Forgotten Names Recalled: The Singapore Cenotaph Project


It's been over a year since this blog was updated. Unfortunately I am the only volunteer now maintaining the website and continuing the research, however intermittently.

While we are grateful for the small grant received from the National Heritage Board of Singapore, it was limited to one year and further costs have to be borne by me. For this reason I have been unable to give the project as much time as I would like. It has also meant that the project has now turned to affiliation with Amazon to hopefully earn the £12 per month to host the site. Ironically the Forgotten Names Recalled book cannot be sold on Amazon because they allow T-shirts to carry book ISBN numbers (see earlier post). Even so, it does provide the easiest method to share book information.

I have chosen books that I have used myself, would like to buy or know the publisher's and/or author's other works and have no hesitation in recommending these. The mix includes guides to finding First World War ancestors, general genealogy guides and some useful books on Singapore history and Singapore today.

At some point I might add a bookshelf page, but for now this is enough to be going on with.
Many thanks for any support you can give.
Rosemary Lim

Cover of a leaflet produced by the Pas de Calais Tourism Board
for the centenary of the Battle of Loos. Portrait of Jack Kipling on bottom right.
Click on image to download.

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos has now passed. It began on 25 September 1915, a day in which the fighting claimed over 8,500 Allied lives alone. Three of our men died on that day and two more on the following day. All of them are commemorated on the the Loos Memorial. None of them has a grave.

You may notice that the first blog for the Singapore Cenotaph Project begins with Jack Kipling, the son of Rudyard Kipling (see Although the uncle of the Queen of England was also killed at the Battle of Loos, Fergus Bowes-Lyons, it is Jack Kipling who is the battle's most famous victim.

His portrait in the uniform of a second lieutenant in the Irish Guards has popped up throughout the days of commemoration. More than any other story, that of Jack Kipling demonstrates the absurdity of war, for that photograph was taken when he was 17 years old and he died shortly after having arrived in the trenches in time to 'celebrate' his 18th birthday. What are missing from the photograph are his glasses, for his eyesight was so poor that the British Army rejected him. Instead his father used his influence to get his young son a commission in an Irish regiment.

Despite this focus on the famous and unfortunate, many of the tweets did commemorate the ordinary men who died in that futile battle. Among them were our own. Here is a summary, Lest We Forget (a saying taken from the poem 'Recessional' by none other than Rudyard Kipling).

25 September 1915 Graeme Stuart Murray Anderson aged 22.
Born in Penang in 1895, he was the eldest son of Mrs Rachel Anderson, 15a Barrack Road, Penang. Rachel worked for Pritchard and Co. Graeme and his brother Keith were living with their paternal grandmother in Greenock, Scotland where Graeme enlisted in the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. He has no known grave. CWGC record. Lives of the First World War record.

Pritchard & Co, Penang, where
Graeme's mother worked

25 September 1915 Llewellyn Oswald Kellar aged 29
. Born in Cardiff but was Scottish, the son of Mr Alexander Kellar of Glasgow and Batavia (Jakarta), and Mrs Jeanie Sandeman Fleming Kellar. He was brought up in Holland before joining his father in Batavia. Llewellyn’s father and brothers were well-known engineers in Malaya and the Straits Settlements, and he was also an engineer. He was a sapper in the 91st Field Company, Royal Engineers. He has no known grave. CWGC record. Lives of the First World War record.

Photograph courtesy of Carol Fletcher, Llewellyn's great-niece.

25 September 1915 Edward Hampton Moss aged 37
. Born in Yokohama, Japan, he was the son of Mr Charles Davies Moss, who had been the Chief Clerk and Registrar of HBM Supreme Court for Japan, and Mrs Moss, 109B The Bluff, Yokohama, Japan. Edward attended Cheltenham College and went on to become the manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in Malacca. He was a captain in the 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. He has no known grave. CWGC record. Lives of the First World War record.

26 September 1915 John Kekewich aged 24. Son of Mr Lewis Pendarves Kekwich and Mrs Lilian Emily Kekewich, Hove, Sussex. Educated at Eton, John and his three brothers were great cricketers. Two of his brothers also died in the war. John worked on the Val d’Or Plantation in Penang. He was a captain in the 8th Battalion East Kent Regiment. He has no known grave. CWGC record. Lives of the First World War record.

Kidbrooke Park, home of John and his three brothers,
two of whom also died in the Great War.

26 September 1915 William Crew Tremearne
aged 30. Son of Mr Shirley Tremearne of Bangalore, India, and Mrs Elizabeth Tremearne née Twist, residing at Tudor House, Blackheath Park, London. Crew worked for the Singapore Tramways as a specialist engineer. He was a second lieutenant in the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. He has no known grave. CWGC record. Lives of the First World War record.

The Battle of Loos was a failure, of course. It was called off on 28 September 1915 by which time about 50,000 Allied soldiers were dead and 25,000 German. Despite this fiasco two roads in Singapore have names connected with this battle, Haig and French, both generals in charge, from very far back.

It is very easy to find more information on the battle through Google searches. Not so easy to find are the individual stories on the men and the repercussions on their families.
Rosemary Lim


Recently I gave a talk in one of the libraries here in Singapore. Because it was a specialist library on the Chinese community I was asked if the usual talk I give could be altered. I agreed, and in fact suggested topics that were included in the book Forgotten Names Recalled: Stories from the Singapore Cenotaph under the chapter 'The War Effort in Singapore'. Had I'd known how much more research this would entail I would have stuck with the original version.

It isn't that I didn't know the topic. I did. It was finding illustrations for the inevitable PowerPoint presentation. It appears that nowadays every speaker must have slides. Searching for pictures that would help hold an audience's attention was not the most trying part of adjusting the talk. Modifying those pictures to fit neatly into the presentation was long and fiddly and I am not sure entirely worth it for just one outing.

Nevertheless, the exercise did bring in some extra information which I hadn't come across because I never looked for it. The project is not about the war in Singapore, it’s about the men named on the cenotaph. But since I now have some interesting in pictures I thought I would share three to another group of forgotten people, this time with no names.

Because of the war tin and rubber prices suffered. Tin and rubber were the two main commodities that made Singapore, Penang, Malacca and the rest of the Malayan Peninsula well off and able to employ migrant workers from China, India and elsewhere, including Europe.

The government of the Federated Malay States brought in a repatriation scheme because so many of these low-paid workers were put out of their jobs. With no means of living and no means of returning home, they were viewed as a threat. They would have had no alternative but to find some means of staying alive, probably by breaking the law.

By November 1914, the date of the above newspaper excerpt, the prices of tin and rubber had recovered but repatriation was still taking place. It took another month to reverse the process of repatriation and allow immigration of new workers. Whether any of the repatriated men were able to return to Singapore and Malaya is unknown. Having put themsevles into debt to get here once, it is unlikely that were able to find the means to return. Most would have used the indentured system of an agent paying their fare upfront and repaying with the first few years' of their wages. Many would have left while still owing the agents for their original fare.

It may be hard to believe nowadays that Singapore still had rubber plantations during the First World War. One well-known estate was situated in the Bukit Timah area. 'Bukit Timah' means 'Tin Hill', a misnomer as there was never any tin in Singapore.

The largest tin-mining area was in the Kinta Valley in Perak, now Malaysia. The workers were mostly from China. Small shops offering goods and services sprang up around the mines and the living quarters. When war broke up these little businesses were hit in three different ways.

The first was that German goods were forbidden to be sold. German companies supplied many of the items for sale in small sundry stores, as we tend to call them. The second blow was that credit was called in. Most businesses, large and small, operated on a credit basis, ironically because the German companies had introduced a long-credit system that others had to follow or lose customers. Many small shops could not meet the debt at short notice and folded. The third and most immediate cause of businesses closing down was their customers were suddenly out of work as the mines stopped production. The London Exchange was suspended therefore there was no price for tin therefore tin was neither bought nor sold.

Ironically the war brought a boom in tin and rubber, beginning late in 1914, and made many a fortune for even the most mediocre of businessmen.

Rosemary Lim

Today is ANZACs day. Commemorated in Singapore at Kranji War Cemetery by the Australian and New Zealand communities. It is the 100th anniversary of the first landings on the Gallipoli Peninsular by British, Commonwealth and Irish troops.

Yesterday, at Helles, a commemoration ceremony was attended by two members of the British Royal family, Prince Charles and Prince Harry, and by the Irish president, Michael Higgins, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the prime ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan plus representatives of the governments of other Commonwealth countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Canada.

Today they also attended the Australian and New Zealand commemorations in Turkey. While I write this, the commemoration at the London cenotaph is being shown on television.
Today's Google emblem in Australia and New Zealand

A Singapore Eurasian, Bertie Dennison, was a private with the Australian 4th Infantry Battalion. His unit landed 100 years ago today at Suvla Bay. Bertie was killed in action in August 1915. He was in his early 20s.

Two months earlier, on 28 June 1915, Singapore-born Smollet David MacGregor Clerk, a third-generation Scot in the Straits Settlements, was killed in action. His body was never recovered. He was a private with the Royal Scots, aged 20.

On 11 July 1915 Captain Philip Simons Picot was killed when he went back to look for wounded men. He was 26 years old. Philip was born in England but his mother was Singapore-born. He worked in Penang.

Captain Michael James Aloysius Foley was a Singapore-born Eurasian from Penang. He was a Queen's Scholar, one of the two top students in the Straits Settlements in 1899, and received a scholarship to study law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He died on 10 August 1915.

Geoffrey Garnett Horsfall had been working in Singapore when he married third-generation Singapore-born Minnie Lloyd. The family later moved to Perth, Western Australia. When war broke out, rather than wait for a commission, Geoffrey joined the Australian 10th Light Horse Regiment. They retrained in Egypt as infantry and went to Gallipoli where Geoffrey, then a sergeant, was killed in action on 29 August 1915 aged 31.

Two of our men, who later died on the Western Front, were wounded at Gallipoli.

Henry Pemberton Dudley was a private with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who suffered enormous casualties at Gallipoli. When he was recuperating in Cork, he applied for a commission with the Leinster Regiment, and was killed in action on 3 September 1916 aged 36. In Singapore he had worked for the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank.

William Howard Newton was fourth generation Singapore-born. Newton Road in Singapore was named after his father. He was a private with the Royal Gloucester Hussars, a horse regiment, when he went to Egypt to retrain as infantry before going to Gallipoli. William was wounded and, suffering from dysentery, was invalided back to England in October 1915. He was later commissioned into the Royal Army Ordinance Corps and was a captain when he died of influenza on 22 February 1919.

Other men from the Straits Settlements served in Gallipoli and survived.
Rosemary Lim


This is the last day of February, the end of the month in which 100 years ago half of the 5th Light Infantry of the Indian Army mutinied. A great deal is written about this event, almost all focusing on its causes and its aftermath. There are lots disagreement, in some cases revisionist historians coming with some novel opinions.

However, this project always focuses on individuals. Below is a list of 47 names, the number of victims of the mutineers. Although it might appear that the men of the Singapore Volunteer Corps were killed in action, several of them died as civilians, caught at home or on the road without weapons. Although I have read about these men, I haven't noted who they were. Perhaps at a later date I will edit in the information and, with more research, add more details on the civilians.

The following information has been collated from several sources: the memorial plaque at the Victoria Concert Hall, memorials in St Andrew's Cathedral, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Kranji War Cemetery and articles from the Straits Times and the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. There are discrepancies in some details, which I have indicated in brackets.
  1. Major Reginald Hugh Galwey, R.G.A. (15 Feb), 80th Coy, aged 42, son of William and Maria Louisa Galwey, 84 Ashley Gardens, Victoria Street, London. Kranji Grave: 37. F. 4.
  2. Capt. Francis Vallance Izard, R.G.A.  (16 Feb) Kranji Grave: 37. F. 16.
  3. Capt. Moira Francis Allan MacLean, R.G.A., attd M.S.G. aged 30, Son of Allan and Emily Elizabeth Maclean. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 2.
  4. Capt. Percy Netterville Gerrard, M.S.V.R. (15 Feb), aged 45 son of Thomas and Elizabeth Gerrard, husband of Clare Gerrard, 66D Princes Square, Bayswater, London, born in Dublin. Kranji Grave:  37. F. 12.
  5. Capt. Perceval Boyce, Indian Army, 5th Native Light Infantry, aged 28, son of Henry George and Mary Boyce, 5 The Promenade, Castletown, Isle of Man. Kranji Grave: 37. E. 7.
  6. Capt. H(orace) Cullimore, Johore Forces (15 Feb) Kranji Grave: 37. E. 3.
  7. Capt. Abdul Jabbar, Johore Forces
  8. Lieut. Harold Seymour Elliott, Indian Army, 5th Native Light Infantry, aged 25, son of Robert James Alfred Seymour Elliott and Mary Jane Elliott, Thirlestane, Uxbridge Road, Hampton Hill, Middlesex. Born at Teddington, Middlesex. Kranji Grave: 17. F. 9.
  9. Lieut. Angus Forsyth Legge, S.V.C.  (16 Feb) aged 26, Son of James Wilson Legge and Mary Anne Eddie Legge, of 1, Braemar Place, Aberdeen. Kranji Grave:  37. E. 22.
  10. 2nd Lieut. John Love Montgomerie, S.V.R. (15  Feb), aged 27, son of David and Agnes Montgomerie; husband of Katherine Jane Esther Fairweather Montgomerie, of Pitheavlis Bank, 98,Glasgow Road, Perth. Born at Glasgow. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 12.
  11. Stoker Charles Frederick Anscombe, H.M.S. Cadmus (16 Feb), son of Charles and Elizabeth Anscombe, 101 Graveney Road, Tooting, London. Kranji Grave: 37. E. 3.
  12. Sergt. F. H. Sexton, A.S.C. (19 Feb) Armed Civilians, CWGC: Corporal, E. H. T/15976 6th Coy, Army Service Corps [probably incorrect], Died of wounds, 15 February 1915, aged 30, son of Joseph and Emma Rebecca Sexton, The Chapel Hotel, Coggeshall, Essex. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 18.
  13. Sergt. George Wald, S.R.E. (V.) (15 Feb, [Reserve] Engineers), aged 28, son of Alexander Wald; husband of Amelia Christina Holland (formerly Wald). Born at Adelaide, South Australia. Kranji Grave:  37. G. 23.
  14. Corpl. Reginald Victor Beagley, R.G.A.  8814, 80th Coy, aged 30, son of James Evelyn and Mary Jane Beagley, 4 Tredegar Road, East Southsea, Porstmouth. Kranji Grave:  37. E. 15.
  15. Corpl. J.  G. E. Harper, S.V.R. (15 Feb) Kranji Grave: 37. F. 14.
  16. Corpl. Gordon Onslow Lawson, S.V.R. (15 Feb, Cyclist Scouts) aged 24, son of William James and Mary Jane Lawson, 140 Greenvale Rd., Eltham, London. Enlisted August, 1914. Born at Plumstead, Kent. Kranji Grave: 37. E. 20.
  17. Corpl. Donald McGilvray, S.V.R. (15 Feb) aged 27, son of Donald and Jean McGilvray, of "Craigowan," Northampton Rd., Croydon. Born at Greenock. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 3.
  18. Gunner John Barry, R.G.A. 35514, 78th Coy (17 Feb) Kranji Grave: 37. E. 4.
  19. Gunner Philip Walton, S.R.A. (V.)  (18 Feb, Artillery), Barrister-at-Law, son of the Hon. Mr. Justice Walton. Kranji Grave:  37. G. 24.
  20. Pte. William Henry Leigh, M.S.V.R. (15 Feb) aged 25, son of Joseph and Ellen Leigh. Born at Almondbury, Huddersfield. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 1.
  21. Pte. Frank Stuart Drysdale, S.V.R.  (15 Feb), aged 18, son of James Henderson Drysdale and Minnie Drysdale, Singapore. Kranji Grave:  37. F. 8.
  22. Pte. Bernard Cuthbert Cameron, S.V.R. (15 Feb) aged 25, son of David William and Hannan Cameron of St Michaels, Cadwell Road, Paignton, Devon. Kranji Grave: 37. E. 19.
  23. Pte. A. J. G. Holt, S.V.R. (15 Feb) aged 36, Kranji Grave: 37. F. 17.
  24. Pte. Yacob bin Salleh, Johore Forces
  1. Dr. E. D. Whittle, Government Service
  2. Mr. C.  B. Dyson, Government Service
  3. Mr. B. M. Woolcombe, Eastern Extension Telegraph Co.
  4. Mrs. B. M. Woolcombe
  5. Mr. C. Smith, Eastern Extension Telegraph Co
  6. Mr. J. Clarke, Prison Warder
  7. Mr. A. Evans, The Borneo Co. Ltd.
  8. Mr. N. F. Edwards, Paterson Simons & Co. Ltd.
  9. Mr. T. B. Dunne, Guthrie and Co., Ltd.
  10. Mr. E. D. Butterworth, Guthrie and Co., Ltd.
  11. Mr. D. J. Marshall, The China Mutual Insurance Co. Ltd.
  12. Mr. F. Geddes, Topham, Jones and Railton
  13. Mr. H. Collins, The Straits Bulletin
  14. Kassim bin Kasmammin, Motor-car Chauffeur
  15. Sim Soh, Hokkien Chinese
  16. Lim Eng Wee, Hokkien Chinese 
Buried in Kranji but not listed on a memorial
The following men died in Singapore within a few months of the mutiny. So far I have not been able to directly link their deaths with the events of February 1915, but I've listed them here in case there are others who can connect their deaths with wounds received during that month.
  1. Gunner J. Doyle, 29628 R.G.A., 8 May 1915, aged 39, son of the late James and Jane Doyle, John Street, Wexford. Kranji Grave: 37. E. 7.
  2. Serjeant, F. E. Stow, 19175, 32nd Coy, R.A.M.C., 10 July 1915. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 21.
  3. Gunner Walter Ernest Moreton, 56017, R.G.A. 80th Coy, 18 July 1915 aged 22, son of Edward E. Moreton of Paynes Cottage, Braishfield, Romsey, Hants. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 13.
  4. Pte. Albert Walker, 1st/4th Bn, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 21 April 1915, aged 20 son of Mr and Mrs James walker, 34 Clee View, Highley, Kidderminster. Kranji Grave: 37. G. 33.
  5. 2nd Lieut William John Campbell, R.G.A., aged 36 (25 May 1915) Son of William and Elizabeth Campbell, Hedge End, Southampton; husband of Amy Gertrude Campbell, “Cobo”, Lichfield Road, Four Oaks, Birmingham.Kranji Grave: 37. E. 20.
  6. Serjeant, Edmund Lee, 11938 R.G.A. 80th Coy. , 12 Mary, Kranji Grave: 37. F. 21.
  7. Pte. Gordon Gray Hill, S.V.R. 16 July, aged 26, Son of James and Christina Gray Hill, of Sherrards, Welwyn, Herts. Educated at Winchester and Oxford. Kranji Grave: 37. F. 13.

Rosemary Lim
Until the early 1970s Singapore was a major base for the British military. Large parts of the island were military bases, shown on the maps of the time as 'Crown Land'.

One such area was Portsdown Road, today bounded by North Buona Vista Road, the Ayer Rajah Expressway and a new road built in the past decade called Portsdown Avenue. The building of this new road marked the beginning of the end for the rural feel the area possessed. Although pockets of green still remain, the Porstdown Road area has changed beyond recognition for anyone who knew it before 2006. The well-known Colbar (which stands for 'Colonial Bar') was once located beneath what is now the tarmac of the new road. Fortunately this quirky little cafe was saved and relocated to continue its spam, egg and chips menu that once catered to the military personnel and their families. Nowadays its customers are mainly expatriates.

Another major change came with the relocation of the Singapore Armed Forces camps that took over from the British Army. Slim Barracks was one three camps that closed, survived only by a new road name, Slim Barracks Rise. In their place modern high-rises for media- and scientific-related businesses have been built and are still being built. However, most of the army housing still remains, for now at least.

Owned by the Singapore government, theses houses and apartments are available for rent, although at times the policies change and they can lie empty for months or years. The houses were once homes to British Army officers and the flats to other ranks and their families. The flats are all named after battles: Waterloo, Blenheim, Coruna and so on. A few are named after First World War battles and today we took photographs of these. How much longer they will last is anybody's guess. The land they sit on is generous, green, lush and probably slated for future development.

CWGC Arras Memorial


CWGC Cambrai Memorial


In Flanders Fields Museum commemorates the Battles Ypres. CWGC Ypres Salient Cemeteries.


CWGC Gallipoli Campaign Cemeteries.


Battle of the Marne 1914 and Battle of the Marne 1918.


CWGC Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery.


CWGC Vimy Memorial.

Rosemary Lim

One hundred years ago today a young man charged across No Man's Land near Ploegsteert Wood in Belgium and met his death. Second-lieutenant Stanley Henson was the first to die from the Isle of Wedmore in Somerset. Second-Lieutenant Robert Sayers was the first man with links to the Straits Settlements to be killed in action, having lived and worked in Penang, but Stanley Henson was the first to have lived in both Penang and Singapore and to have left the Straits Settlements to join in the war to be killed in action.

From The Bond of Sacrifice
The Unit War Diary of the 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry gives an account of this day 100 years ago. You can read the full entry below.
'By 1 pm
B and C Coys were in position, B Coy
lining our right trench and C Coy in rear
of this trench'

'At 2.30 pm precisely (all
watches having been set by Divisional time)
the attacking company dashed forward from
the wood. The men carried straw mattresses
consisting of strips of wire netting stuffed
with straw which were intended to be thrown
over the wire to form a bridge. Every
other man carried wire cutters. After the
leading platoon on the right had advanced
about 40 yards a howitzer shell of ours
burst amongst them and did great damage.
The left platoon advanced about 50 yards
but was stopped by heavy cross fire from
machine guns and rifles and was held up,
Lt Henson being killed. The two supporting
platoons of B Coy were not able to carry
the advance much further.'

'At about 6 pm the situation was that our left
had gained about 80 yards of the road which
was our objective and the line then followed
about the line of the German wire until
it joined the Rifle Brigade. ...
It was eventually
decided not to attack again the next
day. The only result obtained was that
the Enemy were driven out of the wood.'

'The casualties suffered by the Battalion
were 3 officers killed (Capt F.S. Bradshaw
Lt G.R. Parr and Lt. S.B. Henson) and
3 officers wounded and missing (Capt
R.C. Orr, Capt C.C. Maud DSO and
2/Lt K.G.G. Dennys).  _____ NCOs &
Men Killed _____ wounded and

Why weren't the numbers of NCOs and men killed given? We can only speculate that at the time of writing they did not know. Gaps were left for the entry to be updated but it seems it never was.

This year is also the centenary of the Christmas Truce, a spontaneous event that saw a cessation of hostilities along some sections of the trenches between German and British troops. In at least one part of No Man's Land a football match  was played, an event that has been commemorated in many ways from Paul McCartney's Pipes of Peace song and video of 1983 to the current Sainsbury's Christmas advert in partnership with the Royal British Legion. The reason this is relevant to Stanley Henson is that his body was recovered during the truce.

The entries in the Somersets' War Diary for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1914 give an actual account of the events in their section of the trenches, although there was no football match in their area.
'Dec 25: There was much singing in the trenches last night by both sides. Germans opposite us brought up their Regimental Band and played theirs and our National Anthems followed by "Home Sweet Home". A truce was mutually arranged by the men in the trenches. During the morning officers met the German officers halfway between the trenches and it was arranged that we should bring in our dead who were lying between the trenches. The bodies of Capt Maud, Capt Orr and 2/Lt Henson were brought in and also those of 18 NCO's & men. They were buried the same day. The Germans informed us that they had captured a wounded officer and this was thought to be 2/Lt K G G Dennys who commanded one of the attacking platoons of B Coy on the 19th. There was a
  'sharp frost last night which continued during the day, and the weather was very seasonable. Not a shot or shell was fired by either side in our neighbourhood; and both sides walked about outside their trenches quite unconcernedly. It afforded a good opportunity for inspecting our [illegible word] by daylight -- The enemy's works were noticed to be very strong. A very peaceful day.'
News of Stanley Henson's death reached Singapore on 13 January 1915. After an initial mistaken correction that he was wounded believed taken prisoner, confirmation of his death was received and published in newspapers on 30 January 1915. Perhaps because Stanley Henson was the first man from Singapore and Penang to die who was well known to many people, there was a great deal written in and to the newspapers of the Straits Settlements both as eulogy to the young man and as condemnation of the Straits Settlements Police who had refused to give him leave. There was no doubt that he was well liked and that his death brought home to many the reality of a war that was being fought nine thousand miles away. Stanley is buried at Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery.

Rosemary Lim


One of the most visually emotive events in London to mark the First World War Centenary was the BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED installation at the Tower of London. We went to visit it on 13 November 2014 as the dismantling was underway. The last poppy was placed on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014. Because of the demand, part of the installation will stay until the end of November, so I'm presuming that the dismantling will take some time.

Each poppy was individually handmade by over 300 volunteers and each one was sold for £25 each to raise money for six charities: The Royal British Legion, Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association). The charities then asked for volunteers to plant to poppies in the moat.
  There have been millions of visitors to see the poppies. We went via Aldgate East Tube station and there were signs leading the way from the station and on the streets outside.

  Our first view of the poppies. Not as many people as we expected to see, but I think that was because the television cameras were there during the reading of names from the Roll of Honour and other significant times.
  This was the view from the upper walkway, just to give you some idea of the people and therefore the scale of the area. This corner was particularly crowded as the steps are to the left and people arriving from Tower Bridge (through the trees) accessed from this side.
  Tower Bridge is in the background and the road is lined with people looking down into the moat. The blue tents are boxes for use by the volunteers working on removing and packing up the poppies. Note the poppies climbing the tower. Not sure if this section has a name but another section is called the "Weeping Window" which, together with the "Wave" surging over the entrance, will be removed last.
  It is difficult to grasp the scale of the installation but if you realise that this is only one side of the moat and that these poppies continue all around then you can get some idea of the mammoth task in creating it and from that the tremendous loss of life. From the previous photograph we turned right to see this view. You can just see the Shard in the top left corner. The two photographs above together show less than half of the moat.

"Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower's famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war."

Although this quote from the British Legion's website says "British" military casualties, what this means in reality is British, Irish and Commonwealth military. That excludes civilians.
  There were impromptu memorials from families all along the walkway above the moat. Note the Star of David among the crosses for Harry Levy.

Some the memorials were for the First World War, some for the Second World War and many were for soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq in this century. Photographs and stories were pinned to the railings, as well as copies of the CWGC  commemorative certificates. People were taking time to read these and show their respect.
  Our main purpose in visiting Tower Hill, even more than seeing the poppies,  was to visit the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet Memorial in Trinity Gardens for those "who have no known grave but the sea".

You can see The Shard again in the background. We'll be going there next week to have a birthday dinner in the Chinese restaurant for my husband.
  This is the tablet comemorating the crew of the SS Gafsa with the name of Alfred Whatmore highlighted. Alfred lived not far from Tower Hill, on the West India Dock Road in Limehouse, the historical Chinatown of London. His father was steward in the Strangers Home, therefore Alfred was no stranger to Oriental food. We'll raise a glass to his memory.
Rosemary Lim


It's after midnight in Singapore but still Remembrance Sunday here in London where I am staying with my daughter. The difference between Remembrance Sunday here and in Singapore is  probably best illustrated in the three-minute walk from Balham Tube Station to my daughter's flat.
Every station on the London Tube has something similar. The station at Heathrow
Terminal 5 had a banner with the full text of the poem
In Flander's Fields
  This is the church where the sister of Richard Upton, on of our men, was married
  I have passed this church many times but only today noticed the war memorial
  A very simple tribute but effective
  This hairdresser's uses their window for displays throughout the year
including Hallowe'en and Christmas
There is also an Army Centre close by. This morning there were lots of people coming away from a Remembrance Service, some in uniform, in ex-servicemen berets and blazers. All of them were smiling.

This is all so very different from Northern Ireland, where I'm from and where Remembrance was  a sectarian issue. It was therefore good to see the Irish ambassador to the UK lay a wreath at the London Cenotaph for the first time. I'm glad to report that in Singapore the Irish ambassadors have laid wreaths at the Remembrance Service held at Kranji every year since the Embassy of Ireland opened there in 2001. Prior to that the Irish Honorary Consuls laid the wreaths. One of those was a friend, the late Fergus Healy, who served in the British Army in Burma in the Second World War, as did the former Irish Honorary Consul in Malaysia, Sir Peter Mooney.

Rosemary Lim


On the morning of 28 October 1914 Penang awoke to the sounds of war. The German cruiser SMS Emden had been attacking ships in the Indian Ocean, causing problems not just for civilian shipping but troopships heading to Europe from Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The exploits of the Emden are well document but our interest is in Leslie Irvine Lumsden Thornton, one of our men, who witnessed the attach on Penang.
  Irvine, as he was known, had been admitted to the Bar in Penang in June 1914. His father, Swinford Leslie Thornton, had for many years been a judge in the Straits Settlements and Irvine was born in Singapor. After his son's death, Judge Thornton privately published a book of letters from Irvine  In Memoriam: Leslie Irvine Lumsden Thornton which is how the letter has survive.

Irvine Thornton before he joined up.

28th Oct., 1914

Dear Father,

Penang has now seen her share of the war. The dreaded Emden came into harbour this morning and sank the Russian cruiser, the Jemchug, [sic] lying at anchor. I was awake at 5.30 a.m., when I heard what I took be thunder. Then boom! boom! again, and I knew it must be shells.

I rushed to the front of the E. and O., and saw one of the most awe-inspiring sights which I shall probably ever see. The sun was just rising and the sky behind Butterworth was a beautiful gold. About three quarters of a mile out lay the Russian cruiser, a black mass surrounded by smoke. Then boom ! boom ! boom ! again.

At first I could not see the Emden. Suddenly she appeared racing along from the direction of the harbour; and when about a quarter of a mile from the Russian cruiser (which as far as I could see, did not fire a single shot) she stopped dead and fired broadside. There was a huge sheet of flame about 100 feet high, followed by a terrific explosion. The Russian seemed to be almost lifted out of the water, split into two pieces, and sank.

The Emden then fired across the patrol boat (and, I hear, apologized for doing so), and then raced off up the north channel towards Muka Head. There she engaged and sank one of the French torpedo boats. She then went off at full speed. The Mousquet, another French torpedo destroyer, then started in full pursuit.

In the meantime I got into a sampan, and put out to the scene of the fight. The Russian mainmast was just showing above the water. The sea seemed alive with men. I took seven into my boat and brought them ashore. They were mostly clad, as I believe is the fashion in the Garden of Eden, in nothing but their own skins. About 150 men were saved—less than half. Three officers and four men have died this morning in the hospital, and there is a military funeral this afternoon.

The wily Emden came in disguised as the Yarmouth, and actually took her berth in the harbour. Some say she flew a Russian flag, and at the last moment lowered it, and ran up the German flag. She had four funnels, one of which was obviously false, and looked very groggy after she had been firing. She deceived all the look-out stations.

It was really a wonderful piece of work by the German commander. Every one says he received information from the Germans here, but no one knows. For the Russians, it was a most disgraceful affair. The commander slept in the E. and O. last night, and most of the officers were on shore drunk. They say the Russians did fire a few shots at the Emden, but hit her too high. Wonderful stories are about. Some say the Emden's firing was very bad at first. Shells are supposed to have landed at Butterworth, and also on the race-course.

This is all I can tell you of the part I saw.
                        Your loving son,
                        Irvine L. Thornton

A few days later Irvine sent a telegram asking for his parents' approval to join up. He became an officer in the 16th Cavalry, Indian Army in Mesopotamia and was killed on September 9 1915. He was 26.

Rosemary Lim