The Padre

The Regimental History of The East Surrey Regiment records, 'The Padre, The Reverend Henry Babb, MBE, was outstanding in his devotion to the British Battalion. He was not on the posted strength of the Surreys, but he had been their chaplain for a year before the Japanese war began. When the Surreys lost their own chaplain at the Battle of Gurun, Henry Babb gave a great deal of his time to the British Battalion, and was a great source of comfort and inspiration in the dark days of captivity'.

Padre Babb, a pre-war Regular Army Chaplain, writes;
'I was chaplain to the Military College of Science at Lydd. Then I was posted to the East Surreys when they occupied the Chinese High School in Singapore. I was with the 2nd Bn the East Surreys during their stay at Singapore, and at Jitra, north of Alor Star.

But just before the War started in Malaya, I was promoted to be IC of the chaplains from Headquarters of the Division in North Malaya. My period with the East Surreys was an exceptionally happy one, and I have nothing but praise for the officers, NCOs and men of the 2nd Battalion - they were all very kind to me.

The young chaplain who replaced me * was killed south of Alor Star during the early part of the War in Malaya. He was not replaced as I had few chaplains to call on, but I went out of my way to keep in touch with the Battalion and the Leicesters.

During POW days I was able to take at least one or two services during the week, and on Sundays Holy Communion to any fellow prisoners when they returned from work on the Railway. Also services in the hospital hut in either a camp on the Line or at base, Chungkai'.

*The Reverend Peter Rawsthorne, killed in action at Gurun on 14th December 1941.


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