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Clarence John Bourne

Able Seaman

Clarence John Bourne - click for a larger view (27868 bytes)

The envelope with the 'HM Ships' stamp.(31929 bytes)

Clarence wrote a letter to his sister Lorna, and his family has kindly given permission to publish this letter here. Click on any of the pages of the letter below, to see a full view

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Clarence was on a Royal Navy Patrol ship called HMS Giang Bee which took people aboard as part of the general evacuation around 6th - 8th February 1942. They departed Singapore as the city crumbled under shelling and air raids. The ship turned back, apparently to rescue a British official, and left again. At some time after this, the ship came under attack, and sank several hours later. Some survivors headed for Sumatra, and then eventually reached Java, trying to avoid the invading Japanese. They were unfortunately captured.

A short account of the sinking of the Giang Bee:

A small armed coaster, the Giang Bee left Singapore harbour. It was not long before their ship was overtaken by a squadron of Japanese warships. Passengers were given an hour to abandon ship before the vessel was bombarded and sunk.

It is possible that Clarence was killed as the Japanese ships opened fire to stop the Giang Bee, or he may have gone down with the ship, or even died in one of the lifeboats on the way to Sumatra.

Record of the Giang Bee:

Patrol vessel HMS GIANG BEE (R, 1,646 tons, Commissioned 1908)

Lost or destroyed to prevent falling into enemy hands Singapore area, February 1942.


My Nan, who died recently, always told me her brother served on the Repulse when it went down, he survived the attack and got shipped to Singapore where he recovered. She wasn't sure then what happened to him but heard he escaped Singapore on another ship which was then attacked and sank from which he died. The ship was called HMS Giang Bee.

Andrew Bystram

Andrew has a web site with some very interesting personal memories of men who fought in WW2 here

Please contact myself or Andy (webmaster) with any information.

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

Information provided by
Andrew Bystram

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record:

In Memory of
Able Seaman
D/JX 141625
H.M.S. Giang Bee, Royal Navy
who died on
Friday 13 February 1942 . Age 23 .
Additional Information: Son of Ernest and Gladys Bourne; husband of Netta G. Bourne, of Taunton, Somerset.