Thomson Road (Caldecot Hill Estate Camp) – Singapore
Thomson Road (Caldecot Hill Estate) Camp was located on the southeast side of the MacRitchie Reservoir. The houses were former homes of British troops. The task allotted to the men accommodated at this camp was to cut a scenic drive through virgin jungle. This ran from a point approximately three miles north of the camp on Thomson Road, to the Singapore Golf Club to where the “Fallen Warriors Shrine” was being constructed. Records indicate that a number of 2/4th went from Thomson Road to the River Valley Road Camp prior to their return to Selarang Barracks, Changi.
Lt. Col Pond from 2/29th **was Commanding Officer of Thomson Road – he was not always popular with the men, well not at this time. McLaggan wrote he heard Pond’s discipline very harsh. Initially the men here worked on the new shrines and parks at Bukit Timah. One memorial to the Japanese and one for the Allies. They had used chungkels (large hoes) and small shallow baskets to slice off the top of the hill. They used perangs to make the approaching roads and drives. The men worked physically hard.
According to Douglas McLaggan author of ‘The Will to Survive’ – who was at Great World POWs at River Valley and Havelock Road Camps were split up and reorganised into original units.
Men were formed into daily work parties such as working at the wharves. The Japanese searched the POWs returning from work.
There was much dissent in the camps, the men well aware of the privileges enjoyed by officers who were handing out ‘stiff’ sentences to those who disobeyed. An example:
14 days detention for disobeying a lawful command.
Apparently at Christmas 1942, these men returned to Changi to Selarang Barracks. On return to Selarang, McLaggan now with all the 2/29th together, wrote in his personal experience, Pond apart from his stern appearance, was as lenient and as stern as he ought to have been.
McLaggan was sent to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘F’ Force.
He wrote that Lt. Col Pond surprised him, ‘he was a MAN on the march’ through Thailand along with Capt Lloyd.
McLaggan maintained a diary throughout the war. He was at Tanbaya Hospital Camp, run by MO Major Hunt.
**Lt Col Pond with Lt. Col John Charles Robertson were together, Commanding Officers of 2/29th – a Victorian raised Battalion with men from many states. Together with the 2/26th and 2/30th Battalions, it formed part of the 27th Brigade, the third and final brigade raised as part of the 8th Division