Centenaries in May

2 May 1918 Francis Shuldham Watson aged 38. Son of Colonel John Whaley and Mrs Elizabeth Charlotte Watson née Watts. Francis was a career soldier with the Royal Garrison Artillery who served in the Boer War. His connection with Singapore is the most unusual of all our men as he was stationed in on Belakang Mati (Sentosa) with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Despite the fact that others who served in Singapore were killed in the war, Francis is the only one to be commemorated. This may have something to do with his actions during the Singapore Mutiny of February 1915. He had risen to the rank of major when he was killed in action on his 38th birthday. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension 2, Somme, France.

4 May 1918 Osmond Charles Wright aged 26. Son of Mr J Freddy and Mrs Laura Violet Wright of Singapore. We believe that Osmond was Eurasian because he was an old boy of Raffles Institution, his father worked for the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and various other clues that indicate a Eurasian family. Osmond was a member of Rangers Football Club, Singapore, and worked for Adamson Gilfillan. He was a private in the 15th Battalion County of London Regiment, Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles. He was killed in action during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 and is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

Anniversaries in May

3 May 1917 Thomas Shirley King aged 35. Son of Dr Thomas Radford King; husband of Eleanor Constance King. Thomas had spent two years in the East Surrey Regiment, including six months in South Africa with the rank of second lieutenant. He resigned in 1904 with the rank of lieutenant to take up a civil service appointment in Sarawak. At the time he returned to the UK in January 1915 Thomas was acting superintendent of the Chandu Monopoly and the Customs of Brunei. Why he is included on the Straits Settlements War Memorial is something of a mystery. Possibly he had spent time working in Labuan, which was then included in the Straits Settlements along with Christmas Island. Thomas was a captain in the 4th Battalion East Surrey Regiment attached to the 7th Battalion when was killed in action. He has no known grave. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

4 May 1915 William Bell. We believe that William came from Aberdeen originally. Although his name doesn’t appear on the Aberdeen war memorial, he is listed on the Scottish National War Memorial. In Singapore he worked for the Harbour Board and before that he’d been a planter in Ceylon. His sister lived in Singapore. Her married name was Day and her husband worked as superintendent of Kallang River Reservoir. William died of gas poisoning, one of the earliest attacks of the war by the Germans. He was a private in 3rd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Transport Farm Annexe, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

4 May 1915 Richard Upton aged 35. Son of Captain Richard Upton and Mrs Harriet Frances Upton née Strelly. Richard became a master mariner and ship’s captain with the Straits Settlements Steamship Company. In 1914 he was back in England on leave and decided to learn how to fly, obtaining his licence in July at the Grahame-White School of Flying. At the outbreak of war he joined the Legion of Frontiersmen, working as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. Rather than go to sea, Richard joined the Royal Flying Corps with his job description as ‘lorry driver’. He became a sergeant pilot but died o pneumonia at Tidworth Military Hospital and is buried in Streatham Cemetery, Garrett Lane, London.

13 May 1915 Hector Allan Lane aged 25. Son of Mr John Lane and Mrs Joanna Jane Lane of Parkstone, Dorset. Before he left England to work in Singapore Hector had been a 2nd lieutenant with the 1st Dorsetshire Royal Garrison Artillery (Volunteers). In Singapore he was a lawyer with Messrs Sisson and Delay. He also became a 2nd lieutenant in the Singapore Volunteer Artillery, a rapid promotion due to his previous experience. His name is listed on the Singapore Cricket Club war memorial as he was a member. At the outbreak of war he returned to England, becoming a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment by the time he went to France on 25 April 1915. Within three weeks he was missing, presumed killed in action. Hector has no known grave and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

13 May 1917 John Taylor aged 33. Son of Mr Richard and Mrs Jane Taylor; husband of Mrs Constance L Taylor née Moorhouse. John was an engineer who worked for the architect firm of D McLeod Craik in Singapore before moving to another well-known architect firm, Swan and Maclaren. In Singapore he was a member of the Cricket Club, where he is listed on the war memorial, and also joined the Singapore Royal Engineers (Volunteers). In August 1915 he returned to England and enlisted as a sapper in the Royal Engineers, and went to the front the following month. In June 1916 he was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the 223rd Field Company, Royal Engineers. He died of wounds. He is listed on Kendal War Memorial and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

23 May 1917 Dermot Harvey Bailey aged 32. Son of Mr Wellesley Cosby Bailey and Mrs Alice Anne Bailey Hargreaves née Grahame ; husband of Mrs Mary Jane Bailey née Cooper. Dermot first came East in 1906 when he worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In Singapore he worked for the Straits Trading Company was also in the Singapore Volunteer Cycle Corps. At the end of 1914 he returned to the UK and obtained a commission in the Royals Scots in January 1915 as a 2nd lieutenant in the 1st Battalion the Royals Scots, attached to the 8th Battalion. In July 1915 he went to the front for the first time. Although born in Scotland and with his family having lived for many years in Edinburgh, Dermot was in fact Irish as both parents were Irish. His name appears on the Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914—1918. Dermot was killed in action by a shell at Rouex and is buried at St Nicolas British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.