Monday, 22 August 2011

1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force

Pencil Portrait of Paul, POW Camp, Changi 1942

Paul Gibbs Pancheri, employee of Harper Gilfillan. Probably joined Singapore Volunteers Corps in early 1940 as a private in 1st Battalion SSVF, S Support Company (Machine gunners) – Scottish Company

Before the War…

- Regular Tuesday evening “drills” at Volunteer HQ, Beach Road 5 – 7 pm

- Field days on Sundays, practiced “tactical withdrawals” as withdrawals claimed to be more difficult than advance

- King’s Birthday with parade at Cricket Club Padang. S Company donned kilt, sporran, diced hose, spats & bonnets

- HQ Mess – after parade sessions in Mess consisted rounds of “stengahs” ( small whiskey, lots of soda & water) & “makan kechil” ( cracker biscuits with small sardines & Tabasco sauce, with crisps & nuts)

- 2 months training in July & August 1940 at Telok Paku, Changi Camp.

- Daily routine in Camp:

· Dawn parade for PT

· Shower, shave, dressing, breakfast & inspection

· Morning Field Exercises

· Afternoon ( 2 – 5.15pm ) back to office

· Evening Parades – lectures, indoor gun drills & machine gun “lock” exercise

· After dinner/after parade sessions, in the mess

- During training, weekend passes were available, but most have to return to camp by 2359hrs

- S Company QM Sgt – Tommy Laffan (Chartered accountant with McAuliffe, Turquand, Youngs & Co.)

- John Swallow, Company Commander S Company transferred Paul Gibbs Pancheri to Battalion QM stores under Capt. Harry Proud (Manager in Singapore Gas Company) as corporal.

- Regimental QM Sgt Harry Goodman ( Stores Manager United Engineers)

- Paul has observed that Volunteers could have been useful as guides and interpreters (applied more to planters & tin miners) but SVC should have “honour” of fighting as a separate unit.

- 2 months mobilization training in April & May 1941. Lt Col Chamier, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, was posted to Penang. Lt Col Newey ( Senior Post Office Official) took over command

- New QM, Lt “Jock” Snell ( Assistant in Whiteaway Laidlaw)

- Spring 1941, S Company’s kilt, sporran, bonnets were kept in store. Volunteers were fitted with 2 pairs of shorts ( 1 for Scottish company), 1 pair of slacks, 2 shirts, 1 tunic and 1 pair of boots – made to measure by Chinese contractors

- Jan 1940, conscription was introduced by Governor of Straits Settlement. Army “issued” kits were handed out instead of made to measure ones. Weaponry consisted of WW1 rifles, Lewis & Vickers guns. Armored Car company had WW1 “Armored “Daimlers with Lewis guns. They were heavy vehicles with narrow tires; only good for movement on metalled roads. Subsequently replaced by Bren Carriers with guns of non-standard bore and only 800 rounds.

- Rations for the battalion drawn from Alexandra Depot.

- May 1941, whilst training at Telok Paku Camp, Volunteers saw the arrival of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth ships with Australian troops.

- Volunteer Other Ranks were forbidden to enter to their own clubs if in uniform

- 1st December 1941, 1st Battalion SVC mobilized and deployed HQ at Geylang English School premises. S Company occupied concrete pill boxes along the coasts from the Singapore Swimming Club to the town area. B & D companies prepared defences positions at the rear of this are

During the war…

- SVC 1st Battalion QM’s routine was indenting and drawing rations for the volunteers

- SVC deployment on beach posts from the Swimming Club to the city, and companies in reserve behind the posts

- Pioneer Sgt Bill Teasdale ensure slit trenches and beach defence wiring for defence works

- Sgt George Mytton – Cook Sgt for Battalion ( Cold Storage Company Manager)

- Breakfast was fried bread and baked beans and occasional tough fried egg

- Lunch was fat mutton curry mostly

- Alan Walker ( Sun Life of Canada ) & Cpl Sonny Matthews distributed the rations

- Christmas 1941 – Battalion dining area was the school canteen

- 2 platoons of S company SVC sent with half of 2 Gordon Highlanders to reinforce Australians troops in Johor when Japanese advanced to Yong Peng and Batu Pahat

- 31 Jan 1941, QM drew 2 day’s rations for 1 battalion of Norfolk and 2 battalions of Cambridgeshires that arrived in Singapore and was billeted at Tyersall Camp with the Argylls.

- SVC HQ S Company relocated to near Cairnhill circle, off Orchard Road in terraced houses.

- SVC S, B & D companies deployed in Holland road area and towards Ayer Raja Road

- Alexander Depot ceased to function and SVC Battalion HQ has to raid godowns for essential supplies namely food. And in one occasion, Vichy Water ( which was important later due to cut in water supplies)

- Sgt Ken Stevens (Dunlop Manager) joined Battalion HQ.

- Task of QM stores were to destroy liquor stored in cellars of Goodwood Park Hotel.

- 15th of Feb 1942, 2200hrs CO of 1st Battalion SSVF sent word of surrender and that all volunteers to stay at their posts, with weapons stacked and ready to be handed over to the victors.

Extracts from “Volunteer” by Paul Gibbs Pancheri

No comments:

Post a Comment