Roy Cornford - Chaos of evacuation at Singapore

Running time
2min 35 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Roy Cornford:
We were told when we first fired on the Japanese and the Japanese went for us, they told us, "Every man for himself, get back out the best way you can." Well, everyone went this way and that way and that way in the jungle.

I didn't realize that Singapore was going to fall as quickly as it did or anything like that. But most of them did because they had come down through Malaya and they'd had been pushed and pushed and pushed. And they had told us they had such big guns that nobody could get to Singapore, but it turned out the big guns had the shells for them were the ones that would explode on steel.

They were just for shooting out to sea at the ships, but they wouldn't explode when they were fired into the land so none of those big guns on Singapore could be used. They were just useless to them. Well, the civilians, there was hundreds of civilians on this ship and there was nurses and there was heaps of soldiers and there was a full transport group of soldiers on there. They had no guns so they got on the ship in Singapore. There was young children and all and that took us to Java.

And of course it wasn't very long before the Japs landed in Java. First they told us they were going to take us from this part of Java to another part where the HMAS Perth would pick us up. And on our way, being taken there, we heard where the Perth had got sunk and the next day the Japs landed in Java and we stayed in this one town and they joined us up with a group of English soldiers that were there and a transport ship had brought a regiment of soldiers from the Middle East and they'd disembarked them in Batavia. The 2nd Pioneer Battalion. And we joined up with them and next thing, it was only about seven days, and they surrendered in Singapore and we were all taken prisoner.

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.