To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Artillery-tn


Lance Bombardier

William Sanderson


1913/05/15 - Born Singleton, Lancashire

Son of William and Alice Sanderson

Occupation Electrician

Royal Artillery

137 Field Regiment

11th Division




Known as the Blackpool Regiment

1941/09/22 - The 137th Regiment regiment were directed to Liverpool for transportation.

Dominion Monarch-4

Dominion Monarch

The Dominion Monarch was requested in August 1940 by the British Government. She was stripped of her fittings, fitted out with 3,556 berths, painted grey and continued her service as a troop transporter.

The troops embarked on the Dominion Monarch which sailed on 30th September, destination unknown to the troops on board.

To minimise exposure to U boats. Dominion Monarch   was escorted across the North Atlantic, down the east coast of North America, and across the mid Atlantic to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she joined other ships including the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Argus . From there she sailed to Cape Town, where the gunners enjoyed five days' shore leave. By now they guessed that their destination was the Far East, although Britain was not yet at war with the Japanese.

1941/11/28 - Dominion Monarch docked at Keppel Harbour, south Singapore. Guns transported up Malaya where their guns were set up at RAF Kota Bharu and Jitra in North Malaya, near the Thailand border.


1941/12/08 - The Japanese entered the war with landings at the neutral ports of Singora and Pattani were unopposed. The  landing at  Kota  Bharu, just  inside Malaya,  was fiercely resisted by Indian forces and cost the Japanese 3000 men.

The Japanese quickly established control and began to push the Commonwealth forces back down Malaya.

A last ditch defence of Malaya was established at the Slim River where very heavy fighting took place.


The 11th Division retreated to positions behind the Krian River on the 18th December just giving the British in Penang enough time to escape capture. Then 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. His biggest problem was the river stretched from Telok Anson in the south to the Thailand border in the north and having lost a great number of his troops, it was too large a front to cover, but he had to hold the Japanese as far north as possible as reinforcements were promised by mid January.

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.

Major-General Paris had taken over the 11th Division from Murray-Lyon and was told by Heath that the Japanese had landed a sea-borne force twenty miles to the south of their present position. Paris asked if he could withdraw his troops south so they would not get cut off and Percival agreed as long as he kept the Japanese north of Kuala Kuba till mid-January. This was to stop the Japanese getting the airfield of Kuantan but the Japanese attacked the 22nd Indian Brigade at Kuantan on the east coast on the same day, this move gave the Japanese the air-base they wanted to attack Singapore, for the final assault.

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.

On the 5th January the Japanese attacked the 4/19th Hyderabad and were beaten back leaving about sixty dead. They then attacked again after midnight down the road and railway line and their artillery put down a concentrated fire at 0300 hours, this was followed by tanks and lorries carrying infantry. When the front tank was blown by a mine the Japanese infantry left their transport and attacked the Punjabis and a fierce battle was fought which developed into hand to hand fighting. The Japanese then found some old roads that had been overgrown, these were then used to by-pass the defences. The Japanese came across the Punjab Reserve Company who again held them back with some gallant defines, but again some more loop roads were found by the Japanese. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders just had time to erect a road block when four tanks appeared and swept it aside, the tanks went on to Trolak six miles north of the Slim River Bridge. Some Argyll armoured cars armed with ant-tank rifles tried to stop them but the tanks destroyed them and overtook a Punjab unit scattering them into the jungle now Japanese infantry were supporting the tanks. The Japanese kept going and went straight through the 2/9th Gurkhas and went on to deal with the 2/1st Gurkhas who were scattered into the jungle, the Japanese tanks reached the Slim River Bridge at about 0830 hours. The bridge had not been blown yet and only had anti-aircraft guns defending it which the tanks dispatched quickly, some of the tanks went over the bridge leaving a tank to guard it. The 155th Field Regiment were completely surprised by the tanks but quickly got their act together and stopped the tank  advance, the tanks withdrew to the bridge defending it in numbers.

The 137th Field took part in rearguard action as the Japanese forced the Allies back towards Singapore.

1941/01/07 - Japanese outflanked the regiment at Trolak and were split into two groups to find their way to Singapore.

1942/01/20 - William was capture at Kluang, Malaya


Japanese PoW

1942/01/20 - Captured Kluang, Malaya

Taken to Kuala Lumpur PoW Camp

PoW No. I 5535

Japanese Index Card - Side One


Japanese Index Card - Side Two


1942/07/17 - Transported to Changi with 6 Officers and 87 other ranks

1943/04/28 - Transported overland to Thailand with ‘F’ Force

New PoW No. IV 9437

Marched from  the Thailand starting point at Ban Pong to Songkurai which was a 294km march, this is over 186 mile. Many of ‘F’ Force died on this march.

Sanderson-William -Songkurai

No 2 Camp Songkurai

Camp Map-3

Site of the "Bridge of 600"

Called “Bridge of 600” as that was the death toll building the bridge.

Songkurai, Thailand. 1943. Building the Songkurai bridge on the Burma-Thailand railway

1943/06/04 - William reported sick

Diagnosed as Cholera



Age 30


Cause of Death Cholera

Cremated and buried Grave C50, Songkurai, Thailand

C50 was a combined Grave with:-

               E.C. Stout, Gunner, 990386, RA

              B.E. Reeves, Signalman, 2364103, RASC

              L.W. Blow, Lance Corporal, 6007163, CMP

After the war William’s ashes were moved to  the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat




1939-1945 Star-tn

Pacific Star

War Medal

1939-1945 Star


Loved Ones

Son of William and Alice Sanderson

Husband of Harriet Sanderson, of Deepdale, Preston, Lancashire



Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery

B4. P. 16.


Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery




Simon Kirkham

Blackpool Regiment

Battle for Malaya and Singapore

Thailand - Burma Railway

Songkurai Camp 2

Commonwealth War Graves

KEW:- WO 392/26, WO 361/1948, WO 361/1623, WO 361/1623, WO 361/2234, WO 361/2201, WO 361/2188, WO 361/2025, WO 361/2199, WO 361/2070, WO 345/45, WO 367/3, WO 361/1344,


''Our Thanks are for being a Chapter in Life.''




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