Thursday, 25 August 2011

1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force - Baba Nonnie goes to war

Baba Nonnie goes to war by Ron Mitchell

Ron Mitchell was working with Fraser & Neave Singapore. At age 17, he joined the Intelligence Platoon, 1st Battalion Straits Settlement Volunteer Force, with his brothers Ian and Malcolm

- Registered at Manpower Bureau, giving date of birth as 17th Feb 1923 instead of 1924. ( 18 yrs old instead of 17)

- interviewed and accepted by Copt Holiday, OC Intelligence Platoon 1SSVF

- The Platoon was a motor cycle unit riding the 500cc side valve BSA

- Volunteers had to undergo 2 months full time training and attend weekly parades and weekend exercises

- As part of the Intelligence Platoon, Ron had to know the North West part of Singapore keenly

- He was able to enjoy the comfort of a bar and lounge available to all ranks in the Drill Hall on Beach Road

- Mobilised for full time services on 1 Dec 1941 and was given 36 hrs to get things in order

- Full uniform was khaki shorts and shirts, with hose tops and puttee, issued for personal keep to attend weekend exercises and normal parades

- Wore topee that was shaped like helmets worn by the Royal Marines, without the spike on top

- Tin hats, revolvers, extra webbing, bedding and blankets were issued on arrival at the drill hall on mobilization day

- Military preparations were not evident in Singapore for a strong defence of the island.

- Ron was a dispatch rider (a Don R). Whilst delivering messages in the north of Singapore, there were no building of pill boxes or trenches to be seen

- On day of surrender, 15th Feb 1942, Ron was still a dispatch rider for another day, wearing a Japanese armband. He had to deliver messages to units telling them of the Japanese orders. He was stopped continuously by groups of Japanese troops and was robbed in the process off his personal possessions

- 17th Feb 1942, on Ron’s 18th birthday, he marched to Changi and captivity

Extracted from Baba Nonnie goes to war, by Ron Mitchell

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