SGT E.C.YATES. SINGAPORE VOLUNTEER FORCES
AN APPRECIATION OF WORK
It is my duty and indeed pleasure to bring to notice the excellent work performed by SGT E.C. YATES whilst a prisoner of war in Thailand (SIAM).
On June 1st 1943, the Japanese commandant of a jungle camp situated at KUIE, KM, 192 (Bangpong – TAMBEZIAT Railway) placed in my charge 55 British (1 Officer and 54 Other Ranks). They were all members of the ill fateed F and M Forces which left Changi (Singapore) in March – April, 1943. When handed over to me the men were badly exhausted by marching and lack of food. Most of them had badly blistered feet or ulcers, and few were free from Malaria or Dysentry (sic). They had been collected at a small jungle camp some 4 Kms from KUIE on the jungle road, over the preceding three days. They were covered with mud and filth from head to foot and had reached a state of physical exhaustion, very near collapse.
Accommodation at KUIE was meagre indeed, “25 men to each Indian Pattern tent designed for 6 men”. No separate accommodation offered, the men were therefore mixed, one here one there with the Dutch already in the tents.
Early on June 2nd Sgt Yates came to me and offered his assistance. He was not the Senior N.C.O. among the men, but he was certainly the most cheerful and energetic.
Although suffering from badly blistered feet and Malaria, Yates sprang into work helping in every way to get men cleaned up and in a decent frame of mind.
Our first consideration was a source of clean drinking water, at the rate of 4 pints per man per day. To have water in such quantities in the jungle during the wet season, even with decent equipment is no mean feat: to do so without needed the patience of Job. However, Sgt Yates had the supply in operation by 11 a.m. June 3rd and continued without fail until Oct 22nd 1943. Through five months of continuous rain fall and despite every sort of petty and worse interference from the Japanese.
When Cholera struck the camp on July 15th 1943 Sgt Yates was first among the Volunteers to help nurse, etc. He was not used in the capacity of a nurse because of his obvious use in other directions. From long before daylight until well into the night Sgt Yates, during that critical period, would be carrying water, chopping wood, helping to dig graves, carrying men from their tents to the Cholera compound in the jungle, going to the Quanhoui (sic) River, a distance of 1.4 Km to buy and carry eggs, milk, sugar, etc. anything that could be obtained. The journey for a loaded man took anything up to one hour, so difficult was the track.
To have done what Sgt Yates did, for a day or so, in good health, would have placed a strain on any man, but to do it day after rain sodden day on the very worst of food and suffering as he did from chronic malaria, it needed a courage and determination far above the average.
The service rendered by this N.C.O. was given impartially to British and Dutch alike, cheerfully and continually.
On Oct 22nd when he left with 166 sick men, under my charge, for KAMCHAMABURI Base Camp, Sgt Yates was a very sick man, but continued to render all possible assistance, even to men better able to help themselves.
My work at KUIE would have been quite impossible on many days but for the ever ready assistance of Sgt Yates. I therefore commend him to you for such recognition as you feel fitting.
I am, Sir
Your Most Obedient Servant