Report by Captain D.J. Duffy

 

 

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War | Malaya | Singapore | Service with other Units | Battalion Movements | Order of Battle

SUNGEI GEMENCHEH AMBUSH
GEMAS AREA - MALAYA
14 JANUARY 1942
`B' COY 2/30 BN AIF

Report by Captain D.J. Duffy OC `B' Coy (Later Lt. Col. D.J. Duffy MC, ED)

Introduction
Editing and Abbreviations

Part 1 - preliminary recce
Part 2 - setting up the Ambush
Part 3 - telephone wires
Part 4 - British stragglers
Part 5 - the morning of the Ambush
Part 6 - first Japanese cyclists appear
Part 7 - the bridge is blown
Part 8 - the Ambush
Part 9 - "B" Company withdraws
Part 10 - L/Sgt Nagle is killed
Part 11 - "B" Company seperated
Part 12 - a night in the jungle
Part 13 - encounter with a water buffalo
Part 14 - Chinese guides
Part 15 - approaching the Battalion position
Part 16 - Gemas golf links
Part 17 - back with the Battalion

Appendix 1 - Map
Appendix 2 - List of personnel in Duffy Party
Appendix 3 - Casualty List

INTRODUCTION BY TRANSCRIBER

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This document is a transcript of the report written by Captain D J Duffy, Officer Commanding `B' Company 2/30 Battalion AIF of the ambush by that Company of forward elements of the advancing Japanese Mukaide Force at the bridge over the Sungei Gemencheh on the Tampin-Gemas Road on 14 January 1942.

Captain Duffy has recorded an important event in Australia's history. The action at Sungei Gemencheh was the incisive opening to the battle of Gemas which was the first time Australian and Japanese forces had met in battle. The Japanese received the worst of the encounter with an estimated eight hundred killed at the ambush compared with one member of `B' Company and five men murdered by the Japanese after the ambush while in captivity. On the following day, the Japanese lost a further two hundred killed on the battalion front compared with the loss of only sixteen members of the battalion.

Given the nature of the fighting and the results achieved, the casualties suffered by `B' Company on 14/1/1942 were remarkably light. From records available it seems that the Company suffered nine or ten wounded but only one case was so serious as to warrant repatriation to Australia. In contrast, twelve men were repatriated through 10 and 12 AGH on 10/2/1942 as a result of wounds suffered during the Battalion action on 15/1/1942. This highlights the superb planning of the ambush operation.

The transcript has been made by hand copying and tape recorder from the original document held at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Unfortunately, due to the fragile nature of the original documents, it is not permitted to take photocopies, which would have been of more interest to readers. However, permission was obtained to photocopy a sketch plan, drawn by Captain Duffy, showing `B' Company's positions at the ambush. Although of poor quality, the photocopy does give a reasonable representation of the map as well as the last page of the report signed by Captain Duffy.

Captain Duffy wrote the report on 8 April 1942 while events were still fresh in his mind. It is contained in a small notebook similar to a school exercise book, which, according to its cover, was "Supplied for Use in Military Schools by His Majesty's Stationery Office".

It is evident that Captain Duffy's narrative was prepared for inclusion with the official records compiled in Changi during the prisoner-of-war years by the 2/30 Battalion Intelligence Section. This work was referred to in the authors' Preface to the unit history Galleghan's Greyhounds. The following extract describes the mammoth task undertaken by the dedicated soldiers involved, the procurement of the stationery required and the measures taken to conceal the notes and documents from the enemy.

"As a result of Divisional orders, our Adjutant, Captain F S B Peach, gave the Battalion Intelligence Section the task of re-writing the War Diary, which had been buried at the Sultan of Johore's Tyersall Palace. All other records had been destroyed.....

In our search for information, officers and men were rostered for daily exploitation and all cooperated cheerfully. However, there were many times when the task was interrupted by working party requirements or when sickness or duties intervened. Paper, too, was a problem but this was overcome by a single visit to the Naval Station at Loyang (near Changi), where supplies were found, to be later supplemented from the official files at Changi Gaol. "Copy" and diaries had to be buried frequently and it was Captain Peach who ultimately solved the "treasure" problem by salvaging cordite containers from the wrecked fifteen-inch gun pits near Selarang, to bury large quantities of camp records, including our own work."

Readers will notice that parts of the Duffy report have been paraphrased in the unit history and referred to in Lionel Wigmore's The Japanese Thrust (Australian War Memorial) but the full account may never have been available for general reading. The Duffy Report must be the definitive work on the ambush. As the leader of the operation, Captain Duffy gives a stirring first-hand account of the planning and execution of the ambush. He is clear and precise as to the Company's dispositions and describes in detail the fire plan for the ambush, including the location of his key weapons. The report deserves to be available in its unabridged form for the interest of former members of the Battalion and their families. It may serve to remind participants of events which may have receeded in memory with the passing of the years and may generate some discussion as to the finer points of the ambush. It can be read with pride by all members of the 30th Battalion who fought in the battle of Gemas.

A. S. Ford
Transcriber

EDITING AND ABBREVIATIONS

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The transcription generally preserves the spelling, grammar and punctuation of the original including the very long sentences and paragraphs. However some corrections have been made to the spelling of place names and the names of personnel and abbreviations for military rank, units and formations have been standardised for the benefit of readers according to general military useage. The abbreviations are:

Adj

Adjutant

Arty

Artillery

Bn

Battalion

Capt.

Captain

CO

Commanding Officer (Battalion)

Coy

Company

Cpl

Corporal

CSM

Company Sergeant-Major

DIV.

Division (8th Division)

Eng.

Engineer

FOO

Forward Observation Officer

GOC

General Officer Commanding

HQ

Headquarters

I

Intelligence

IO

Intelligence Officer

L/Cpl

Lance Corporal

L/Sgt

Lance Sergeant

Lt

Lieutenant

Lt Col

Lieutenant-Colonel

MP

Mile Peg

NCO

Non-commissioned Officer

OC

Officer Commanding

Pte

Private

RAA

Royal Australian Artillery

RAE

Royal Australian Engineers

Rgt

Regiment

Recce

reconnaissance

Sig

Signaller or signals

Sgt

Sergeant

2IC

Second-in-Command

WO2

Warrant Officer Second-Class

 

SUNGEI GEMENCHEH AMBUSH

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2/30th Bn A.I.F. MALAYA – 8 April 42

Gemas Ambush Sungei Gemencheh

Part 1 - preliminary recce

Preliminary recce was first carried out by myself and Coy `I' man on Monday 12 Jan 42 after receiving orders from the CO at approximately 1000. I then met the CO at the bridge over Sungei Gemencheh at 1100 and walked back along the road for about 500 yards in the direction of GEMAS and discussed the plan in outline in relation to the terrain.

During that afternoon I returned to the area with my 2IC and orderlies and Pte Campbell of the Bn `I' Section and made a detailed recce and returned to the Bn position forward of GEMAS just on last light.

Immediately after breakfast next morning –Tuesday 13 January 1942 – I went forward again on recce and was this time accompanied by my 2IC Capt P.D. Kearney and Pl commanders Lt F.A. Jones (OC 11 PI), Lt H. Head (OC 12 PI) and Lt N.B. Geikie (OC 10 PI) and orderlies. The whole of the Pl Sgts and section leaders were then brought forward for the final recce and after all positions and orders were explained in relation to the ground the whole recce group returned to the main Bn position at 1400. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in administrative arrangements and then at 1600 the issue of final orders.

At 1700 the Coy commenced to move forward on foot a section at a time with intervals of 10 (ten) minutes so that any native seeing them would take them as recce patrols and would not attach much importance to the movement. The last of the sections took up their positions just at last light and posted sentries the remainder endeavoured to get some sleep. The weather was uncomfortable but favoured an unobtrusive occupation of the position as it had been raining quite heavily and continued to rain throughout the night. Another factor which helped was the heavy military traffic on the road from late afternoon until midnight.

I in company with my 2IC checked platoon positions and spoke to each platoon commander in turn and then returned to my Coy HQ position which was forward about 60 yards from the bridge prepared for demolition, by the side of the road on top of a small cutting on the SSW side – see attached sketch of Coy dispositions.

I had divided my Coy HQ Group into two parties – one forward with me and the other one at the rear of the ambush position as a "holding force" on the NNE side of the road. This latter group was under the control of the Coy Sgt Maj. consisting of approximately section strength and the function of this group together with a parallel group on the other side of the road commanded by Sgt D.Garner (Pl Sgt 11 Pl) was to hold the rear of the ambush line if the first enemy cyclists party who were to be allowed to go through unmolested to be dealt with by `C' Coy and the Anti-tank Rgt section with them, doubled back along the road after we had commenced to deal with the enemy who were within our ambush position limits.

Part 2 - setting up the Ambush

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In addition, Sgt Garner's section group was equipped with a grenade discharger cup and grenades anti-tank to assist with dealing with any troop-carrying transport (excluding tanks) should the enemy be using this method of transport in their advance.

At my forward HQ were myself, 2IC, FOO (Arty) Lt D. Makepeace, 2/15th Field Rgt RAA, and Arty Sigs, Eng demolition party, Coy Sigs and two batmen who were to be used as orderlies and for sentry duties as well as for thickening up the fire in this section of the ambush.

A word of explanation here as to the other positions which the accompanying sketch shows may not be out of place. In the most northern section facing the road on the same side as my own HQ and in line with me was a section of No 12 Pl commanded by Cpl Ambrose and No 8 Section then in their rear and between them and myself Lt Head's HQ. On the other side of the road and diagonally opposite was another section of 12 Pl, No 7 commanded by L/Sgt McLean. The main purpose of these sections apart from covering their sections of road to deal with the sector of road, river flat (which was all cleared land) on the far side (TAMPIN) and also cover the stretch of SUNGEI GEMENCHEH adjacent to the bridge and to deal with any enemy who might try to move around the flanks during the ambush operations.

A Bren with each section was detailed to especially deal with the enemy on the far side while the Tommy gunners and riflemen dealt with the road on this side of the bridge with their weapons and hand grenades. On the left of No 9 (Cpl Holden) Section (facing the road) was a section of low-level grenade throwers hidden in the "lalang" and jungle and were below road level as the road on leaving the small cutting was built up above the level of the country on each side which was a swampy gully. Then moving to the other side of the road still in the swamp area was No 1 (Cpl Noble's) Section (10 Pl) who also had the same job as the low-level bombers on the adjoining section of the road.

The swamp then gave way to another cutting with the ground very much higher on that side (SOUTHERN). Also at this point the road took a gradual bend and it was at this point that Lt Geikie had his Pl HQ located with his remaining two sections on either side of him on the commanding ground. No 2 Section commanded by Cpl Stoner R. was on his left TAMPIN side and No 3 Section commanded by Cpl Purvis J.P. on his right (GEMAS) side. These sections were so disposed that there was no blind spot on the bend. Then the next position was occupied by a section of 11 Pl's No 4 Section commanded by Cpl Paget also with a position on the high ground which was now sloping to another swamp.

Then came Lt Jones' HQ which was linked up to mine by phone on an omnibus circuit. The other two sections numbered 5 and 6 commanded respectively by Cpl Huntley and Cpl Swindail were in position on the same side of the road and extended to where QUARRY ROAD junctioned with the main road. Then immediately beyond them was a detachment of No 11 Pl under Sgt Garner already described and on the opposite side of the road the rear Coy HQ Group under the CSM WO2 V.M.I. GORDON.

Part 3 - telephone wires

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One item which caused some concern was the omission to issue extra rations owing to the fact that my 2IC had been forward at TAMPIN during the morning of 13 Jan 42 and had not returned until about 1500 and in the hustle getting extra ammunition issued and other administrative arrangements this had been overlooked until I noticed what I thought was still a rather large number of cases of rations still in the Coy base position at the 61MP as I was leaving to go forward after having seen the last section of the last Pl leave for the ambush position in the vicinity of 57 1/3 MP. I enquired and was told that they were probably the Coy's share of the week's rations which were to be buried at this position. I was still not convinced and as soon as I arrived at the ambush position I called a conference of Pl commanders and checked this over along with the occupation of their positions and to my dismay found out that what I had suspected was correct as the men only had iron rations with them.

I immediately phoned the Bn 2IC Maj. G.E.Ramsay ED to see whether the rations in question could be sent forward to the position by truck but unfortunately no trucks were available but it was arranged that if my 2IC Capt. Kearney went back he would possibly be able to drive the civilian car which had been acquired by the Bn IO and so bring the rations down in it. This was carried out and the rations were distributed in section lots about 2200 that night. This then gave each man four (4) days rations.

One other thing which caused me no little concern was the very conspicuous laying of the telephone wires along the road to my forward position. Half way forward to my position I encountered the artillery Sig. truck laying the line and complained of this defect and they explained that it had only been decided at the last minute to lay a separate artillery line as well as our own Bn line and owing to the state of the soil at the edge of the road and owing to the fact that it was nearly dark they could not drive the vehicle as close to the edge of the road as they would like but the NCO in charge assured me that he would send a party along on foot to camouflage the line after it had been laid.

The Bn line was also not satisfactory as use had been made of the existing civilian lines and as they were on the opposite side of the road to my HQ it resulted in a very obvious overhead line diagonally across the road and would certainly have betrayed our presence to the most casual observer — enemy or otherwise so I immediately phoned Bn HQ and asked that this matter be rectified and early next morning the SIG. SGT and a party made a new line on my own side of the road and I and a couple of my HQ staff personally attended to the camouflaging of the telephone cables in the vicinity of Coy HQ.

In spite of all these precautions however I am afraid that our lines (both Bn and Arty) were not sufficiently concealed further back up the road because as will be related later both of our lines were spotted and cut by enemy advanced cyclists more or less as we went into action.

Part 4 - British stragglers

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During the night of 13 Jan 42 which was one of the most wretched and uncomfortable there were several incidents which I will mention at this point. First I encountered an English captain from Malaya Command with a W02 who was a New Zealander I think but was not a member of the AIF near a native hut right on the road opposite 11 Pl HQ.

They were in a car driven by a Malay soldier and had pulled up there and after checking one another's identification he asked me the whereabouts of a certain river which he didn't know the name of but which he thought should be somewhere in the vicinity he further enquired if I had a map of the area. What brought my attention to them in the first place was the fact that they were heading for TAMPIN while all other military traffic was coming the opposite way. I then asked him how far he would be going on and how long before he expected to be back as the British forces were all withdrawing. He then asked me how long I thought it would be before all of our forces had withdrawn and whether he would be able to get back by car as he understood quite a number of the bridges forward had been prepared for demolition.

I advised him that he should be back by no later than 2300 although I did not disclose my Coy's task but learned from him that he was on a special job which had something to do with a river in the vicinity probably the SUNGEI GEMENCHEH. I advised him to report into Bn HQ on his return, then hinted that his own mission might possibly conflict with my own and that he had better check this when he arrived back at Command HQ where he was returning later that night as I pointed out that this whole area was now under command GOC WESTFORCE. I then returned to my HQ and their car drove on and just went over the SUNGEI GEMENCHEH bridge and after a short while returned and headed back for GEMAS.

In the meantime I advised Bn of the above and to expect this officer to report into them later. Bn then advised me that the last vehicles of the rearguard would report through to me possibly later than arranged and gave the name of a Lt Col. Parkin (CO of the rearguard unit) he would contact me at the bridge.

During this time the traffic on the road had been particularly heavy and it had been raining consistently all the time and there had been quite a number of minor accidents with vehicles running into one another and the whole show of withdrawing British and Indian transport was an example of very bad road discipline and many vehicles driving with full headlights on because of the very bad visibility.

At about 2300 or possibly later another party arrived by car from GEMAS direction and a staff officer from 8 DIV spoke to me and told me I could expect quite a lot of British stragglers even after the last unit (Rearguard) reported through. I then had a hurried conference with all Pl Commanders and appraised them of these later facts and then returned to my forward HQ.

At about 0200 the CO of the rearguard unit contacted me and told me that when the last of his vehicles passed that there would be no more friendly vehicles except for possibly one or two possible stragglers.

Part 5 - the morning of the Ambush

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Shortly after this two or it might have been three DRs with lights full on dashed past going in direction of TAMPIN and a couple of hours later returned. This was the only traffic in the meantime.

I did not expect the enemy until daylight as the last information I had from the CO Rearguard that they had had no contact for two (2) days. Bn next phoned up with information that about forty (40) vehicles under a British captain had been cut off but that it was probable they could come through at about 0700.

The night dragged on and I shared periods of restless dozing with my 2IC although I must confess that I hardly remember closing my eyes what with being wet through and lying in a complete mess of squashy mud notwithstanding a groundsheet underneath me and keeping my ears cocked for any sounds of traffic on the road. To add to our miseries it rained almost continuously throughout the night.

Right throughout the night both my own Sigs and those of the Arty kept checking through to their respective exchanges to see that we were still in communication. Also the Eng. Demolition Party checked their circuit and battery strength about every 15 minutes to make sure of no slips when the moment should arrive for blowing the bridge.

Daylight came as a welcome break although the day dawned grey and bleak and our first visitor was the Bn Sig. Sgt and a linesman and they adjusted our LT satisfactorily. Both our own line and that of the Arty were very weak and Sgt Hall replaced the batteries in our set but the line was very little improved owing I think to the dampness which seemed to dominate everything.

I sent my batman off to drive the IO's car back to Bn HQ which he did and returned to my HQ.

At about 1700 the CO Lt Col. Galleghan DSO ED accompanied by the Adj. Capt. F.S.B. Peach paid us an inspection visit and the CO expressed himself satisfied with the general arrangements wished me good luck and returned to his HQ.

After a breakfast of Bully, MV and biscuits, double sentries were posted and as many as could decided to get some rest as we had no idea how long we would have to wait in our present positions but all of us hoped we would not have to put in a night like the one just passed.

About 1000 the British vehicles which had been cut off came through under the command I believe of a Capt. Carter so now we felt pretty sure that the next traffic on the road would probably be our friends the enemy.

Nothing eventful happened that morning except that enemy recce fighter and bomber planes passed overhead bound for GEMAS and beyond and occasionally a native walked or rode on a bike and was ignored by our troops who were all out of sight but covering the road, so that those passing by never suspected a thing. I spent about half an hour camouflaging further a break in the bushes immediately in front of where I was lying.

Part 6 - first Japanese cyclists appear

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It was essential I should be able to see the bridge and the road on either side of it for the successful timing of my plan and the spot that I had chosen was right on the edge of the cutting right on the road's edge so I thickened up the break in the bushes by planting some further small bushy trees to fill the gap. This then gave me a commanding view of the road where it disappeared around the bend about 250 yards on the TAMPIN side of the bridge as well as commanding the road for 200 yards on the GEMAS side. Thus I was able to be seen without being seen and also I draped quite a lot of greenery from the camouflage net on my steel helmet to guard against the light colour of my face betraying my presence to an observer.

Once during the morning we held our breath when a native approached the bridge from direction of TAMPIN and after a quick look at it he walked back to the houses located just on the bend of the road - apparently he suspected nothing and it was just a "stickybeak" who had seen the engineers working in the vicinity of the road.

At this stage I would like to commend the very excellent job which Lt Watchhorn and his engineers (2/12 Field Coy) did in the preparation of the bridge and the trouble that he took to conceal the traces of their work although they were working under very great difficulties of time weather and traffic which had been heavy and continuous. The demolition party which he left with me remained very keen and conscientious and when the bridge did go up there was no mistake about it.

After another "tinned" lunch I decided to take the opportunity of writing a letter to my wife while the going was good and while engaged in that about 1540 a lone recce plane flew over along the road and soon after returned and headed back TAMPIN direction and I sensed something and put my letter away and at about 1600 I saw four or five cyclists appear around the bend of the road on the far side of the bridge and it was quite apparent that they were the enemy — I recognised them by the short peaked high domed cap and their rifles slung across their backs diagonally.

Almost as soon as I saw them I received a report from Pte T. Evans (12 Pl) just on my left about 40 yards confirming it. These cyclists were just pedalling along together, quite easily and quite cheerfully as though the did not have a care in the world and were just taking a short afternoon trip for recreation. About 150 yards or less behind them around the bend came a tight compact column of cyclists four and five abreast dressed in a mixture of styles some men having whitish and coloured shirts on, some in caps, some in helmets but in the main they were in khaki drill (shirt, knickers tucked in puttees). They were all jabbering away laughing and joking and singing.

The first small party crossed the bridge without halting to make any examination of it and went swishing (noise of the bikes) past where I was lying right on the edge of the road. As they passed I took advantage to speak on the phone and advise Bn of the fact. I was having trouble with the phone as the strength was very weak and as I was right on the edge of the road I could speak only very very softly into it and I was having difficulty in hearing Bn and they in turn hearing me.

Part 7 - the bridge is blown

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While I was talking to Bn the head of the first of the big group of cyclists crossed the bridge and commenced to pass my position. Immediately following on them came another group of 100 or so and as I was watching this procession pass several of them appeared to look right up into my eyes but apparently it was only my imagination that they had seen me.

I passed on the information to Bn but had doubts as to whether they heard this second message but couldn't risk repeating it and being overheard by the troops on the road as things had now reached a critical state and one small slip could ruin the plan.

I was still hoping that round the bend would come troops crowded together in trucks in heavy road density but to my horror cyclists continued but I could definitely hear the sound of internal combustion engines and thought that would be the end of the cyclists. This noise proved to be only three motor cycles with their noisy exhausts riding along in the column of cyclists.

I now decided I would let them and the now completely solid and unbroken line of cyclists get within the ambush area so that we could get a really good bag. I had the engineers standing by to blow the bridge at the most advantageous moment when it was fully covered with enemy cyclists.

To review the position at this moment we find the situation as follows. About 250 cyclists were forward of our ambush position that is between the Coy and GEMAS – rather more than I hoped for if this force doubled back (which they did). It would mean a sticky situation for the Coy to have to tackle after it had adequately dealt with the enemy troops in the actual ambush confines. In the actual depth of road covered by the ambush positions front to rear there would be about 500 troops and on the far side of the bridge to where the road disappeared around the bend in the direction of TAMPIN would be between 400 and 450 all tightly packed together five and six abreast.

This then was the situation when I gave the order to blow up the bridge and this went up at about 1620 with a terrific roar and Japanese bodies bikes and timbers and rocks and earth flew far and wide in a huge red flash leaving a gaping space where the bridge had been. As this was the signal in the event of the enemy being on bikes or on foot all hell immediately broke loose as the whole Coy as one man engaged the thoroughly surprised and terrified enemy troops on the road.

Grenades burst along the whole road with a terrific din. Tommy guns cracked Brens ran hot and rifles worked overtime not one of our troops had broken cover as we dealt with them and I must here pay tribute to their steadfastness and perfect discipline as there had not been one single slip and the whole show moved like clockwork – just as though it was a well-rehearsed demonstration exercise with harmless fireworks and peace-time training stores.

 At this stage a grenade burst right in the centre of our HQ between the FOO and myself and luckily only inflicting slight wounds on the FOO Lt D. Makepeace on his mouth and front teeth.

Part 8 - the Ambush

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I said to him "Call the artillery down on this mob on the far side of the bridge!". He replied "I think they're firing already." I replied that I didn't think so as I couldn't see where they were bursting. I then told Pte E. Vickerman (Bn Sigs) to raise Bn HQ but after trying he reported that the line appeared to be dead and he couldn't raise them. I spoke then to the Arty Sig. and he gave me a similar answer.

I then presumed that the lines had been cut behind us by the forward enemy cyclists as they could hardly fail to see them owing to the bad camouflage – this was subsequently confirmed when a Sig. wiring party under Sgt Hall (Sig. Sgt) was sent forward by Bn to endeavour to get into communication again and found the lines cut and enemy machine-gunners guarding the break. It is also possible that our grenades may have cut the lines too.

The rather one-sided fight went on for about fifteen to twenty minutes and by this time all the opposition in the vicinity of the bridge, 12 Pl and forward Coy HQ had been wiped out with the exception of one or two strays who had managed to escape into the jungle through us. The sight on the far side of the blown bridge right back to where the road disappeared – about 250 yards – bore ample testimony to the deadliness of our Bren-gun fire of the two Brens of 12 Pl told off for this purpose of dealing with the enemy in this area.

The Bren-gunners were Pte R. Donald and Pte B. Holland. Their deadly fire combined with the explosion and concussion of the bridge and later further rifle and Tommy-gun fire must have accounted for between 350 and 400 of the enemy as the whole of the roadway was completely covered with fallen enemy and their bikes – the road was literally a complete stretch of dead and wounded enemy as there was not a move out of the whole stretch and I doubt if it would have been possible to have walked over this bit of road unless the walker walked on bodies.

The stretch of road was a perfect enfilade target and it was built up about six feet above the completely bare flat on each side which gave no cover at all to the enemy and they had been caught like rats in a trap with their bicycles all jammed together in a hopeless confused mass as the bridge went up. This spot was where the greatest number of dead dying and wounded were, although there were also very thick patches in the actual ambush sector, they didn't present quite the same continuity as regards density.

After about twenty minutes action I ordered No 12 Pl to withdraw according to plan. They were to move up the main road where they were to contact No 10 Pl and move through the jungle and swamp off the road between 10 Pl and 11 Pl to the Coy rendezvous area in the jungle just above and beyond where QUARRY ROAD joined the main road and where I would check the Coy in and re-organise.

12 Pl then moved off and as soon as they were clear I led the forward Coy HQ group through the jungle across the swamp just off the road and parallel with it until I came to 10 Pl HQ where I spoke to Lt Geikie and told him as soon as 12 Pl were all through he was to follow my group and withdraw through the rear of 11 Pl.

Part 9 - "B" Company withdraws

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At that moment Sgt Doolan (10 Pl) arrived with another man supporting Lt Head between them – from quick observation it appeared he had been wounded badly in the legs and at the time I thought he had been vitally wounded as he was a ghastly colour and was only half conscious. I learned that he and a couple of men had run into a small group of enemy on the side of the road and that he had suffered his wounds as a result.

Heavy firing was still going on in the direction of 11 Pl sector and it was now apparent that the early cyclists had doubled back and were trying to encircle us around the flanks, so I had to break off from Head and Geikie after wishing the former well and asking Sgt Doolan to do all he could to get him back.

I then moved on after 12 Pl and contacted Lt Jones on just further, where I halted 12 Pl and Coy HQ and spoke to Jones and told him to watch the rear. I then told Jones that 12 Pl were with me and that 10 Pl was following on as soon as we were through he was to follow on and act as the rearguard particularly watching the rear and flanks as he moved.

He told me that the enemy were apparently pushing the two holding parties - W02 Gordon on the far side of the road and Sgt Garner on this side, so it became quite obvious that I could not use the area that I selected for the Coy rendezvous as this was just in the jungle behind Sgt Garner's position so I told Jones that I would lead the Coy up QUARRY ROAD a bit wide towards the railway line and when I found a suitable spot not under any danger from enemy fire I would re-organise there.

I then checked with him to see whether the two stretcher bearers who (armed with rifles and grenades) I had told off to cover a track up from the jungle up from the SUNGEI GEMENCHEH on the opposite side of the road to 11 Pl's position had reported in. This track led down from a native house right on the edge of the road opposite 11 Pl's position to the river about 120 yards distant – as the river had swung level here so that it was running parallel with the road and was a likely spot for the enemy to have worked around if they had tried to outflank us from the far side of the bridge.

He pointed the two men in question out to me Ptes Drayton and Dale – and said they had a tough time getting out as a small party had rushed in behind the native hut as soon as the ambush had started and so cut these two men off. With assistance they were relieved mainly by Cpl Huntley's section who had been told to watch this contingency. Drayton was wounded rather badly in the arm and Dale had his legs peppered with shrapnel, but both could walk alright.

I then moved to the head of the Coy and gave the order to follow me in the order Coy HQ – 12 – 10 – 11 Pls. I led back from the road in the direction of the railway line to a crossing place over a fairly deep swamp and then came on to QUARRY ROAD where I was joined by the CSM W02 Gordon and his party and Sgt Garner and his party.

I halted the column passing word back to watch the flanks and rear while I got the situation ahead of us from the CSM whom I learned had great difficulty in extricating his party and he confirmed my suspicions that the early detachments of cyclists whom we had allowed to pass – probably 200 had doubled back and those at the rear whom Gordon could still see as they were riding along the road towards GEMAS had jumped straight off their bikes and gone into the jungle on either side of the road and commenced to work back on to the flanks.

Part 10 - L/Sgt Nagle is killed

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It was to forestall this move that I had originally placed Garner and Gordon in their positions. Gordon's party was at one stage almost surrounded as the enemy worked back on them and they took heavy toll on the enemy without losing a man. When the withdrawal commenced Sgt Garner who was in a position on the opposite side from Gordon gave them heavy covering fire while they came back and then dashed across the road and came in left and rear of Sgt Garner's party.

As Sgt Garner could hear the enemy working around his rear he withdrew with Gordon up QUARRY ROAD to a position where he would be able to intercept the Pls and myself withdrawing and advise me accordingly. I told them to attach themselves in single file with my Coy HQ group and pass word back through the column that we were going to move to follow me.

At this stage as far as hasty enquiries could ascertain we had not lost a man although we had about eight or nine wounded - only one or possibly two who would have to be carried. These figures were later proved to be correct as about twenty minutes later we had our first death – L/Sgt Nagle A.G. ('B' Coy P & O Cpl) who had been with the CSM's party.

I then led the Coy column up the jungle in single file just off the edge of QUARRY ROAD heading towards the railway line for about 300 to 400 yards and led them quickly over the road and into the jungle on the far side.

Up to this stage I knew I had the whole Coy following along behind me as I halted on the far side of the road and could see the remainder following on. I then moved a bit further into the jungle on a southerly bearing on the compass and as I heard noise just ahead of us I halted the column and sent a couple of scouts about 40 yards ahead and they reported they could hear Japanese talking and moving about. I then decided to go around their flank and proceeded to swing in a double right-wheel and passed this order back along the column.

I think that it must have been at this stage that the forward group which I was leading consisting of Coy HQ both forward and rear, a section from 11 Pl with Sgt Garner, L/Sgt McLean and a section from 12 Pl and some men from 10 Pl, the Arty detachment and the Eng. detachment lost contact with the rest of the Coy in the fairly heavy jungle. The orders passed back were apparently not transmitted through the column which apparently broke where Sgt Doolan had Lt Head and a couple of the wounded men with him as I had the leading section of 12 Pl who were the Pl immediately following my Coy HQ. Sgt Doolan as it transpired lost contact with us by going straight on.

After going for a short while he heard firing to his right flank and thought it was the enemy who had run into some of our boys – it was – the enemy in trees opened fire on my own group. He decided that he would push straight on as he had the bulk of No 12 Pl with him and thought that this was all not finding out until the following morning when he debouched from the jungle into the rubber that the rest of the Coy was following him except for the party with me.

Part 11 - "B" Company separated

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As Lt Head who was wounded was with him and he was not in a fit state to assume command as he was in considerable pain and had to be assisted, Sgt Doolan took the active command of the party throughout the whole of that night and proceeded to pass orders back continuously and so efficiently that Lt Jones who was now the senior officer in the column and Lt Geikie both of whom were at the rear did not know that I was not in command until about 0700 15 January 42 when the 90 odd men who made up the main body of the Coy debouched from the jungle. Until this moment neither Lt Jones or Lt Geikie realised that any of the Coy were missing.

I did not become aware that the rest of the Coy were not following me until shortly after I had done the double right-wheel to outflank the enemy movement we had heard just forward of us and then shortly afterwards fairly heavy though very wild fire opened both forward and on our right and this was the fire that Sgt Doolan would have heard. I immediately suspected that we had walked into an ambush and opened out the party which I noticed to my dismay only amounted to about 30 odd and then for the first time I realised that we had lost contact with the remainder of the Coy, although I thought they must be very close and thought some of the firing going on might even be theirs.

I disposed the party in an oval formation all facing out so that we covered all directions when we went to ground as the fire all seemed to be going high although some of it was coming uncomfortably close – one shot eventually killing L/Sgt Nagle - the first man we had lost – shot through the head fired it is believed by one of the enemy in a tree although I could not see him myself. Also at this time another man near Nagle – Pte Waterson S. was wounded by a bullet behind his knee.

I ordered my party not to fire unless they could actually see a target because I realised from the wildness of the fire that they had only heard us and had not seen us and were up to one of their old tricks of firing wildly hoping that we would fire in return and so give away our present position and strength.

Also as I have mentioned earlier, now that I had realised that the rest of the Coy had been separated from us there was always the danger that we might be fighting some of our own Coy. Although the sound of quite a bit of the fire seemed to have a different crack to ours.

Presently we heard the enemy floundering and jumping around in the jungle and could hear them calling out very loudly to one another and thought it quite possible that they may have clashed with the rest of the Coy.

As we could only hear and not see the enemy, I decided that the best tactics would be to try and avoid a clash in the jungle owing to the fact that it would be dark in 35 to 40 minutes and that it was practically impossible to maintain control and might also result in friend fighting friend. I accordingly ordered the party to lie "doggo" and keep a sharp lookout. During this period we could hear the enemy chopping away as they were either clearing a path or making a camp – but at no stage did we actually see them.

While I waited for last light I examined my map and had a conference with Capt. Kearney the CSM and Sgt Garner and we decided after considering the situation that our best plan would be to strike back to QUARRY ROAD and proceed along it SOUTH to the railway line and then along it to the Bn position.

Part 12 - a night in the jungle

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It was quite apparent that it would be too dark to push through the jungle in the vicinity where it was very thick also we would make too much noise in an area which was dominated by the enemy and further, there was the danger of an unwitting encounter in the dark with the remainder of our own Coy.

I was rather worried about them but took some consolation from the fact that all the Pl commanders were with that portion and they all had excellent compasses specially issued by the Bn in case of this contingency and that they all had maps and knew how to use them. As they were a well-armed and strong party I felt sure that they would be able to fight their way through any opposition and give as much as they would take.

On checking over my own party I found that we were practically a Pl as we were 38 in strength and had 3 Bren guns 2 tommies and rifles and grenades. Just as I was going to order the move about 15 minutes before last light, Pte Hall came over and reported that L/Sgt Nagle had been hit in the head during the firing and that he had breathed his last about 10 minutes before.

I went over to where he was laying face down and turned him over but it was quite dim in the jungle and I was not sure it was him so I felt in his pockets and found his paybook and verified the unhappy fact, removed identity disks and took his rifle and ammunition for my own use. I was rather profoundly affected by his death – the first in my Coy – and I must pay this brief tribute to him here – a fine soldier and a splendid man in the orderly room – I would like to have had the opportunity to bury him.

The light was going fast and I wanted to get out of the jungle before it was completely dark so we moved off as quietly as we could through the jungle on a compass bearing approximately SOUTH with the object of striking QUARRY ROAD.

After moving carefully for 10 minutes we came out on to a rough-made road and halted under cover of the jungle edge while we sent out small patrols both NORTH and SOUTH along this road as it was running on those points. NORTH led to the main road's direction and SOUTH to the railway.

In the meantime with the aid of a shaded torch I examined the map in company with Capt. Kearney – CSM and Sgt Garner and endeavoured to locate our present position as I did not think we were on QUARRY ROAD which I had been over by truck during the earlier recce but the map showed no trace of any other road in this sector and the road we were on appeared to be running parallel to QUARRY ROAD. We had some debate as to whether this was QUARRY ROAD or not – the others thought it was but I demurred but agreed that it would possibly suit our purposes as long as it kept going SOUTH.

Just then our patrols returned - the northern one reported that the enemy were in that vicinity while the southern one reported all clear as far as they had gone and reported that the road appeared to run on for a fair way but that it was very muddy and clayey – confirming my opinion that it was not QUARRY ROAD as this latter road had quite a good granite surface.

Part 13 - encounter with a water buffalo

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We then moved SOUTH along this road with a small patrol forward about 50 yards then the remainder in single file parallel each side of the road with a patrol following up central in the road 25 yards in the rear as it was now quite dark. Our progress was very slow as we had about 5 wounded men with us mainly leg wounds.

The road continued to run SOUTH and I was not sure that it was not QUARRY ROAD but probably a timber-getters' track running off it at approximately parallel to it. The surface was muddy it was corduroy in sections and it had small open-cut gutters across it in low-lying sections for drainage.

Two incidents during our trip along this road stand out. First the forward patrol reported after we had gone Ύ mile that this road ended at a small stock pen about 60 yards ahead. I went forward cautiously with a section as I thought that there might be a house in the vicinity and saw that what the patrol reported appeared to be true but that the yard contained a water buffalo but there was no evidence of any habitation about and it struck me as rather odd that the road should peter out in this fashion and on closer investigation it was proved that this pen was a clever piece of camouflage as the road ran on immediately behind the pen which had been built right across the road meeting the jungle on both sides where it was rather swampy.

Behind the yard newly-broken bushes had been arranged to simulate a jungle background and completely concealed the fact that there was a road there. Then followed a ticklish problem of how to get the party through the little pen past the water buffalo as this was the only means of continuing on our journey.

We finally decided that we would edge along the second rail of the fence ready to jump to the top one if the buffalo made a rush at us as we couldn't risk a shot unless pushed as we didn't want to give our presence away.

What followed was rather funny as the buffalo snorted and stamped and put the wind up everyone and after very torturous progress we got everyone past and then discovered to everyone's amusement that the damned buffalo was tethered and that it, poor beast, was probably more afraid than we were.

From now on we kept an officer – Lt Makepeace and Sgt McLean right at the rear and frequently checked to make sure that the party was not separated at any stage – having learned a lesson from our earlier experience in the jungle. Also we were better able to suit our pace to the wounded and made sure they were not left behind.

The road continued on still generally SOUTH and after going another ½ to Ύ mile our patrol forward reported that they could see a light and I sent an increased patrol of about 10 men under Sgt Garner to investigate they returned in about 20 minutes and reported that there was a large native hut dimly lighted and that there was movement inside but they could not distinguish whether it was enemy or not.

I decided that the whole party would surround it and if necessary rush it in silence with the bayonet. We advanced towards it and for the second time that night suffered an anti-climax as all that we found inside was about 10 or 12 terrified Chinese who started to run around in circles as they could not get out.

Part 14 - Chinese guides

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After some difficulty we pacified them and I discovered that none of them spoke English and different ones in turn in our party tried the little Malay we knew, sign language and Pigeon English. I think the second was most successful as we made movements like a train and asked about GEMAS and found eventually that two of them offered to guide us to the railway line as they indicated that the road did not lead all the way and that we would have to cut through jungle.

It was then about 2215 by my watch so we set off and soon left the road and moved along a narrow very rough and treacherous track in single file in pitch black and soon we were in very thick jungle and allowed the guides to use their torch as the going was treacherous - particularly on the leg wounds.

Frequently our guides stopped for a moment as lateral and side tracks ran off, but more frequently we had to forcibly hold them back as even our slowest pace was too fast for the centre and rear of the column. Our progress was wretchedly slow and we scarcely advanced more than 30 or 40 yards, sometimes less as we easily lost touch in the dark. We tried various methods of control such as holding on to one another's bayonet scabbards and putting the wounded right forward, but none speeded up our rate of advance, particularly the holding of bayonets as we needed both hands free to ward off clinging and stinging thorny bushes etc.

Presently our guides halted and consulted a compass mounted in the end of a pencil and after some talk between themselves they commenced to cut a track through the jungle with parangs and so our progress became slower than ever. We checked frequently on our own compasses but as we were not sure of our definite position we could not be sure whether our guides were bushed or not.

After some hours of toiling around in the jungle and climbing up and down hills through very rough country we finally came to the conclusion that our guides were bushed as we didn't seem to be getting anywhere and they had frequently stopped to consult this compass of theirs. As everyone was feeling just about all in it was now about 0330 I decided to halt and rest until dawn and we lay down where we stopped after posting sentries and were soon asleep from sheer fatigue.

At first light we were awakened and this time set out on our own course taking a bearing of 180 degrees and still accompanied by our guides and after about an hour and a quarter came out of the jungle about 0730 into young rubber. While we halted there I sent a patrol forward to see if there were any enemy in the vicinity and while they were away succeeded in fixing our position on the map.

Our guides then left us and seemed very anxious to do so as we could hear some very distant LMG fire! The patrol returned and reported all clear and we moved forward to a large hill feature where I took up an all-round defensive position and sent a small recce patrol forward consisting of Sgt Garner L/Cpl Hann and Pte Noble with instructions to endeavour to contact Bn HQ and ascertain which was the best route for us to approach from so that there would be no confusion or accidental shooting up of our own party by being mistaken for the enemy. As it was about 0800 when the patrol moved off, I didn't expect them back in less than 4 hours so we settled down in our position to wait and almost immediately heard very distant firing.

Part 15 - approaching the Battalion position

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The morning passed without incident as far as we were concerned but we could hear a great deal of firing and aerial activity which increased as it wore on.

We waited until 1220 and as we had not heard from our patrol we decided that either they had become casualties or had reached Bn and had not been able to get back so I gave the order to move off well deployed in the rubber keeping a sharp lookout all around and to be ready for instant action.

We then moved across until the railway line was just on our right and moved along with it just on our right for the next 3 hours. As we approached the Bn position it was quite evident from the firing that the enemy were attacking in earnest and I expected to run into them at any minute but for some strange reason they entirely neglected the railway flank and the only enemy that we saw were `planes which forced us to "freeze" in the shadows as they flew over to bomb and machine-gun the Bn positions the nearer that we approached to where the Bn was the slower and more cautiously we felt our way and I frequently sent L/Cpl Streatfeild – my Coy I man forward and another man to report on each succeeding ridge and also to guard against our party being surprised.

Eventually we approached the Bn position where we had heard heavy fire from there earlier it now appeared that there was only enemy fire and on sending Streatfeild forward again he reported that there did not appear to be any of our own troops there but that he could certainly hear enemy.

While he was forward several of my own party on the left flank contacted some enemy artillery and water parties but as we were heavily outnumbered withdrew to the right hastily and were not followed up if seen.

I decided that we would have to make a break for it and go right across the railway line and go into the jungle on the far side as the ground forward of us now was lalang and appeared to be dominated by enemy fire. We dashed across the line and as it was very open I was surprised that we were not fired on but the enemy were apparently too intent on following up the Bn with mortar artillery and machine-gun fire.

We then moved in single file through the jungle just to the right of the railway line and skirting the Bn position we checked again and made sure that the Bn had withdrawn and I then assumed that they had gone back to the cemetery position just forward of GEMAS.

We pushed on through the jungle but found the going too heavy for the wounded so I decided to take a chance and use the railway line for even if the enemy saw us and fired on us we could quickly drop down the embankment and take to the jungle and hold our own. Luck remained with us for the only Jap that we saw was a dead one where the road swings over to the railway line.

Just before the level crossing where the road crosses the line we left the line and took to the jungle once more as I felt that it would be best to approach GEMAS carefully as it might not be in our hands.

After a brief spell we pushed through more jungle and came out on to an opening about half an hour before dark where the whole party being very tired it was necessary to order another spell. We had hardly settled down when we heard a shell whistle through the air and land not far from us with a terrific crash – this was followed by another which did not explode until later. This puzzled us for a moment as I didn't know how the enemy had got onto our party so soon as we had only emerged from jungle a little previously.

As no more shells came over I decided that they were two strays (actually they were two registering shots of our own artillery barrage which was to follow later that night).

Part 16 - Gemas golf links

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As I didn't want to spend another night in the jungle we started to move along a track which we found led out onto the GEMAS golf links and I had just started to move when the second shell went off delayed action and frightening hell out of us we then approached the golf clubhouse as it was just on dark and surrounding and covering the place Capt. Kearney the CSM and I entered to see whether there was any food there and found only half a tin of condensed milk and a few bottles of soda and tonic water.

I hoped to now push into the town that night if it was in our hands and if not to push on to BATU ANAM which I felt quite sure that we would hold. However it struck me as best that we have a complete rest for about an hour on the lawn of the golf links which unfortunately we could not identify on the map so that when we tried to find our way off the golf links via the road at about 2115 it was too dark to distinguish anything clearly and a patrol which I had sent off to check up on the road which I proposed to follow came back and assured me that they heard enemy voices and shortly afterwards we heard some enemy vehicles on the road and the turned out to be artillery.

I then decided to stay in the golf links for the night but to move across to the far side where they met the jungle and as soon as it was light enough next morning to strike off EAST through the jungle for BATU ANAM.

We had barely moved to our new position got sentries posted and lay down when all hell broke loose all around us as our own artillery commenced to shell GEMAS they started about 2230 and fired throughout the night continuously. So close did shrapnel often come that almost everyone in the party was hit at some time but luckily it was spent and no one was injured. I did not like to shift us although it was too uncomfortably close I was afraid that we might do worse.

Finally at about an hour before light we heard one coming that seemed meant for us and only waited for another one that almost seemed to burst on top of us and then we all ran about 400 yards and lay on the edge of the jungle there and as soon as it was light went into the jungle and the moving on an EASTERLY bearing crossed a couple of streams and halted near a rubber plantation where we purchased biscuits from friendly Tamils and they gave us hot tea and fresh coconuts, all of which we badly needed.

I think that the night on the golf links was the worst night anybody had put in their lives – I can testify to the terrifying effect of our artillery fire and so can all the other members of the party.

As we were having breakfast we heard `planes approaching and could hardly believe our eyes as they were ours – five Brewster Buffaloes and some Lockheed Hudsons. They swooped down near us and commenced machine-gunning the road nearby and put us in great heart.

After breakfast we pushed in open formation through the rubber all the way, and were forced to make frequent stops as we were all very fatigued and the route was very hilly.

Part 17 - back with the Battalion

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Eventually at about 1200 we heard a carrier or tank moving on our right flank and I went to ground until the sound died away and then resumed our advance until encountering a Tamil who spoke English. I learnt that there were Australian soldiers resting on a hill back behind us as we had apparently skirted their left flank.

Just then I heard the noise of the carriers again and ordered everyone to ground and with the CSM took to a creek near a culvert where I could watch the road. Suddenly around the corner came two carriers and to my intense delight they had our own 23 tactical marking on them and in the leading one was Capt. Tompson OC Carriers and in ten minutes I was back at Bn HQ after an absence of over three days.

I reported to the CO who was in conference with the Brigadier. In another half hour's time the whole party who had been posted as missing were having the feed of their lives — hot stew — thanks to the generosity of Capt. Swartz — OC `B' Coy 2/26 Bn — as his Coy forwent their hot meal when they learnt of our hunger.

I was very pleased to learn that the rest of the Coy were back safely and when the figures were finally posted we found that we had lost one killed and about 10 wounded.

15 August 42

Information recently come to hand discloses that Pte Trevor (one of the six believed missing) is now a POW in Kuala Lumpar, he was captured near TAMPIN and also with him was Pte Sams who was wounded and subsequently died of wounds at KL. These two men must have lost their bearings after the rearguard fight — (see Lt Jones' narrative) and instead of proceeding back to our lines went towards the enemy.

( Signed )

D.J. Duffy
Capt. O.C. `B" Company
 

APPENDIX 1

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Map

 

APPENDIX 2

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LIST OF PERSONNEL IN DUFFY PARTY

Coy HQ

NX34792 - DUFFY, Desmond Jack (Mum or Des), Capt. - O/C
NX70437 - KEARNEY, Peter Desmond (Black Prince or Des), Capt. - 2 l/c
NGX33 - GORDON, Victor Mervyn Ian (Speed or Vic), WO2 - CSM (w)
NX30214 - STREATFEILD, Raymond John (Ray), L/Cpl.
NX55044 - DOUGLAS, William James (Billy), Pte.
NX31754 - COWEN, George, Pte.
NX2715 - McWILLIAMS, Alexander George, Pte.
NX5658 - WEBSTER, James Wilson, Pte.
NX47951 - NAGLE, Athol Gervase, L/Sgt. (killed in jungle)

Attached to Coy HQ

RAA - 2/15 Field Regiment

NX70467 - MAKEPEACE, Desmond John, Lt.

I. O.R.

RAE - 2/10 Field Company

VX22930 - CASTLES, Peter, Sapper

RAE - 2/12 Field Company

NX1175 - PICKER, Harry, Sapper

2/30 Sigs
NX27275 - VICKERMAN, Walter Edward, Pte.
NX72575 - CONN, Edward John, Pte.
NX65486 - QUINTAL, Laurie Patterson, Pte.

10 PIatoon

NX25845 - BUCKINGHAM, Arthur George, Pte.
NX27234 - BENNETT, Joseph John, Pte.
NX27336 - MEADOWS, Arthur Samuel, Pte.
NX2174 - HALL, Walter Edward, Pte.

11 PIatoon

NX36285 - GARNER, Donald Francis, Sgt.
NX30253 - PAGET, Phillip Thomas James, Cpl.
NX25741 - HANN, Ian Grant, L/Cpl.
NX25460 - ROPE, Carl Milton, Pte.
NX25651 - EGAN, Jack Edgar George, Pte.
NX26670 - BAHNSEN, Edward, Pte.
NX25700 - DELANEY, William John, Pte.
NX37310 - BLACKSTOCK, Jack, Pte.
NX30490 - JONES, Richard, Pte.
NX30821 - HANLON, Lindsay Roy, Pte. (w)

12 PIatoon

NX51961 - McLEAN, John Ewen, L/Sgt.
NX26450 - YATES, Thomas Morton, L/Cpl.
NX32129 - HODGES, Alfred Edward, Pte.
NX26331 - HOLLAND, Bruce Hedley, Pte. (w)
NX26705 - WILSON, Harold Creswick, Pte.
NX29655 - GILL, Edward George Laurence, Pte.
NX26599 - WATERSON, Stanley, Pte
NX37430 - NOBLE, Joseph Andrew, Pte.

APPENDIX 3

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SUNGEI GEMENCHEH AMBUSH

CASUALTY LIST

Killed During Withdrawal From Ambush

NX 47951 L/Sgt Nagle A.G. (Bellingen NSW)
KIA 15/1/1942 100 yds West Quarry Rd and Gemas Rd 400 yds in jungle. Unburied.

Killed by Japanese After Capture

Five members of the `B' Coy rearguard were captured and shot by the Japanese at Muar. Four men were killed and one later died of the wounds received. A sixth member of the party survived the ordeal. The notation in Battalion records states as follows for each of the five who died:

NX25556 - BLAND, Jack Robert (Kiwi), Pte. - B Company, 11 Platoon (Rose Bay NSW)
KIA 3/2/1942, Muar. Cut off Gemas, captured 31/1/42. Shot at Muar. Unburied Sultan's Residence Garden.

NX26712 - COCHRANE, John Reuben (Joe), Pte. - B Company, 11 Platoon (Brookvale NSW)
KIA 3/2/1942. Details as above

NX27464 - COLLETT, Frederick George (Fred), Pte. - B Company, 10 Platoon (South Hurstville NSW)
KIA 3/2/1942. Details as above

NX59065 - MULLIGAN, Clive Frederick (Smiler), L/Cpl. - B Company, 11 Platoon (Paddington NSW)
KIA 3/2/1942. Details as above

NX37649 - SAMS, Ernest William, Pte. - B Company, 11 Platoon (Forbes NSW)
Died of wounds 9/2/1942. Cut off Gemas 15/1/1942. Captured 31/1/1942 taken to Muar and shot garden Sultan's Residence. Wounded only and escaped, recaptured and taken to KL Gaol. Died of wounds and buried KL Prison (Tetanus).

Wounded

NX70439 - HEAD, Harry, Lt. - B Company, O/C 12 Platoon (Mudgee NSW)
WIA 14/1/1942 GSW Right Thigh SW Right thigh, leg

NGX33 - GORDON, Victor Mervyn Ian (Speed or Vic), WO2 - B Company, CSM (Newmarket QLD)
WIA 14/1/1942 SW left buttock

NX29116 - BROWN, Raymond John Tresillian (Ray), Pte. - B Company, 12 Platoon (Punchbowl NSW)
Multiple bayonet wounds (1) left shoulder (2) SW right shin back and neck

NX20529 - DALE, Douglas Kenneth (Ken), Pte. - B Company HQ (Marrickville NSW)
WIA 14/1/1942 Multiple SW Both legs and thighs

NX47640 - DRAYTON, Laurence Harold (Laurie), Pte. - B Company HQ (Cessnock NSW)
WIA 14/1/1942 SW Right Forearm

NX30821 - HANLON, Lindsay Roy (Red), Pte. - B Company, 11 Platoon (Queanbeyan NSW)
WIA 14/1/1942 GSW Right Buttock

NX32129 - HODGES, Alfred Edward (Fred or Snowy), Pte. - B Company, 12 Platoon (Belmore NSW)
WIA 15/1/1942 2 SWs Left Forearm, Right thigh, SW Back (Sup.)

NX26332 - SYLVESTER, Walter Hackshall (Tiger), Pte. - B Company, 12 Platoon
WIA 15/11942 Repatriated 10/2/1942 Ex 13 AGH

NX26599 - WATERSON, Stanley (Stan), Pte. - B Company, 12 Platoon (Tathra NSW)
WIA 14/1/1942 GSW Knee

NOTE: It is difficult to separate those wounded at the ambush from those who received wounds on the following day during the battle on the Battalion front. The records show that the following men received wounds on 15/1/1942 but may have been wounded earlier:

NX37359 - FARLEY, Chumley Jack Henry (Chum), Pte. - B Company HQ (Petersham NSW)
WIA 15/1/1942 SW Buttock (Remained on duty)

NX37419 - DONOHUE, James Alfred (Punchy), Pte. - B Company, 10 Platoon (Wagga Wagga NSW)
WIA 15/1/1942 SW Back (upper)

(Source: From the collection of the National Archives of Australia. NAA: AWM67 3/111 - [Official History, 1939-45 War: Records of Gavin Long, General Editor:] Duffy, DJ, Capt; transcribed by A.S. Ford for 2/30 Battalion Archives)

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Last updated 07/01/2007