Last mail out of Singapore

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Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

Postby tiffinata » 23 Apr 2014, 12:08

Picking the collective wisdom of the forum here....

Does anyone know where I can find information about the last mail boat out after the Fall of Singapore?

So far the info I have is from the newspapers at the time. I've probably been searching the wrong places or using the wrong terms.

A great -uncle was on it and we never knew until after he died.

Thanks in advance!!
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 23 Apr 2014, 13:02

tiffinata wrote:
Picking the collective wisdom of the forum here....

Does anyone know where I can find information about the last mail boat out after the Fall of Singapore?

So far the info I have is from the newspapers at the time. I've probably been searching the wrong places or using the wrong terms.

A great -uncle was on it and we never knew until after he died.

Thanks in advance!!


Not sure if this is helpful, but I found an interesting website which discusses many ships that left Singapore from early January 1942 onwards:

http://www.navyhistory.org.au/category/ ... -day/1942/

This particular entry mentions 'mail', but I am not sure what date The HMAS YARRA left Singapore initially. [In fact, now that I think about it, this website may only be documenting Australian ships of war in the area, rather than RAN naval vessels]:

"24 Feb 1942:
HMAS YARRA, (sloop), passed her last mail to HMAS VENDETTA, (destroyer), 200 miles south of Christmas Island. VENDETTA was being towed south from Singapore to Australia for repair. YARRA returned to the Netherlands East Indies, and was sunk eight days later defending a convoy en-route to Australia."
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 23 Apr 2014, 13:14

I've always thought the last ship to leave Singapore was the tragic SS Vyner Brooke on 12th February [containing the Australian nurses who were machine gunned later on Banka Island after the ship was bombed from the air & sunk]:

"This from the Straits Steamship Company website; SS Vyner Brook taken over by RN:
H. M. S. Vyner Brooke had been ordered south to Tandjong Priok and was to become yet another victim of Japan’s Invasion forces. Her Captain was E. (Tubby) Borton of the Sarawak Steamship Company and he’d sailed from Singapore on the night of the 12th with 64 Australian nursing sisters amongst his 192 evacuees. On entering The Banka Straits he was attacked by nine Japanese planes at 1pm, Tubby Borton zig zagged Vyner Brooke in an attempt to out manoeuvre the planes. Vyner Brooke was hit repeatedly with the Bridge being totally destroyed, the steering gear out of order, the ship on fire Captain Borton gave orders for the ship to be abandoned. In just over twenty minutes H. M. S. Vyner Brooke sank, Captain Borton was in the water for eighteen hours before making landfall at Mungtok Lighthouse. Most of the other survivors who also spent all afternoon and night in the water landed on a beach near Muntok where they set up a camp and commenced tending the wounded. A couple of days later on the 16th they were discovered by a Japanese patrol which consisted of ten men and an Officer. Those that could walk including Chief Officer W.S. Sedgeman and Second Engineer J.J. Miller were marched round a small headland lined up and shot, those who were lying wounded were bayoneted to death, one survived the bayoneting. The nurses were then ordered to walk into the sea, on reaching waist height the Japanese commenced to machine gun them and all were killed save one, Sister Vivien Bullwinkle who was shot through the throat. Vivien Bullwinkle said in a later interview that she lay floating for what seemed hours before raising her head to find the beach deserted save for her dead comrades floating around her and those that had already died on the beach. Mr. S.A. Anderson, of Ritchie & Bisset wrote ‘She was brought into the former Labour Lines of Banka Tinwinning group which already housed many prisoners. There were two Doctors, Dr. Paddy West from the Federation of Malaya and Dr. Reed of Mata Hari. She was unconscious and in a terrible mess from sun and sea exposure. Life was barely there. Her chances of survival were very slim. Because of sun blisters, her mouth was completely closed and eventually the doctors fed her through a small opening at the corner of her mouth by means of a small glass dropper’. After recovering Vivien was able to relate to others what had actually happened on the beach but was ordered to stay silent for her own safety, the Japanese certainly wouldn’t have allowed the only surviving eye witness of this massacre to go on living. Vivien survived the War and was one of Australia’s Official Representatives at the dedication ceremony of the Kranji War Cemetery Memorial in Singapore."

Logically therefore, the last ship to successfully reach Batavia [i.e. Jakarta] or the Australian mainland safely [& with mail] must have left some days before [i.e. before the skies were completely controlled by Japanese, sinking many 'last minute' escaping boats].
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

Postby tiffinata » 23 Apr 2014, 23:35

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article ... rchLimits=

My understanding the last AIF mail boat left 14 feb.
And there's so much that isn't easily searchable.


Thanks OzB.
Reading through, it's fascinating, thought provoking and uncomfortable, all at the same time.

And then we lose many other stories. I only hope its because the people who lived through them chose not to share rather than we were to busy to listen.
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

by OzBiggles1963 » 24 Apr 2014, 05:19

tiffinata wrote:
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article ... rchLimits= My understanding the last AIF mail boat left 14 feb. And there's so much that isn't easily searchable. Thanks OzB. Reading through, it's fascinating, thought provoking and uncomfortable, all at the same time.
And then we lose many other stories. I only hope its because the people who lived through them chose not to share rather than we were to busy to listen.


Fascinating account Tiff! I am sure there are so many tales of smaller ships or boats that made it 'home' in perilous conditions that have faded from the public consciousness. Many of these stories as you say would not be in digital form I imagine, or available via a Google search [only the well known ones, such as Vyner Brooke etc], perhaps only to be found in newspapers of the time or personal diaries & such like.
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by RAAF Spitfire Girl » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:48 am

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 23 Apr 2014, 13:14
I've always thought the last ship to leave Singapore was the tragic SS Vyner Brooke on 12th February [containing the Australian nurses who were machine gunned later on Banka Island after the ship was bombed from the air & sunk]:
This afternoon I was privileged to attend the Defence Nurses Memorial Service commemorating the Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke and the Bangka Island Massacre 77 years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangka_Island_massacre

A Poppy Service was incorporated for the nurses. As each name was read out, either a currently serving member or an ex-member laid a poppy on the cape and veil representing the uniform of the WWII Army nurses. I then joined other ex-service representatives in laying smaller poppies on an adjacent memorial site. Very moving and more than one of the many in attendance were wiping tears away as the account of these events was read.

Lest we forget.

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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by Fairblue » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:45 am

I’d never heard of this, RSG. Awful. No wonder there were tears
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by StoneRoad » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:19 am

I've just read that wiki item. Dreadful thing to happen.

Indeed, Lest we forget.
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Re: Last mail out of Singapore

Post by kylie_koyote » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:52 am

How dreadful! The memorial sounds lovely though.
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