To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

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Lance Corporal

Cyril Beatty Bix

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1919/09/17 - Born Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Son of Harry and Sophia Bix

1938 - Enlisted

Royal Norfolk Regiment

5th Battalion

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Service

Late 1939 the 5th Battalion HQ was at Dereham with Lt.-Col. G.N.Scot-Chad in command with other units at Aylsham, North Walsham and Holt. For the first few months individual training was at Holt and Weyborne and the men were given the task of building and manning the North Norfolk Coastal Defences. The battalion colours were in Sheringham Church, as Lt.-Col. Scot-Chad carried the Kings Colours and Maj.B.Savory the Regiment Colours.

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5th Battalion

5th Battalion at Sandringham

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5th Battalion

Click on photo to enlarge

In March 1940 section training begun and Lt-Col. E.C.Prattley, who had served with the 2nd Battalion in France, took over command of the battalion and Maj. H.T.Crane took over as second in command. In May company training begun only to be interrupted during the early summer months, after Dunkirk and with the threat of invasion, the battalion was given the job of manning the Coastal Defences at Weyborne. Whilst building the defences they carried on with their training and were achieving a high degree of skill as a unit.

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With the threat of an invasion past the battalion was issued with transport vehicles and advanced training was then carried out. The battalion was moved to Gresham School at Holt in September and they now had an assault course in the woods. Being now brigaded with the 6th Royal Norfolks and the 2nd Cambridgeshire’s to be part of the 53 Brigade of the 18 Division, brigade training was applied.

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On April 7th the brigade was moved to Marbury Hall, Northwich, near Liverpool, this move had two reasons. The city had very heavy bombing raids and needed the troops for fire watching duties plus full scale brigade attacks were to be carried out in the Birmingham and Carlisle districts. The battalion took alternate roles in attack and defence in these exercises.

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The 5th battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment were in residence at Marbury Hall Military Camp from April 1941 until early October .

They were now a fighting team ready for action. One final move on October 5th 1941 was back to Glasgow where on the 22nd a detachment of one officer and 55 other ranks were inspected by the King before going overseas.

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1941/10/30 - 5th Royal Norfolk Regiment were transported from Liverpool in Duchess of Atholl Convoy CT.5

USS Mount Vernon-2

1941/11/08 - Transferred to USS Mount Vernon at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Contained the 53 Infantry Brigade. 18th Division sailed from Halifax in Convoy William Sail 12X

Convoy William Sail 12x

Above Photo supplied by the late Maurice Rooney

Vought SB 2U Vindicator Scout Bomber - USS Ranger which was flying an Anti Submarine patrol over the convoy.

Front Line Top to Bottom

USS West Point - USS Mount Vernon - USS Wakefield - USS Quincy (Heavy Cruiser)

Back Row Top To Bottom

USAT Leonard Wood - USS Vincennes (Heavy Cruiser) - USS Joseph T Dickman

(USS Orizaba Ap-24 also sailed with Convoy though not pictured in photo)

After a brief visit to Trinidad to refuel, Cape Town was reached on December 9th. Shore leave was granted before sailing on the 13th December for Bombay only to be then ordered on the 23rd to sail for Mombassa and then finally Singapore. She was escorted by the H.M.S. Emerald in convoy DM.1 and reached Singapore Harbour on January 13th 1942, the battalion disembarked in heavy rain and moved to Tyersall Park Camp by truck.

Before the troops were moved, some hurried jungle training took place by officers who had been fighting in Malaya. This training was very sparse as the troops were needed to stop the Japanese who had landed and infiltrated behind the allied lines in Malaya.

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Johore - Malaya

Detail from Royal Norfolk Regiment

The 53 Infantry Brigade moved into Jahore on the  16th January and were under the command of the 11th Indian Division.

Moving in military transport they reached the area of Ayer Hitam and took up positions around Yong-Peng but very soon were on the move again to Jemaluang, east of Ayer Hitam. Having made no contact with the Japanese the battalion was moved into divisional reserve at Ayer Hitam on the 20th January.

 

The Japanese were attacking the coast at Batu Pahat and also trying to infiltrate the allied lines by landing troops further south near Senggarang and Rengit which was over ten miles behind their present positions.

Malaya

Senggarang - Jahore

Detail from Royal Norfolk Regiment

That evening the road from Ayer Hitam to Batu Pahat was crossed by the Japanese but the next morning the road was still in allied hands. It fell to the battalion to keep it open, at 4pm the enemy crossed the road again and gained possession near the 73rd milestone.

The battalion were then ordered to move to Batu Pahat but as the road was blocked they stayed at the 72 milestone and prepared an attack on the Japanese block for the next morning.

The following morning the battalion found the road block to be heavily defended. Capt. A.J.Self  attacked with “B” Company but received many casualties including 2nd/Lt. McKean who was killed, later Lt. G.H.Pallister died of his injuries, they were driven back. “C” company led by Maj. C.P.Wood managed to get round the southern side of the road block but the battalion was then recalled to take temporary positions near Ayer Hitam.

Later that evening the battalion made a detour south from Ayer Hitam spending the night near Skudai. Starting early they went through Pontain Ketchil and Rengit reaching the outskirts of Batu Pahat at 7am the morning of the 24th. They met the 2nd Cambridgeshire’s who had been ordered to withdraw from the town. The Royal Norfolk’s were given the task of retaking positions in the centre of the town as a holding operation to allow other troops to withdraw, the operation began at 10.45am. With very little artillery support the task was partly successful, the right flank being heavily engaged by the enemy, there was a constant threat of the enemy getting behind them and cutting off a withdrawal, these threats cam from two high spots overlooking their positions and held by the Japanese. “B” company was given the task of clearing these high positions of the enemy, which they did only to be later driven off themselves. At 4am on the 25th “C” Company with the remainder of the 2nd Cambridgeshire’s attacked these high points again but were stopped by heavy machine gun fire making an advance impossible. The battalion were then ordered to hold their present positions and cover the 2nd Cambridgeshire’s withdrawal. At 9pm, the task completed, the battalion withdrew four miles out of Batu Pahat.

On the morning of the 26th January the battalion found the Japanese had landed south of their lines and cut off their withdrawal. An attempt was made to clear the road for the transport but failed. The Brigade Commander sent orders at 5.45pm to destroy the 250 transport vehicles and continue on foot through the jungle. It was to be a long strenuous 18 mile journey which on the top of the five days of fighting took its toll.

The biggest part of the battalion, 500 in total, kept together under Maj. Wood and reached Benet on the coastal road on the evening of the 27th.

Capt. H.E.Schulman led a party to the coast and were evacuated by the Royal Navy. The men left behind to blow the bridge at Senggarang were cut off from the main party but with the C.O. they successfully made their way to the coast and escaped in a canoe.

The following day, 28th January, the battalion was taken to Serangoon Road Camp on Singapore Island and all allied troops were ordered to fall back to Singapore.

 

1942/02/15 - Singapore surrendered to the Japanese.

 

1942/05/06 - WO 417/43, Casualty List No. 861., Missing

1943/08/23 - WO 417/65, Casualty List No. 1219. Previously posted Missing now reported Prisoner of War.

 

Japanese PoW

1942/02/17 - Captured

PoW NO. IV 10535

Lt-Col Pratley, 5th Norfolks

1942/09/20 - Watched by their suspicious Japanese Guards, Lt. L.W. Curtis of the Royal Norfolk Regiment and Capt. Ben Barnett of the Australian Imperial Forces exchanged handshakes in the middle of a baked-earth parade ground. From a canvas kitbag the British Officer produced cricket stumps, balls, pads, bats and a shiny new ball: a coin was tossed and the three match ‘Changi Ashes’ series began.

In the first over the ball was hit over the boundary, which was the Barbed wire fence, and landed at the foot of a Sikh guard, who refused to hand the ball back. The Japanese Commander was called, he walked over to the Sikh, who was much taller, and laid the Sikh out on the ground with a left hook. The ball was then given back and and the match continued. Cyril played in the ’Changi Ashes’.

(Full story of Changi Ashes)

Japanese Index Card - Side one

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Japanese Index Card - Side Two

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Translation

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1943/03/19 - Transported overland to Thailand in ‘D’ Party, Train 5

53rd train from Singapore to Thailand

Commander Lt-Col. G.G. Carpenter, 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment

With Lt-Col. McEachern, A.I.F., I/C

 

1943/03/27 - Thailand

Thailand Camps

Major Durrell, 118 Field Regiment, R.A.

 

1944/06 - Transported back to Singapore

Captain Wilkie

PoW No. IV 40130

 

Kachidoki Maru

1944/09/04 - Transported overseas to Japan in the Kachidoki Maru

Commander Captain Pearce, R.A.

1944/09/12 - The Japanese convoy was attacked by American submarines and the Kachidoki Maru was hit by the USS Pampanito and sank the ship off East Hainan Island.

520 PoWs were rescued but over 400 PoWs died either in the sinking or in the delay to be rescued. Survivors were picked up but were in the water till the next day, some even longer. They were taken to Japan in the Kibitsu Maru.

1944/09/28 - Arrived Moji, Japan

1944/09/30 - Taken to Tokyo 22B

New PoW No. 3097

Work involved loading and unloading supply trains and also worked at the docks

1945/04/14 - Name changed to Sendai 9B, Sakata, Japan

1945/09/14 - Liberated Sendai 9B

 

1945/10/20 - WO417/98, Casualty List No. 1889. Previously shown on Casualty List No. 1219 as reported Prisoner of War now Not Prisoner of War. Previous Theatre of War, Malaya.

 

Repatriation

American ships took the liberated PoWs from Manila, shipping them to America and Canada. Cyril went to San Francisco and then home in the Queen Mary.

 

Post War

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1946 - Cyril married Margaret Daisy Lake

Bix-Cyril-Beatty-10 Cyril and Daisy Flitcham New Inn-tn

Cyril became a publican of the New Inn, Flitcham 1946 to 1981 with wife Daisy.

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1954 - Son Ian Henry born

Cyril continued to play for Hillington and Flitchem, his village team in Norfolk after arriving home and into his forties. Then watched his son Ian playing for North Runcton.

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1993 /07/05 - Daily Telegraph Report on Cricket Match at Changi

Newspaper Report Changi Ashes

At 63 Cyril had his leg amputated at the thigh and 12 months later the other amputated the same. A double amputee he was in a wheelchair but with two prophetic legs he was able to walk with crutches. He lived 17 years like that and died at 82 and was said by the hospital surgeon to be such an inspiration to others who had lost a leg very often giving up!

Cyril was granted a 20% war pension despite the dreadful tropical diseases including beri beri, malaria, The damage to his legs was from working in snow with little straw shoes. The striped like marks across his upper body were eventually  cured by Dr. Ansell the Queens Doctor at Sandringham in about 1965,  it was said they were tropical worms and could not be cured! But Dr. Ansell did!

Unfortunately when he was being considered for a war pension after losing both legs in 1982 the doctor who had by then passed on had not kept any records!

 

Died

7th February 2001

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Kings Lynn

 

Information

Ian Bix

Japanese Transports

Thailand-Burma Railway

Japanese Homeland Camps

Roger Mansell - Sendai 9B

KEW Files:- WO 345/5, WO 361/2005, WO 392/23, WO 361/1970, WO 361/1987, WO 361/2176, WO 361/2070, WO 367/2,

*

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