Account of The Battle of Kampar by L/Cpl J Wyatt

'Here is a personal account of the battle for Kampar, 30 December 41 to 2 January 42.

Here is what happened to myself and some comrades during that four day period. I was to serve under Captain Vickers, East Surreys, in D Company.

D Company was put into reserve on Cemetery Ridge at the start of the battle. We were digging trenches until the second day when at dawn Sergeant Craggs (East Surreys) woke us up with, 'Fix your bayonets. We have got to dislodge some Jap troops who have got a footing on top of Green Ridge'. Captain Vickers led the charge up the hill, and our men were being cut down by Jap mortars and machine gun fire.

I was behind Captain Vickers when he killed a Japanese officer. He shouted to me, 'Corporal, search that officer'. This I did, finding a school map with all our positions encircled with red ink. When seeing Captain Vickers later I handed it to him. I also found a pocket watch which I kept for a souvenir, not thinking it was a foolish thing to do, for I might have been captured, and God knows what would have happened. I kept the watch right through to Singapore, but there is another story attached to that.

Getting back to Green Ridge, we had shifted the Japs, but now it was stalemate. Every time we moved, their machine guns pinned us down. I managed to crawl into a trench overlooking the road with some other East Surreys. Private Pearce was one - a real joker who was singing Cockney songs. I found the trench too small and decided to move a few feet away from it. Just as I did so, Private Pearce's singing was shattered by a shell from a Jap tank that was firing from the roadway. It landed right in the middle of the trench, killing some East Surreys and badly wounding Private Pearce. Another soldier and myself tried to help the wounded, but every time we moved we were machine gunned. We lay there all that day- the heat was unbearable and there was no water for ourselves or for the wounded.

Darkness came and the Japs were sending out night patrols, but somehow missed us. How, I don't know, because the wounded men were crying for assistance, but we dared not move or our positions would have been discovered. At last dawn came, but with it the heat, and as the day grew hotter the dead bodies began to smell. Pearce was still alive and moaning, so Private Holloway (East Surreys) and myself decided we would try to get him to the Field Hospital. We found two planks of wood and tried to make a stretcher, but every time we got him on to it, he rolled off, making his wounds worse. With all the heavy machine gunning all around we had to give up the attempt.

Another unsuccessful counter-attack was made by D Company which was haIted by the Japs, so we had to lie flat and hold our positions. We spent another night listening to Jap patrols seeking us out. During this time we had had no water or food for the two days we had been in action. I was still stuck on Green Ridge, and every time I moved Jap bullets were spattering the ground all around me, and I tried to claw myself into the earth.

I lay for what seemed an eternity when a runner crawled up with orders from Captain Vickers to move to the trenches at the top of the hill when it got dark. We were to move out at midnight to try to get to safety. Jap patrols were all around. I found a trench with some other East Surreys, and waited for orders to move. Private Holloway was on my left, and it was about 11.30 pm when out of the blackness a Jap patrol burst into our trench. Shots were fired and a quick skirmish ensued. I heard Captain Vickers shouting,'Down here, lads!' I ran towards his voice and found him. He started putting us in single file, lying behind each other, waiting for each man to be withdrawn singly. Whilst waiting for my turn to come I could see the moonlight on the slowly advancing Japanese. I could hear them shouting to each other, but above all I could hear the shouts of the remainder of our lads who were trapped in the jungle below. We could do nothing to help.

We eventually reported to Captain Vickers who was waiting to get us away. He checked our numbers, turned towards the jungle of Kampar, saluted and said (and I shall never forget his words), 'Gentlemen, we've left some brave lads in that jungle tonight'.

'I had to get rid of that Jap officer's watch at the massacre at Alexandra Hospital, Singapore. I was in there wounded when they broke in. I got rid of it just in time.'


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