McGregor WX12835 and Dean WX6067 were sentenced to 2 years to be served at Outram Gaol commencing 24 April 1942.
Their Crime – attempting to escape Singapore
WX227 Sgt Alfred ‘Alf’ Stevens
Sentenced to Outram Road Gaol at Kuching, for his role at Sandakan for ‘underground radio’ for 6 years arriving 11 March 1944.
Throughout 1942 and 1943, Outram Road Gaol prisoners in solitary confinement, were absolutely forbidden to speak to anybody (John McGregor learnt morse code from his neighbour Chris Neilson – who was remarkably resilient and ‘tough’ Aussie POW who managed to regularly lift the spirits of prisoners. He also managed to antagonise his gaolers who retaliated by giving Neilson bashings. Neilson claimed his actions broke the utter boredom of Outram Road solitary confinement.
Their cells were never cleaned, the buckets emptied infrequently and of course their food was minimal. The inmates suffered inhumane conditions and starvation.
In 1944 this changed a little, and as shown above, the prisoners were permitted to bath for scabies. There were men so tormented by scabies they tore at their flesh, resulting in a painful death.
Bill Young’s self-portrait Outram
Outram Road Gaol was previously under the control of the Kempeitai but was handed over the the Japanese military as a military prison under the Southern Area Army and later, the 7th Area Army (date unknown).
Penrod Dean and John ‘Jack’ or ‘Mac’ McGregor were very fortunate to survive Outram – there must have been numerous days when they thought they would never live to walk through the gates.
McGregor lost his eyesight, and for some time and visits returned to Changi Hospital for treatment for this and other illnesses – after which he was returned to Gaol to complete his 2 year sentence. (This practice was the same for every in inmate – when they became critically ill, the Japanese would ‘shunt’ them back to Changi to recover before collecting prisoners to return to Outram Gaol.) Dean completed his two year sentence and returned to Changi where he was recovered at the end of the war.
McGregor wrote about his experience ‘Blood on the Rising Sun‘ which was published by Bencoolen, printed in Hong Kong by Gareth Powell Limited 1980. McGregor died soon after.
Dean in his 80’s wrote his book ‘Singapore Samurai‘ published in 2002 about his life as POW.
For further reading we recommend Tim Bowden’s ‘Stubborn Buggers’ The survivors of the infamous POW Gaol that made Changi look like heaven by Unwin and Unwin and first published 2014. ISBN 978 1 74331 442 5
Tim Bowden having researched other prisoners from Outram Road Gaol raises questions about the various differences written by Dean.
Tim Bowden’s book ‘ Bravery Beyond Limits’ – was released in April 2014 – for Anzac Day. Bowden’s book took 30 years from start to completion.
Below: John McGregor
Below: Penrod Dean
WX227 Alfred ‘Alf’ Stevens was arrested at Sandakan by the Kempeitai for his involvement secret radio at Sandakan prison. Stevens was sentenced at Kuching and sentenced to 6 years solitary confinement Outram Road Prison, Singapore. He was the third man from 2/4th to spend time at this hell-hole.
Below: Alf Stevens
We wish to acknowledge this pictures are from Tim Bowden’s Stubborn Buggers.