Forgotten Names Recalled: The Singapore Cenotaph Project

10/03/14
otLast week I made my fifth visit to The National Archives UK in Kew, known as TNA. The first four visits were to register and to attend three lectures. Last week’s visit was to get down to the nitty-gritty of copying records. This was not the original plan. I had been delighted to learn that TNA had a copying service, which would save me a lot of time and pain, real physical pain in the form of backache and burning knees joints.

What happened to change the plan was a slow response from TNA and then a panic on my part that I’d be back in Singapore having missed the opportunity to obtain important information of 40 men named on the cenotaph.

The four orders I’d made in January were nowhere in sight and enquiries did not help much. Given the choice between cancelling the photocopies and then re-ordering them as cd’s at an increase in cost by a factor or 2.8, eating up the entire Heritage Board grant, or spending some of my precious extended time in March at Kew photographing the 40 records became a no-brainer. I cancelled the orders, swallowed the analgesics, drove to Kew for the fifth time and began my first session of photographing.

Getting into the Reading Room at TNA is a high-tech affair with bar-code scans of your reader card plus a No Chewing Gum bag search – and that bag is a clear plastic bag that should hold no secrets. Rules include pencils only, no pens; pencils must not have erasers attached; no erasers of any description; no pencil sharpeners either; phones on silent; cameras are allowed but no flash and no sound; laptops are allowed but no sound. What really made me feel homesick for Singapore was no food, no drink and no chewing gum rule.

As for the records … it was a high-tech experience of logging in and photographing for direct links to go to my registered email. Amazingly good, if a slow process. I managed to copy six records that day. Next morning, having decided that two days in a row at TNA would land me in hospital, I was at home working online when a delivery came. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the first batch of five photocopied records arrived from TNA. I don’t know what inspired me to start backwards with my own copying at TNA, but that indeed saved me repetition.  

A further visit last week and I now I have the following records:
 
  1. Hubert Wyatt Hay Rawson,
  2. Douglas Hazard,
  3. Alexander Millar Smith
  4. Thomas Stewart
  5. Thomas Stuart Nash
  6. Henry Graham Achurch
  7. Robert Sayers
  8. Lionel George Coles
  9. George Bernard Stratton
  10. George Hawthorn Minot Robertson
  11. Richard Gordon Bagnall
  12. Geoffrey Anthony St John Jones
  13. Alexander Bryant Cumming
  14. William Stanley Eames
  15. Frederic Devereux Jessop
  16. Claud Romako A’Beckett Terrell
  17. Henry Pemberton Dudley
  18. John Taylor

That’s 18 down and 22 to go, unless of course the seven records that were ordered from the TNA and then cancel suddenly arrive.
 
Rosemary Lim