Please view Dates for your Diary for important MVG events in 2016 and 2017
News from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and earlier:
SINGAPORE SEPTEMBER 2015
Thursday 10th of September: Battlefield Coach Tour with professional tour guide arranged for MVG members. The tour includes a detailed tour of north-west area of Singapore where the invasion took place. A set lunch at Gardenasia, (included in price); and a private viewing, with guide, of the renewed Battle Box Museum (included in price) This was the command centre for the last days of the Battle of Singapore. From 9:00 - 14:00 hours. (Coolest part of day!) Assemble at 8.30 am for 9 am start. Pickup and drop off at YWCA Fort Canning Lodge (6, Fort Canning Road) Cost $70 Singapore dollars, £35 sterling per person. Max 40
Friday 11th of September: Unveiling of the Sime Road Plaque at 10 a.m. AT THE CHANGI MUSEUM. Assemble at the Museum by 9.30 a.m. Buffet Lunch at the Bark Café after the unveiling at 12 noon. Cost $20 Singapore dollars per person - £10 sterling
Saturday 12th of September: Service at Kranji Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. Assemble by 4:30 p.m., the service starts at 5 p.m. Coach pickup and drop off at YWCA Fort Canning Lodge (6, Fort Canning Road). Assemble at 3.30 p.m. for 3.45 p.m. departure. Return at approx. 7 p.m. - 7.30 p.m. Max 40 Cost - $10 Singapore dollars - £5 sterling.
Monday 14th of September: Tour of Sime Road POW Camp area with the military archaeologist Jon Cooper. Assemble in good time for a start at 9 a.m. when it´s still cool. Approx. 2 hours. Meet at the entrance of Sime Road for tour of the camp with Jon. and bring water, sunhats & wear sensible shoes etc. as we will be walking around the camp area.
National Memorial Arboretum
MVG VJ DAY SERVICE/GATHERING at the National Memorial Arboretum
Saturday, August 15th 2015:
Our formal service taken by Canon Christopher Samuels will be held at 12.00 mid-day in the chapel
followed by a members and their guests lunch in one of the pods.
Non-members/visitors are welcome to the service but please contact
MVG Secretary Rosemary Fell firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure a place.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY in London, 9th November 2014
Remembrance Sunday this year was very special for two reasons. Not only were we remembering, with sadness, the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the catastrophe of the 4 years which followed, but we were also celebrating the 10th year in which the MVG had marched past the Cenotaph to hand in a wreath in memory of the Volunteers in WW2. In 2005, when we attended the Burma Star Association’s V-J Day Service at the Cenotaph to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2, we first applied for and received tickets for the Service and March Past in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. For the first few years it was difficult to find 12 members wanting to take up the tickets we were allocated. This year we had more requests for tickets than ever before and nor enough tickets to give to everyone who wanted one. Next year, we will try to get 6 extra tickets to accommodate all those who wish to come. Once you have marched, and experienced the atmosphere, it becomes a very special day not to be missed.
After a very wet week before Remembrance Sunday, we were fortunate to wake up to a dry day, and by 11o’clock it had become bright, sunny and warm. The plane trees still had many of their leaves – some of which were green – although the grass in St. James’s Park was covered with leaves of all colours. It was more like a summer’s day than late autumn. June Jackson and Rosemary Fell walked down together to Horse Guards to collect the marker board. At 8.50 a.m. when we arrived, it was already busy with military personnel collecting together in their various groups. We were allowed to walk through the Arches into Whitehall with our board, and found our allotted position outside the old War Office. It was early, yet the crowds were already forming on the pavement to watch the service and marching columns. Gradually Column M filled up with marchers, and our other MVG members found us despite the crowds. This year we had new marchers with us – Alison Keating was with us for the first time, and Wendy Freeman (sister of regular marcher Christine Cavender who this year watched from the side) came over from Canada to join us for a second time. Other regular marchers were Merilyn Hywel-Jones and her sister Jane Nielsen, who had travelled from Denmark with her son Mark; June and Anthony Jackson; Pat Wilson; Yvonne Wurtzburg; Anne Hinam and her sister Jean Goyder who was also marching for the first time; and Rosemary Fell whose husband Donald was not marching this year, and joined us for a short while until it was time to find a good place to watch the service near the Cenotaph. It was wonderful to have a full contingent of marchers for this special year.
There were more marchers and crowds than ever this year – possibly a reflection on many wishing to remember the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1. The military marching columns took so long to form up in Whitehall, our civilian column M was not moved forward into position until almost 11 o’clock, and we had to stop for the 2 minute silence before reaching our final position. The complete silence from the huge crowd and columns of marchers was in itself very moving as the canons boomed out on the dot of eleven and Big Ben chimed eleven times. As the canons signalled the end of the 2 minutes silence, we were quietly moved forward into our marching position. Large TV screens enabled us to see the Queen lay her wreath, followed by other members of the Royal Family. Then it was the turn of the politicians to lay their wreaths and the Ambassadors, military personnel and London transport officials. We could just see the wreath laying on the screens but, we were too far back to hear the bands clearly, although the Service itself was audible. We followed the Bishop of London’s lead as he conducted the Service in the usual way. We joined in singing the hymn, “O God, our help in ages past,” and said the Lord’s Prayer together before the Bishop gave the Blessing and we all proudly sang the National Anthem, as the Queen and other members of the Royal family stood motionless in front of the Cenotaph. Then it was time to watch as group after group of marchers passed us, each contingent was clapped as it went. We wondered how long it would be before our turn came, and whether our feet and legs would work after standing for so long. Then we were off, marching into the winter’s sun which shone into our eyes. The sea of poppy wreaths stretched well beyond the Cenotaph as we handed in ours, and marched past the massed military bands of the Guards Division still playing with great gusto. The watching crowds clapped and cheered us as we went and even in Horse Guards they were several deep in places. HRH The Prince Andrew took the salute in Horse Guards, and not long after we completed our march and lined up behind the dais, the last of the marchers arrived and the National Anthem was played.
This year we decided to change the lunch venue from the All-Bar-One to the Premier Inn after the crowding of last year. This proved to be a good move and 8 of us enjoyed a peaceful lunch with plenty of room, prompt service and time to catch up with everyone. We plan to use this venue again next year.
The Cross Planting Ceremony and Service at Westminster Abbey always take place on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday. We are very grateful, once again, to Merilyn Hywel-Jones for organising the tickets and for making sure that the MVG’s 8 inch cross was planted in a prominent position in the FEPOW Plot. Due to Merilyn’s determination, the MVG cross was positioned right in the centre of the Plot. With the SSVF badge on the cross itself and the plaque below commemorating the FMSVF and UFMVF we could not have asked for a better place. Thank you, Merilyn.
At Westminster Abbey, the row upon row of small wooden crosses each with its red poppy showed just how many lives were lost during WW2. I don’t suppose anyone had thought to count them. However, the number 888,246 will, I’m sure, stick in people’s minds for a long time to come. It is the number of dead soldiers from the Commonwealth and this country in World War One, each man represented by a single ceramic poppy planted in the moat at the Tower of London. Entitled, “Blood swept lands and seas of red” the great swathe of gently moving poppies gave one a sense of the futility of war with so many wasted lives lost in the mud of the trenches or in other parts of the world. Having visited the Tower in early September when about half of the poppies had been planted, it was immensely moving to join the huge, largely silent, crowds on 10th November and walk round the main moated area of the Castle, knowing that one more poppy remained to be planted on Armistice Day. The poppies nodded and danced in the small breeze on a day in which the sun shone and the sky was a perfect blue. It was like a summer’s day. The huge ‘field of poppies’ certainly captured people’s imagination , and although the dismantling is now taking place, it is good to know that a small section of the poppy field is to be kept intact and displayed in various parts of the country.
We hope that next year, the 70th anniversary of the end of the second World War, will prove to be as memorable and we have a full complement of marchers again. Compiled by Rosemary Fell.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 2014 in Kuala Lumpur
Some 450 people attended the annual service in Kuala Lumpur. The event was filmed by MVG member Ivan Ho and may be viewed at
Our Malaysia Secretary Andrew Hwang presented a wreath on behalf of MVG. Our thanks to the new British High Commissioner, HE Victoria Treadell for the success of this event which was attended this year by members of the Malaysian Ministry of Defence, the diplomatic corps and various British and Commonwealth companies and bodies in Malaysia.
Congratulations to Rod Beattie MBE
Congratulations to Rod Beattie who has been awarded an MBE in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours. This is in recognition for his work for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and development of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, Kanchanaburi. Very well deserved!
SPECIAL 70th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT... Don’t miss it!... Booking from 10 May
SINGING TO SURVIVE
70th anniversary concert
Chichester women to perform Vocal Orchestra music created
in Far East captivity in Sumatra during the Second World War
Saturday 26 October 2013
7 for 7.30pm
St Paul’s Church, Churchside, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 6FT
Tickets available from 10 May
(£6 for children under 16), includes
a commemorative programme
By post: cheque made payable to Mrs R Fell MVG Concert Account
to: Mrs R Fell, Millbrook House, Stoney Lane, Axminster EX13 5EE (enclosing SAE)
or in Chichester from the St.Olav Trust Christian Bookshop
This event is sponsored by the Malayan Volunteers Group
Click here to view Information on the Sumatra captives choir.
VJ DAY SERVICE at the National Memorial Arboretum, August 15th 2012.
Some 50 persons, half of them MVG members, attended our annual VJ Day Service at the National Memorial
Aboretum. Because of the wet weather the service was relocated from our Memorial Garden to the FEPOW
Building. We were particularly pleased to welcome veterans Ron Mitchell [1SSVF] & Stan Burridge [2nd
Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders] and also a standard bearer of the National Malaya & Borneo
The service began with the 2 minute silence and the singing of Lisa Ho's arrangement of 'Abide with Me' which is
dedicated to the Malayan Volunteers of both World Wars. After a reading from Scripture [Romans Ch.12 Vs 9-21]
there were readings from Captain David Nelson's description of the final days of the Fall of Singapore, and poems by
women internees Margaret Dryburgh & Mary Thomas.
The Sumatra internees were remembered in passages from Helen Colijn's memoirs and in the reading of Margaret
Dryburgh's 'The Captives Hymn'. Prayers were lead by Alison Brierley and the Exhortation, FEPOW Prayer &
Kohima Epitaph by Guy Scoular.
At the end of the service veteran Stan Burridge gave us a delightful rendition of the song 'Moon over Malaya' -
a song that 71 years before, as a young Argylls bandsman he had a hand in composing.
The wreath was then carried to the Memorial Garden and placed there by a party of MVG members.
The service was followed by a very agreeable picnic lunch.
HMS TANDJONG PINANG Painted by David Wingate
MVG member David Wingate is offering for sale a limited run of signed prints of his painting of HMS Tandjong Pinang with proceeds being donated
to the Malaya Volunteers Group fund which is used for the creation of appropriate memorials - see our Projects section.
The painting was created to mark the 70th anniversary of the tragic loss of this small ship, and to honour those who were lost on her, including David's
grandmother. The ship is shown on the early morning of February 17th 1942 off Pom Pong Island, picking up survivors from the Kuala. David started his
extensive research into the appearance of the ship nearly 20 years ago.
The actual image of the ship is 5.45'' x 7.55'' [13.77 mm x 19.22mm] & the white surround is 8'' x 11'' [21.7 mm x 27.9 mm]. It would take a frame size of
11'' x 14'' or larger
Price: £40 plus UK postage £2.00.
To order a print or obtain further details please contact David Wingate on
Other maritime pictures by David can be seen at www.davidwingateart.com
RETURN TO MUNTOK
In April 2011, Judy Balcombe and Anthony Pratt, visited Palembang in Sumatra and Muntok on Bangla Island. They both wanted to find what had happened to family members who had been interned by the Japanese and had susequently died in Muntok. The account of their first journey was published in Apa Khabar last year. It is now followed by an account of their search for the graves of the civilian internees in Muntok. This makes compulsive reading and can be found in the Sumatra section of this website.
TRIP TO THE RIAU ISLANDS
The Sumatra section of the website also includes an interesting, and in part, moving account of a trip to the Riau Islands. Written by Yvonne Wurtzburg it is illustrated by by a series of photographs taken during the trip.
COMMEMORATIONS: Singapore, Indonesia, Western Australia, February 2012
Some 40 members of the Malayan Volunteers Group will be in Singapore February
12th to 17th for the commemorations and will attend the February 15th services
at the civilian war memorial and an early evening service at the Commonwealth War
Graves Cemetery at Kranji.
The following week some MVG members, relatives of Sumatra internees & POWs, will
sail down the Bangka Straits & visit Muntok on Bangka Island and Palembang, Sumatra.
They will present four memorial plaques commemorating the civilian internees held at
Muntok Jail & the site of the Women's Camp at Muntok, the Tinwinning Building which
is the new museum in Muntok, and the Charitas Hospital, Palembang. This group will be
led by Australian member Judy Balcombe.
Another group will gather in the City of Stirling Memorial Gardens, in a suburb
of Perth, Western Australia, for a service to commemorate the Australian members
of the Malayan Volunteer Forces and the host families in Australia who looked
after the evacuees, mostly women & children from Singapore in 1941-1942.
Permission has now been given for memorial plaques in their memory to be
presented to the City of Stirling Memorial Garden to mark the 70th anniversary
of the Fall of Singapore. The Western Australia group will be joined by our UK
Secretary, Rosemary Fell & Sheila Allan [civilian internee, Changi & Sime Rd]
who is visiting from New South Wales. Sheila, one of our senior members, is the
author of 'Girl in Changi' and appears this month in the Australian/BBC Scotland
two-part documentary on the Fall of Singapore.
13TH NOVEMBER 2011
The sun was starting to shine through the early morning mist, at about 8.30 in the morning, as we made our way through Green Park and St. James’ Park to Horse Guards Parade. As the sun filtered through the trees, some of which were still quite leafy and green, the air felt warm and more like summer than autumn.
Horse Guards was already filling up with military personnel, both currently serving and ex-servicemen and women, and the whole area was bustling with humanity. Looking round for the van from which we collect the marker board with our column number, we espied it in a different corner of the vast parade ground from its usual place. The policeman let us through the barrier and we made our way along the Mall to Trafalgar Square and down into Whitehall. Turning down Great Scotland Yard and then into Whitehall Place, the marker board gave us priority through the security area and we were waved through quickly into Whitehall. We took up our place outside the Old War Office, and were shortly joined by Anne Hinam, who was marching for the first time. Other members gradually started to arrive – Merilyn Hywel-Jones, Graeme and Nikki Archer-Waring, Karen Harney, Christine Cavender and her friend Gwen, Pat Wilson, Sandy Lincoln and Yvonne Wurtzburg, who was also marching for the first time. We had a full contingent of 12 marchers this year.
Gradually the area started to fill up with marchers and we were moved back several times to allow people into their allotted areas within the column. Soon after 10 o’clock, the military sections, which had been forming up on Horse Guards, were marched into their positions in Whitehall. Then came the order for us all to move forward into our positions for the Service and March Past. By this time the crowds were packed along the pavements, waiting patiently for the Service to start. There were young and old in the crowds, and it was good to see quite young children also watching and waiting. The sun shone from a cloudless blue sky, and some of the plane trees, which would normally have been bare by now, were still bearing a mixture of green and brown leaves.
As eleven o’clock approached, the bands played their usual mix of solemn and inspiring music, and the Ambassadors marched out of the Foreign Office carrying their poppy wreaths , followed by the Choir from the Chapel Royal and Clergy, and at precisely 2 minutes to eleven, the Royal family took their places headed by Her Majesty The Queen. The crowds fell silent and, as Big Ben struck the hour, the guns boomed out. Nothing stirred in the whole of Whitehall and Parliament Square for the 2 minutes silence. It is a very moving moment, with thousands of people silent, still and deep in their own thoughts and memories of loved ones lost or thankfully returned unharmed from conflicts past or still ongoing.
The Queen laid her wreath exactly as she has done every year watched by the people present and thousands on television. We watched on large screens which had been placed along Whitehall, and waited as the members of the Royal Family, Government Ministers, Politicians and Ambassadors stepped up to the Cenotaph to lay their wreaths in turn. The Duke of Cambridge was there, watched for the first time by the Duchess from the Foreign Office balcony. The short, simple service followed conducted, as always, by the Bishop of London, ending with the National Anthem. After the dignitaries had departed, the march past began.
The wait before it was our turn to march didn’t seem as long this year, probably due to the mild conditions, and the sun shone brightly as we marched and handed in our wreath. The bands played, the crowds clapped and one felt honoured to be there, taking part in this important ceremony which has become more popular than ever. It was the turn of HRH The Prince of Wales to take the salute at the end of the march past this year. The MVG was very near the end of the long column of marchers, so we didn’t have long to wait in Horse Guards. Then we said goodbye to Gwen and Merilyn who couldn’t stay for lunch, and 10 of us made our way to the “All Bar One” near the London Eye for lunch. It was good to sit down, catch up on news and enjoy a light lunch together.
We thank Merilyn and Yvonne for attending the Service in Westminster Abbey and Cross Planting Ceremony in the Field of Remembrance on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday. As usual HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was present at the ceremony and planted a Cross. Merilyn planted a Cross on behalf of the MVG in the FEPOW Plot.
Although the MVG marchers were not shown on the main BBC broadcast, there have been several reports by those of you who watched beyond the end of the programme “on the red button” that we were seen very briefly near the saluting dais in Horse Guards.
MVG LONDON LUNCH October 29th 2011
Over 60 MVG members attended the annual London lunch in the ballroom at the RAF Club, Piccadilly.
There was a good mix of 'old hands' and recent members with photos, documents and memories exchanged.
As often happens at such MVG gatherings many unexpected connections were made.
After drinks and a substantial meal we were treated to talk by Datuk Anthony Cooper which focused on his mother's
account of her experiences 1941-1942 including evacuation on the Duchess of Bedford. Anthony's father was a
Major in the Manchester Regiment who died in captivity in Thailand. At the end of the talk Anthony very kindly
presented to all those attending a copy of 'The Fight for Malaya: the Jungle War of Maurice Cotterill.'
LIVERPOOL PIER HEAD FEPOW REPATRIATION MEMORIAL DEDICATION & UNVEILING October 15th 2011
In bright morning sunshine some 650 people including 25 FEPOWs and internees attended the unveiling ceremony on the Pier Head of this
unique memorial to the FEPOWs and civilian internees who returned to Liverpool & Southampton between October & December 1945.
The first of these ships being the Monowai on October 8th 1945 with the Nieuw Holland arriving on October 15th 1945.
Thirteen MVG members were among those attending.
A procession of clergy, Merseyside dignitaries and other participants in the service made its way from the Cunard Building to the Pier Head
for the service conducted by the Rector of Liverpool, Rev. Steven Brookes & Lay Minister, Mrs Pauline Simpson who is Chaplain to
FEPOWs & Secretary to the National FEPOW Fellowship Welfare Remembrance Association.
The Scripture reading was by Merle Hesp & there was an excellent address by FEPOW Maurice Naylor. At the end of the service there
was a Walk Past of the Memorial and a flotilla of waterboats sailed past along the Mersey.
After the service a reception was held for over 300 guests in the former customs hall of the Cunard Building.
Congratulations to Meg Parkes and her Researching FEPOW History Committee on achieving the creation of this memorial and on an extremely well organised event.
Photos of the event and plaque may be viewed at
V-J DAY SERVICE – MONDAY, 15TH AUGUST 2011
On a beautiful summer’s day, a good crowd of 37 members, friends and visitors to the Arboretum, assembled at noon in the Malayan Volunteers Group’s Memorial Garden for the annual Service of Remembrance, on the 66th anniversary of V-J Day, Monday, 15th August. Members had come from all parts of the country, and, indeed, from overseas to attend this Service. Some members had travelled from London, others from as far away as Cornwall and Devon as well as counties nearer to the NMA.
When everyone had arrived, Jonathan Moffatt started the Service with his opening remarks. This was followed by the Wreath Laying, carried out with great poignancy by father and son, Ron and Brian Mitchell, and the 2 minutes silence. It was wonderful to see Ron again this year, as our only Veteran Volunteer at the Service, accompanied by his wife Bea. They have attended every V-J Day Service which the MVG has organized, and it is very fitting that Ron’s son was present this time to assist with laying the wreath.
Jonathan conducted the Service by linking the readings and introducing each reader in turn. To start the service, a CD recording of the special SATB arrangement by Lisa Ho – wife of Malaysia’s MVG Secretary Andrew Hwang - of the hymn “Abide with Me” was played. This was a world premier playing of the 4-part arrangement of the hymn, which has been dedicated to the Malayan Volunteers of both world wars. The MVG is honoured by this dedication, and thanks Lisa for her gift. The CD recording of the hymn was sung by the Chagford Singers, conducted by Christopher Fletcher, Director of Music and Organist at Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral, and Conductor of the Plymouth Philharmonia Choir as well as the Chagford Choir. It was recorded as a special favour to the MVG, and we are very grateful to the Choir for their time and efforts on behalf of the MVG. We thank Yvonne Wurtzburg for operating the CD player, and it was wonderful when the congregation spontaneously started to sing the hymn with the recording. This hymn will be sung at all future services held by the MVG, accompanied by the choral arrangement.
June Jackson’s reading from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 followed the hymn, and after that came Liz Moggie’s reading of the poem entitled “The Sanctuary”, written by Margaret Dryburgh and which was recited daily at evening prayers while Margaret was imprisoned on Banka Island. Two short poems “Don’t Look Back” by Louise Aylward and “Very Old Chinese Proverb” were recited by Imogen Holmes, and followed by Ros Henry’s reading of “Moon over Malaya”. Prayers had been very sympathetically and appropriately put together and lead by Alison Brierley, with everyone joining in “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Another 2 readings followed the prayers – “Alone” also written by Margaret Dryburgh and read by Rosemary Fell, and a short passage from William McDougall’s book, “By Eastern Windows”, chosen and read by Anne Hinam, whose father had also been imprisoned on Banka Island. Donald Fell read Psalm 121, “I will lift up mine eyes” and the Service was concluded by Anthony Jackson who gave “The Exhortation” followed by “The FEPOW Prayer” and finally “The Kohima Epitaph”.
Despite the noise from the LaFarge gravel pits, everyone enjoyed the Service and afterwards, members and friends had time to meet and chat. Members of the public attending the Service included a family from South Africa with Volunteer connections, and elderly ex-serviceman of 100 years old, and a military family who were stationed in Singapore post-war. All present were invited to join members for a picnic lunch near the Visitor Centre. A veritable feast appeared from a variety of cold boxes and picnic bags and everyone sat down in glorious sunshine at 2 long tables to enjoy the goodies provided, amid much laughter and conversation. New acquaintances were made and friendships forged. It was a wonderful finale to a lovely day.
Finally, a word about the Memorial Garden. This is beginning to take shape at last, with the trees and shrubs growing well. The Arboretum grounds staff had made a good job of tidying the Garden in time for the Service, after it’s rather unkempt appearance on Sunday afternoon. The MVG is grateful to Lynda Moss for reminding the authorities about the Service, and for making sure that the Garden was neat and tidy for the occasion. We also thank Simon and Lynda and Anthony and June Jackson for their work in the Garden earlier in the year, and for strengthening the joints of the benches which had become wobbly. It is a shame that moles are still disfiguring the grassy areas with their diggings, but there are now plans to get rid of them with mechanical deterrents.
Photos can be viewed here.
Researcher & MVG member finds the missing Changi Bureau of Records & Enquiry papers
Congratulations to Keith Andrews on his tremendous find. There is a full article on this by Melissa van der Klugt on page 85 of the Times, Saturday, July 30th 2011.
Keith found the documents at National Archives, Kew amongst a large quantity of recently released MOD papers. A full report on the find and the story of the 'Nelson papers' will appear in our Apa Khabar newsletter, October edition.
The Changi Bureau of Records & Enquiry was headed by Captain David Nelson, a New Zealander who had served during the First World War in the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli then in the Royal Flying Corps. He was a land surveyor with Singapore Improvement Trust and second-in-command of the Singapore Royal Engineers[Volunteers] before being transferred to Malaya Command, Fort Canning.
MVG NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM VJ DAY MEET AUGUST 15TH 2011
Our annual service will be at 12.00 noon at the MVG Garden plot and will be followed by a picnic lunch.
MVG MEMORIAL GARDEN PLOT TIDY UP Saturday, July 9th
Thanks to MVG members June & Anthony Jackson and Simon & Lynda Moss who volunteered to tidy our garden plot and do some essential repairs Click here to see photos.
ORDER OF AUSTRALIA FOR ROD BEATTIE
Congratulations to honoury MVG member Rod Beattie, Director of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, Kanchanaburi, on the award of the Order of Australia in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List. The award was made 'for service to former prisoners of war and their families through roles with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Thailand Burma Railway Museum.'
ANZAC Day 2011 - Dawn Service in Kuala Lumpur
When: Monday 25 April, 6.30am
Where: The Cheras Road Christian Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. On 25 April 1915, young Australians and New Zealanders waded ashore at Gallipoli and began seven months of intense combat that marked the arrival of two young nations on the world stage.
On Monday 25 April 2011 the New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr David Pine, will host a Commemorative Dawn Service at the Military Annex of the Cheras Road Christian Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur. The Service is open to members of the public and those attending are requested to arrive by 6.15 am for the service to commence at 6.30 am.
Following the Service, guests will be invited to the New Zealand High Commissioner’s Residence at 15, Jalan Langgak Golf for the traditional ‘gunfire’ breakfast.
Those attending are advised that at that time of the day it will be dark and mosquitoes are likely to be present. Guests are advised to apply mosquito repellent and carry a small torch.
Dress for the occasion will be lounge suit, smart attire or ceremonial uniform, with medals. Members of the public who are interested in attending the breakfast following the Service are requested to advise the New Zealand High Commission on (603) 2078 2533 (ext 100 or 105) or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MVG LUNCH AT ARUNDEL CASTLE March 16th 2011
By kind invitation of our patron, Georgina, Duchess of Norfolk some 40 Malayan Volunteers Group members had a very memorable day at Arundel Castle.
After coffee in the East Wing we were taken by Her Grace on a guided tour of the Castle. At lunch we were joined by His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk and
a vote of thanks was given to Her Grace by Datuk Anthony Cooper. After lunch, Her Grace took us on a tour of the magnificent garden. A full report of our
day will appear in the April 2011 Apa Khabar newsletter. Click here to see photos.
DATUK ANTHONY COOPER
Congratulations to Malayan Volunteers Group member Anthony Cooper on his investiture by the Sultan of Negri Sembilan
as a Datuk of the order Dajah Setia Tuanku Muhriz Yang Amat Gemilang (DSTM). The photos below were taken following the
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY AT THE CENOTAPH, WHITEHALL – 14TH NOVEMBER 2010
By Rosemary Fell
The crowds seemed bigger than ever, as MVG members and friends assembled in Whitehall before 10 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday morning. Security was very strict as marchers and members of the public alike were led through a series of gates and electronic arches before being allowed access to Whitehall. Lining up in the civilian column ‘M’ outside the old War Office, MVG members started to collect to join Donald and Rosemary Fell who had arrived earlier with the marker board to indicate the MVG’s position in the long column. They were joined by regular marchers Karen Harney, Pat Wilson and Christine Cavender with her sister and friend. Merilyn Hywel-Jones joined the Group this year for the first time, and it was good to see Sandy Lincoln and Mike Sargeant returning after an absence of a couple of years. Sadly, Nikki Archer-Waring and husband Graeme were unable to come due to illness.
Despite the gloomy forecast, the rain held off during the Service and march past, apart from a little light drizzle. After moving forward into our marching positions at about 10.30 we stood and watched on the giant outdoor TV screens as the bands played and the politicians and ambassadors took their places around the Cenotaph, followed by the choirboys from the Chapel Royal and the clergy. The huge crowd fell silent as H.M. the Queen and other members of the Royal Family took their places just before 11 a.m. The guns boomed out as Big Ben struck 11 o’clock. Marchers and public stood still and silent, deep in their own thoughts of remembrance until the final gun salute, the Last Post was played and the Service began. Following the same format it has had for nearly 6 decades, the Queen laid her wreath, followed by other members of the Royal Family, politicians and ambassadors, and the Bishop of London conducted the short Service of prayers and the hymn, “Oh God, our help in ages past”.
The long column of marchers started once the dignitaries had left. It seemed that more than ever had joined the march to represent some loved one from a past conflict, or a fellow comrade in arms. Column ‘M’ marched towards the end of the march past, yet the crowds maintained their enthusiastic clapping as the MVG reached the Cenotaph, to hand in its wreath in memory of the Volunteers. Through Parliament Square and along Great George Street, the crowds continued to watch and clap along the route into Horse Guards. The public support never ceases to be an inspiration to everyone who marches. The salute in Horse Guards was taken this year by HRH The Princess Royal.
Eight members enjoyed a convivial lunch together after the ceremony, and resolve to meet again in 2011 in Whitehall at the Cenotaph.
Merilyn Hywel-Jones attended the Cross Planting Ceremony in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on the Thursday before Remembrance Sunday. The short Service was attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh who laid his personal Cross of Remembrance. Unfortunately, the 8 inch cross which Merilyn suggested the MVG should plant in the FEPOW Plot this year was not ordered in time for planting this year, as they have to be made specially. It will be ordered in good time for next year, with the MVG logo in colour.
If any MVG member watched the highlights of the ceremony on the BBC TV on Sunday evening, a brief view of members marching was shown just before the end of the broadcast.
REPORT ON REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY NOVEMBER 14TH 2010 IN KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.
Click here to view photos
The multi-faith Remembrance Sunday service at the Kuala Lumpur Cenotaph started at 8.00 a.m. sharp on 14 November 2010 with the singing of “Abide with me” led by the Alice Smith School Choir. The turn-out was beyond expectations and much more compared to previous years. MVG was represented by Andrew Hwang and Ian Richardson (evacuated on the Orion and son of Louis A. L. Richardson of 2FMSVF). Ivan Ho (son of Albert Ho Pan Thong, 1 FMSVF), Claudine de Witt (granddaughter of John A. Sequerah, 4SSVF) and Keith Peris (grandson of Godfrey B. Haslam of the FMSVF) were invited guests of MVG.
The new British High Commissioner to Malaysia, His Excellency Mr. Simon Featherstone, read an excerpt from the Pericles Eulogy, followed by prayers by Christian, Muslim and Sikh clerics, respecting the religious backgrounds of the fallen soldiers who served in Malaya/Malaysia. The recital of “In Flander’s Fields” and “To The Fallen” was interspersed by the sounding of the Last Post, observance of 2-minutes’ silence and the playing of the Reveille.
All present then sang “I vow to thee my country” lustily before the laying of wreaths. Forty-six wreaths were laid in all, representing the various Commonwealth high commissions and embassies, the Malaysian armed forces and police, NMBVA, MVG, the Perak veterans, the various British loyal societies, British schools and St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, wartime spiritual headquarters of the 2nd Battalion FMSVF.
The assembled participants were then invited to the British High Commissioner’s residence for breakfast. Mr. Featherstone enquired about MVG and showed interest in “In Oriente Primus”, the new book by MVG members Jonathan Moffatt and Paul Riches.
14-Nov-2010 is Remembrance Sunday which is traditionally held on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November (Armistice Day – the anniversary of the end of the hostilities of the First World War in 1918) to commemorate the contribution of Malaysian, British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.
In Kuala Lumpur, Remembrance Sunday is marked by an 8 a.m. multi-faith memorial service at the Kuala Lumpur Cenotaph which is in the National Monument (Tugu Negara) Complex on a hill at the Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana). It is usually attended by diplomats, civic dignitaries, ex-British and Commonwealth servicemen and women and their families, members of the Malaysian armed forces, representatives of the British loyal societies and British international schools, and clergy. Wreaths of poppies are laid on the memorials at the end of the service and two minutes’ silence is observed. It is a custom to wear poppies and military medals on Remembrance Sunday.
Historically, a full Remembrance service was always held in St Andrew’s Church before the congregation drove out to the Cenotaph for the ceremony there which used to start at 11 a.m.
We remember all those in our congregation who have fallen in the wars, especially the Session, the Board of Managers and the congregation of 1941 who served in the 2nd (Selangor) Battalion of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force or were civilians who went into captivity, where many were killed, maimed or broken.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.”
[an account of Armistice Day at the Singapore Cenotaph can be viewed on David Cope's website at
MVG WESTERN AUSTRALIA MEMORIAL SERVICE September 12th 2010
Click here to view Order of Service and short report by George Hess'e.
Western Road Christian Cemetery, Penang
It is a sad fact that the cemeteries and graves containing the remains of British Malayans are fast disappearing across South East Asia in the name of redevelopment.
The early 1960s saw the neglect then destruction of the cemetery at Muntok containing the graves of British & Australian male civilian internees who died in Japanese captivity in Sumatra.
Then in the late 1990s the destruction of Bidadari Cemetery, Singapore which contained the graves of several hundred civilian internees of the Japanese as well as many prominent citizens of Colonial Singapore. These graves did not enjoy the protection of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A small notice in a local Malaysian newspaper indicates that the already quite neglected and overcrowded Western Road Christian Cemetery, Penang, containing a number of historical graves as well as those of some MVG family members, is next on the list. The notice gives an inadequate 3 months' notice. As it is unlikely the Penang Municipal Council (Malay acronym: MPPP) advertised in the major newspapers in the countries where many Christian citizens of Penang have emigrated to [Singapore, Australia, Canada & New Zealand] we are reproducing the notice here. Do write to the MPPP as a matter of urgency if you are personally affected.
100th Birthday Congratulations to MVG Senior member, John Mackie
Emeritus Professor John Mackie OBE celebrates his 100th birthday this September at Nelson, New Zealand with former students & colleagues of Otago University.
John was born in Dunedin NZ in 1910 and first went to Malaya in the 1930s as a gold prospector. He joined the Colonial Service Mines Department in 1936 and became an Inspector of Mines in Selangor then Perak A Captain in 1FMSVF he fought at the Battle of Kampar and was a POW at Singapore then Kuching. He returned to Malaya post war before serving in the Department of Surveying RNZ Engineers 1949-1955. He subsequently pursued an academic career. His memoirs ‘Captain Jack: Surveyor & Engineer were published in 2007.
VJ Day August 15th at the National Memorial Arboretum
Some 80 of MVG and friends attended our gathering/service at the NMA. We were pleased to welcome several members who made the long journey down from Scotland.
Photos can be viewed here.
To view Order of Service click here.
MVG WESTERN AUSTRALIA MEMORIAL SERVICE September 12th 2010
Click here to view Order of Service and short report by George Hess'e.
Tidying up our memorial garden plot at the NMA
Photos can be viewed here.
VJ DAY SERVICE
The Malayan Volunteers Group VJ Day Service at the National Memorial Arboretum - Sunday August 15th 2010 at 2.00 p.m. at the National Memorial Arboretum Chapel & MVG Memorial Garden.
Non-members are welcome to attend but please contact Mrs Rosemary Fell, email:- email@example.com to let her know you are attending.
The Members buffet lunch will be at 12.00 in Pod 1. Some 80 members attending.
Please be aware that parking at the NMA costs £2.00. It is possible that on this busy day off-site parking will be operating so you may want to be 20 minutes earlier than your intended arrival time.
Queen's Birthday Honours Award to MVG Member, June 2010
Congatulations to MVG member Michael Doncaster of the Royal Australian Navy who has been awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal for meritorious achievement as Staff Officer International Engagement in Navy Strategic Command in the latest Queen's Birthday Honours list The citation can be read at http://www.gg.gov.au/res/File/PDFs/honours/qb10/Media%20Notes%20CSM%20%28final%29.pdf
MVG Members meet in Fremantle WA
While visiting Fremantle, Western Australia in December 2009, MVG member Jill Smallshaw met Patricia Giudice who as a young child escaped with her father in February 1942 [see Stories section] by almost the same route as Jill's father across to Sumatra, down to Batavia and thence to Fremantle. They had a happy afternoon pouring over a large map of Sumatra and comparing routes.
Some time later, following a bad fall at Broome in north west Australia, Jill found herself, thanks to the wonderful Flying Doctor Service, back in Fremantle where she was also visited in hospital by MVG member Joan Forman.
Jill is now back in the UK and is recovering well.
Congratulations to Rod Beattie
At a function in Kanchanaburi on 15th Jan 2010 the Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (via her Ambassador in Thailand) bestowed an honour on Rod Beattie for his years of work in researching and helping all families connected with the Thai-Burma Railway, including the 17,000 Dutch POWs involved, 2,700 of whom died.
Rod has been made a "Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau". This award is a Royal Honour in the Netherlands, conferred on people who deserve recognition and high appreciation from society for the special way in which they have carried out their particular activities.
This is a very fitting personal tribute to Rod who has devoted a significant number of years of his life to this work and it is also wonderful recognition of the role of the Thailand Burma Railway Centre and its staff on the 7th Anniversary of its opening.
Australian FMSVF veteran celebrates his 90th birthday
MVG member Marea Smith from Baulkham Hills NSW recently visited her uncle Roy Thurling, an FMSVF veteran, in Queensland. Roy celebrated his 90th birthday in November.
Roy and Marea's late father, Jack Thurling of the FMSVF Light Battery, were mining engineers with Anglo-Oriental Tin, Larut Tin Fields, Taiping. They were POWs in Singapore then in Thailand from October 1942. Roy returned to Anglo-Oriental, Malaya 1946-1948 then was an electrician in NSW.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY – 8TH NOVEMBER 2009
Report by Rosemary Fell
This years lunch was held in the attractive and spacious ballroom of the RAF Club, Piccadilly and was attended by some 55MVG members and guest speaker, Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh OBE, a former battalion commander & ADC to the Queen, now of Remembrance Travel.
There was a good balance of old and more recent members and much chat. Various photos, items of research and the new MVG brochure, designed by John Pollock, were shared and exchanged.
Rosemary spoke to introduce our speaker and to outline the details of next August 15th NMA gathering which we hope will be well supported.
After a good, substantial lunch Piers Storie-Pugh gave a wide ranging and informative talk summarising the Malayan and Burma Campaigns, touched on the Malayan Emergency and told us about the war cemeteries in Malaysia.
Merilyn Hywel-Jones also showed us the reconstruct then & now map of Kanchanaburi that she and her sister had researched.
Thanks to the hard work of Daniel & Catriona Chaplin the lunch raffle raised £160 towards MVG funds. Thanks to their father Hugh for organising and hosting the lunch. He has already booked the RAF Club for next year's London lunch [October 2nd].
Click here to view photos.
Missing Memorials in Malaysia
Kuala Selangor War Memorial - Found!
Last year we received from MVG member Ann Evans two 1950s colour photos of the Kuala Selangor War Memorial. Ann recalled attending services here with her mother. The name of Ann's father, Philip Paxton-Harding FMSVF was on the bronze plaque [he was killed-in-action at Singapore] together with those of other European and local Malay Volunteers and members of the Malay Regiment who lost their lives in the Second World War.
This memorial was originally unveiled by Sir George Maxwell in June 1924 and another plaque recorded the names of men who lost their lives in the First World War.
Initial quite extensive enquiries and a first visit by MVG member Andrew Hwang were unsuccessful in locating the memorial in a town that has changed so much in recent years. Then this weekend came a breakthrough. Andrew reports:
Lisa and I drove to Kuala Selangor again this morning to look for the memorial. This time we decided to give Kampung Kuantan a miss and to concentrate on the Dutch-era ruins of Fort Altingsburg (today's Bukit Malawati) and the surrounding neighbourhood. In the event we were unsuccessful, we planned to move on to Fort Utrecht (today's Bukit Belanda).
Before we started on our search, we decided to make enquiries at the Majlis Daerah Kuala Selangor (K. Selangor district council) tourism office. They were very nice there and tried their best to identify the 2 photographs provided by Jonathan Moffatt but they could not recognise the obelisk. They were quite certain we would not find anything at Fort Altingsburg. We then proceeded to climb all over Bukit Malawati, but there was no sign of the memorial. An elderly ice cream man at the fort also confirmed he had never seen the memorial despite having being lived all his life in Kuala Selangor. He suggested that perhaps in was in another part of the Kuala Selangor district but not in the town itself.
When we reached the foot of the hill, I decided to put myself in the shoes of the British district officer who most probably had erected the memorial. Where would he have placed it? It had to be at the original colonial heart of the town. The Kuala Selangor tourism staff were very helpful again and described where the colonial parts were. We were warned that there had been extensive re-development and we might be disappointed with what we found.
Our starting point was the white clock tower in the shape of a lighthouse at the foot of Bukit Malawati. We drove pass the hill along Jalan Raja Jalil, turned right, passed a mosque on the left and came to a rather odd junction with a Public Bank facing us. We then turned left into Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, went straight through another junction, passed by an old colonial post office on the left which was still in use and then passed a St John's Ambulance office painted in buff and followed the road right which took us to a roundabout - and there was the memorial obelisk right in the centre of the roundabout!
We immediately parked and went to examine the memorial. It was in a sorry state. The original 2 bronze plaques had long been looted by scrap metal thieves and forlorn looking signs had been nailed across where the plaques had been bearing the words: Medan Perwira (Bellamy). Medan Perwira means 'Heroes Place" in Malay. All 3 granite steps were completely visible whereas the photograph showed the top 2 steps and only the top of the bottom-most step. The soil level must have receded over the years. The tree which used to give shade to the memorial had long disappeared. Four decorative sculptures of Malay water pitchers were placed around the edge of the roundabout. The sculptures somehow detracted from the solemness of the monument and we immediately understood why no one had recognised the memorial - it had been trivialised by the sculptures and turned into a mere decorative curiosity.
A badly faded bi-lingual information board at the roundabout itself gave a startlingly inconsistent history of the memorial. The Malay version was not consistent with its English counterpart and informed us that the memorial was called Medan Pahlawan ("Warriors Place") as opposed to the "Heroes Place" label on the memorial itself. The road running around the roundabout was supposedly named Jalan Pahlawan but there was no road sign to confirm this. The English write-up said the memorial was known as the "Bellamy arena"(?) and was a memorial to fallen British soldiers. No mention was made of the brave Malay soldiers and volunteers. In my opinion, the roundabout was probably known as Bellamy Circus as the Malay account stated that the road around the memorial was once known as Bellamy Road. The English version described the roundabout as being the junction of Keramat Tanjung Road, Penggawa Road and Batu Burok Road. All the original buildings close to the memorial had been demolished and replaced with more modern buildings of less than 15 years vintage. The open space with the drying laundry beyond the memorial as seen in the old photograph is now partially blocked by a building owned by an Islamic organisation.
Although the Kuala Selangor War Memorial was once in the heart of the town, that is no longer true. We saw many contract workers from China and Vietnam lodged in shophouses not 30 feet from the memorial and the general atmosphere was that of a coolie line.
The memorial has to be restored - the plaques listing the fallen have to be replaced by marble tablets to prevent further theft. I would strongly recommend that the decorative sculptures be removed and bushes or trees be planted instead. The footpaths to the memorial were uneven and paved with irregular shaped flagstones (not in the old photograph). It would be best to raise the ground level and have it properly paved. A new, historically accurate and consistent bilingual information board would also be required.
We now have details of all the Europeans named on the Second World War plaque. Two are fathers of Malayan Volunteers Group members. We want now to find out more about the Malays, two of whom served in the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Malay Regiment and the First World War names.
Do any of our readers have further information or photos of this memorial which might assist any reconstruction project?.
VJ DAY SERVICE AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
This took place in the MVG Memorial Garden on 15th August 2009 at 12 noon
Twelve MVG members and friends gathered. After the wreath laying by Ron Mitchell [1SSVF] and Anne Hinam and the two minutes silence, Jonathan Moffatt read out the names of those whose lives are commemorated on plaques and in trees & bamboo in the MVG Memorial Garden:
Eric Reeve & Aden McLeod of the Malacca Volunteers [4SSVF]
James & Penelope Landon of the Selangor LDC and Medical Auxilliary Service
Allan Barrie, Sholto Stitt & George Bean of the FMSVF
Charles Crabbe, Joseph Dunne & Lincoln Page of the Singapore Volunteers [1SSVF]
and the men of the FMSVF Light Battery.
Readings included Corinthians 2:1, Beryl Dohoo's moving poem and Margaret Dryburgh's Captives Hymn.
We were particulary pleased to welcome at our service a visiting Singaporean family who had shared the experience of evacuation and whose father was in the Singapore Volunteer Corps. It was as if they were meant to be there at that moment!
The service was followed by a substantial picnic lunch and chat.
Click here to view Order of Service
Click here to view photos
Meeting with FEPOW artist
Australian MVG secretary John Pollock & son Sam had a very special day on August 9th meeting FEPOW artist Fred Ransome Smith. Fred was a 2nd Lt in the 5th Suffolks and a commercial artist in civilian life. His drawings, including the Christmas card that features John's father Walter Pollock 1FMSVF - see our website photo gallery - provide an important record of the Captivity..
Fred recently sketched from memory a scene of the canteen at Nakhon Pathom which John's father was in charge of (with John's dad behind the counter serving the food). Fred kindly gave John a copy of the drawing. At Nakhon Pathom Fred spent time with the FMSVF POWs there helping to tend the gardens and grow food for the camp
Fred, a friend of FEPOW artist Jack Chalker, is still a prolific drawer and also does exquisite paper sculptures.
HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF NORFOLK
The Malayan Volunteers Group is delighted to announce that Georgina, Duchess of Norfolk has graciously accepted its invitation to become Patron of the Group.
The Duchess is the grandaughter of Charles F.E. Mounsey, 2nd Lt, 2nd [Selangor] Battalion, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force. He was taken prisoner in Singapore and sent to Thailand. Her grandfather was the agent for the Societe Internationale de Plantations et de Finance [SIPEF] in Kuala Lumpur. Her Grace thus has a direct connection with the Malayan Volunteers.
VJ DAY SERVICE AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
This will take place in the MVG Memorial Garden on 15th August 2009 at 12 noon and will be followed by a picnic lunch. Further details from and names to Jonathan or Rosemary.
Malayan Volunteer Regimental Shields for FEPOW Building
Sixteen MVG members and friends gathered on May 4th 2009, a cold, blustery day. at the National Memorial Arboretum to hand over two regimental shields for display in the FEPOW Building. Among those attending were veterans John Hedley [Johore Volunteer Engineers] and Ron Mitchell [Singapore Volunteers].
In a short speech, Jonathan Moffatt said that although the shields were only of the two largest units of the Volunteers, namely the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force and the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, they should be taken to represent the 18,200 Malayan Volunteers of all creeds and races who served in World War Two and in addition the many civilians who served in passive defence units: MAS, ARP etc. While many were still unaware of the role played by the Malayan Volunteers in the Malayan Campaign & captivity, viewing the shields would perhaps raise some questions and answers could be gained by viewing the Malayan Volunteers file and other resources in the FEPOW Building/COFEPOW archive.
The shields were kindly received by COFEPOW Archivist Keith Andrews who expressed his own interest in the story of the Volunteers. Keith then gave us a short talk and guided tour of the Archive.
A substantial picnic lunch and lively chat concluded our gathering.
Photos can be viewed here.
Captured - The Extraordinary Life of Prisoners of War
This is the title of a new exhibition that will open in the main gallery at Imperial War Museum North on 23rd May 2009 and will run until January 2010. It is being billed as the first major exhibition ever held by the Imperial War Museum dedicated to the experiences of prisoners of war during conflict. It will include the experiences of British and Commonwealth prisoners and civilian internees in Europe and the Far East. It also features stories of Italian and German prisoners in the UK and their relations with their captors. This is a huge area to cover in a relatively small exhibition space but the IWM North is very good at staging thought provoking and visually stimulating displays so I think we should be confident that it will be well worth a visit.
According to their press release, more prisoners were taken during the Second World War than in any other conflict. Millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen found themselves behind barbed wire. What happened to them depended on when and where they were captured - and sometimes their nationality or race. Many of us, it goes on, know something about prisoners of war through films which romanticise daring escapes. But there is another story. It is one of extremes - from courage, comradeship and compassion, to hunger, boredom, deprivation, cruelty and neglect. Civilians, including women and children, were caught up in the total war and were thus also interned, simply because of their nationality. Either they were people caught in enemy territory when war broke out, or they had escaped persecution and were rounded up and interned by the very countries in which they had sought refuge.
The exhibition organisers claim that visitors will be able to uncover the truth behind stories that have since become legends such as The Great Escape, Colditz and The Bridge over the River Kwai and find out what everyday life was really like as a POW, from experiences of capture, food, welfare, work, recreation and illicit activities to liberation. Given how well the organisers did when they mounted the First World War exhibition, albeit with input from the Horrible Histories team, I think they will try very hard to recreate as best they can the POW camps. However, I do not think anyone will ever be able to imagine what it must have been like to be locked up without any knowledge of how long it would last, so that will be perhaps the tallest order for this exhibition.
Nevertheless, through hands-on displays they hope to attract children as well as adults, and that can only be a good thing. There will be crawl-through escape tunnels, try-on disguises and audio allowing the visitors to listen to illicit messages. Highlights include the first public display of the bed sheet embroidered by Daisy Day Joyce in Hong Kong, a dress made of mosquito nets used in Changi theatre productions and Ronald Searle's slouch hat. From Germany there are magazines, a handmade loom constructed by prisoners in Oflag VIIb, the cap worn by Jimmy James at the time of the Great Escape and other exciting everyday objects that have achieved almost mythical status because of their use or their owners in the Second World War.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Imperial War Museum North I would strongly recommend you make a visit. Not only is it situated in one of the most dramatic of locations for a museum, right on the waterfront of the Manchester Ship Canal at Old Trafford, but the building itself, designed by Daniel Liebeskind, is well worth experiencing. For an experience it is. Nothing is on the level and the building has the character of a splintered world, so very in keeping with the contents of the displays.
Facts you need to know: Imperial War Museum North is open 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm (Nov to Feb closes 5pm) with free admission. It is at The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1TZ. Car parking is easy but there is a £4.00 charge at a meter so you need change. Public transport is possible but requires a bit of a walk. There is an over-ground tram line that runs from Piccadilly and Oxford Road to Old Trafford. The café is good with spectacular views and the food very edible and fresh- sandwiches, soup and a hot buffet most days. The shop is small but has a relatively good selection of books. We often moan that there is nothing on the Far East but they have promised to rectify this during the exhibition so fingers crossed they will keep that promise.
For further information visit http://www.north.iwm.org.uk/ or call 0161 836 4000
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance Commemoration February 15th 2009
MVG Members John Pollock and Susan Rutherford attended the Commemoration in Melbourne. John's father served in IFMSVF and Susan's father in the FMSVF Light Battery.
John noticed the signature of an FMSVF FEPOW on the Changi flag - that of Hartley R. Robinson from Perth WA who was a mining engineer with Anglo-Oriental and served in the FMSVF 45 Reserve MT Company.
For more information on the Changi flag see http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/pow-flag-flies-in-face-of-hard-mans-reputation/2005/09/12/1126377256877.html?from=moreStories
The Changi Flag
FEPOWs attending incl. Charles Edwards [sat 2nd left].
Australian MVG Members meet up
John Pollock & family travelled from Bendigo, Victoria to Perth WA to meet George Hess'e [FMSVF Light Battery veteran].
The weather was terrific and the surf was pretty good most days. Unfortunately they are now back in dry Bendigo where it was 41celsius and no beach to go to!!
John's son Sam met up with George and the two ‘authors’ [see January 2009 newsletter] compared notes. One day, Sam and John met George and his wife, Hyacinth, at their home and on another day, John's family got together with George and Hyacinth over lunch at a hawker’s stall run by people George knew in Penang.
While in Perth, John was also able to meet up with friends of James Richardson who served with his father in the FMSVF River Patrol/ Independent Company and later Intelligence Corps.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY November 9th 2008
Remembrance Sunday 2008 dawned grey and dank with a chilly east wind blowing down Whitehall. The leaves of the London plane trees lay sodden on the ground after torrential rain on Saturday threatened to disrupt the Cenotaph Ceremony. However, the rain held off on Remembrance Sunday itself, and the dense crowds kept the chill at bay.
Despite letters from the Royal British Legion warning of changes to the layout of Whitehall, and a reduction in the number of tickets being issued to contingents marching past the Cenotaph, we received our usual quota of 12. Strict new security measures were in place as we arrived in Trafalgar Square at 9 a.m., as instructed, on this cold autumnal day. All civilian onlookers and marchers alike were diverted through Whitehall Place, where we were frisked by security guards and had to walk through airport-style security arches. Even rolled-up umbrellas had to be checked and searched. Eventually we made our way into Whitehall and picked up our new-style marker sheet – no longer the heavy wooden marker board to be held aloft, just a laminated sheet with our column number.
As the minutes ticked by, MVG members started to arrive and by 10.15 we were ready to move forward to our marching position in the column. By 10.50 a.m. we were lined up in position, and the crowds became quiet. The invited dignitaries quietly and quickly took their places before Her Majesty The Queen stepped out of the Foreign Office promptly at 10.59 a. m. The huge crowd of marchers and onlookers fell silent as Big Ben struck 11 o’clock and the 2 minutes silence commenced. Wreath laying followed the gun salute – Royalty, Politicians, and Ambassadors – led by the Queen in simple, dignified homage to those who have laid down their lives for this country. The short service which followed has remained unchanged over the years, bringing with it a sense of stability and continuity in a fast changing world. Let us hope that this tradition will never be changed.
Although the 90th Anniversary of Armistice Day was not to fall for another 2 days, nevertheless marchers and onlookers alike were well aware of the significance of the occasion, and the crowds were the biggest seen in the 4 years since the MVG first marched in Whitehall.
The MVG is fortunate to have a number of dedicated members who wish to commemorate the Volunteers at the Cenotaph every year. This does not mean that others in the Group who wish to take part in the ceremony cannot join us. We feel that it is an honour to be able to take part in this Service of Remembrance every year, and this was felt even more keenly this time, on the 90th Anniversary of the end of World War 1.
This year, regular marchers Sandy Lincoln, Karen Harney, Mike and Christine Cavender with their family, granddaughter Freya and friend Gwen, and Donald and Rosemary Fell were joined by Lt. Michael Doncaster from Australia, looking resplendent in his naval uniform. We were especially delighted that Michael was able to fit the ceremony into a very tight schedule while over in England on business for the Australian Navy. He found the experience a very rewarding one. Sadly Pat Wilson was unable to join us as planned through ill health.
Our wreath bore the same message which is inscribed on the MVG Memorial Stone in the MVG Garden at Alrewas:-
In memory of
The Malayan Volunteers
Both Military and Civilian
Who served in WW2
1941 – 1945
Despite a strong plea to the BBC TV Outside Broadcast to extend their coverage of the event, and pointing out that the MVG had an Australian Naval Officer in uniform marching this year, sadly no mention was made of the Malayan Volunteers.
The Duke of Wessex took the salute in Horse Guards at the end of the march past. After the National Anthem, the parade dispersed and we said our goodbyes to Karen and Christine and family, who were unable to join us for lunch. Sandy, Donald, Michael and I retraced our steps into Parliament Square and across Westminster Bridge to the “All Bar One” restaurant, where we enjoyed a long and convivial lunch, before visiting the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on our way back. A cross was planted in the FEPOW plot for the Volunteers, and this rounded off a long but very worthwhile and rewarding day.
Photos can be viewed here.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY IN KUALA LUMPUR, 9 NOVEMBER 2008
Remembrance Sunday took place on a glorious morning at the Kuala Lumpur Cenotaph at the Tugu Negara (National Monument) Complex. At about 7.50am, bagpipers from the 6th Battalion, Royal Ranger Regiment began the prelude to the Service followed by the opening hymn, "Abide with Me".
The British High Commisisoner, H.E. Boyd McCleary then read an excerpt from the Pericles Eulogy. This was followed by prayers by Revd. David Sigamoney (Anglican Church) and a Muslim cleric, Haji Ramly bin Jaffar. The Hindu clergy were represented by a priest and a temple singer who chanted and sang ancient Hindu laments in remembrance of the British Indian Army dead.
The Australian High Commissioner, H. E. Penny Williams recited "In Flanders Fields" followed by New Zealand Defence Attache Captain Steve Streefkerk's with "To The Fallen". The closing hymn "I Vow to Thee My Country" was sung after the 2 poems.
After this, 37 wreaths were laid by representatives from various organisations including the Malayan Volunteers Group, High Commissions and Embassies, British and International Schools, Loyal Societies, the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, Veterans, the British Military and the Malaysian Military. MVG was represented by Andrew Hwang.
Former MVG member, Ivan Ho (son of Ho Pan Thong, 8th Platoon , B Company 1FMSVF) attended at MVG's invitation. After the service all participants were invited to a hearty breakfast at the British High Commissioner's Residence. During the breakfast, Ivan spoke of the missing bronze memorial which was once at the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (opposite the Selangor Club) and which commemorated the fallen members of the Malayan Bar and judiciary, including his father who was a barrister. More on this in a coming article.
Click here to view photos.
Malacca Volunteers Memorials
We are concerned at the condition and care of two Straits Settlements Volunteer memorials in Malacca: the World War 2 memorial on the wall of the Stadthuys, a World Heritage Site, needs cleaning and cordoning off to prevent the alcove it is in being used by vendors including ice cream men. The addition of an information board would also make its significance clearer to visitors. Also the wooden World War 1 Memorial in Christ Church, Malacca hangs precariously from a nail, its left hand bottom corner broken off. Children often touch the memorial and it was beginning to show considerable wear and tear despite the brass cross at the centre of the memorial being brightly polished. The church as a whole is due for repair shortly.
We hope to raise awareness of this problem and do something about it over the next year as well as looking at other Volunteer Memorials in Malaysia.
Click here to see MVG member Andrew Hwang's recent photos of these memorials.
MVG LONDON LUNCH October 4th 2008
Photos are available here.
Some 43 members of the MVG including veterans Ron Mitchell [1SSVF] & Sir Roger Moon [JVE] attended the lunch at a Soho Chinese restaurant. Members came from far and wide including two families from South Africa. There was also a good balance between familiar & new faces.
Following a substantial lunch and much chat there were a number of short items: Jonathan Moffatt spoke about the condition of the Malacca Volunteers Memorial on the wall of the Stadthuys, Malacca. Stephanie Hess reported on behalf of those who attended the recent Volunteers memorial plaque unveiling at the Changi Museum:"September 12th, 2008 marked the 63rd anniversary of the formal surrender of the Japanese in Singapore. It was also the date of a very special occasion for the Malayan Volunteers Group – the Unveiling Ceremony of the MVG Memorial Board at the The Changi Museum in Singapore. This event, coupled with the launch of FEPOW Peter S. Rhodes’ book “To Japan To Lay A Ghost” brought together people from all corners of the globe.
The idea of commemorating the Volunteer Forces at Changi originated in a conversation between Sandy Lincoln and Rosemary Fell a few years ago. The thought took on a momentum which culminated in a most moving and memorable occasion attended by the President of Singapore, His Excellency S.R. Nathan.
The teak wood plaque, beautifully crafted by Nicholas Shannon, displays five shields representing the various branches of the Volunteer Forces – Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, Kelantan Volunteer Force, Johore Volunteer Engineers and Kedah Volunteer Force.
An informal dinner offered by the Changi Museum at the Singapore Cricket Club the evening before the Ceremony proved to be a wonderful ice-breaker. MVG members and friends, 16 in all, enjoyed the opportunity to meet author Peter S. Rhodes and his family, local Singaporeans and FEPOWS Jimmy Chew, George Prior, and our own George Hess’e who caused great delight with his pronouncement that he walked out of Changi three days after being captured because he “didn’t like the food”!
The number of guests, which included the most efficient and charming staff members and associates of the Changi Museum, totaled roughly 40. A delicious buffet dinner, punctuated by much lively conversation, was rounded off by Mr. Jeyathurai (Jeya), Director of the Changi Museum, who warmly welcomed us all and introduced the FEPOWS to the room. He was followed by Mr. Razeen Chan, Assistant Curator of the Museum, who gave us an outline of the following day’s events. FEPOW George Prior was asked to the podium and, accompanied by Alison Brierley, led the room in a rousing series of inspirational songs that showed the spirit of hope and optimism which had carried him and his fellow FEPOWS through so many awful times. It was a heart-warming finale to such a lovely evening.
The following day guests began arriving at Changi Museum from 2:00 p.m. onwards. The number was doubled from the previous evening to include diplomatic representatives of Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, members of St. John’s Ambulance, the Singapore Tourism Board and others.
Refreshments were offered at the Bark Café, a pleasant open-air restaurant located beside the Museum and there was an air of anticipation as old friends and new gathered for the event.
Shortly before 3:00 p.m. a bugle call announced the arrival of the Guest of Honour, Mr. S.R. Nathan, President of the Republic of Singapore. Rosemary Fell was amongst the group of five to receive him and his party at the entrance of the Museum. A second bugle call a few moments later was the signal for the 80 or so guests to take their seats in the event area by the Wartime Artist’s Gallery and a final bugle call announced the entry of the President.
The Ceremony opened with warm words of welcome from Jeya. Razeen spoke next to introduce the book by Peter S. Rhodes, “To Japan To Lay A Ghost”, which tells the story of his years as a soldier and prisoner of war, and describes his journey to Japan twenty-five years after Liberation to make peace with the man whose face haunted his dreams.
His daughter Janet spoke of her own experiences as a child of an ex-POW, and of the positive results and friendships that continue to this day from that healing journey made by her father nearly 40 years ago. The author then presented a signed copy of his book to the President.
Professor Brian Farrell, Deputy Head of the History Department at the National University of Singapore gave a clear and illuminating talk on the history of the Malayan Volunteer Forces.
Rosemary was introduced next. She spoke of the background of the Malayan Volunteer Forces and of the gradual development of the Malayan Volunteers Group, which began as an informal annual get-together over lunch by a handful of British Malayans who had been in the Volunteer Forces. Rosemary described the special bond that the men in the Volunteer Forces shared, a bond which is still felt to this day by their descendants. Her moving account of her father Eric Reeve’s time as a prisoner of war, his tragic death at the age of 36 at Chungkai, Thailand and her pride in his conduct as a member of the Malayan Volunteer Forces brought tears to the eyes of the guests.
Jeya invited Rosemary and the President to approach the long wall packed with shields, plaques, badges and medals. A pair of golden curtains hung above, waiting for this moment. President S.R. Nathan drew on the suspended cord, the curtains parted and the Malayan Volunteers Group Memorial Board was unveiled.
The Last Post sounded, followed by a minute’s silence, with all standing and uniformed personnel saluting. The sounding of Reveille completed the Ceremony and the President was taken on a tour of the Museum as guests were invited to a reception at the Bark Café and were each the recipient of an autographed copy of Peter S. Rhodes’ book.
The Press, who had been clicking away throughout the event descended on Rosemary with a host of questions which she handled with great aplomb. The President joined the reception and before his departure posed for photos with the 4 FEPOWS attending, the author and his family, and the members and friends of MVG.
There was a great buzz as guests chatted with each other, and as the hours flew by the heat of the day gave way to the balmy evening air. A beautiful tropical moon shone down on the last remaining guests who reluctantly tore themselves away from what had been a day of reflection, emotion, remembrance and celebration.
Alicky Hess read out the following letter she had composed to her great grandfather who served in the Singapore Volunteers:
Grandpa, I have gotten to know you so well these past two years I feel as if I have in some way connected to you. The emotional journey that I have experienced with you and mummy has been phenomenal.
When I was ten I really got to know you. That was the year that mummy transcribed your prisoner of war diary. As each day came, the plot would thicken and mummy would find some more information on the camps or what happened to the letters that were sent to you from Eilish. As she discovered more, the TOP SECRET mission (the surprise for Uncle Simon & Uncle John) became even more hush hush. It was like living in a whole different world.
I loved to hear about “what happened next to grandpa and if his foot was ok after the accident. I would settle down with mummy to read what she had transcribed that day it became my bed time reading. It was a way for me to escape from reality, to go back in time to the hidden years.
Your time as a prisoner of the Japanese could not have been easy but you always made it seem so light hearted and less dramatic then the truth.
When ever I was put in a difficult situation I would ask myself ‘what would Grandpa do?’ it made my life so much easier. You were always so positive and could overcome any situation or challenge that came your way.
Not only did I get to know you through the diary, but also through your stories that mummy passed onto me. One of my favorites would be your description of an enrage Japanese Guard jumping up & down on your glasses and only afterwards realizing that you would need a new pair because you couldn’t work without them.
The journey really came alive when we went to the places that you mentioned. We went to Singapore and visited the Yacht Club where you spent so many happy times, to C Holland Park where you lived, to Raffles Hotel where many an occasion was spent, the Singapore Volunteer Headquarters, the Dutch Club, Swimming Club, the Tanglin Club, Changi, Kranji and other important places in your life.
You were an extraordinary man and you never gave up no matter what happened to you . I find that truly amazing. I love your sense of humour and the way you always found the bright side of things. Your faith in the future was not wasted. I will tell your story to my children and to my grandchildren.
You are no longer just a name that I would hear every once in a while or just a nother black and white photograph in the family tree. You are now a very real and much loved person in my life.
From your great granddaughter
This year's main talk was by David Dobbs whose father, Bill, of Mansfield & Co, Penang, was a Sergeant in the Penang Volunteers. Drawing on tapes his father made and the family photo album, David described his father's service in the Volunteers pre-hostilities, with the pleasant, monthly weekend camps; during the mobilisation period & through the Malayan Campaign until he entered captivity at Singapore. David and his mother were evacuated from Penang to Singapore then to Australia. Bill's duties on arrival in Singapore included the training of Dalforce Chinese irregulars. A particular point that David emphasised was the lack of distinction between officers & other ranks in the Volunteers which often created problems when they encountered regular army officers. It was not unusual in the Volunteers for men to be taking orders from those who were their juniors in civilian life or for an NCO in the Volunteers to be wearing a First World War
Military Cross. David's father was a POW in Singapore & Thailand.
This was a most interesting, well-received talk.
Particular thanks go to Sandy Lincoln who has worked so hard to organise not only this highly successful lunch but also the previous 5 lunches.
PRESENTATION OF THE MEMORIAL BOARD
TO THE CHANGI MUSEUM
1st photos from Singapore [courtesy of David Hope]. Click on the photos to enlarge.
More photos can be viewed here.
The details for those visiting Singapore are as follows:-
THURSDAY – 11TH SEPTEMBER
Buffet Dinner in the Gilmour Room at the Singapore Cricket Club
Time:- 5.30 – 8.30 p.m. for Dinner at 6.00 p.m.
Dress:- Smart casual
This will be an informal gathering of MVG members and others including Singapore Veterans.
FRIDAY – 12TH SEPTEMBER
Presentation of the Memorial Board.
Principal Guest of Honour – S.R. Nathan, The President of the Republic of Singapore.
MALAYAN VOLUNTEERS GROUP VJ DAY GATHERING August 15th 2008 at the National Memorial Arboretum
It was a beautiful day with clear sky and absolutely no sign of rain. Some 15 of our Malayan Volunteers Group including FEPOWs John Hedley, Harry Hesp & Ron Mitchell held a 20 minute service at the garden plot with prayers and readings contributed by those participating. John Hedley gave a very appropriate reading from Corinthians 2:1 well worth looking up if you are unfamiliar with it. Michael Mowat read from his father's memoirs of his time as a medical orderly with H Force at Hintock and showed us the boxed razor given to his father by a dying POW. Michael's sister Alison read a poem and Rosemary Fell read Margaret Dryburgh's 'The Captives Hymn.'
We followed our service with a substantial picnic lunch and good chat. We look forward to meeting again, some in Singapore in September and also at the London lunch on October 4th.
Before leaving the NMA Rosemary, Sandy & Jonathan delivered a substantial Malayan Volunteers information file to the FEPOW Building archive and Rosemary was able to discuss with Carol Cooper the placing of two Malayan Volunteer regimental plaques in the FEPOW Building..
Audrey McCormick represented the MVG at the Remembrance Gathering at the Cenotaph, in George Square, Glasgow. This was organised by Avril Anderson & Sandy Gibson. About 100 people attended this year, after only a small handful last year. They included two former POWs from the Kinkaseki Copper Mine, John Marshall & Benny Gough [of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry 155th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery] - one of the vilest Japanese imprisonments on record for POWs.
MALAYAN VOLUNTEERS GROUP
V-J DAY GATHERING
on FRIDAY, 15TH AUGUST 2008 at 12 NOON
in THE MVG MEMORIAL GARDEN
at The National Memorial Arboretum
by Jonathan Moffatt
and Two Minute Silence
THE LORD’S PRAYER
led by John Hedley
followed by a reading from Corinthians
'For we would not, bretheren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life....'
by Michael Mowat
from Geoffrey Scott Mowat’s book
“The Rainbow Through the Rain” and from Galations
and a poem read by Alison Brierley
THE CAPTIVE’S HYMN
written by Margaret Dryburgh,
an English missionary schoolteacher
imprisoned on Banka Island,
read by Rosemary Fell
Father, in captivity
We would lift our prayer to Thee.
Keep us ever in Thy love,
Grant that daily we may prove
Those who place their trust in Thee
More than conquerors may be.
Give us patience to endure,
Keep our hearts serene and pure,
Grant us courage, charity,
Greater faith, humility,
Readiness to own Thy will,
Be we free, or captive still.
For our country we would pray,
In this hour be Thou her stay,
Pride and selfishness forgive,
Teach her by Thy laws to live,
By Thy grace may all men see
That true greatness comes from Thee.
For our loved ones we would pray,
Be their Guardian night and day,
From all danger keep them free,
Banish all anxiety.
May they trust us to Thy care,
Know that Thou our pains dost share.
May the day of freedom dawn,
Peace and Justice be reborn.
Grant that nations, loving Thee,
O’er the world may brothers be,
Cleansed by suffering, know rebirth,
See Thy Kingdom come on earth.
First sung on Sunday 5th July 1942.
THE FEPOW PRAYER
And we who are left grow old with the years
Remembering the heartache, the pain and the tears
Hoping and praying that never again
Man will sink to such sorrow and shame
The price that was paid we will always remember
Every day, every month, not just in November.
We Shall Remember Them
THE KOHIMA EPITAPH
When you go home, tell them of us and say
‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today’.
Said by Harry Hesp.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY – 11TH NOVEMBER 2007
This year, Remembrance Sunday fell on Armistice Day itself. The task of arranging the Annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall is enormous, and can be truly appreciated only by those who have marched in the Parade. The event is organized by the Royal British Legion, and it is run with military precision. Application for the allocation of tickets to the ceremony has to be made to the RBL months beforehand, and once again the MVG was allowed 12 tickets.
It’s an early start for those of us who attend the Service. A marker board, which indicates where we are to meet in Whitehall, has to be collected in Horse Guards by 9 a.m. and all marchers are requested to be in their place by 10 o’clock. This year there were 9 members of the MVG who represented the Group at the Cenotaph. Our instructions said that we were to meet outside the Old War Office Building in Whitehall, where the Civilian Column M was designated to line up.
The weather forecast gave us a few anxious moments on Saturday evening, when a wet start to the day was predicted. However, apart from a slight drizzle early on, the weather was fine for the Service and March Past, and the sun shone briefly just before the start of the ceremony.
Just before 11 a.m., the huge crowd of onlookers and marchers alike had fallen silent, and, as HM The Queen stepped out of the Foreign Office, only the plane leaves could be heard as they fluttered down to the ground. The television coverage cannot catch the atmosphere created by a vast sea of absolutely silent faces. It is an unforgettable experience. We were able to watch the Queen lay her wreath, followed by other members of the Royal Family, including Prince William for the first time, the Politicians and the Ambassadors on a giant TV screen to the left of us. The simple service which followed, which is the same every year, only serves to enhance the dignity and significance of the occasion. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan constantly remind us that Remembrance Sunday has lost none of its relevance to-day, and there seemed to be more people than ever lining the streets and watching the ceremony. The reaction of the crowds to the Marchers is also extraordinary, and very inspiring, as they clap each and every contingent passing them.
The MVG Wreath this year, as with the form of Service, bore the same inscription as in previous years:-
In Memory of
Marching in the Civilian Column M, the MVG members had a long wait before marching. The Column was headed by the Bevan Boys in their white miners’ helmets, and the MVG contingent was the 4th group behind them. Despite displaying a label with the MVG number on it, as per instructions, the Group was not picked up by the BBC Outside Broadcast Unit, and there was no mention of the Volunteers.
The salute in Horse Guards at the end of the march was taken by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh this time. Standing to attention and saluting for over an hour would tax a much younger man, and we felt very privileged that, at the age of 86 the Duke performed this onerous duty with great aplomb, patience and fortitude. The Duke maintained his position until we had all marched past him and into Horse Guards. After the playing of the National Anthem, we said our goodbyes to those who could not stay for lunch, and the remaining 5 of us enjoyed a long chatty lunch at the “All Bar One” restaurant near the London Eye.
Those MVG members who attended this important annual ceremony found it to be a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
MVG LONDON LUNCH AND REUNION 2007
was held on Saturday, September 29th at Super Star Chinese Restaurant, Soho. Some 40 MVG members attended including representatives from Australia < South Africa. These included veterans John Hedley [JVE] and Ron Mitchell [1SSVF] and Changi internee, Sheila Allan.
This year the short address was given by Stephanie Hess who spoke about her grandfather's Singapore < Japan captivity diary and her grandmother's collection of photos and press cuttings from Singapore 1930s to 1941. The talk was extremely well received. There was much lively conversation with some most interesting connections made.
DEDICATION OF THE MALAYAN VOLUNTEERS GARDEN August 15th 2007 [VJ Day]
Some twenty five members of the Malayan Volunteers Group and members of other FEPOW families met at the Changi Lychgate, National Memorial Arboretum, and were led by Pipe Major Duncan Thompson to the Malayan Volunteers Garden plot. A service of dedication followed, conducted by the Revd. Tony Wood, assisted by FEPOWs Harry Hesp, John Hedley & Ron Mitchell. The National Anthem and 'I vow to thee, my country' were sung and the piper played tunes including Highland Laddie, Flowers of the Forest and Amazing Grace.
After a lively lunchtime chat, members joined the Shropshire FEPOWs for their annual service. Despite gloomy forecasts, the sun came out.
Click here to view the ORDER OF SERVICE
Photos of the Garden dedication can be found in the gallery.
Donations for this memorial garden and for the Changi Memorial Plaque, Singapore are still needed.
THE NATIONAL MALAYA AND BORNEO VETERANS ASSOCIATION MERDEKA CELEBRATIONFour MVG members joined our NMBVA friends at the National Memorial Arboretum on August 31st 2007 for their Merdeka Celebration. The service was conducted in the chapel by the Rev. Bernard J. Ward and the Association members, led by our friend Pipe Major Duncan Thomson, then marched to their memorial plotfor the Last Post and Two Minute Silence. After an ample buffet we were entertained by a kukri dance by young Gurkha soldiers.
2ND INTERNATIONAL RESEARCHING FEPOW HISTORY CONFERENCE
Researching FEPOW History Group2nd International Conference at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire on Saturday & Sunday 31 May – 1 June, 2008 The focus will be FEPOW and civilian internment in SINGAPORE, MALAYA < HONG KONG, 1942-1945 Keynote speakers: Mr Jeyathurai – Director of the Changi Museum, Singapore The Fall of Malaya and Singapore, How Singapore commemorates WWII Tony Banham – Founder of the Hong Kong War Diary website The battle for Hong Kong, FEPOW < Civilian Internees and the Hellships Guest Lecturers: Peter Francis – Commonwealth War Graves Commission ????? Dr Nigel Stanley – Medical aspects relating to FEPOW and civilian internees David Tett – FEPOW mail and postal history Sears Eldridge – FEPOW entertainments ????? Special guests: Roderick Suddaby – Imperial War Museum Roger Mansell – Director of the Center for FEPOW Research, USA Fred Seiker, FEPOW Once again, we hope to be joined by at least 12 FEPOW guests including representatives of two famous Highland regiments. £100 per delegate for the two days (Deposit £40 now, balance to pay Feb.08) Contact: For a registration form contact Meg Parkes by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Kranji, 34 Queens Road, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 2AJ or log on to www.researchingfepowhistory.org.uk
PRIORITY BOOKING – Reserve your place NOW!Previous delegates have priority booking for a limited period only. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Don't miss this unique opportunity to hear leading international experts in the field of FEPOW history research.
APPEAL LAUNCHED FOR THE MEMORIAL GARDEN PLOT TO THE MALAYAN VOLUNTEERS AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
The Board of Trustees of the NMA have approved a 8m x 15m plot. It is planned to plant Chinese birch trees at the top of the bank to provide some shade for the two MVG memorial benches. These will be set on a level paved area overlooking the lower part of the plot and the Arboretum itself. Between the benches there will be a black polished granite commemorative stone. Below the benches there will be a paved 'V' laid into the grassy bank, about 5 metres in overall length, which will lie parallel to the Malay kris in the adjacent NMBVA plot. Towards the lower part of the plot there will be some clumps of hardy bamboo at each side.
Please contact Rosemary Fell if you wish to make a donation
MVG Plot moves towards completion
NMBVA PLOT DEDICATION 24th September 2006The dedication of the redesigned National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association plot at the National Memorial Arboretum on September 24th was attended by 7 MVG members After the service in the Chapel there was an impressive parade with standards to the plot led by a former Argyll & Sutherland Highlander Pipe Major in full dress uniform. Two serving Gurkhas also participated. The dedication was followed by a good buffet meal.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 12th November 2006
The Malayan Volunteers Group was represented this year by 8 members and a 5 month old baby girl called Freya, at the annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London, lead by HM The Queen. It was a beautiful, sunny autumn day as the marchers lined up in Whitehall prior to the start of the Service. Security was very tight, but the crowds of onlookers were as great as ever, filling every vantage point along Whitehall, across Parliament Square and even overflowing into Great George Street and Horse Guards Road. The simple, dignified service was preceded by the laying of wreaths by HM The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, the Politicians and foreign Ambassadors.
After the dignitaries had departed, the columns of marchers began to weave their way down Whitehall to the Cenotaph where they handed in their wreath to the ushers waiting to place them around the Cenotaph.
MVG marched near the beginning of the Civilian Column M and handed in a simple Poppy Wreath bearing the following inscription:-In memory of The Malayan Volunteers both Military and Civilian who served in WW2 1941-1942 This year, the salute at the end of the March Past was taken by HRH The Duke of Kent, and the marchers were requested to remain in Horse Guards until everyone had arrived, and the National Anthem had been played. Some members had to leave immediately after the parade, but a small group of 4 had a leisurely lunch together, which rounded off a successful and very rewarding day for the MVG.