Tag Archives: World War 1

#Shorncliffe, #Labour_Corps

Recently the Shorncliffe Trust held their annual Light in the Darkest Hour. Hopefully, this years ceremony will encourage people to visit the graves of the Labour Corp in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Closing ceremony was the placing of lanterns at the Chinese Labour Corps graves, (CLC) of which there are six all close together in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. This was also part of the Big Ideas Company’s Unremembered  (An awful name if they mean “Forgotten” they should just say so.) Project.  Apart from the CLC, there are two men from the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) and eleven men from the British Army’s Labour Corps buried in the cemetery.  Photographs of the graves of the SANLC and the Labour Corps men follow.IMG_8384

Piet Malinge of the South African Native Labour Corps. In April 1917 a tented camp was pitched east of Hill Road, Cherry Garden Avenue in Folkestone. Designated the Labour Concentration Camp, it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Hopley and could accommodate 2,000 Chinese (Chinese Labour Corps CLC) or South African Native Labourers. (South African Native Labour Corps, SANLC) Opposite on the west side of the road another tented camp was erected. This camp could contain another 2,000 Asian or African Labourers. During the summer of 1917, the CLC built hutments of reinforced concrete and the camp became known as the Cherry Garden Camp. This was really two separate camps with Kitchens and Hospitals. 1,500 men could be housed here. It is likely that Piet was part of the SANLC housed in one of these aforementioned camps. Busalk Mvinjelwa would also have been there.

IMG_8385

IMG_8838.JPG

Private 331158 H.A. Baker served in the 18th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment before he was transferred to 242nd Works Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8829

Private G/78845 J Baker, 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home service Employment Company Labour Corps. The 29th (Works) Battalion was formed as a labour battalion hence the (Works) atMill Hill the entire battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps and retitled the 5th Labour Battalion in April 1917. (2)

IMG_8842

Private 76316 R Bedford also served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home Service Employment Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8830

Private G/78071 George Henry Bloodworth. Another soldier from the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before he was transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Labour Corps. The son of George Henry and Mary Bloodworth of 18 Banstead St Nunhead, London was killed in the Folkestone Air Raid on the 25th May 1917.

IMG_8841

Private 28527 G.W. Graves, the husband of Lilie Gertrude Parkinson (formally Graves) served in the 9th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before being transferred to the Labour Corps.

IMG_8839

Private 267099 Samuel Beckerleg Hall the son of Mrs Evelina Hall of 21 Church Street, Helston, Cornwall. He served in the 2nd/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion before he was transferred to the 426th Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8832

Private 293210 T Marshall Served in the 2nd/7th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) before he was transferred to 342nd Works Company Labour Corps. Marshall died on the 10th November 1918, one day before the war ended.

IMG_8831

Henry Gordon Prince the son of Mrs Charlotte Prince of 3 Evergreens, South Bersted, Bognor, served in the 1st Infantry Labour Company Northamptonshire Regiment.

IMG_8840

Private 37998 A.H. Slater is another soldier who served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 241st Works Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8837

Guardsman 18439 J.W. Taylor served in the Coldstream Guards before being transferred to 437th Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8844.JPG

Private 5417 Robert Williams served in the 2nd/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment before he was transferred to 317th Works Company Labour Corps.

Notes

(1) Soldiers details from the CWGC website.

(2) Details about the 29th Battalion from the Long Long Trail Web site. A website that can not be recommended too highly. If you are even remotely interested in the British Army in the First World War bookmark and use the LongLong Trail website.

 

Advertisements

Here is a soldier who will be in “The Book” Thomas Kenny. #Folkestone, #Castleford, #FWW.

Like the majority of British Soldiers who fought in the First World War Thomas Kenny returned home and a normal civilian life. In Thomas’s case, this was as a working collier.

13th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry. A K3 Battalion in 68th Brigade, 23rd division. 3 A and B Companies entrained at Liphook at 7:55 pm., C and D Companies at 8:25 pm. On arrival at Folkestone they embarked on transport 2031.4

Private 17424 Thomas Kenny

13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Thomas Kenny was a collier and lived at 23 Queen St Castleford. He attested on the 25th February 1915 and crossed to France from Folkestone with the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He is awarded the Victoria Cross for an action on the 4th November 1915. The Citation reads as follows:

No. 17424 Private Thomas Kenny, 13th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the night of 4th November 1915, near La Houssoie. When on patrol in a thick fog with Lieutenant Brown, 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, some Germans, who were lying out in a ditch in front of their parapet, opened fire and shot Lieutenant Brown through both thighs. Private Kenny, although heavily and repeatedly fired upon, crawled about for more than an hour with his wounded officer on his back, trying to find his way through the fog to our trenches. He refused more than once to go on alone, although told by Lieutenant Brown to do so. At last, when utterly exhausted, he came to a ditch which he recognised, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and went to look for help. He found an officer and a few men of his battalion at a listening post, and after guiding them back, with their assistance Lieutenant Brown was brought in, although the Germans again opened heavy fire with rifles and machine-guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards distance. Private Kenny’s pluck, endurance and devotion to duty were beyond praise.”5

Thomas may have transited through Folkestone to France on one more occasion as he was presented with the VC at Buckingham Palace by King George V. on the 4th March 1916.6 He is the first soldier from the Durham Light infantry to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War.7 During 1917and again in 1918, this time a gunshot wound to the lower back. He returned home on the 30th October 1918 and was discharged from the army on the 26th September 1919. 8

Thomas was also awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.9 Thomas Kenny V.C. Died on 29th November 1948.

3British Regiments 1914-1919 page 101

4 13th DLI Battalion War Diary

5 London Gazette, 7th December 1915, Supplement:29394,Page:12281

8 Pension Record.

9 Medal Card.

Funeral in Bidadari. #FWW #WWI #WW1

Mr and Mrs Gordon Woolcombe were newlyweds. They had only been married a few days when the Singapore Mutiny broke out. Unaware of events as they were unfolding Mr and Mrs Woolcombe were driving along the Pasir Panjang road. Stopped by sepoys they were likely asked if they were “Inglees” and answered “Yes”. The sepoys then fired at Gordon. It is thought that Mrs Woolcombe died trying to protect her husband as her body was found lying across the body of her husband.(1)  A brave lady trying to protect the man she loved and dying a heroine’s death in the process.

Mrs Woolcombe is buried along with her husband and the others killed on the 15th. On the 17th 16 are named in the newspapers. C.F. Anscombe (2) name was added to the list Mr A Drysdale, J. Love Montgomerie, Dr E.D. Whittle, Mr C.V. Dyson, Dr P.N. Gerrard, Mr George Wald, Mr J.B. Dunn, Mr D. McGilvray, Mr J. Harper, Mr C Smith, Mr Marshall (of Sun Insurance), Mr A. J. G. Holt (Paterson Simons), Mr Lawson, Mr B.C. Cameron, Mr Clarke (Warder) and Mr D. Legg.  The caskets containing the bodies were brought to Bidadari cemetery by two lorries and a hearse.(3)  The Bishop of Singapore and other clergy officiated.(4) The Strait Times published the names and more details about which section of Bidadari cemetery victims were buried in on the 18th. Included in the additional names was Senftleben, the German killed at the prison compound in Tanglin Barracks.

For the regular (as opposed to the local volunteer) military dead things were a little different. They were not named until their next of kin had been notified. It was decided to hold a graveside service for them on the 3rd April.(5) Starting at 5 p.m.  This is to be followed by a thanksgiving service at St Andrew’s Cathedral just for the military on the 11th. More details on the timing and order of service for the 3rd April were given in the Straits Times on the 1st April.

The graveside service for the military was an impressive event. People arrived in cars, carriages, gharries, rikishas as well as on foot.  The firing party was formed by men from the Navy, Royal Garrison Artillery, Royal Engineers, and the Singapore Volunteer Corps. At five o’clock, the Governor, Brigadier General Ridout, and Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram arrived accompanied by their entourages. The Colonial Chaplin, Clergy from the Cathedral, choir, and hundreds of relatives, mourners and members of the public were also there. The choir sang the first verse of “Rock of Ages”

 Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
While the procession including the firing party made its way to the graveside. On the other three sides were sailors troops from the Garrison, men from the Singapore Volunteer Corps, Wardens from the prison and Special Constables. The firing party split into two, one-half going to each side of the graves and standing in front of the men already there. Over each grave lay a Union Jack each covered in flowers.  Readings were read, John chapter 9 verse 25, 26 and Job, 14 verse 25, 26, and 27. A prayer was said for the fallen, one for the relatives and mourners, and one for everyone else who was there.. a lesson was then read, followed by the apostle’s creed and the hymn “On the resurrection morning was sung.
On the resurrection morning
Soul and body meet again;
No more sorrow, no more weeping,
No more pain …
After the blessing, the names of the soldiers the service was held for were read out.
Major R.H. Galwey, Royal Garrison Artillery.                                                                             Captain F.V. Izard, Royal Garrison Artillery.Died 16/02/1915                                                             Captain M.F.A Maclean, Royal Garrison Artillery attached Malay States Guides.             Captain P. Boyce, 5th Light Infantry,                                                                                             Captain P.N. Gerrard,  Malay States Volunteer Rifles.*                                                             Captain H. Cullimore, Johore Military Forces.                                                               Lieutenant H.S Eillot, 5th light Infantry.                                                                               Lieutenant A.F. Legge, Singapore Volunteer Medical Corps. Died 16/02/1915                               2nd Lieutenant J.H Love Montgomerie, Singapore Volunteer Rifles.*                                 Sergeant G. Wald, Singapore Royal Engineers Volunteer (Reserve).*                                               Corporal R.V. Beagley, Royal Garrison Artillery.                                                                         Corporal D MacGilvray, Singapore Volunteer Rifles.*                                                             Corporal G.O. Lawson Cyclist Scouts.*                                                                                             Lance Corporal J.C. Harper Singapore Volunteer Rifles.*                                                                 Stoker CF Anscombe Royal Navy.*                                                                                                               Gunner Barry, Royal Garrison Artillery.                                                                                       Gunner P. Walton Singapore Volunteer Artillery, di                                                                               Private A Drysdale**, Singapore Volunteer Rifles.* died 16/02/1915                                               Private A.J.G.Holt, Singapore Volunteer Rifles.                                                                                     Private W.H. Leigh Malay States Volunteer Rifles,                                                                                 Armed Civilian F. Geddes
*Known to have been buried at the same time as Mrs G. Woolcombe.
**CWGC records Private Drysdale’s  initials as F.S.
After the service, the firing party fired a volley over the graves and the last post was played.  The firing party fixed bayonets and presented arms. The last post was again played and the graveside service was concluded.(6) The Straits Times for the 5th April on page 10. records that three Volleys were fired and the volleys fired over the Roman Catholic graves which were in another portion of the cemetery at Bidadari sounded like an echo. (There was another report in the Straits Times the following day, 6 April, page 8. which emphasises the spiritual aspect of the service)
Officialdom had not yet finished with the dead. While the Government were quite happy to pay for the military funerals. They did not feel any obligation to pay for the funerals of the civilians killed in the mutiny and individual bills for the cost of the burials were sent to the employers or the executors of each of the civilian dead. The Government took no responsibility for civilians killed. Their attitude was that the military and volunteers were killed while on active service during the mutiny. The deaths of civilians in the same mutiny were regarded as being no different to deaths caused accidentally or old age. Officer’s relatives were also expected to pay for their funerals too. This caused more than a little resentment. (The Mutiny Victims, The Straits Times, 16 June 1916, page 9) The Singapore Free Press reported on the 17th June, page 4 that they were told that the “Government is afraid of creating precedents that may lead to invisible lengths.” The Government did just that without knowing it and not in the way they expected.  The paper replied, ” Does the Government expect an annual Mutiny as a reasonable contingency?” The argument was put forward in the same article, “that the 5th Light Infantry were the sworn servants of the Imperial Government.” The response was “The mutineers, it is granted were Government servants-but they were not carrying out their function as such when they took to lawless murder on the roads.” The Singapore Free press also asked in the same article if the mutineers were no longer Government servants in the military why were they tried by Courts Martial and executed in public as though they were?  The debate continued if not in public, at least in the papers. The Malaya Tribune on  26 June, page 4, carried an article criticising the Government for its lack of responsibility for the payment of compensation due because of the mutiny.
The cost of the burials was again raised in the Legislative Council on the 26th June.  The reply was “On the 16th February owing to the confusion caused by the mutiny it was feared that some of the dead might be left unburied, and an officer was told off to see that this did not occur. That officer arranged with an undertaker for the various funerals, and accepted liability on behalf of the Government for the expenses incurred. When these expenses had been settled, letters were sent to five firms in the following terms…”  The letters were telling the firms that Mr X…worked for them and would they pay the bill for their funeral. The Council also said that if the relatives were unwilling to pay for the funerals what the dead civilians would end up with is a pauper’s burial.
Both the Imperial Government’s and the attitude of the council would haunt the dead in the years to come. The military graves would come under the care of the Imperial War Graves Commission, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
After WW2 it was decided to move the remains of the servicemen killed in the First World War to the Kranji War Cemetery as maintenance of the graves at Bidadari could not be guaranteed. Included with the servicemen was Senftleben the German was killed at Tanglin. The graves of the civilians including Mrs G Woolcombe were left undisturbed. In 2001 the next of kin were asked to claim the remains. Most were not claimed. The UK Government having negated its responsibility in 1915.  Following this until 2006 the majority of the remaining graves, including the mutiny victims at Bidadari, were exhumed and then cremated. The ashes were then committed to the sea.(7) Mrs Gordon Woolcombe’s, who died a heroine’s death, ashes are thought to be amongst them.
Footnotes
  1. Singapore Mutiny, Harper and Miller. page 78
  2. Anscombe was added to the list on the 18th, Straits Times 18 February 1915, page 6
  3. Singapore Free press and Mercantile Advertiser, 17th February 1915, page 4. and the Straits Times page 10.
  4. Malaya Tribune, 17 February 1916, page 4
  5. Special Military Service, Malaya Tribune, 25 March 1915, page 8
  6. In Memoriam, The Singapore Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 5 April 1915, page 12.

Religious, Racial Profiling and S.A.D #FWW #WW1 #WWI

This blog has its origins in a book. Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924, revised edition edited by Julian Putkowski with a forward by Andrew Mackinlay MP.  2005, ISBN 1 903427 26 6. If you are interested in the men Shot at Dawn, it is a must read. Along with its companion book, British Army Mutineers 1914-1922, also by Julian Putkowski. They are should have books for anyone with more than a passing interest in the soldiers executed. Combined they not only give a good comparison between Sentences passed, and Sentences carried out.  They contain a guide to other sentences the Military Courts passed and where.

“There has always been public disquiet about the fate of the men who were sentenced to death during the First World War”  Andrew Mackinlay MP, the opening sentence of his forward in  Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924

The closing sentence of his forward reads “It would also be to the credit of those given to sustaining the officers’ version of military justice if, as a consequence of studying this book, they were to advance a more generous measure of compassion to the condemned, and to acknowledge the misery and grief simultaneously inflicted on the innocent families and dependents of the men whose names are recorded herein.”

It gives the impression that the book represents a complete list of those executed by the British Army. A plea of compassion for the men and recognition that their families were innocent victims of the war. Which they were.

However, not all Commonwealth Soldiers who were executed are listed in the book, at the memorial, or on the Commonwealth War Graves Registers. Which purports to list all those soldiers who died in the first World War regardless of how they died. It is as though they never existed. The books list only one man sentenced to death in Singapore. Private Chadwick, 1st Battalion King’s Own YorkshireLight Infantry. sentenced to death for cowardice on the22nd September 1914. His sentence was quashed. There is also a list of the number of executions by each offence.  55 Soldiers convicted of mutiny, 15 of whom were executed. At the back of the book, Appendix 2 p122, there  are the number of condemnations executions by Division. The final group of entries on the page is headed Dominion Forces and other Formations. The last entry is ” Indian Army  54 (Condemnations) 5 (Executions)” It is by no means complete. It does establish that at least in some cases Capital sentences in Singapore were recorded by the Army and also by the Indian Army. Further evidence is contained in the book British Army Mutineers 1914-1922 that sentences for Mutiny were recorded in Singapore in March 1915. Malay SG (States Guides) Bty Gnr Ahmad Sultan Singapore 11/03/15 3 years Penal Servitude for Mutiny, Commuted to 18 months imprisonment. He is one of four listed on p120.

So the others, the soldiers sentenced to death and executed? It is difficult to acknowledge their deaths, or the misery, grief and shame imposed on their families if we do not know who they are. It seems if you want to erase history, first delete their names.

Two Shot on the 23rd February. Notice by his excellency Brigadier General DH Ridout, These men were found guilty in the act of shooting at peaceful citizens and has been tried by a properly constituted Court Martial (1) These two men were executed in public at the rear of Banda Prison. They were executed by a firing squad of Scots soldiers. Two volleys were required to kill one of the men. After the execution  and the removal of the bodies,  some of the crowd rushed forward to search the blood soaked ground for  the bullets. (3) The nationality of the crowd, Singapore was as it is now a cosmopolitan country is not known. It is known that there was not a lot of disquiet amongst them on that day.

Two unknown were shot on the 28th February,  (2)

Now it is possible to name some of the others.

Dunde Khan, Chiste Khan, Rahmat Ali, Hakim Ali, and Abdul Ghani. Sentenced on 22nd March 1915.  The men along with others were marched out of Outram  Prison that afternoon. Just before 5:10 pm. The five condemned men were tied to posts and the verdict of the Court Martial was read out. in front of a well behaved crowd estimated at around 6,000 of mostly Asians by Major Hawkins. “These five men, Subadar Dunde Khan, Jemadar Chisti Khan, 1890 Havildar Rahmat Ali, 2311 Sepoy Hakim Ali, and 2184 Havildar Abdul Ghani have been found guilty of stirring up and joining a mutiny and are sentenced to death”

Moments  later Lieutenant Vyner of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) gave the command. The firing squad of 25 men from the RGA commanded by Vyner and a sergeant fired. All five men executed slumped to the ground. From being marched to their execution posts  the whole proceedings had taken just a couple of minutes.(4)

On the 25th March 1915, 22 were executed. 2112 Naick Munshi Khan, 1933 Naick Zaffar Ali, 2463 Sepoy Mahomed Baksh, 2715 Sepoy Rahim Dad, 2462 Sepoy Suliman Khan, 1886 sepoy Nawab Khan, 2406 Sepoy Suliman, 2457 Sepoy Jamal, 2457 Sepoy Jamel, 2574 SepoyBahar Ali, 2819 Sepoy Shafi Mahomed, 2544 Sepoy Faiz Mahomed, 2770 sepoy Umrad Ali, 2885 Sepoy Suleiman, 3048 Sepoy Lai Khan, 2824 Sepoy Shamsuddin, 2997 Sepoy Said Mahomed, 2652 Abdul Ghani, 2649 Bashart, 2982 Sepoy Rafi Mohamed, 2904 Sepoy inayat. 2856 Sepoy Moman, and 3113 Sepoy Nur Mohamed.(5) As with the executions on the 22nd March,  the men were marched out of Outram Prison and tied to posts. The time was 5.25pm the order to fire was given at 5.30. This time the crowd numbered around 15,000 and consisted of Europeans as well as Asians. The firing part were 110 men from the Singapore Volunteer Corps. While the firing party was moving off Captain Fraser Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) examined each body. Several had to be finished off by a shot from a revolver. it is not known who fired the revolver. No other person was reported as accompanying Captain Fraser. There is at least one photograph of this execution. none of the men are wearing blindfolds. It is almost certain that no blindfolds were offered.

The Straits Times 3 April 1915 (6) list another six, 1905 Sepoy Ismail Khan, 1499, Sepoy Nathe Khan, 3051 Sepoy Nishan Ali Khan, 1754 Havildar Ibrahim Khan, 1352 Havildar Murid Khan, 2058 Sepoy Taj Mohamed Khan. All as in the previous cases tried in open court and executed in public in front of 1,000s.

Taj Mohamed was identified by a German prisoner of war detained at Tanglin Barracks. (6)

On the 19th April the Straits Times (7) gives the names of three more men executed. This time on the 17th April, Havildar Samand Khan, 2637 Lance Naick Feroz, and 2102 Lance Naick Fazel Ali.

Fazel Ali was badly wounded and he was shot inside the walls of Outram Prison. the other two men were executed outside in public. The two firing squads fired at the same time. No verbal order was given the executions were carried out on the lowering of a flag.(7)

In all 39 men were executed for their part in the Singapore mutiny, 38 shot and one hanged. The Imperial narrative describes the causes of the mutiny as dissatisfaction with their officers. Discontent over a promotion/rations, or a riot (8).  Anything but a rebellion. All soldiers deserve to be named on the Commonwealth War Graves Register regardless of how or why they died. it is a gross error of admission for the men of the 5th Light Infantry who died as a result of the mutiny not to be included. Regardless of whose side in the mutiny they were on.

These men were not suffering from Post Traumatic Stress when they mutinied.  Some but not all committed terrible crimes including murder, but so did some of the men pardoned and commemorated by the Shot At Dawn Memorial.  This article is not about righting wrongs or part of a lost debate over should those  executed be pardoned or not.  It is about fairness. If others are commemorated so should they. Religion or race should not be a factor. They were part of the British Indian Army. It is time to prove we commemorate all regardless of race or religion and do it.

If you think that it was a rebellion, remember this. They died for freedom-this I know those that bade them fight told them so.(apologies and thanks to WN Ewer  and his poem Five Souls)

(1) page 827 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(2) page 826 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(3) Japan Times 19th march 1915. Translation of which p 844.

(4) Straits Times, 23rd March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(5) Straits Times, 26th March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(6) Straits Times 3rd April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(7) Straits Times 19th April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(8) Introduction Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

A Little Campaign Lost in A Great war.

In April 1915 an old man with a beard went to pay his land tax. Tired of waiting he went home and urged the peasants who looked up to him and admired him by following suit and doing the same. The event started a rebellion.

The place was Kelantan in Malaya. A new tax had been introduced in the Unfederated Malay States by the British. It was a “Land” Tax Land ownership would now be taxed. The tax was to replace the tax on produce. What the land produced and the quantity now no longer mattered. The new tax was not explained it was just imposed. On page 27 0f (7) Kheng, Cheah Boon points out  that John Maxwell the acting Colonial Secretary blamed  the Kelantan Government for not pointing out the differences and the benefits of Land registration. The Malay peasants around Pasir Puteh seemed to think it was an addition, not a replacement. Like people everywhere they were probably not happy about taxation but paid anyway. When a local worthy said basically, I’ve had enough, not waiting any longer to pay tax. I’m going home. People followed. On the 29th of April.(1)  A police serjeant Che Wan, was dispatched to arrest To’Janggut-the man with the beard and investigate reports of a planned attack on government buildings in Pasir Puteh.  To’Janggut then allegedly killed the police serjeant by stabbing him in  the neck with his dagger.(2) The attack on Pasir Puteh led by To’Janggut and Ungku Besar, a local feudal lord went ahead the next day.(3) The police station was raided and prisoners released. Some of the prisoners joined the rebels. Perhaps they were forced. Others just went home. Other government buildings were touched. someone then requested help from Singapore. the “Who” is not clear. So far we have looked at a brief overview of the initial events. Cheah Boon Kheng’s book, To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. does exactly what it says on the tin. We are left to make up our own minds. To’Janggut was a Muslim who had been to Mecca. Going to Mecca is one of the obligations of a Muslim. so the first question that arises is,”Was he radicalised?” Doubtful there seems to be no record of him being anything. he was wealthy. We know that because he went to Mecca. There were no cheap flights or boats back then. He  was though a landowner. For the first time, he now had to pay tax. Killing or at least being involved in the killing of the police serjeant would have put him on the wrong side of the law. Almost certainly he would have been hanged for this.  The next question that arises is, “Why did he kill the police serjeant?” The answer is who knows? Kheng’s book indicates it may have been for revenge. To’Jangget’s father had apparently run off with one of the Sultan’s concubines and, the Sultan had him killed. In all probability, To’Janggert had wanted to pay the land tax. It seems strange to have gone with the intention of not paying, and the police serjeant was killed during the arrest attempt.  So the next question is was this a riot or a rebellion? the involvement of Ungku Besar who was a feudal lord suggests it was a rebellion.

So why then? The attack was a few months after the Singapore mutiny which was quelled with the help of non-empire troops. Ungku Besar may have thought there were not enough British Troops in Singapore to spare and the 29th April was an opportune moment.

Who asked for help and why. The simple answer is only the Sultan could have asked for help. He could ask because the District Officer asked. The British Adviser “Asked” that would be tantamount to an order. Or the Sultan asked off his own bat. The next question is why? The Sultan would have had enough levies under his command to deal with a riot or minor rebellion. Perhaps the answer is the Sultan was hedging his bets. With the new land Tax the Sultan for the first time had to pay tax too. If there was the slightest chance of the rebellion succeeding he had more than anyone something to gain. With this in mind, he would have been quite happy for the Malays to think he had to ask for help. Farrer the political Office doest think the Sultan was implicated. ( Page 27 of (7) )

The British Response.

Ten planters (4) Messrs Templer, McPherson, Haughton, Stephens, Green, Belton, Gardner, Bone, Osbourne, and Dobson, joined together. along with the labourers from the Taku estate marched to hunt down some of the rebels. The group were armed with 4 guns, rifles, revolvers and parangs (a machete-like, long knife) That night they marched fifty miles over one night and three mornings to intercept rebels they thought were heading to Kamuning. Returning disappointed that no one had had the chance to use their parangs.(4)Meanwhile, the wifes of the British officers were evacuated to Siam. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915 printed an article probably written by the Acting Colonial Secretary for the Straits Settlements John Maxwell on the 29th May 1915. 22 Malays and Sikhs had taken the earth road to Gunong from Kota Bahru to intercept rebels heading to Pasir Puteh but were recalled shortly after their arrival.This must have happened on or about the 30th April. The same article mentions the Tinggi estate bungalow owned by a Mr Marks had been looted. the only recorded wounding of a European was when a certain Mr Morrison stumbled on a beach and shot himself. This is also mentioned in the article.

The SS Calypso arrived with 250 Malay States Guides at Kota Bahru on the 5th May. The same day HMS Cadmas arrived off the coast and nearly 239 Officers and men from the RGA, RE and the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) (6) plus 20 Malay policemen landed from her(5) and occupied Pasir Puteh.  The KSLI waited at Pasir Puteh for nearly two weeks before returning to Singapore,  waiting for the rebels to attack. It was an attack that never came. Page 71 of To’Janggut: Legends, Histories, and Perceptions (1)  mentions a Royal Navy Warship fired 4-inch shells over Pasir Puteh, circa after anchoring off the coast near the mouth of the Semerak River. It is not known if this was HMS Cadman or exactly what date, or why,  this incident occurred.The rebels fought a series of Hit and Run engagements mostly with the Malay States Guides but no large-scale actions. On the 27th May, the Malay States Guides attacked about 50 rebels and killed them all, including To’Janggut included. To’Janggut’s body was hauled to the banks of the Kelantan River and strung up by the ankles for the local people to see.(5) This battle is described in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (6) as occurring on the 24th. Major Borton and a force of 60 Sikhs and 7 Europeans pursued 50-60 men to a village about 4 miles from Pasir Puteh. The men were able to take cover behind trees and fences. Major Borton’s force fought in the open from the padi-fields. The Major’s forced charged the Malays fled. Three bodies were picked up plus one wounded Malay. To’Janggut’s body was later buried just across the river from the site of where it was hung. Photographs still exist of the hanging and are easily found on the web.  The Campaign in Kelantan was over.

The Campaign was an Imperial sideshow. Largely ignored in the narratives of the Great War. Its significance is it was a successful counter-insurgency campaign in the jungles of South East Asia. The British Army was to spend over a third of the next hundred years fighting other counter-insurgency campaigns and wars in other parts of those jungles. 1928  Terengganu, 1942-45 WW2, 45-46 Vietnam, 45-46 Indonesia, 47-49 Sarawak, and 48-77 Malaya, to name a few.

More details of the politics of the rebellion can be found in. (7)

Notes, Sources, References.

(1) To’Janggut: Legends, Histories, and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. from page 110,  By Cheah Boon Kheng (Web, https://books.google.com.my/books?id=2n6LhfSDVnwC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=tok+janggut+The+attack+on+Pasir+Puteh+police+station+(1915)&source=bl&ots=F5FfIR2qYk&sig=wtyn9tpqa_FfRxNHkJ7N1X4GQ88&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bdljUo_xOYWJrQeXuYGwCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=tok%20janggut%20The%20attack%20on%20Pasir%20Puteh%20police%20station%20(1915)&f=false.)

(2) other accounts claim the fatal wound was caused by a spear.  The dagger would have been a keris.This weapon is more likely as it was a weapon normally carried.

(3)page 110 To’Jangget : Legends…

(4) CM Hawksley PhD Thesis, Administrative Colonialism Chapter 6. University of Wollongong 2001.

(5) http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/2012/06/some-early-rebels-against-british-rule/

(6) The Kelantan Outbreak The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915, page 10

(7)   Kheng, Cheah Boon. “Hunting Down the Rebels in Kelantan, 1915: The Sultan’s ‘Double Game'” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 68, no. 2 (269) (1995): 9-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41493643.

Saying Goodbye to Joseph’s Dad and Ireland 1916.

Joseph Mallin was two and a half when he said goodbye to his dad in 1916. Joseph’s mum, granny, brothers, uncle, they were all there. His granny told Joseph’s dad she was proud of him. It takes a lot for a mother not to be proud of her son. Like many farewells, it was a tearful event. All knew they would not see Joseph’s dad again. Holding your loved ones and knowing it is for the last time must have been heartwrenching. It was the 7th May 1916/

Joseph’s dad was not going off to war. Nor was he dying of wounds. Joseph’s dad was not a soldier. He had been in the Army. He had served for twelve years in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Joined up as a Boy Bandsman. After 12 years spent mostly in India. During which there was a spell in South Africa fighting the Boer.  Joseph’s dad had left the army as a serjeant.

Joseph’s dad had been tried by a British Army Court Martial two days earlier, on the 5th May.  There were three judges. Colonel E.W.S.K. Maconchy, Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Bent, and Major F. W. Woodward. Joseph’s dad was prisoner number Seventy-eight. He was charged with: 1) Did an act to wit did take part in armed rebellion and in waging of war against His Majesty the King, such an act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be Prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy. 2) Did attempt to cause disaffection among the civilian population of His Majesty.

Found not guilty of the second charge. He was found guilty of the first charge and sentenced to death.  He was executed by firing squad sometime between 3.45 and 4.05 am on Monday 8th May 1916

Today we would call Joseph’s dad a terrorist, and a very important one at that. (1)

He was second in command of the Citizen Army, along with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, one of the predecessors of the IRA.

Prisoner 78 was one of 15 men executed as being leaders of the 1916 Rising in Dublin.

Up until the executions of the leaders, there seems to have been very little support for the rebellion in Ireland. -It was suppressed very quickly.

The executions changed all that. It turned the men into Martyrs. Martyrs become heroes in the popular psyche.  Frozen in time they are regarded much in the same way as the Rebel Alliance is in the Star War Films.  Underdogs fighting the technologically superior evil  empire.

The ideas behind the rising got turned into stone and stopped evolving.  you can’t have a conversation with, Marx  because Marx is dead. death is the point the individual’s ideas stop, but the words and actions live on.

When the leadership of an organisation is taken out you have no idea who is going to take over.  It is the middle that runs a war. The Top Directs. Without the middle, direction is lost. Without the Top the middle just promotes itself. Then the war just goes on.

In 1916 Britain won the 1916 Irish insurrection but ultimately lost the Republic, and the war continued for generations in the North.

References and notes

Joseph is Joseph Mallin, who is still alive and will be 103 years old tomorrow 13th September 2016

Joseph’s Dad was Michael Mallin

(1) In the Irish Republic, he is remembered as a “Freedom” Fighter. The difference between “Terrorist” and “Freedom” Fighter is down to are they shooting, or throwing bombs at you, or are they shooting or throwing bombs away from you.-If you are with them they are “Freedom” Fighters, if you are against them, they are terrorists.

(2) Charges and judges are from “The Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising, by Brian Barton

(3) Information about Joseph and his dad is from various Web Sites

Isobel Esson #FWW #WWI

William Philip Esson is a dream to research. There is a Medal Card. He died, killed in action. A look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Webpage gives yet more detail. Although he has no known grave. He was buried behind the lines. William is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. The Commission’s website also reveals he was the father of Isobel M Esson. William married her mother,  Helen Stephen Rennie, in 1909. Sadly a typical story of the times. Young man, when you are sixty they are all “Young Men”, goes to war. Killed so close to the end. Another child grows up without their dad. Isobel was not yet 7 years old when her dad died. She lived near Strathdon in Aberdeenshire. A beautiful part of the world. William went to war at the beginning of January 1917. Isobel would have been 5 years old. Around February 1918 William managed to get home leave so he, hopefully, would have spent some time with his daughter.  There was another daughter, Helen Stephen. No mention of her on the Commission’s webpage, which is sad. Helen would have been 3 when their dad went off to France to fight in the Great War. Helen is mentioned in William’s service record, which also survives. There is also mention of Helen in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18.  As yet I have been unable to find any more information about Helen.  Apart from Helen was named after her mother. Can not imagine how the family coped. Or what could be worse? That is where the stories of those killed in action usually end. we are left to imagine and contemplate.  For Isobel, it could not have got any more tragic. On the 19th September 1918 her dad was killed. Least we forget, although soldiers are never forgotten. Just two years and six days after her mother had died.

Helen Stephen Rennie died 13th September 1916. RIP.SDC10118Helen’s grave at Strathdon  (photo Peter Anderson)