Gallant Fenland soldiers who resisted till the bitter end commemorated 70 years on
BRAVE Fenland soldiers who stood their ground during a terrifying World War Two Japanese invasion have been commended on the 70th anniversary of their fall.
A force of 80,000 British troops surrendered to a Japanese army less than half their size at Singapore in 1942 in what Winston Churchill called the “largest capitulation in British history”.
But despite being untrained for jungle warfare and lacking water, fuel, ammunition and food, the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment, nicknamed the Fen Tigers, went “against the grain” of battle and resisted capture.
Their efforts are to be marked this week in a series of lectures, tours and memorial events in Singapore, along with an archaeological study of their fight.
“If the stoical resistance of the Cambridgeshire Regiment had been seen as an inspiration by General Percival and his advisers, the result might possibly have been very different,” March-based author Trevor Bevis said.
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Mr Bevis, who ghost-wrote Fen Tiger member William Taylor’s hardback book The Cambridgeshires at Singapore, said General Arthur Percival’s order to surrender was “received with disbelief and dismay”.
“The Cambridgeshires, drawn from all over the Fens, under constant attack, never retreated and while holding their own inflicted heavy casualties upon the frustrated enemy,” he added.
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“They were the only allied unit to hold their position and they went against the grain of the Malayan campaign when the allied forces embarked on a gradual withdrawal against a hardened, battle-experienced enemy.”
His book contains 900 names of men who “fought spiritedly” but were killed or died of malnutrition and disease while forced to work on the Railway of Death as Prisoners of War.
He added that they “caused the invaders considerable difficulty”.