‘E’ COMPANY SRB – SEARCH FOR BODIES DECEMBER 1942
‘E’ Coy Special Reserve Battalion- Search & Recovery for their dead
At long last on 8th December 1942, the Japanese finally granted permission for Saggers and Cough to take out parties in search of their dead at Sleepy Valley, South West Bukit Timah and Hill 200. They had been requesting to do this since March.
Major Bert Saggers & Frank Hiddleston took a party of about 20 men from Sime Road to locate their composite Battalion area where they were caught retiring towards Reformatory Road and the ambush at Sleepy Valley, South West Bukit Timah on 11 February 1942. The Japanese attack took the Australians by surprise, 50 men from 2/4th and about 40 men from AASC lost their lives on 11th February, 1942.
The Search party firstly had difficulty finding the location and were hampered by the long Lalang grass (a common and prolific growing grass in Singapore and Malaysia). They were hugely disappointed to find about half dozen bodies in the short time given to them. In all, the journey proved most unsatisfactory and most distressing.
They found evidence Japanese bodies had been carefully collected and buried amongst the bodies of Australians left to rot. The area had many slit trenches. It would have required very little effort to place the bodies in these trenches and cover them over with soil. Or at least allow the Australians to find their men long before December.
This incident really riled the POWs whose hatred deepened even further towards the Japanese.
Saggers wrote in his diary of his extreme distress regarding this incident. He questioned the health aspect with all the rotting bodies around the island and the fact that pigs who were a source of food for the local population had been eating the bodies.