George Edward James Hammond
1915/02/24 - Born
1936 - Married Dorothy Millward
1/5 Sherwood Forresters
1941/10/30 - Sailed in Orcades from Liverpool in Convoy CT.5 to Halifax
1941/11/08 - Reached Halifax and transferred to USS West Point
On November 10th the voyage continued with six American troopships, two cruisers, eight destroyers and the aircraft carrier Ranger, the Convoy William Sail 12X was under way, destination still unknown.
The convoy passed through the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and St Domingo, arriving at Trinidad on 17th November in glorious sunshine so tropical kit came out, but unfortunately no shore-leave, sailed after two days of taking on supplies. On 24th the equator was crossed, there was a crossing the line ceremony.
After a month the convoy arrived at Cape Town, South Africa. By this time the Americans were in the war as the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour and attacked Malaya and the rumours were that the convoy was heading for the Far East and not the Middle East as first thought.
On December 13th the convoy left Cape Town and sailed along the coast of East Africa past Madagascar and into the Indian Ocean heading for Bombay. After 17,011 miles at sea Bombay was reached December 27th 1941.
Embarked on 17th January, the convoy sailed the next day with a British escort, the H.M.S. Exeter and H.M.S. Glasgow with British and Australian destroyers. Japan had entered the war by attacking Malaya on 8th December 1941, destination was the far East. The Prince of Wales and the Repulse had both been sunk by the Japanese off Malaya. Passing Colombo, (Ceylon), crossing the equator for the third time, the convoy passed through the Sundra Straits between Java and Samatra and then the Banka Straits. The convoy was then bombed by Jap Planes, there was no damage, the convoy reached the safety of Keppel Harbour, Singapore on the 29th January 1942. Ships were ablaze in the harbour, clouds of smoke drifted across the sky and the smell of fumes was overpowering, this was not the best of greetings. The Japanese had taken most of Malaya in the last three weeks and were only thirty miles away from Singapore.
The 18th Division was moved to hold the north-eastern part of the island near the Changi Peninsula.
On the 5th February the Empress of Asia bringing military supplies, including ammunition for the 18th Division, was hit by bombs and went aground on the Sultan Shoal, this did not help the now desperate situation the battalion was in. The following days saw heavy bombing and bombardment from the Japanese. On Sunday the 8th February, using makeshift rafts, the Japanese 18th Division and 5th Division began the movement across the Straits separating Malaya and north-western end of Singapore. The Australian troops who faced them didn't get the artillery support they needed, and shielded by the dense smoke, the Japanese soon got a foothold, the fighting was soon hand to hand.
The enemy were making ground quickly by infiltrated the allied lines and they were by the 9th February about two miles behind the defences. They then began to spread out putting the Peice and MacRitchie Reservoirs and the Seletar Aerodrome at risk.
The situation on the island was now very critical with many troops over run and the enemy threatening to take control of the water supply. The end came very quickly, at noon on the 15th a car travelled down the Bukit Timah road with a white flag above a Union Jack, Singapore had capitulated.
Many small crft made their escape from Singapore to Sumatra and Java, George was in one of these small escape boats
Java PoW No. 528
1942/09/26 - Transported Singapore in Java Party 2, with 1300 POWs
New PoW No. 5241
1943/05/05 - Transported overland to Thailand in Train 76 with ‘H’ Force (included 4 poWs from Java Party 2)
Commander Lt-Col. R.R. Humphries, R.A. 77 H.A.A Rgt.
Transported back to Changi when railway finished
1945/09/02 - Liberated Changi
Convoy William Sail 12X
KEW:- WO 361/1947, WO 361/2208, WO 361/2177, WO 361/2233