HMAS BENDIGO "The Fall of Singapore"
Personal diaries of Victor Neville Bruce & George Richardson.
Diaries in any form were disallowed in HMA ships during World War II but
fortunately for history some were kept and many survived.

Victor Neville Bruce (18257 bytes) Map of the track taken by Force Z before the ships were sunk (33517 bytes) HMAS Bendigo (32892 bytes)

 

This story is a tribute to  a couple of sailors who decided to keep a diary about their adventures, they were in Singapore, when Japan attacked.  

The diaries were independently written by two crew members of the mine sweeper HMAS Bendigo, they regularly, without passion, wrote in their diaries, events as they happened, .

The Victor Neville Bruce diary was transcript by Lou LeBoydre, author of the LeBoydre Family History, with permission and on behalf of Robert [Bob] Bruce, son of Victor Neville Bruce. According to Bob, his father's diary had sat in a drawer for over  55 years.

The diary of George Richardson was first published in the Naval History Review in 1975 and these extracts were taken from the Book HMAS Bendigo by Wally Eves.

Sunday 3 September 1939 World War II erupted at 2150 eastern Australian time.

Background:

The acute shortage of ships early in WW11 saw the Australian Government embark on a program of building ships suitable for minesweeping, anti-submarine protection of ports and merchant shipping and other myriad tasks suitable for a small agile ship. The "Bathurst Class" ship was primarily designed for minesweeping and 56 ships of this class were built in the years 1940 to 1944 as part of this program.

The original concept of minesweeping became a minor role for this class of ship when it was quickly established that they could be better used on other tasks. They became known as "Bathurst Class Corvettes" and their major role was the anti-submarine protection of merchant shipping, although the other tasks, ranging from shore bombardment, transport of troops and materials to forward positions, surveying and port protection soon gave them the reputation as the "Navy's Work-horse". The ships were named after Australian towns and were adopted by the town after which they were named.

The official RAN book 'HMAS The Royal Navy at War Chapter VII discusses the Malayan Archipelago and acknowledges that the HMAS Bendigo "Bathurst Class", among a number of other ships, was in Singapore at the outbreak of war in the Pacific. However the Bendigo does not rate another mention, therefore these personal diary notes and the book HMAS Bendigo are of historical significance.

The Black text represents the diary of Victor Neville Bruce; The Pink text represents the diary of Able Seaman George Richardson and The Red text denotes extracts from the official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of event.


Start of Journal.

We commissioned HMAS Bendigo at Sydney on the 10th May 1941 and spent several days preparing for sea prior to sailing for Melbourne. Speed was clocked at 15.7 knots which wasn't bad, and we had hopes of more to come.

We left Sydney on the 16th, arriving at Jervis Bay on the same day. As the weather wasn't too promising we anchored there for a day and proceeded to Westernport and tied up alongside the storm point Jetty.  We spent two days alongside whilst a few alterations were made. From there we steamed to Port Arlington where we did our sweeping tests during the following two days, after which we made for Williamstown and berthed.

We passed around about Port Phillip Bay during sweeping exercises etc. and then we came alongside at Port Melbourne for a spell of 14 days during which time I spent 7 days marvellous leave at home in Brisbane. Incidentally these 7 days were the best I've ever had. The ship left Melbourne on the 26.6.1941 bound for Sydney, arriving there 28.6.1941.

We spent a week alongside the Cruiser Wharf storing ship etc and then we left for Darwin on the 4th July at 7.41 and arrived at Townsville on 9th July for oil and water and stayed alongside the wharf for two days. As it was a very dry trip up from Sydney the boys went ashore for decent booze up and they certainly had it too.

The first day I went ashore but I'm afraid the draft beer had too much preservative owing to that my memory failed me. But the very next day I went on the bottle and made a general nuisance of myself. When I finally dragged myself aboard I found that everyone was fairly drunk on beer that had been stolen from the wardroom wine store, so I started another session too. However I was a sight for sore eyes next morning, which was the 11th and didn't feel like taking the ship to sea at 9 am.

We slipped away from Townsville
[on 11.7.1941] and continued our trip to Darwin and during the next few days we steamed through the Barrier Reef with calm seas, sun by day, full moon by night and the scenery was beautiful. A sight worth seeing especially when we had to cut in and out of the various islands and came within yards of the wonderful beaches there.

After we negotiated the reef we turned west. From the most northern point of the Cape York. We then had two days straight steaming to do before arriving at Darwin and we reached there on the 17th
. During the afternoon of 13.7.1941 we sailed through Albany Pass, or Jardines Passage, as it was more commonly called. This is very narrow, the widest place being half a mile, but the water is deep enough for the Queen Mary to pass in safety.

We spent nearly 10 weeks there during sweeping evacuation exercises etc and these 10 weeks were simply hell, for us too. There wasn't any decent recreation for the boys in the township and we made our own enjoyment by having beer parties at the Boom Defence Canteen every possible chance. We had nearly given up all hope of leaving Darwin when we received orders to go to Singapore and were we pleased much.

Black Text = Victor Bruce Diary
Pink Text = George Richardson Diary
Red Text = Official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of events

So we spent the last night there getting horribly drunk. We slipped that morning, that being the 22nd September 1941 and what a pleasant sight it was to see the shores of old Darwin slipping behind us. The next 8 days were uneventful except for the "crossing of the line Ceremony" that was held on board the day before we arrived at Singapore Naval Base. Several of the boys dressed up for the occasion and had a tarp rigged up upon the forecastle for the ducking of the rookies, myself being one of them. The whole show was a big success for the boys as they managed to grab the skipper and the 1st Lieut. and they had a very rough time for a few minutes in the ducking tank!

30th September. Today we arrived at the outer boom at 1530 and from there we had a twelve-mile run to the Naval Base. The channel was only of a mile wide all the way up and the scenery was very pretty on either side, every thing is so lovely and green in the tropics, including the palm trees and tropical growth. Met by AMS vessels Goulburn and Burnie in Johore Straits.
We all cheered and yelled "You Beaut". This was the first time most of the ship's company had been outside Australia and there was great excitement; it was a relief too after the dusty conditions of Darwin.

We had a few runs ashore and enjoyed Singapore very much; it was fascinating place of contrasts and the Union Jack club, where thousands of servicemen were catered for at a time, was the last word in comfort.

Our first job was to patrol from outside the Changi boom on L.D. to further out near the Horsburg Light on T.B. but even though easy work it became quite monotonous. We carried A/S patrols in Johore Straits until the 14th November, getting shore leave only while doing boiler cleaning.

Sailed up the west coast to Port Dickenson where we had five days rest so we travelled to the capital Seremban by bus and had a great time. This is the State of Negri Sembilin and is typical rubber country. We arrived back at the Naval Base on 20.11.1941.

The four corvettes Bendigo, Burnie, Goulburn and Maryborough under the command of Commander Glen Cant, R.A.N. sailed up the coast again on the 28.11.1941, this time to Port Swettenham a little further up where we oiled. This is the seaport of Kuala Lumpur, which is the Federal Capital of the Malay States, and we carried out a "Sweep search" over an area of 250 miles for some Big Stuff belonging to our Cherry Blossom friends who were rumoured to be in the area..

1-12-41 proceeded south in company with other three corvettes [now known as the 21st Minesweeping Flotilla] during a searching sweep to clear path for Prince of Wales, Repulse and escort destroyers [H.M.S. Jupiter, Electra, Express and Encounter]. Arrived back at Naval Base 2-12-41. 7-12-41 while on patrol with other corvettes sighted and chased enemy sub. Unsuccessful resumed sweeping.

Black Text = Victor Bruce Diary
Pink Text = George Richardson Diary
Red Text = Official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of events

1st Dec: a state of emergency was declared in Singapore, 2nd Dec: the arrival of two warships of the Royal Navy, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, in Singapore - 7th Dec: The Japanese destroy the Pacific American fleet at Pearl Harbour naval base, and invade Hong Kong and the Philippines. America and Britain declare war on Japan.

Even at this time, the people of Singapore did not believe that they could be conquered. The authorities assured them that all was well; and the troop reinforcements gave them added confidence. 8th Dec: Singora, Patani and Kota Bharu are invaded.  Japanese naval bombers attack Singapore. Japanese aircraft attack British airfields in Malaya. Force Z leaves Singapore to intercept the Japanese.  10th Dec: The HMS Prince of Wales and the Repulse are sunk.

Note: Force Z was the codename for the naval force comprising the Prince of Wales, the Repulse, and their escort destroyers, HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Tenedos and HMAS Vampire. Rear Admiral Sir Tom Phillips led the force.

8-12-41 while tied up alongside Naval Base Japs drops bombs. First air raid on Singapore [0200] 0400 further at 1000 sirens sound alarm, AA [Anti Aircraft] crews close up. Sixty people were killed in the first raids and one hundred and seventy three wounded.

9-12-41 Anchored at Naval Base Air Raid alarm at 0800.

10-12-41 Repulse and Prince of Wales sunk by Japs. Torpedo bombers short distance up coast. Survivors picked up by destroyers HMS Electra, HMAS Vampire, HMS Tenedos and HMS Express.

11-12-41 while on patrol with Grasshopper, Dragonfly and Maryborough attack enemy subs successfully dodged tin fish and dropped charges at 100 feet.

12th Dec: Malaya Command orders a retreat to Kuala Krai and Kuala Lipis. The Japanese launch a heavy frontal attack with outflanking that causes heavy casualties for the 3/16th Punjab Regiment at Kroh.  13th Dec: British troops at the north-western frontline are in full retreat south of Jitra. Alor Star falls. 14th Dec: The Far East War Council decides that Penang can be held for another 3 to 4 days. The Japanese enter from the north and take the Alor Star airfield.

15-12-41 Challenged ships proved to be Dutch.
16-12-41 towed in 18 Jap [maybe Chinese?] junks.
17-12-41 received news that submarine attack successful [our first blood]
18-4-41 Anchored in Seragoon Harbour
19-12-41 Resumed patrol with Maryborough and river gun boats
20-12-41 still at sea - mail brought out by Burnie

21-12-41 Entered Naval Base and oiled. Batteries on Dutch submarine  [just astern] blew up killing several members of the crew and setting sub on fire. Tug towed her away from wharf until fire subdued. Casualties horribly injured by explosion and acid, No of sub K XIII.
22-12-41 Pom-Pom installed  and deck ammunition loaded, and stores. Air raid alert at 2100 no bombs dropped on base.
23-12-41 still alongside Naval Base at Berth 13, same berth as ill-fated Prince of Wales. Beer rationed to one bottle per man from today at NAAFI.

25th Dec: Churchill promises the Australian Prime Minister that Singapore would not fall. 26th Dec: The Imperial Guards take Ipoh in the morning. Yamashita moves his headquarters to Taiping. British Indian troops retreat to south of Ipoh. The high casualty rate of the Indian troops north of Ipoh leads Percival to order field commanders to minimise losses and retain fighting formations. Following instructions, these troops retreat to the south.

25-12-41 Naval Base Berth 14 just astern of cruiser Danae
26-12-41 Naval Base heavy rain falls.
27-12-41 left Naval base on secret mission with damaged Dutch sub K XIII sub unable to dive owing to former explosions.
28-12-41 well on way to Batavia [Djakarta], submarine still astern, weather roughening Pompom loaded and ready for action as usual. 1830 Dutch destroyer takes over about 100 miles from Batavia. Owing to dangerous passage anchored overnight.
29-12-41. Back on our way past Jupiter and Encounter doing 220 revs, all way, anchored at Changi owing to indiscriminate dropping of magnetic mines by enemy planes. Later proceed upstream behind sweeper and tie up at Naval Base. Air alert at 2100.
30-12-41 Naval Base alert at 0130 wharf labourer strike. Singapore declares marital law.
31/12/41 Naval Base air Raid by 15 Jap bombers about 11.30pm Alert about 40:30 am on the 1-1-42.

Black Text = Victor Bruce Diary
Pink Text = George Richardson Diary
Red Text = Official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of events

1st Jan: British troops realise the appalling lack of defences in Singapore even as Percival reassures the Singapore people on the radio. At Kampar, the British pit their artillery against the Japanese planes and tanks with success.

2nd Jan: At Kampar, British forces withdraw just before midnight. Percival learns of the latest Japanese seaborne attack, while Yamashita moves headquarters to Ipoh.  3rd Jan: The Japanese seaborne infiltrations alarm the British. British troops are ordered to abandon Kuantan for Jerantut. The aerodromes nearby are captured.

2.1.42 went on L D Patrol - four alerts.
3-1-42 relieved Maryborough. J.B.
4-1-42 Still on J.B. "Yellow Warning"
5-1-42 Still on J.B. Jap mines exploding all around ship. Unexplainable explosions
6-1-42 Anchored at Seragoon Changi - roads blocked because of unexploded bombs; new type of Jap rubber nosed bombs.
8-1-42 Back on J.B.
12-1-42 Anchored in N.B. 125 Jap planes bombed Singapore.
Ten were shot down, heavy tropic rain saved the incoming convoy.
15-1-42 Patrol on L.D.
16-1-42 while closed up on gun to repel aircraft witnessed sinking of Dutch
freighter "Lenang" after striking a mine aft Rio straits.  It sank in two minutes as we watched. 72 were lost, but HMAS Maryborough stood by and picked up 37 survivors.

17-1-42 Back in Sembawang fifteen enemy bombers passes overhead; dive-bombing attacked and burns Catalinas about a mile away or less.
18-1-42 Twenty-six large bombers overhead, set three oil tanks ablaze and bombed F.S.A. several dockies killed. Extensive damage to Base
19-1-42 Raiders beaten off by our Hurricanes.
20-1-42 Proceed to sea with Maryborough, Singapore raided by Japs - saw one raider shot down in flames anchored overnight about 70 miles from Singapore.
21-1-42 Searching sweep in Gurian Straits ahead of very large convoy. Anchored overnight in Berkalag straits. Toowoomba appears and flashes OK

19th Jan: Japanese forces drive Australian forces from Bukit Pelandok. Wavell informs Churchill of the sorry state of affairs in Malaya. Churchill replies Singapore is to be defended to the death.  20th Jan: Wavell tells Percival to hold south Johore as long as possible. Bennett orders a general retreat south, while Yamashita moves to new headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

On the 20-1-42. Ballarat and Wollongong anchored nearby and all proceed to NB on 23rd.
24-1-42 Berth 13 boiler clean
25-1-42 Convoy arrives large Indian troop ship very nearly wipes out bridge. Raids every day by 27 heavy bombers - machine shops and buildings all shattered beyond repair. All mails temporally stopped [outward]

26-1-42 Vampire and Lhamnsi meet enemy cruiser and two destroyers just up the coast Lhamnis sunk. Vampire got away while the two enemy destroyers blazed away at one another until one of them sank; thinking each other was the Vampire.

Bendigo alongside Isis 28-1-42 Isis towed to sea by tugs on first step of journey to Australia. We move alongside Toowoomba this is no longer a Naval Base. Moves for [made] scorched earth policy, tools looted by sailors, Jap bombers fly around the Base just as they please [I wonder if we'll ever get out of this death trap]? Just after dark two dive-bombers attacked we three [Bendigo, Toowoomba and Grasshopper] but missed.  Some bombs [incendiary] hit the water and some on the wharf and grass hill, raiders came over till mid night


28th Jan: Heath gives Bennett withdrawal schedules for the departure of British forces across the Causeway. 29th Jan: The long-awaited British 18th Division arrives at Singapore Harbour late at night, 96 hours after the final decision to abandon mainland Malaya.  30th Jan: The retreat across the Causeway begins. 31st Jan: British forces withdraw fully to Singapore while the Japanese face Singapore from Johor Bahru. The Battle for Singapore begins.

29-1-42. The worst day for us here, 41 raiders nearby got us early and 26 big bombers got the Catalina Base. Open Slather ashore for us, bikes and all brought aboard, and the big floating dock is sunk.
We turn the base over to the army. As a last strong hold. Our troubles are only just beginning. Demolition goes on day and night all around.
30-1-42 our biggest escape of the war. While towing three ammunition lighters to Keppel Harbour [
Singapore Commercial Harbour] [last to evacuate the base] 54 Jap bombers fly directly overhead of Toowoomba and Bendigo and drop the lot on shipping and docks.

31-1-42 usual formation of 27 planes bomb aerodrome [looks as though the Japs are shelling us from Lahore!] The siege of Singapore Island starts tonight. The causeway was blown up today.
1-2-42 Anchored in Keppel Harbour. Average of 8 or 9 raids a day.
2-2-42 closest shave of the war, 18 Jap bombers straddle us with bombs [2 on port side 2 starboard and a couple astern] and hide the ship in spray, shrapnel flew everywhere and pierced Captains Lobby [steel] door and dented ships side in several places.
With several others was in whaler dazzle-painting ship's side, when bombs started dropping, dived into the drink keeping between the boat and ship's side 'Doc' was knicked in the side by flying splinter as he was last in the water [I thought all my birthdays had come at once!] Lenedos thought we had sunk and sent a boat over to pick up survivors.

Black Text = Victor Bruce Diary
Pink Text = George Richardson Diary
Red Text = Official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of events


Japanese Bombing Raids Continue
3-2-42 another severe blitzes on the docks, dead piled into lorries and carted
away many whites among them. Ballarat and Toowoomba pulled out today leaving only two of us to "hold the baby". docks heavily bombed and the raid lasted for two hours. Smell from the wharves is terrible owing to decomposition of bodies under debris.

4-2-42 Usual 27 bombers drop eggs among crowded merchant shipping holing several and severely wounding four of the crew of a Naval Auxiliary vessel. Shrapnel fell on X deck. Near the two pounder. Docks smell like a charnel house as many bodies are still under debris, and decomposition sets in quickly in this climate. The Japs have a clear field now, as our Air Force is nil, but five or six Tomahawks arrived from Batavia, with American pilots. 
5-2-42 Usual 27 overhead and bombed the docks, and we watched dive bombers at work for some time until a message came through to weight anchor immediately and proceed to a stricken troop ship.
Raced through the boom, past blazing dockyards and headed past many ships of a big convoy just arrived [most of whom were flying flags at half mast] ahead we could see plumes of smoke from the Empress of Asia which turn out to be ablaze from stem to stern. RAF Tomahawks [Hurricanes] circled overhead as we lowered boats to pick up survivors [piloted by Yanks] and rescue work commenced.

HMAS Yarra raced away loaded with soldiers and an Indian sloop
[HMIS Juma] stood by. Many soldiers were severely burned and hurt by shrapnel we took several boatloads [and so did Wollongong] and by this time the work was completed so we headed for Keppel docks. Bullets and shells were bursting continuously on the fiercely burning vessel; she was loaded with Tommy guns and anti tank guns.

I was in the whaler picking up survivors after dropping a boatload of English soldiers aboard, giving them cigarettes one of them said, "I love you navy boys!" Why? I said in surprise "This is the second time you lads have saved me, says he" first Dunkirk and again today!" In all it was a good day and broke the monotony of sitting waiting to be bombed. [Only 9 Jap dive-bombers did the damage.]

6-2-42 Four raids from 4.30 till 5.30 this morning and usual raid in the forenoon. Saw one of our Tomahawks come down in flames and hit the sea no bombs dropped in our vicinity so far. Artillery fire from the front line [10 or 12 miles away] is deafening and carries on day and night. Big oil fires all over coast a pall of smoke for hundreds of miles and is a good hiding place for Nippon, at 1700 we sailed into Gurion Straits and anchored with lights showing as a guide ship for the convoy due at midnight, but it didn't appear.

7-2-42 at 1.20am set out at full speed behind Wollongong to a large jungle clad uninhabited island near Sumatra and about 80 miles from Singapore. Here an armed party was set ashore to search for missing airmen but we were unsuccessful. Carried on back to Gurion Straits and hid amongst groups of small islands, reason being enemy bombers flying back and forth all day in batches of 9, 18 & 27 under weight at 2300.
Back on Patrol

Patrolled back and forward with Wollongong until three small mine sweepers appeared about am then headed down the Sumathran Coast in line ahead, alarm bells rang at 9am and we manned the Pom-Pom just as 18 bombers roared overhead but we [Thank Gawd] were not the target for the day.
Anchored in Amphritile Bay in very muddy shallow water until 3pm and then carried on our journey [we were heading for Batavia, travelling by night and hiding by day as we are now in exceedingly dangerous waters, and have no adequate protection against aircraft] [Note: - Wollongong made a mistake yesterday in her signals to us with regards to the search for missing airmen. We should have searched for survivors of the burning oil tanker "British Airmen" which was aground on a reef in Rio Straits].

Black Text = Victor Bruce Diary
Pink Text = George Richardson Diary
Red Text = Official Fall of Singapore 'time line' of events

8th Feb: Japanese artillery and aircraft begin shelling western Singapore heavily at 10am. The artillery then concentrates on the northwest shoreline until 7pm. Communications are completely cut between forward and rear command headquarters. At 8pm, the first Japanese assault boat heads for the Singapore coast. From 8.30pm fierce fighting signals the start of the invasion.  9th Feb: At 7am, 10 Hurricane fighters challenge 84 Japanese aircraft. After three missions the Hurricanes are ordered to Sumatra. It is the final appearance of British aircraft in the Malaya Campaign. Tengah Airfield is taken by late afternoon despite fierce opposition. The 18th Division takes over Chua Chu Kang Village.

9-2-42 Bit of a mix up past Behalf Light - last night- lost sight of our two sweepers.
10-2-42 after much messing about at last caught up with Wollongong and other sweepers. Anchored in mouth of Banka Straits [Bomb Alley]


10th Feb: The Kranji assault led by the Imperial Guards nearly fails. Boats are lost or stranded at low tide; troops are mired in muddy swamps and burned by oil from the damaged fuel tanks at the Naval Base. By dawn however, the Japanese have completed the landing. In a mistaken withdrawal the Australians leave Woodlands, the key to northern defences. By mid-afternoon, the Kranji-Jurong line has fallen. Churchill cables Wavell: "There must be...no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population ... The honour of the British Empire and of the British Army is at stake..."

11-2-42 Proceeded up beautiful Palembang River so close to the jungle clad banks that one could almost pluck the ferns. Anchored at Palembay which is 63 miles from the coast and is a very important oiling centre, large refineries etc.
12-2-42 Oiled and anchored midstream again several tankers and merchants ship badly damaged by bombs around Banka, but managed the tricky river passage before sinking a number of large tankers with shrapnel holes in the side.
Entirely different type of native, happy and carefree sold us coconuts and delicious pineapples for empty beer bottles. 1330 proceed down stream in company with Wollongong, Toowoomba, Ballarat and two sweepers. Saw crocs. Picked up convoy of tankers and merchants ships Ballarat develops engine trouble and anchored.

Friday 13th. [A hell of a day] Got through Banka [Bomb Alley] Straits all right but attacked by eight bombers [maybe 9!]. Dropped eggs nicely around leading ship then skedaddled later at night went to action stations owing to three mysterious vessels [presumably destroyers] ahead and we very nearly rammed by a large merchant ship astern of us. A case of "full ahead" and hard starboard to get out of a nasty fix.
14-2-42 Anchored in outer Harbour in Batavia. Ships everywhere. 16-2-42 Paid
in Guilders at 0700, and four raiders flew overhead but no bombs dropped. No leave.

14th Feb: Water supply in Singapore failure threatens most areas in town, including the hospitals, have no water. The Japanese massacre staff and patients in Alexandra Hospital. At 2 pm, Japanese troops rush into Alexandra Hospital. They bayonet young Lt. Weston who stands at the porch with a large white flag. Doctors and patients alike are bayoneted. In the night, patients are bayoneted in groups. Only three men escape. The Japanese control the three military airfields and the three main reservoirs. Malay Regiment makes a heroic 48 hr stand. Only when the last man falls does the entire defence line fall. Wavell cables Churchill to say that the situation is hopeless. Churchill gives the permission to surrender.  

15th Feb 1942:
At 9.30am Percival tells his staff it is either counter-attack or surrender. All are against attacking.  At 5.15pm, Percival surrenders to the Japanese. At 8.30pm there is silence in the city.   80,000 British Empire and Commonwealth troops under General Percival surrendered to the Japanese at Singapore in the final humiliation of the greatest military defeat in British history.
blame3.jpg (16721 bytes)


17-2-42 Still at anchorage, talking of leave, but none yet, Hobart, De Ruiter, Exeter, Yankee destroyer still here with Orcades, which is full of Aussie troops from Syria. Palimbang invaded by 200 planes and paratroops and now occupied by enemy like Singapore it is ablaze. Our stokers escaped by train after two ships were sunk under them. Jap transport and warships sailed calmly up to river.
20-2-42 Average of two alerts per day, but this is a rest after Singapore. On Asdic patrol. All these merchant ships are getting out before big blitz - a convoy of eighteen left tonight for unknown destination.
21-2-42 went in alongside Bernie leave to two watches.
22-2-42 Left on raiding trip to combat Japs infiltration into Java. Patrolled Sunda Straits [with Burnie] all night, every man closed up at action stations and every rifle loaded. No Japs sighted.
23-2-42 Dropped pick in beautiful Harbour at Merak joined by Ballarat and Dutch sloop. Hiding from hostile aircraft Sunda Strait patrol at night [Maryborough and Burnie]
25-2-42 Eighty Jap planes flew overhead as we lay at anchor in Marak and suspicious movements by submarine in the stream.
26-2-42 after usual nightly patrol dropped pick in Labuhan on West Coast of Java. Fair sized village and good beer [we have on board eight AIF blokes[picked up at Batavia after getting away from Singapore] and they are a
big help in watch keeping.

27-2-42 anchored in Merak again, and had a good time ashore swimming and getting tropical fruit. Three hostile medium bombers attacked us at 1630 and dropped bombs and machine-gunned the Dutch sloop. No damage. They made three attempts at us, but we put off their aim by Pom-Pom fire. We had one misfire, and my sights fell off. Bombs fell on island just astern.
28-2-42 While passing Java head on our way to Tjilatjap we dropped back and assisted Burnie to embark survivors of torpedoed Dutch freighter "Duplieax" last and .............
1-3-42 Arrived in Tjilatjap Harbour 1300 but turned straight round and headed out, believed to be on the trail of another torpedoed vessel. Found out she dropped smokes floats and dodged torpedoes. We chased subs but no luck. Entered Ljilatzap and ran aground but all hands went on the forecastle until she was off.

Took on Commodore Collins and staff and number of Jupiter survivors, and I think we are off for Aussie at last. [I have just found out we have 37 English sailors, 18 officers from Jupiter plus 8 Aussie soldiers from Malay, and I guess we're pretty crowded] it's a toss up whether we go to Fremantle or Colombo! I know which joint I want to go too!
It seems that our ships got a hell of a hiding, Houston, Exeter and Hobart badly damaged, Jupiter sunk, and Electra and Encounter probably sunk. Its no good fighting superior numbers, the Japs also landed at Merak and Samarang. I only hope we get a decent start on these b of Japs cruisers, otherwise we're finished. The Jap cruisers mount fourteen eight-inch guns. I believe the Ballarat and Wollongong went west near Merack.
We took another mob of survivors on, and proceed on our way at 11.30.
2-3-42 Fremantle it is to be! that is providing our luck holds. Weather holding pretty good we sighted one plane.
3-3-42 weather roughening another plane sighted chased by Yankee cruiser USS Phoenix.
4-3-42 sighted land but left it again.
Back In Australian Waters.

6-3-42 following good old west Australian coast, everyone's nerves almost normal again - Pile droved most of the way.
8-3-42 entered good old Fremantle and tied up, plenty of Yank destroyers here it's nice to be in white mans country again. The captain informs me I have draft to the Hobart but I think by the time I catch up with her it will be cancelled.
11-3-42 Still alongside, no pay but a 2 pound [$4] sub. Parker and Horner rated Kellicks and Coxswain CPO [washed out next day]
12-3-42 went on patrol
16-3-42 alongside again after some stinking cold days patrolling off Rottnest Island. Can't take this weather at all.
17-3-42 still alongside duty nights aboard.
20-3-42 At Fremantle, Hobart berthed astern.
21-3-42 packed kit prepared to board Hobart Sub. Lieut. Informed me would have another night on board so asked permission to go ashore - it was granted.
22-3-42 Proceed on draft to Hobart by am 11'30 draft cancelled unpacked kit.
23.3.42 Still alongside Fremantle wharf.

24-3-42 Proceed to sea 1500 to screen Queen Mary.
25-3-42 screened incoming convoy.
26-3-42 searched for submarine reported off Rottnest Island, false alarm.
28-3-42 berthed with Goulbourn at Nth Wharf, Fremantle.
29-3-42 proceeded with Goulbourn and escorted tanker past Leeuwin. After leaving tanker carried on to Port Adelaide arriving on 5-4-42. Lousy trip, cold, roughs weather, ship frequently rolled more than 45 degrees. No mail, no pay on arrival.
7-4-42 Left Port Adelaide via Investigator Strait sailing westward.
8-4-42 come in contact with two American subs taking them under escort from a position 250 miles west of Adelaide, immediately changing course to due east heading for Melbourne.
9-4-42 Sub G41 & 43 still astern
10-4-42 weathers perfect not a ripple upon the sea; sub s43 did trail dive.
11-4-42 seas still calm arrived and berthed alongside Nelson Pier 1800 [Williamstown]
12-3-42 proceeded from Williamstown berthed alongside Princess Pier port Melbourne spending the day ashore.

Heading Home to Brisbane.

13-4-42 Left Port Melbourne with two more subs S37 & 40 & Bengera, destination good old Brisbane.
14-4-42 weather very cold and rough with a strong SW wind blowing.
15-4-42 still rough, sub S37 developed engine trouble reducing sped to 5 knots.
16-4-42 Sub still having trouble weather calm with a moderate swell. Bengara carried on to Sydney.
17-4-42 Beautiful day A/S gear broke down, recalled Bengera to proceed with sub while we proceed to Sydney to fix defect.
18-4-42 arrived in Sydney Harbour at 8 am left again at 5 PM proceeding to Brissy at 13 knots.
19-4-42 making good progress 4 hours ahead of time - mild day
20-4-42 entered Moreton Bay 11am.

Log entries end.

Victor Neville Bruce closed his diary and stowed it in a drawer at his family home, where it has sat for over 55 years.

Editorial Note: If you have any interest in this story e-mail the Site Author
Lou@dashmark.com.au

Sadly the original author of this page, Lou LeBoydre died on the 2nd November 1999.

The text from this page has been reproduced from his website, permission has been sought, but no reply has been received to date.

The latest information is that the whole original website has been removed from the web. This remains the only record of that website. We intend to keep this page online until we hear differently from a copyright owner.