Withdrawl to Singapore Island

On 25th January, the situation worsened and there was no longer any question of holding Batu Pahat. Orders were received from Division to evacuate the mainland and fall back on Singapore Island. The withdrawal started that evening, and by 1000 hours the next day the British Battalion reached Senggarang, 15 miles south of Batu Pahat. Here it was discovered that the enemy had cut the road behind and the road block was covered by fire. All efforts to dislodge the enemy were unsuccessful, and the Brigade Commander had no option but to order the destruction of all artillery and motor transport. This meant that the obstacle had to be bypassed on foot. The march was a nightmare; not only were the troops completely exhausted, but the terrain consisted of mangrove swamps, ditches and quagmires which made movement extremely slow. The column struggled on, strung out in single file, only to encounter a river which they could not cross. The Brigade, at this time under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, turned westwards and eventually reached the coast.

Here stragglers from many other formations joined the British Battalion, and the number rose to around 1,500. Colonel Morrison succeeded in contacting the Navy, but it was two nights before the whole party could be taken off. The ships, HMS Scorpion and HMS Dragon Fly, with all the men they had rescued, steamed into Singapore Docks early on the morning of 29th January.


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