomas University Internment Camp.|
Log Book of Internees Stanley Camp (Imperial War Museum)
Frank Fisher's diary (Imperial War Museum)
Captives of Empire by Greg Leck
|SMC Polytechnic Public School|
|Santo Tomas University Internment Camp.|
|The Duchess of Richmond's Ball by R.A. Hillingford|
There was a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium's capital had gathered then Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men; A thousand hearts beat happily, and when Music arose with its voluptuous swell, Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell; But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!The opening battle was fought at Quatre Bras on 16th June, and the main battle two days later at a location on rising ground south of the village of Waterloo. The battlefield is still a very popular tourist destination, just as it was in the 19th century. The topography has been somewhat altered by the amount of soil dug up for the construction of the Butte du Lion (the Lion Mound) seen in the photograph below. The construction of the mound was commissioned by King William of the Netherlands in 1820 and was completed in 1826 near the spot where his son, the Prince of Orange, was wounded in the battle.
|The Writer on the Battlefield of Waterloo with Butte du Lion in the background|
You can ascend to the base of the lion by a steep flight of steps. The platform below the lion provides in one coup d'oeil a 360-degree view of the battlefield, the sunken lane, and the farmhouses of La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont. The mound commemorates all those who fought, and the many who died, at Waterloo and Quatre Bras. There is also a circular building near the mound that is called the panorama. It houses a painting 360 foot long and 39 foot high that was commissioned in 1912.
I am digressing, so let me now return to the subject of this post. He was a young officer, an Ensign, by the name of Thomas Deacon who fought at Quatre Bras and was wounded in the battle. His pregnant wife with two young children walked from Quatre Bras to Brussels searching for her wounded husband. She found him in a military hospital in Brussels. She by then was exhausted, famished, sick and wet-through. Her baby was delivered that night on 18 June and named Waterloo Deacon.
I first heard of Thomas Deacon when reading a book with the rather grand title Recollections of Military Service, in 1813, 1814, and 1815 through Germany, Holland, and France including some details of the Battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo. The book was written by Sgt Thomas Morris who served with the 73rd Regiment of Foot. It was first published in 1845 and is one of several first-hand accounts of the battle.
|28th Regiment of Foot form a square to fend off French cavalry at Quatre Bras (by Lady Butler)|
'Conveyances there were none to be had, and she was in in the last stage of pregnancy, but encouraged by the hope of finding her husband, she made the best of her way on foot, with her children, exposed to the violence of the terrific storm of thunder, lightning, and rain, which continued without intermission for about ten hours. Faint, exhausted and wet to the skin, having no other clothes than a black silk dress and light shawl, she yet happily surmounted these difficulties, reached Brussels on the morning of 18th, and found her husband in very comfortable quarters, where she was also accommodated; the next day giving birth to a fine girl, which was afterwards christened Waterloo Deacon.' (Sgt Thomas Morris)Thomas Deacon was born in 1788. He married Martha Ann Durrand on 31 August 1809. They married at St George's Church in Hanover Square. They were both aged twenty-one. She was the daughter of John Hodson Durand, who was Member of Parliament for Maidstone from 1802 to 1806. She appears to have been from a well-to-do family. However, I can not find much information on Thomas Deacon. I wonder whether he may have been a soldier in the rank and file. This is pure speculation but if he was an NCO, rather than a commissioned officer their marriage may not have been approved by her family and she may not have received financial support. Their first daughter Louisa was born in Woolwich, an Army depot, in 1809, in the same year in which they married. Suggesting the marriage may have been a necessity. Their son Charles Clements was born in Hythe in 1811, another Army garrison town. This suggests that Thomas Deacon may have been in the Army before he was commissioned in the 73rd Regiment in April 1813 at the rather late age of twenty-five. It would not be late if he had been commissioned from the ranks. We know his commission was not purchased. At that time officers in the cavalry and infantry regiments generally purchased commissions. There were exceptions, for example, the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers commissioned those who had attended training courses at their depots, and promoted on merit and seniority. During the Napoleonic Wars, there was a shortage of officers which was not filled by those willing to purchase a commission in the normal way. Gentlemen generally purchased commissions, and there was a derogatory term of 'not quite gentlemen' for some officers commissioned other than by purchase, for example by merit on the battlefield. There were some officers who were gentlemen, but impecunious, and could not afford to purchase a commission. Some of these joined as rank and file but messed with the officers. They looked to distinguish themselves during battle to win a commission. Perhaps Deacon was one of these.
I climbed out of the forward hold [No. 1 Hold]. I found the Japanese had abandoned the ship. S/Sgt Ross, RAMC, reported that he had a number of injured and sick mustered on deck from the holds aft. Between us we managed to render first aid and reassured disabled men. I was myself picked up after about four hours together with S/Sgt Ross and such ailing men as we had been able to keep with us. Throughout this period and subsequently as the medical orderly in charge at Kobe Camp, S/Sgt Ross, RAMC, displayed great devotion to duty and courage.
He died of beri-beri on top of a stomach ulcer. Very sad as he has done more than anyone for the sick. I owe my life to him when I had diptheria.
"I was in a bed next to a soldier in the Royal Scots called Baird. He spoke with a strong Scottish accent, but it turned out he was a South American from Chile. ... He had gone to England at the outbreak of war and joined up ... We stuck together in captivity; and later in prison camp." (Source: Colonial Sunset p.95).
|2/Lt D.H. Baird (Courtesy Catherine Williams née Baird)|
|Passenger List SS Orbita (Source: Ancestry.com)|
"Captain Fred Richardson was a middle height, thin, red-faced man of about 45 years of age and a bachelor. He had taken part in the First World War, but was not a regular soldier. He was always very serious, had no sense of humour, and had a very precise way of speaking; he looked and acted more like a schoolteacher than an Army Officer. Captain Richardson introduced us to the Company Sergeant Major (CSM), Donald Matheson, and the Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS), John Benson. He then showed us around 'B' Company barrack rooms. McGhee took over No.10 Platoon. I took No.11, and Fairbairn No.12. The second in command of the Company was Lt Richard ("Dick") Stanton.
"The battalion was well under strength of 1200; instead it had approximately 800 men. The platoons, which should have been composed of at least 40 men, only had about 30 men each. The reason being that the more experienced officers and non-commissioned officers had been sent to Britain after the fall of France and not fully replaced. In part we were the replacements of the officers, but very few NCO’s had been replaced only promoting corporals and men to higher positions." (Source: Dad's Story Douglas Baird's personal diary edited by his daughter Catherine Williams née Baird).The battalion had arrived in Hong Kong from Lahore in January 1938, under the command of Lt-Col Hall. In 1938, he was succeeded by Lt-Col McDougall. McDougall had served on the Western Front, and had been wounded at Ypres, and had won the Military Cross for gallantry whilst serving with the 1st Battalion in Macedonia. In 1941 McDougall was posted to Burma, and Lt-Col Simon White took over as Battalion Commander. Lt-Col White had also served in WW1, and had won the Military Cross. He had previously served in the battalion as a Major commanding 'D' Coy.
"I only saw Lt Colonel McDougall for a few weeks. He was sodden with gin and completely ruined his battalion." (1)Major-General Maltby was also disparaging about Lt-Col Simon White, the new Battalion Commander.
"Lt-Col White was a bad CO. I suggested to Wallis (Brigadier commanding Mainland Infantry Brigade) that he should relieve him of command of the battalion, but the latter pointed out that there was no senior officer in the battalion who was any better." (2)Douglas Baird wrote in his diary that he held Lt-Col Simon White in low esteem. Other officers in the battalion, like Captain Pinkerton and Major Walker were first class, and the junior officers like 2/Lt Baird and the other subalterns, Lieutenants and Captains fought with great bravery, and mostly against numerically superior forces. By 1941 there was a shortage of experienced officers in the battalion. The only regular officers were Lt-Col White, Major Burn, Major Pirie, Captain Cuthbertson (the Adjutant) and Captain Pinkerton. Major Walker and Captain Richardson had seen war service in WW1, but had not continued in the Army after the war. The rest of the officers, like 2/Lt Baird were holding wartime commissions. Douglas Baird was allocated to 'B' Coy.
|The Gin Drinkers Line (blue arrows show the Japanese advance ) - (National Archives, UK)|
|Royal Scots initial positions on the GDL (marked in red A, B, C & D) (National Archives - UK)|
"McGhee's platoon (No. 10) was on my left, and had a pillbox next to Castle Peak Road. My platoon (No. 11) was in the middle, in slit trenches with Coy HQ behind me. Fairbairn's platoon (No. 12) was on my right, also in slit trenches. Company HQ had a concrete room (splinter proof shelter) with four bunks where Captain Richardson and Lt Dick Stanton slept, and were communicated by telephone with each of our platoons and with Battalion HQ." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)In the first two weeks, the platoons concentrated on improving their defences and laying Dannert wire (concertina wire entanglements). There were gaps between battalion positions, company positions and platoon positions. Three battalions were insufficient to man a defensive line of that length. 2/Lt Baird recalled that there was a gap of nearly half a mile between the platoon on his left and likewise on his right. They tried to cover the gaps through interlocking fire. The battalion was considerably under strength at around 780 men. A number officers and senior NCOs had been milked to serve in other theatres of war. To add to this difficulty the battalion was badly affected by malaria, and a number of men were hospitalised with this debilitating sickness.
|Royal Scots positions from 10th Dec. (marked A2, B2, C2 and D2) (National Archives)|
|Rear Bn HQ at Pencil Factory and Bn HQ at Filter Beds. (Govt Maps Office)|
|Major Burn established Rear Bn HQ at the World Pencil Factory (Source: www.Uwants.com)|
"We didn’t have to wait long before we sighted about half a mile away a large group of Japanese soldiers coming along Castle Peak Road. We knew that if they continued coming along the road, they would appear again at a distance well within our range of fire. I went over to Stanton’s side of the road where they had also sighted the Japs. ... They appeared around the bend with one man in front bearing a small Japanese flag which we called the “fried egg”. It was the perfect place for an ambush. We wondered later how they could have come along Castle Peak Road so confidently without even a scout in front. Our men behaved very well keeping absolutely quiet, probably holding their breath like I was, until we had them where we wanted them. I don’t remember who was the first to give the order to fire, but our six Bren guns went simultaneously into action. The sight was fantastic, the Japs scattering all over the place, trying to get cover wherever they could and not knowing where they were being fired from. Most of them scrambled into the gutter, which ran along the hillside of the road, and we saw some go over the seaside, dropping down to the rocks below, having little chance of surviving. The road was littered with bodies, either dead or wounded. Then we witnessed an amazing action. The man who carried the flag was probably one of the first to fall, after a short while when we had held our fire, a Jap shot out of the gutter, rushed to where the flag bearer had fallen and picked up the flag. He didn’t last more than a few seconds before he was shot down. A moment later another Jap rushed out of the gutter and picked up the flag, and of course, went down also. This repeated three times before they gave up their attempt. We wondered if they had been ordered to do that, or if they did it on their own as a sheer act of bravery." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)Those that survived the ambush on the road, crawled back along the gutter, and no further attempt was made to advance along Castle Peak Road. The Japanese assumed the road was defended in strength, supported by troops on the ridge-line. They turned their attention to the the other two 'B' Coy platoons, and 'C' Coy, on Golden Hill Ridge. At one stage 2/Lt Baird saw 2/Lt Fairbairn's platoon retreating southwards along Golden Hill Ridge, whilst being pursued by Japanese troops. The men at Stanton's and Baird's position near the road fired at the sky-lined Japanese troops with good effect.
"We ordered the men to pick up the Bren guns, and as many boxes of ammunition as they could carry, and set off in single file on the sea side of Castle Peak Road. In this part the road ran further inland than the edge of the sea, we kept a sharp lookout towards Golden Hill, and set a scout about 100 yards in front of us. For more than half an hour in our retreat we saw no one. Castle Peak road was deserted, but we could hear constant firing to the left of us. Eventually we came in contact with a few men of 'A' Company with a Sergeant, on either side of Castle Peak Road. The Sergeant informed us that Battalion HQ was a little further back at the junction of the Taipo and Castle Peak Roads." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
"Matheson led me to where Major Burns had made his Headquarters on a flat bit of ground running in from the road, which had a few trees. With the aid of matches we found a torch by Major Burns’ side. He was leaning against a tree in a sitting position with his legs astride and his arms hanging by his sides. On closer inspection, I saw that there was blood at the side of his head and there was no doubt that he was dead. His revolver was by his side near his right hand. On his lap was a closed envelope addressed presumably to his wife. I took the letter and sent it back with a note to Colonel White. A while later Major Walker, commander of HQ Company arrived with a medical Officer. Major Burns’ body was put on a truck and went back with the MO. Major Walker informed me that he was replacing Major Burns, and to get as much sleep as we could that night." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
"CSM. Matheson and I were called to join them. We were questioned on the events before and after Major Burns had taken his sad determination. They speculated on the reasons he could have had, but reached no conclusion. Finally Colonel White said to us "keep your mouths closed about this, Major Burns was killed in action, do you understand?" I seemed to have looked very surprised as I saw Captain Cuthbertson who was standing behind and a little to the side of the Colonel, nod at me, so I answered together with Matheson "yes sir."" (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
|Route taken by 'A' Coy 2/RS on 19th Dec (Source: National Archives)|
|Route taken (red line) by 'C' Coy on 19th Dec (Source: Govt Maps Office annotations by the writer)|
"It was getting dark when we started climbing the hill. We hadn’t got very far when we reached Wong Nai Chung Gap Road. I halted the platoon and crept forward with a Corporal to inspect the road more closely. Stancers group had been held up further down the road (WNC Gap Road) by machine gun fire. In front of me was one of the Bren carriers. I told the Corporal to wait for me while I crawled behind the Bren carrier. I mounted it from the back and got inside it. There were three bodies on the floor. One was that of Captain Slater-Brown, a Sergeant and a Lance Corporal. I took each of their identity discs. Darkness had set in by the time I got out of the carrier and returned to the Corporal and platoon. I gave Sgt Vine instructions to stay where they were, while I made my way back along the lower side of the road to where Stancer’s group was. Stancer had received no further orders so had decided to stay where he was for the night (19/20th). My platoon being more advanced, I agreed to send a patrol as far as they could get to Wong Nai Chung Gap. When I got back to where I had left the platoon, I ordered Corporal Gary with three men of his section to set out on patrol skirting the road to Wong Nai Chung Gap. They returned sooner than expected. Corporal Gary informed me that they hadn’t come across anybody and had reached the small police station there in the Gap and found nobody there so had returned. Early next morning before daylight I reached Stancer and informed him about the patrol. Stancer decided to move his group to where I had my platoon, as it was a more forward position and offered better cover."
(Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
The police station had been seized by the gunners from the Hong Kong Singapore Royal Artillery (HKSRA) fighting as infantry during the night 19/20th, but it had only been held for a few hours. The Japanese with more than four battalions at WNC Gap were able to send in reinforcements and recapture the knoll. It rained during the night, and the next morning 'C' Coy was subjected to a heavy mortar barrage. Captain Stancer was injured in the head by shrapnel, and helped back to Tai Hang Road by his runner, and from there, to hospital. When his runner returned, he brought a message from the adjutant to keep 'C' Coy in position while 'B' Coy mounted an attack on Jardine's Lookout. The mortar barrage continued throughout the 20th December. Baird could see the location of the enemy mortar. He sent a message back to Bn HQ asking for a mortar to be sent up so that they could put the Japanese position out of action. They were told that there was no mortar ammunition.
"At about 1600 hrs we noticed movement in front of us in the undergrowth. Visibility was poor and we had to be careful as 'B' Company could be somewhere out there, but much to the right of us. I gave an order that no firing was to be done without orders, unless we were sure that it was the enemy. The movement came rapidly closer with shouts in English not to fire, soon men from 'B' Company appeared in front of us. They were retreating from their attempted attack on Jardine's lookout. We saw that many were wounded. Amongst them was Dick Stanton who came through holding his stomach with both hands. He was held up from his armpits and practically dragged by a couple of his men. He died in Bowen Road Hospital the next day. The remainder of 'B' Company who were fit, were distributed amongst the platoons of 'C' Company." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
"I took the lead working my way up hill through thick undergrowth. I hadn’t got very far when I saw something move not more than thirty yards in front of me. I managed to see a head and a Japanese helmet, but he saw me first. A burst of machinegun rattled off instantly. I fell backwards and felt a sharp pain on my left leg and left hand. Fortunately, on falling backwards I was out of sight of the Jap who had fired. Two bullets had gone through my leg just below the knee, smashing the backbone of the leg and severing the main artery. With the help of my runner, Private Ramsay, I got rid of my haversack and crawled down to the road. Evidently the Japs had started an attack on us at the same time as we decided to climb the hill. I was bleeding profusely; my trousers soon became soaked in blood. On reaching the road, Ramsay with the help of Sgt Vine who was coming at the rear of the Company applied a tourniquet with a rifle pull-through above my knee to try and stop the flow of blood." (Source: Dad's Story courtesy Catherine Williams)
|The wedding in March 1946|
|2/Lt Kenneth Allanson (Courtesy of Christopher Allanson)|
|Commissioned as a 2/Lt (London Gazette)|
|8th Coast Regiment, RA (Source: Major Templer's Diary Imperial War Museum)|
|9.2-inch gun at Fort Davis (Source: Wikipedia)|
|Map of Hong Kong Island (Source: HK Govt. Maps Office)|
|Sketch Map of HK Island (Source: Writer)|
|Captain Allanson was posted to East Group, RA on 15th Dec 1941 (Source: National Archives)|
"The landing was a very close threat to the Sai Wan Section which prepared to defend itself with small arms, and 2/Lt Allanson who joined on the 15th December from 8th Coast Regt, RA was in charge at Sai Wan at this time, and Captain Feilden arrived there at about 2100 hrs with reinforcements from Parker." (Source: War Diary Royal Artillery Island East Group - National Archives)On Thursday 18th December, the Japanese landed three infantry regiments (228th, 229th and 230th) on the north shore of Hong Kong Island. Each regiment utilised two of their three infantry battalions. Each battalion consisted of one thousand men. Artillery and other support troops followed the infantry. The infantry consisted of 6,000 men, and it is likely that during the night 18th/19th December that 8,000 to 10,000 men were landed on the northeast shore between North Point and Shau Kei Wan. The shoreline in this sector was defended by three companies, 'A', 'C' and 'D' Coy, from 5th/7th Rajputs. 'C' Coy Royal Rifles of Canada was the nearest infantry to the Sai Wan Howitzer Section with their Coy HQ located at Lye Mun Gap close to Lye Mun Barracks. At North Point, there was a group of militia, known as the Hughes Group, defending the Hong Kong Electric power station. The British, Canadian and Indian troops defending this section of the north shore totalled around 700 men. They were outnumbered by the Japanese troops involved in the landings by more than ten to one. Lt-Col Cadogan-Rawlinson's Rajput battalion put up a good fight but was destroyed on the north shore that night.
|6-inch Howitzer (Source: Royal Artillery Museum)|
|Scammell truck towing an 8-inch Howitzer (Source: Wikipedia)|
|Sai Wan Howitzer Section (Source: Govt Maps Office - Annotations made by the writer)|
"On the evening of 19th December Major Duncan was ordered to go to Wan Chai Gap and to take over command of West Group RA, and he set off taking with him 2/Lt Allanson." (East Group War Diary)
"After considerable search I found West Group HQ in a culvert under Lugard Road. Crowe had been shelled out of three houses where he had established his HQ." (Diary of Major Monro held at Imperial War Museum)The Crown Colony capitulated in the early afternoon of 25th December 1941. The surrendered troops were corralled at various locations, but mostly around Victoria Barracks. A few days later they were incarcerated in POW camps at Sham Shui Po, Argyle Street and North Point. Captain Allanson may have initially entered Sham Shui Po Camp, but if so, a few months later, in April 1942, he was transferred to Argyle Street Camp, which became designated as an officer's camp.
|The freighter Lisbon Maru (Source: Wikipedia)|
"I heard yesterday that Lieut Allanson of the 8th Coast Regiment was one of the unfortunates to go down when the Lisbon Maru was sunk last year, he was an excellent officer." (Resist to the End (2009) Charles Barman).
|KEA visiting his sister in South Africa - September 1940 (Courtesy Christopher Allanson)|
|In happier times (Courtesy Christopher Allanson)|