Forgotten Names Recalled: The Singapore Cenotaph Project

18/08/14
After a few exchanges (and a tweet @Amazon and @HachetteUK that Amazon did not know 978 numbers were only for books but that Hachette would) the issue was resolved.

I now know that Amazon does have real people working for them. One of them said, 'I know you must be feeling frustrated by this.' Words to that effect. I haven't had the stomach to go back and face trying to put the books up on their website. Note that I'm not providing any links either.

A big machine like Amazon fighting with another big machine like Hachette over the price of eBooks leaves me cold. It's not worth my while getting interested. On the other hand, a big machine doing something that flouts agreed international conventions, well that's something different. I did my Davina against their Goliath and came out with what I wanted because it was correct according to international agreements and not because I wanted it.

It made me think about two of the men of the Singapore cenotaph who volunteered to fight, even though they didn't have to. Even if there had been conscription they wouldn't have had to go.

Stanley Henson was an inspector
in the Straits Settlements Police

  'What a nice fellow you were Henson! … August came and England stepped in – stepped in quietly but swiftly as she always does for Honour’s sake. She sent 160,000 men across the Channel in a few hours.
There was no fuss, no shouting, no bands. ...
And you went so nicely and quietly too, Henson – nine thousand miles across the seas by yourself ... You asked the Straits Authorities if you might have leave to go ... and you were told “No! If you go, you’ll forfeit your Commission in the Straits Police. We shall not pay your passage nor can we do anything ... We are very busy people. We must have time to think it over” ...  So you just thanked them for all their kindness, apologized for having more pressing engagements, made them a present of your Commission, paid your own transport and sailed away quietly and unostentatiously  in August in your gentlemanly way – I don’t believe anyone even knew to see you off – to seek on  your own, what you have found.'
Cricket, Penang, 17th January 1915'  
The Singapore Free Press, 30 June 1915, p7

Harold Millard need not have gone because
he was born in 1874. He was a lawyer
.
 
'The Chief Justice said; I cannot let this occasion – on which so many of our profession are present – pass, without making reference to the sad loss which Singapore, its legal fraternity and in particular Messrs. Donaldson and Burkinshaw have sustained by the recent death in action of that gallant soldier and talented lawyer, Major Harold Millard. I had myself the privilege of his acquaintance and, of course, to many of you he had been for years a close friend. A quiet and unassuming personality he chose, with undying credit to his memory, at an age (for he was born in 1874) when he might without reproach have stood aside for more youthful men, to place his services as a volunteer at his country’s disposal very shortly after the outbreak of war.'
Straits Times, 30 April 1917
 

In November 1914 he left Singapore to join up. ‘God help England if the brutes get there. I cannot stay here while it is possible.’ This was said to a friend before he went and he added, speaking of the young men who were playing sport on the Padang, ‘I don’t think they understand. They could not be so light hearted if they did.’

Henson and Millard couldn't stand by and do nothing. They had to go and do what they could. I imagine that they had an innate sense of justice, perhaps the reason for their chosen careers. I imagine that with the small things they would also have stepped in, spoken up, raised their hand to see right done.

We don't know what we would do except in the small things, the everyday injustices, little things that we could walk away from. Does that help us face the bigger things when the choice needs to be made? We'd like to think so, wouldn't we?

I checked my LinkedIn profile today and found that someone from Twitter had checked it too. Was this as a result of the big machines raising a query? A coincidence? Or am I being paranoid? Should I delete my tweet for fear of repercussions? Or should I let it stand? It may have made the difference in that little thing that drove me nuts for a couple of days. It was only a little thing, but it was the right thing to do.
 
Rosemary Lim