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By Joseph Kennedy

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Additional resources for British Civilians and the Japanese War in Malaya and Singapore, 1941–45

Example text

He picked it up to be told that all European women and children were to be evacuated from the Hill and would he convey this message urgently by 'phone to all the families living there. 'Could people be compelled to go'? he asked. 'No', was the reply, 'but they must be urged to, in their own interest'. Samuel complied with the instruction. He was a senior member of the European community and whatever message he passed on was likely to be respected; he had served as a Municipal Commissioner in Penang.

A civil officer had been appointed to take charge of the evacuees from further north, whose numbers were steadily increasing. He provided the Samuels with a travel permit to proceed to Singapore, so they said good-bye to their friends, boarded a train, and set off for whatever Heading South 27 Singapore might hold for them. They arrived on the island on 2 January; it had been a strange New Year. Meanwhile, advance Japanese forces had been pressing down the line of the trunk road and railway to Gurun, 30 miles north of Prai.

It should', he commented later, 'have been a warning to us that Penang was not going to be held, despite preparations to the contrary'. For the next two days he did his best to keep to his routine of travelling down to the office from the Hill, where he lived, in the morning and back again up the Hill in the evening. Conditions were deteriorating round him and there was not much he could do at his desk when he got there. Other lawyers, including his own partners, were difficult to contact and, of course, there was the bombing, from which he took shelter as best he could.

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