Sergeant Cliff Martin, 2nd Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, recalls being overwhelmed by the Japanese.
Cliff Martin
Sergeant Cliff Martin

What were your feelings at the time?
Well felt that we just had to do what we had to do. We were trained as soldiers and we had to try and fight them and hold them back, but they were very clever, they were very experienced troops. We weren't at all, we were with a load of Indian troops, most of our divisions out there were Indian divisions, I was in, or my Battalion was in the 11th Indian Division. Well they just slaughtered us when they first caught us. I managed to escape from them, or rather my platoon, and we had to get to the coast of Malaysia and commandeer some row boats and rowed across towards Penang. On our way we were picked up by a British Navy minesweeper because we were rowing across and a tropical storm blew up and we were baling out and then all of a sudden somebody said, "Look Sarg, there's a ship over there", and we looked and there was a ship with no flag, we didn't know if it was Japanese or English. Then the click of the tannoy came on and a very cold British voice said, "I say would you chaps like a lift?" and that's how we finished back in Singapore. Came back up later on through various camps, found that because we were in the same division as the Leicestershire Regiment, two British Battalions had got knocked about so much by the Japanese there were was only about half a Battalion each left and they joined them together and amalgamated them and called them the British Battalion for want of a better title, there were so many Indian troops out there, and of course we've been very proud of that title because the first action we had was the battle of Kampar in Malaysia.