X Parties – Singapore 1945
These parties X.1 through to X.11 worked mainly as tunneling parties at various locations around Singapore during 1945. By 1945 Japan faced defeat – but it would be months and months and two atomic bombs before they surrendered.
The Japanese Garrison on Singapore initiated a programme of tunnels to store ammunition and to use as air raid shelters – their last great effort to hold off a total collapse of their war effort.
Some POWs believed (and rightly so) – they would be herded into the tunnels – the tunnels would serve as their tombs when the entrances were blown up.
X.1 Party 28 Mar 1945 to 30 April 1945
Under the command of Capt. D. Duffy of 2/30th Btn, this party consisted of men from 2/29th and 2/30th. Work involved excavating tunnels at Johore Bahru. The men worked on a daily rota of one hour on and one hour off due to the inadequate ventilation and the poor physical condition of POWs.
With frequent falls of earth the work was dangerous.
The POWs were initially accommodated in an old barracks and a large house which were located about two miles apart. On 24 April 1945 the work party merged at the barracks. Most of the men had been to Thailand so malaria was prevalent amongst their ranks. Following this work, Capt Duffy led another group – A.1 Party on tunnelling duties from 7 May 1945. Eight companies totalled 282 men.
No further details are known.
665 British POWs departed 29 April 1945 to Kranji.
X.3 Party 1 July 1945 to 20 Aug 1945
This Party was under the command of Capt Fred Stable, 8th Division Signals consisting of seven officers and 377 other ranks. Lt. Penrod Dean, 2/4th MGB was one of the seven officers – he was accompanied by 13 other ranks from the Battalion.
The work site was at Choa Chu Kang Road, north of Bukit Panjang, approximately 400 yards west of Bukit Timah Road. The work consisted of excavation and construction of tunnels, trenches and weapon pits.
X.4a Party 17 June 1945
Located around Bukit Timah and work party included 50 AIF.
Orchard Road Camp was situated closer to heart of Singapore on Orchard Road and considered by POWs to be a reasonably good camp. It consisted of three two-storied huts surrounded by a high fence over which private residences and a park could be seen. Work at this camp generally was at Keppell Harbour on the go-downs. Keppell Harbour was used as a transit camp for POWs destined later to sail to Japan.
Towards the end of the war, the men supposedly dug sewerage trenches at Alexandra Hospital. Undoubtably, this work was the advance party for the work of X.4c Party to continue in August 1945.
X.4b Party 6 April 1945
There were three members of 2/4th MGB included in a total of 50 AIF. They acted as an advance party for W Party at Keppel Harbour.
The camp was adjacent to the wharf at Keppel Harbour.
X.4c Party 10 April 1945 to 17 Aug 1945
They worked in the region around River Valley Road under Command of Capt. Bowring, 2/29th. Btn. Work consisted of tunnelling for defensive purposes. The last few weeks before the end of the war POWs constructed machine gun pits, in particular around Alexandra Hospital.
X.5 Party 12 April 1945
The following three groups – X.5, X.6 and X.7 consisted of 51 AIF and 51 British POWs.
X.6 Party 26 May 1945
Work consisted of tunnelling around Singapore and Johore Bahru. 2/4th men we know in X6 party include Bill Swan, Frank Hinds.
X.7 Party 29 May 1945
27 men from 2/4th were spread between these three groups.
X.8 Party Adam Park, Singapore – 4 Jul 1945 to 17 Aug 1945
Under the command of Warrant Officer A Crawford.
This party tunnelled in the vicinity of Jurong Road. The AIF contingent was housed in nearby huts. There were three 2/4th men in this party including Blaschek.
The X Parties were from here on were engaged in the construction of fortifications, air raid shelters and gun emplacements.
X.9 Party 29 May 1945
Possibly in the Singapore area consisting of 200 AIF. No further details known.
There were 1,000 POWs in this Party to dig tunnels in the hills about 2-3 miles from Changi Gaol Camp. Jim Duncan was one of four 2/4th men in this Party. You can read Duncan’s description.
Other 2/4th men who worked on this project included
WX13421 Ron Beckham
WX9350 Patrick (George) Hodgins
WX15457 Samuel Edward ‘Ted’ Nash