The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- John Alexander
- Nick Name:
- 'Jack' or 'Mac'
- Lance Corporal
- Regimental #:
- 'B' Company, Company Clerk
- Place of Birth:
- Guildford, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Charles Hutton McGregor
- Mothers's Name:
- Clara Jane McGregor (nee Shipton)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Insurance Clerk
- Selarang Camp Changi, Outram Road Prison, Changi Gaol Camp, Pasir Panjang Work Party (18.3.1945)
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Darwin-Sydney, HMT Arawa, Sydney-Melbourne by troop train, Melboume-Fremantle, HMT Strathmore.
Escaped from Changi with Lieutenant Penrod Dean. Captured 6/4/1942 at Pontian Keechil in Johore State by Malay Police and handed over to Imperial Japanese Army on 7/4/1942. Sentenced to two years solitary confinement at H.M. Prison, Outram Road.
After their capture, McGregor and Penrod Dean from 2/4th were marched into the Supreme Court, Singapore where they each received a sentence of two years solitary confinement. McGregor called the sentence “The March of Time”. Some of his other descriptions included:
The Cat and the Canary – A Japanese prison guard creeping up on an unsuspecting prisoner in his cell.
The Sky Patrol – Left Singapore a little too early.
He Stayed for Breakfast – But disappeared as soon as he learned there was more rice for dinner.
Gone with the Wind – That extra ration of rice!
John McGregor was 38 years old when he enlisted. He, like many thousands of men was bitterly disappointed when the Allies surrendered and 8th Division found they were POWs of the Japanese.
He wrote a book about his years in Outram Gaol “Blood on the Rising Sun” describing his experience where most men in solitary confinement drifted into ‘merciful death or were pushed there by the swift sword of the Japanese’. John was one those to survive his hellish ordeal.
McGregor’s parents Charles Hutton and Clare Jane Shipton married in Sydney, NSW in 1890. It is not known when the McGregor family moved to WA, and John Alexander was born in 1903 at Guildford. It is not known if he had siblings.
He resided and worked in Fremantle as a waterside worker during early 1930s. He married in 1926 to Henrietta (Vetta) Roberta Dixon and they had at least one son Kevin who died in 1966.
McGregor’s mother died in May 1941.
Sadly his wife Vetta McGregor died in November 1945 a month after his return to Perth. Jack was a patient at Lady Mitchell Convalescent Home, Cottesloe with all the other former POWs with serious eye conditions.
His father Charles Hutton McGregor died in Perth 1955.
The McGregor family were residing in South Perth where he appears to have continued living. He married widow Annie Elliot in 1948. Annie’s husband lost his life on the Burma-Thai Railway in 1943, Laurance Norman Constantine is buried at
Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery.
It is thought John and Annie had at least one child. Kevin Alan John McGregor ?
Annie died 2003 in Western Australia and John McGregor died on 21 September 1981, Sydney, NSW.
It is not known when John wrote the story of his experience at Outram Road Prison in his published book “Blood on the Rising Sun” which was published by Bencoolen and printed in Hong Kong by Gareth Powell Limited 1980.
John ‘Jack’ or ‘Mac’ lost his sight whilst at Outrim Gaol. He was evacuated on 19 July 1943 from Outrim Road Gaol to Changi Hospital with skin problems and loss of vision due to vitamin deficiency.
Jack never regained his eyesight.
He was returned to Outrim Gaol until early 1945. (Dean had already returned to Changi a free man!). McGregor was sent with Pasir Payang Work Party on 18 March 1945. He was recovered from Changi on 4 September 1945.
Penrod Dean wrote and published his book ‘Singapore Samurai’ after ‘Mac’ had died. Mac was unable to dispute several points Dean published. Chris Neilson, another POW at Outrim was in the cell next to Mac – Neilson taught Mac morse code enabling a long friendship to develop between them and a means to exchange news in this prison where it was totally forbidden to speak. Morse code was for ‘Mac’ a life-line in the god-forsaken Outrim. (Dean claims he taught Mac morse code, which is not true, and much as he tried Dean was not successful in learning himself).
“Blood on the Rising Sun” is a very detailed account of Mac’s time at Outrim Gaol. We recommend reading! He was an amazing man and most humble.
- Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
- Outram Road Prison - Singapore ***
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore