To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

5th Battalion

 Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire-tn

1941 – 1945


Martin Styles



The 5th Battalion  Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, in common with all other units of the Territorial Army, was embodied on 25 August 1939.

The Commander of the 18th Division was Major-General M. B. Beckwith-Smith.

The Battalion was in the 55th Infantry Brigade of the 18th Division.

The 55th Brigade was commanded by Brigadier T. H. Massey-Beresford.

The key officers in the Battalion at the time of embarkation were:-


Lt-Col. A.D. Gaye


Commanding Officer

Lt-Col. D.Rhys Thomas, O.R.E. M.C.


Second in Command

Major M.A. H. Ditton


Adjutant Captain

H.E.I. Phillips


Quartermaster Lt (QM)

A. Sale


Company Commanders Major

 T.C. Wells



 S.H. Thrussell

("A") Died in captivity


 H. L. Hoppe



 H.F.L. Sladen

("C") Died in captivity


J.F. Robinson





 The 5th Battalion spend between January and April in Galashiels, Scotland before being moved to Uttoxeter, Staffordshire for a few weeks in April and then onto Atherstone in Warwickshire. In September they move again to Litchfield, Staffordshire before leaving home shores from Liverpool on 29 October.

The 5th Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment along with the 1/5th Foresters and the 1st Battalion the Cambridgeshires, formed one of the three Brigades of the British 18th Division, 55 Brigade.

18th Division sailed from Liverpool aboard a converted P&O liner, the troopship Orcades, initially intended for the Middle East. The Orcades was diverted to S.E,Asia, destination Singapore.

29 Oct 1941

left Liverpool

9 Oct 1941

Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada

No date given

Port of Spain, Trinidad

10-13 Dec 1941

Capetown, South Africa

28 Dec 1941

Bombay, India

30 Dec 1941


31 Dec 1941

Ahmednagar, India

17 Jan 1942

left above

19 Jan 1942


29 Jan 1942

land at Keppel Harbour, Singapore, via Sunda Straits



 The 5th Battalion land at Singapore Harbour 29th January, only to be rushed east to Changi. Two days later the remnants of the Allied forces that had been fighting the Japanese were concentrated on Singapore Island, ready for a last stand.

Within two weeks Singapore has fallen and the battalion spent the rest of the war in the notoriously brutal Japanese POW camps.

The Japanese prisoners of war from the 5th Battalion return home in several detachments.

Although exact numbers are unknown, around a third of those captured at Singapore died in captivity.



Various engagements with the Japanese occurred at locations in the North of Singapore, typically the Jahore Strait as well as at some positions inland.

Records show; missing presumed dead 3, presumed killed in action 5, killed in action 25, died of wounds 7 and 1 escaped.

Following The Fall of Singapore, all Allied personnel became prisoners of war. Many civilians were also imprisoned, notably Dutch from 'Dutch East Indies'; Indonesia.

The POWs were massed in to various prison camps in Singapore. Overcrowding, meagre and often spoiled foodstuffs, disease and battle wounds were responsible for many deaths. All told 55 men of the 5th Battalion The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment died in Singapore.


Departures as PoW’s from Singapore

POWs and civilian prisoners were forced by their captors to provide labour to support Japans war effort. Mostly this was for the construction of the Thai Burma railway, as well as labouring in occupied territories and at various industries in mainland Japan.

Prisoners were assigned in to work parties, some named after the camp they were held in and then in to number groups.

Departures commenced 18 June 1942 and continued through to 17 May 1943.

Destinations were Thailand and Burma. Prisoners travelling to Thailand were carried by train, and to Burma by sea.

Train journeys were in cattle trucks with worse conditions than in the camps. The sea voyage is presumed to have been by barge or coastal vessel.

From records of deaths and burials in Thailand and Burma, cross refernced to departures it appears that members of 5 Btn. Beds and Herts departed Singapore:

18/6/42 – 26/6/42

No 1 Group, First Mainland Party by train in cattle trucks to Non Pladuk

9/10/42 – 15/10/42

No 2 Group River Valley Road Party to Thailand

18/10/43 – 30/4/43

Group 'F' Force from Changi to Non Pladuk via Ban Pong.



At main camps such as Chungkai, Tamarkan, Non Pladuk and Thanbyuzayat were "base hospitals" which were also huts of bamboo and thatch, staffed by such medical officers and orderlies as were allowed by the Japanese to care for the sick prisoners.

Work on the railway started at Thanbyuzayat on 1st October 1942 and somewhat later at Ban Pong.

The two parties met at Nieke in November 1943, and the 263 miles long line was completed by December.

F. FORCE 7000 prisoners under the command of British Lt Col S.W.Harris, with Lt Col Dillon leader of the British, were sent by rail to Non Pluduc during the latter part of April 1943. In March 1944 the bulk of the prisoners were in the main camps at Chungkai, Tamarkan, Kanchanaburi, Tamuan, Non Pladuk and Nakom Paton.

From May 1944 until the capitulation of Japan in August 1945 parties of prisoners were sent from the various base camps to work on railway maintenance, cut fuel for the locomotives, and handle stores at dumps along the line. Other parties were employed on cutting and building roads, some through virgin jungle, or in building defence positions


Camps / Stations on Thai Burma railway

Death and Burial records indicate that 5 Btn Beds and Herts were at:-

Tarunoi Tha Rua


Tamuang Tha Muang


Kanchanaburi No. 2 Base Camp

15-April-1943 01- December-1943

Tha Makhan

25-April-1943 08-September- 1943


14-May-1943 13-October-1944

Wampo Wang Pho South

20-November-1942 19-April-1943

Tarsau Tarsao Hospital

30-September-1943 21- February-1944

Tonchan South

23-June-1943 30-July-1943

Tonchan Tonchan Central

16-July-1943 17-July-1943

Kanyu Kinsaiyok Jungle Camp 1

 14-May-1943 04-August-1943

Kuie Kui Yae




Purankashii Brenkassi


Tha Khnnun Base


Kurian kurai Kroeng Krai


Lower Nikki


Sonkurai Songkurai

31-May-1943 15-July-1943

Kami Sonkurai

20-August-1943 14-November-1943

Tambaya Thanbaya

30-August-1943 12-December-1943


Following completion of the railway construction, prisoners were either sent on to Japan or were held behind for maintenance of the railway and construction of ancillary facilities.

Many died in hospitals attached to camps or after returning to Singapore. Of those shipped to Japan, few survived as most ships were sunk.


During captivity records were kept by the Japanese to ensure a complete roll call as well as by Regimental commanders and Medical Staff who would have recorded deaths.

The Japanese were under orders to destroy records to ensure they did not fall into the hands of the Allies in the event of being over run.


Appreciation for availability and use of data is extended to Ron Taylor, “Britain at War”; Carol Cooper, “COFEPOW” ; Roger Mansell “Centre for Research Allied POWS Under the Japanese” and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Design and layout of this document is copyright Martin Stiles Brisbane 2010.






Britain at War


Original design by John Weedon
Maintained by Ron Taylor.


To Register please email me below,
with your details & pictures if you have any.

Hymns or music can also be added to the page, please select here

Email Arthur Lane


Site Management



[Britain at War] [Roll of Honour] [Regiments] [5th Beds and Herts] [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]