Harry Avondale Ball
1914/10/30 - Born Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Son of William and Agnes (nee Whitworth) Ball
1932/11/02 - Enlisted
Harry’s service number suggests he may have enlisted in the Royal Corps of Signals before transferring to the Leicestershire Regiment.
September 1939, the 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment was in India and remained there until February 1941 when it was moved to Penang. In May it moved to stationed at Sungei Patani, Malaya. When Japan entered the war attacking Malaya, the 1st Battalion was position at Jitra.
By the 11th of December the battalion was confronted by the Japanese commanded by Saeki who decided to attack the troops at Jitra during the night of the 11th and in doing so suffered heavy losses by the allied positioning of their machine guns. Saeki then decided to throw everything he had at the centre of the British defences and succeeded in driving a deep wedge into their positions before he came up against the Leicesters and the 2/2nd Gurkhas who stopped the Japanese attack, the 2nd East Surreys then counterattacked to help the Leicesters. By the 12th December Major-general Kawamura commanding the 9th Infantry arrived at Jitra and sent his 41st Regiment down the eastern side of the main road and the 40th Regiment down the western side to assist Saeki who was still being held by the Leicesters. Murray-Lyons ordered the Leicesters to withdraw behind a stream called the Sungei Jitra, the Leicesters had fought bravely and their good positions were argued but they had to obey the order.
At a meeting just south of Gurun on the 14th December, Murray-Lyon told General Heath that his troops were not in condition to withstand another retreat but if they had to a strong defensive position should be chosen and a concentrated defines should be planned, with transportation for his troops. General Heath agreed that the 11th Division should hold Gurun and the 12th Brigade would hold the Japanese to the east at Kroh and Grik. After a conversation on the phone that night with Percival, Heath got his way and it was agreed that the 11th would retreat a further sixty mile to a defensive position beyond the Perak River delaying the Japanese as long as possible so Penang could be evacuated.
That night the Japanese attacked in numbers and drove a gap in the Punjabi defences and reached the 2nd East Surrey headquarters and then the 6th Brigade headquarters, killing everyone there, when Murray-Lyon saw the damage he immediately ordered a seven mile withdrawal, but finding the numbers of troops left, sent more orders to withdraw behind the Muda River. The remaining troops had some luck as the Japanese had been hit hard as well and they did not follow up on the action giving the remains of the 11th Division time to fall back, giving the British time to evacuate Penang.
The British started evacuating on the 13th but the orders included only British born personnel and civilians, this caused a feeling of despair among the Asiatic population, and anger towards the British for leaving them to fend for themselves at a time when they wanted leadership.
On the 17th December the Kobayashi Battalion of the Japanese 5th Division landed on Penang from small boats and the island was theirs.
Fearing his troops would be cut off by the Japanese troops from Kroh, Percival tried to use the natural obstacle of the Perak River as a defines against the Japanese tanks.
The 2nd Battalion, East Surrey Regiment and 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment were amalgamated to form the ‘British Battalion’ . The two battalions suffered had heavy losses and were amalgamated on 20th December 1941 as the ‘British Battalion’ under the command of Lieut. Col. C.E. Morrison, D.S.O., M.C., of The Royal Leicestershire Regiment.
Yamashita read the situation well and on the 26th December the 4th Guards Regiment crossed the Perak River to the north of Kuala Kangsar through thick jungle and then headed south for Ipoh, trying to outflank the British, they would then proceed to Kuala Lumpur. The British front had now been joined by the 12th Indian Brigade and the badly cut up 6th Brigade had merged into the 15th Brigade, they had now retreated by the 31st December to a strong defensible sight at Kampar where the artillery for once had a clear sighting of the ground between them and the advancing Japanese.
On the 2nd January the Japanese Guards Division tried landing troops at Kuala Selengor and Port Swettenham but were held off till the 4th when they achieved a landing just north of Kuala Selengor and moved inland at Battalion strength. Percival asked the Perak Flotilla to stop any more landings but it had been bombed continuously and was down to only two motor launches. While the landings were taking place 11th Division had retreated to the Slim River with very thick jungle on either side it was thought the Japanese could not outflank the defenders and the road defences would stop the tanks.
The long retreat down Malaya was now on, pursued and outflanked by the Japanese who were more suitably equipped and prepared for jungle warfare.
The ‘British Battalion’ fought as one till Malaya and Singapore fell to the Japanese on the 15th February 1942.
1942/03/13 - WO 417/40, Casualty List No. 770. Reported ‘Missing’.
1943/09/03 - WO 417/65, Casualty List No. 1229. Previously reported Missing on Casualty List No. 770, 15/02/1942 now reported ‘Prisoner of War’.
1942/02/15 - Captured Singapore
Adam Park Camp
PoW No. M-1681
Japanese PoW Card - Side One
Japanese Index Card - Side Two
1942/10/23 - 1130 Hours, kit inspection by Commanding Officer
1400 Hours, kit inspection by Japanese at Road Junction
1942/10/24 - 1200 Hours, parade for march to station
1750 Hours, train leaves station
Transported overland to Thailand with ‘Y’ Letter Party, train 1
18th train to Thailand
650 PoWs - Adam Park 80, Changi 200, Sime Road 270
Commander Major P.S.F. Jackson, 7th Coast Regiment, RA
New PoW No. VII 166
Camp Information from Andrew Snow - Thailand Burma Railway Centre
1942/11/ - Tha Makham
Commander Lt-Col. Tooseys
1943/02/ - Moved to Kanchanaburi Supply Depot, to early 1945
Commander Major Ian Wyse Kennedy, 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment
New PoW No. VII 2400
After that he may have moved to Wang Pho with others of this group cannot be confirmed.
1945/09/05 - Liberated Thailand
1945/09/22 - WO417/96_2, Casualty List No. 1865. Previously reported on Casualty List No. 1229 as Prisoner of War now Not Prisoner of War. Previous Theatre of War, Malaya.
Mike Ball - Son
Chris Fritz Hodgson
Andrew Snow - Thailand Burma Railway Centre
Liberation Questionmmaire - COFEPOW
KEW Files:- WO 361/2172, WO 345/3, WO 361/1979, WO 361/1954, WO 361/2196, WO 392/23, WO 361/2165, WO 361/2165, WO 361/2058, WO 361/2068