D Company 2nd Bn The East Surrey Regiment

under Command of 1/8th Punjab Regiment

D Company's movements between 14th and 26th December 1941 are recounted by the Company Commander, Captain (now Major) Cater.

'We had orders to withdraw to Kedah Peak area where my company was put under command of 1/8 Punjab Regiment. We hastily dug in on Kedah Peak, but although the Punjabis were astride the main road, the Japs broke through at night. With the Japanese behind us, we were ordered to withdraw to the Penang area to try to join up with our Battalion further south'. Penang Island is about 25 miles to the south west. Major Cater continues,

'It took us three days through hills and jungle to reach the coast, and we were all rather split up. I managed to commandeer boats to row us across to Penang Island, and the remains of my company reached Penang on 17th December, only to find that Penang had surrendered to the Japanese and white flags were flying everywhere. All British personnel had been ordered to assemble in the grounds of the British Embassy and await the arrival of the J aps who had not yet reached the Island.

I managed to get a lot of my company away on two boats steaming for Malacca. I stayed that night on the Island to see if I could find any more of my company, who had of course landed on different beaches. Next morning, with Captain Howard, the Adjutant, and the 8 Punjab company commander, we commandeered a Malayan junk. We had raided a civilian house and put on plain clothes to avoid detection. This was lucky, because as we sailed the junk out of harbour we hid under the huge sails, and the Japanese landing parties passed us in a fleet of motor boats.

We sailed south for seven days with the help of the old Chinese junk owner, heading for Malacca and hoping to join up with the remnants of the Battalion. We were finally picked up by a British gunboat and taken to Malacca on 25th December. The next day we journeyed up to Kampar where we were told the remnants of the Surreys and Leicesters had amalgamated, and were now called the British Battalion.

We were sent down to Kuala Lumpur to get fitted out in uniform again at a Rehabilitation Unit, but were seized by Divisional Headquarters and told to form a Jungle Warfare Cadre. This we did, and helped to train the Norfolks and Cambridgeshires of the newly arrived 18th British Division in the art of jungle warfare, including patrols behind the Japanese lines.

But on about 7 February 1942 we were all forced to withdraw to Singapore Island. The Causeway was blown up, but the Japs managed to land, and finally we all surrendered on 14 February 1942 under General Percival, the Supreme Commander'.


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