Ronald William Armstrong
Born 6th of January 1912 in Bristol
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Joining the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in December 1939. Ronald took a course at the Wireless training school at Yatesbury and passed his exams. He was then appointed to command the AMES Radar Station at Great Bromley in Essex. AMES was the Air Ministry Experimental Station which acted as a Chain Home Station. Chain Home was the code name for the ring of coastal radar stations built by the British before and during World War II.
The Chain Home stations, or AMES Type 1, provided long-range detection and provided the first radar to be organised into a complete air defence system and the first such system to be used in wartime operations.
Radar stations were often targeted in the early days of the War and in late August 1940 ten High Explosives were dropped on the Air Ministry Experimental Station at Great Bromley. No damage or casualties were reported. The system relied on tall masts which were difficult to destroy from the air but had the Luftwaffe realised just how essential the radar stations were to British air defenses, it is likely that they would have gone all out to destroy them.
In January 1941 Ronald went to the Far East and was placed in command of the Radar Station at Seletar, in Singapore until February 1942. With the staff of No.224 Group, he was ordered to leave at dawn on the 12th of February.
16th March 1942
This decision would not have come as a great surprise as on the 10th of February, the day before the Japanese had landed on Singapore island, and five days before it fell, ships began leaving. They were crowded with what was left of the RAF's ground personnel, shore based Navy men and some Army staff officers.
Flight Lieutenant Armstrong boarded a launch with six others and set off accompanied by another five launches. Before dawn on the 16th, whilst off the north east coast of Bangka Island, they were spotted and shelled by a Japanese destroyer. Ronald's launch was holed and sank soon afterwards. Ronald disappeared overboard, but was found and supported in the water by LAC Gurney Smeed. Eventually they were picked up by one of the other launches and Ronald was found to be badly injured in both feet. He was taken to an improvised hospital which had been set up in temporary barracks in Muntok.
Ronald was given the best care and attention available, but a septic condition set in and both feet had to be amputated. He died in his sleep from exhaustion following the second operation.
He was buried in the hillside cemetery in beautiful surroundings at Muntok, Bangka Island. His grave was marked by a cross made by Spencer, another RAF man. Flight Lieutenant Ronald Armstrong's name was marked upon it.
Son of William Robinson Armstrong and Beatrice Russell Armstrong.
Husband of Ruth Ann Armstrong, of Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.
Banstead War Memorial
More information:- http://www.bansteadhistory.com/Memorial/2_A.html#ARMR