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Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
© 2001. All Rights Reserved.


As I get older and continue my research into the lives of soldiers long departed from this earth, I feel ever more saddened by the thought that so many of these men died in the prime of their lives. The story of Michael Delmé-Radcliffe is a particularly sad one because of the circumstances of his death after suffering the horrors of the Japanese prisoner of war camps following the fall of Singapore. Michael Delmé-Radcliffe took his own life at the age of 33, after his release by the Japanese. One can only imagine what nightmares he must have suffered even after his return to England. During my research I was not able to uncover specifically what he might have suffered at the hands of his captors. Perhaps it is just as well that I did not, for knowing might have only deepened the sadness I feel about the premature death of a brave man by his own hand.

I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain some information about the personality of Michael Delmé-Radcliffe from fellow officers who knew and served with him. This information was provided to me by Lieutenant Colonel D.L. Jones, the Hon. Secretary of the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners Officers’ Association [1]. This information was in the form of the recollections of Kenneth Butters who was a 2nd Lieutenant serving under Delmé-Radcliffe in Malaya. Butters remembers Delmé-Radcliffe as a very quiet, reserved man, a religious introvert, and in his judgement rather ineffectual as a leader.

Delmé-Radcliffe was a member of the Oxford Group, known nowadays as Moral Rearmament or MRA. MRA grew out of the Oxford Group, which started among Oxford University students in the late 1920s. In 1938, as nations re-armed for war, its originator, Frank Buchman called for a 'moral and spiritual rearmament' to work towards a 'hate-free, fear-free, greed-free world'. At the end of the War, under the name Moral Re-Armament (MRA), a program of moral and spiritual reconstruction helped to reconcile former enemies, such as France and Germany [2]. With these lofty goals in mind, it is not difficult to see that military life might not have suited Delmé-Radcliffe well at all. Becoming a prisoner of the Japanese may have really stretched his believe in a ‘hate-free, fear-free’ world. His introverted personality and the realization that the world was far from being what the Oxford Group hoped it would be, may have been the catalyst for his decision to take his own life after the war.


Michael’s father, Arthur Henry Delmé-Radcliffe, was born at South Tidworth [3] in Hampshire on the 23rd of November 1870. He was educated at Timsbury House School [4], at Sherborne School [5] and at Oxford University. While at Oxford, Arthur played cricket in the Freshman’s match, but not in any of the first class games during his time in school. Upon graduation from Oxford, Arthur became a Schoolmaster.

Arthur began playing County cricket for Hampshire in 1889, during a period when Hampshire was not considered first class. From 1896 to 1900 he played on the Hampshire team in 7 matches and in 1897 he even played for Berkshire. Arthur Henry Delmé-Radcliffe was a middle order right hand batsman and a right arm slow bowler [6].

Michael was born at Eversley in the Registration District of Hartley Wintney, in the County of Southampton on the 21st of March 1912. His birth was registered at Hartley Wintney by A. Bashford, Deputy Registrar, on the 26th of March 1912 [7]. Michael’s birthplace is located approximately 11 miles east northeast of Basingstoke and 7.5 miles northwest of Aldershot in the present-day County of Hampshire.

Michael was the second son of Arthur Henry and Frances Elsie (nee Wright-Anderson) Delmé-Radcliffe. He had an older brother, Peter, who was born on the 9th of February 1909 [8]. He also had a sister, Elizabeth, whose date of birth is unknown [9].

Michael entered Charterhouse public school in Godalming, Surrey in the Oration Quarter of 1925 and was elected a Junior Scholar [10]. At the time of his entry into Charterhouse, his parents were living in Branksome Park, Dorsetshire. In 1927 Michael was selected for a Senior Scholarship amounting to Ł96-10s. He left Charterhouse after the Summer Quarter of 1929 and entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

Peter Delmé-Radcliffe had also attended Charterhouse, entering the school in the Oration Quarter of 1922 [11]. He too had been elected a Junior Scholar and was selected for a Senior Scholarship in 1924. Peter left Charterhouse after the Summer Quarter of 1927 and attended Christ Church College of Oxford University. He received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree and left Oxford in 1930. Like his father, he became a Schoolmaster. At some later point in his life Peter, a very reserved man, decided to give up teaching and became a farmer [12].

While Michael was serving in World War 2, his brother Peter married Alathea Rachel Constance Talbot-Ponsonby on the 20th of March 1944. Miss Talbot-Ponsonby was the daughter of Arthur Hugh Brabazon Talbot-Ponsonby, formerly a Major in a Territorial Force battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, and Alianore Rachel Talbot-Ponsonby (nee Howard). This was the second marriage for Miss Talbot-Ponsonby. She had previously wed Major Guy Richard Tufnell Gillett of the Royal Artillery on the 15th of June 1935. Major Gillett died on the 29th of November 1942 at age 31. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records indicate that Major Gillett is buried at Catterick Military Cemetery in Yorkshire. It is not known whether he was a war casualty or if he died of disease or the result of an accident.

Prior to Peter’s marriage to Alathea, there was a connection between the Delmé-Radcliffes and the Talbot-Ponsonbys. Major Arthur Hugh Brabazon Talbot-Ponsonby, Alathea’s father, was the son of Lieutenant Charles William Talbot-Ponsonby, R.N and Constance Louisa (nee Delmé-Radcliffe) Talbot-Ponsonby. Constance Louisa’s father was one F.P. Delmé-Radcliffe; hence, Peter Delmé-Radcliffe married a woman whose great-great grandfather was a Delmé-Radcliffe. It has not been determined whether these Delmé-Radcliffes were from the same branch of the family as Peter; however, since the name Delmé-Radcliffe is not a common one, it seems likely that Peter and Constance Louisa were distantly related through some common relative.


a. Military Training and Education (1932-1934)

Michael Delmé-Radcliffe completed his studies at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on the 28th of January 1932. He was assigned Army Number 50840 [13].

Following his commissioning he was posted to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, Kent where he attended the Young Officers’ Course between January and July of 1932. On the 10th of October 1932, he entered Cambridge University where he completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree with honours in Mechanical Sciences Tripos. At this time, Royal Engineer officers completed the Mechanical Sciences Tripos course in two years instead of the normal three, as the time spent at the Royal Military Academy apparently counted to satisfy their studies requirements. Following his graduation from Cambridge in July 1934 he attended a short equitation course with the 1st Field Squadron Royal Engineers at Aldershot, which he completed in August [14].

Michael had a will prepared on the 9th of January 1934 while he was living at The White Cottage, 9 Burton Road, Branksome Park, Bournemouth West, Dorsetshire. His brother Peter was appointed the Sole Executor of his will with the estate to be shared equally by his brother and his sister Elizabeth in the event of his death. The will stipulated that if only one sibling survived him, then the whole of the estate was to go to the survivor [15].

2nd Lieutenant Delmé-Radcliffe, along with other Young Officers was on the "Held Strength" of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham during the Young Officers course and the Cambridge course. His assignment to the School of Military Engineering lasted until late 1934 when he was posted to India [16]. His actual movement to India probably took place after October or November, as the trooping season was normally during the "cold season" of October to March.

b. Service in India (1935-1940)

At the start of 1935, Delmé-Radcliffe was serving in the Training Battalion of Queen Victoria’s Own (Q.V.O.) Sappers and Miners at Bangalore. It is likely that as a new British officer assigned to an Indian Corps, he would have undergone some "hands on" training in his new unit, with much of that coming from the Viceroy Commissioned Officers [17]. He may also have had some formal language training in Urdu, the lingua franca of the Indian Army at that time.

On the 28th of January 1935 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He continued to serve with the Training Battalion at least through April of 1935. By July of that year he was serving with No. 14 (Field) Company, Q.V.O. Sappers and Miners, and by October he was with No. 44 Divisional Headquarters Company, Q.V.O. Sappers and Miners. Both of these companies also were stationed at Bangalore [18].

Shortly after Delmé-Radcliffe’s assignment to No. 44 Divisional Headquarters Company, the unit was posted to Quetta. Quetta had become an additional out-station for the Madras Sappers and Miners in Baluchistan [19]. Delmé-Radcliffe’s company was sent there to relieve No. 11 Army Troops Company, Q.V.O. Sappers and Miners, which had been serving there since 1933. No. 44 Divisional Headquarters Company served at Quetta until April of 1937 when it returned to Bangalore.

The year 1938 found Lieutenant Delmé-Radcliffe still serving in India, although the 1938 Army List shows that on the 5th of August of that year he was on the half-pay list. It is likely that he was in hospital for some time, followed by convalescent leave during this period. He was therefore away from the Q.V.O. Sappers and Miners for more than the normal period allowed without penalty.

Delmé-Radcliffe returned to full pay status on the 16th of November 1938 and appears to have been assigned to the 19th Field Company of the Bombay Sappers and Miners at that time [20]. The 19th Field Company was then serving with the Wana Brigade, at Wana in the Waziristan District [21]. His service with the 19th Field Company at this time would have earned him the India General Service Medal, 1936-1939 [22]. This medal with the clasp [NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1937-39] was sanctioned by Army Order 217 of 1940 to be awarded for operations in Waziristan between midnight 15th/16th December 1937 and midnight 31st of December 1939/1st January 1940. The operations in which Lieutenant Delmé-Radcliffe and the 19th Company participated were conducted by General Sir John F.S.D. Coleridge, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., A.D.C., who was the General Officer Commander in Chief of the Northern Command (India). The two divisions employed in the operations were commanded by Major General E. de Burgh, C.B., D.S.O., O.B.E. and Major General A.F. Hartley, C.B., D.S.O. [23]

The 19th Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners under the command of Captain A.R.S. Lucas, R.E. had been employed in Waziristan since July of 1937. The unit was called upon to perform many tasks including repair of bridges and culverts, the construction of blockhouses, water supply for camps, and the construction of ice factories to provide ice for cold storage of meat, and for use in hospitals. Apparently ice was also supplied to units using armoured cars and tanks, perhaps to cool them down inside during days of extremely hot weather. The company operated with columns on the march and demolished towers, made tracks, and built piquet posts covered with wire screens as protection against bombs [24].

Service in the Wana area where the 19th Company was operating was quite dangerous during this period. On the 9th of April 1937, a convoy was ambushed by Wazir tribesmen and seven British officers lost their lives. Among these was Lieutenant E.C.L. Hinde, R.E., who was on his way to rejoin the 19th Company at Wana.

During most of 1938 things were relatively quiet for the 19th Company as it continued to work on what was known as the New Wana Project and on the improvement of accommodation at Razmak. The threat of Nazi Germany was spreading over Europe, and the atmosphere in India at that time was that of a calm before the storm. Lieutenant Delmé-Radcliffe joined the 19th Company as 1938 was nearing its end.

The fateful year of 1939 opened with the New Wana Project construction progressing steadily. The 19th Company was relieved by the 17th Company in March of 1939. When war was declared on the 2nd of September 1939, all leaves were cancelled and all ranks in units throughout India were recalled from leave. Everyone likely to be mobilized was medically examined. Every Sapper and Miner headquarters became the scene of rapid mobilization [25]. The 19th Field Company, then in the Wana Brigade, was destined to be assigned to 9 Indian Division for service in Malaya.

Soon after the start of World War 2, Lieutenant Delmé-Radcliffe was appointed to the rank of Acting Captain while he was still serving in India. The appointment was effective on the 4th of October 1939. This appointment was followed on the 4th of January 1940 by promotion to the rank of Temporary Captain, quickly followed by selection for promotion to the substantive or permanent rank of Captain on the 28th of January 1940. His promotion to the substantive rank became effective on the 10th of May 1940. Delmé-Radcliffe became Second in Command of the 19th Field Company shortly before the unit deployed to Malaya. Also serving in the company at the time was 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Butters who commanded the Mahratta section [26] of the company. Butters joined the 19th Field Company in Bareilly in the United Provinces [27].

c. Service in Malaya (1940-1942)

Following the fall of France in June of 1940, the Malaya Command started building up reinforcements. This action was necessitated by the fact that the new Vichy Government in France was allowing Japan to occupy the northern portion of French Indo-China, and the vulnerability of Malaya to Japanese attack was radically altered. By September of 1940 Delmé-Radcliffe, by then an Acting or Temporary Major was in command of the 19th Field Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners in Northern Malaya [28]. Captain Roger Kerr-Gibson was his Second-in-Command [29].

On the 8th of December 1941, when the Japanese invaded, the Malaya Command Engineer Order of Battle was as follows [30]:

Malaya Command

Chief Engineer: Brigadier I. Simson, late R.E.
Responsibility for the whole of Malaya


3 Indian Corps

Chief Engineer: Brigadier K.B.S. Crawford, late R.E.
Responsibility for North Malaya


9 Indian Division

Commander Royal Engineers: Lieutenant Colonel T.H. Lindesay, R.E.
Responsible for the east coast of Malaya

19 Field Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners

Major Michael Delmé-Radcliffe, R.E.
In support of 8 Indian Brigade for the defence of Kota Bharu beaches in Kelantan State

22 Field Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners

Major H.T. Heard, R.E.
In support of 22 Indian Brigade for the defence of Kaunta beaches

42 Field Park Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners (54 Field Stores Section attached)

Major T.W. Nash, R.E.
Responsible for running the Division Stores Dump at Kuala Lumpur


11 Indian Division

Commander Royal Engineers: Lieutenant Colonel J.F.D. Steedman, MC, R.E.
Responsibility for the Thai Border and Northwest Defence Line in the Jitra area

3 Field Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners

Major A.R. Battle, R.E.
In support of 15 Indian Brigade on the Jitra Line East and North Defence works

17 Field Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners

Major N.S. Bhagat, I.E.
In support of 6 Indian Brigade on the Jitra Line West and South Defence works

23 Field Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners

Major J.E. Bate, R.E.
In support of 28 Indian Brigade and in depths defences at Ipoh

43 Field Park Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners [31]

With division headquarters at Sungei Patani


Corps Troops


1 Artisan Works Company, (Bombay)[32]

Major J.H. Heep, R.E.
In support of 8 Indian Brigade, 9th Division for engineer tasks, especially demolition work

45 Army Troops Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners (6 Bridging Section attached)

Major J.R. Dinwiddie, R.E.
In support of "Krohcol" of 11 Division to counter-attack and secure a position known as "The Ledge"

46 Army Troops Company, Madras Sappers and Miners (14 Bridging Section attached)

Major J.R.S.W. Elkington, R.E.
In support of 11 Division for Local defences at Sungei Patani

Other Troops


Australian Division Engineers

8 Australian Division
Defence of Johore and Malacca

Fortress Engineers,
Royal Engineers

Garrison Troops
Defence of Singapore and Penang

15 Field Company, Madras Sappers and Miners

Major B.R. Muir, R.E.
In support of 12 Indian Brigade in the Combined Reserve

13 Field Company, Madras Sappers and Miners

Major B.E. Whiteman, R.E.
In support of 45 Indian Brigade

A portion of the Japanese invasion force landed at Kota Bharu in the Kelantan State of Northern Malaya in the sector for which Major Delmé-Radcliffe and his company were responsible. The company was in support of the 8th Indian Brigade under Brigadier Key and was responsible for the preparation of defensive positions that were occupied by the 3rd Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment. One section of the company under 2nd Lieutenant Ken Butters also worked on the preparation and practice of bridge demolitions, in particular, along the East Coast Railway from the Thai border to the north of Kota Bharu. The other two sections of the company worked on completing the coastal defences and preparing the demolition of road bridges.

The initial Japanese assault force landed at 0025 hours on the 8th of December 1941. Brigadier Key’s 8th Indian Brigade fought valiantly behind its heavily mined and wired defences, inflicting heavy casualties on the Japanese forces. The Dogras opposed the Japanese landings with supreme bravery and discipline. Pillboxes were taken and retaken, but the Japanese held tenaciously to their beachhead. By 0400 hours the Japanese managed to secure two strong points on the Khota Bharu beaches [33]. On the following day the British forces were pushed back from the beaches and the Khota Bharu aerodrome and the long defensive action back to Singapore was begun [34]. At this point, the evacuation of the State of Kelantan was started.

On the 16th of December 1941 the withdrawal out of Kelantan State was ordered due to the increasing buildup and pressure being exerted by the Japanese invasion force. The danger of the 8th Brigade being cut off from the railway, their only means of retreat through the thick jungle, necessitated this withdrawal and prevented the loss of the entire defensive force in the area. The precarious line of communication in the form of a single line railway into Central Malaya dictated this decision, and the withdrawal was completed by the 22nd of December. The Dogra troops at first refused to retreat from their regained positions until the acting battalion commander went personally to each pillbox and ordered the retreat. Successful attacks against the Japanese had to be called off to the astonishment of some of the Indian troops who could not understand the need to vacate Kelantan. A Sikh unit made a particularly vicious bayonet attack against the Japanese. Officers and sepoys showed nothing but discipline and devotion to duty during the battle. So bloody was the conflict in fact, that the Japanese suffered 3,000 Japanese casualties amongst who were 800 dead [35].

2nd Lieutenant Butters and his section of Mahrattas were left behind in Kuala Kerai with MACFORCE consisting of a battalion of the Malay Regiment. Butters and his men joined MACFORCE on the 19th of December to act as the rearguard during the retreat from Kuala Kerai. Butters himself was one of the last to leave Kuala Kerai after igniting time fuse to detonate the explosive charges that his section had previously set. During the whole time that Butter was involved in this rearguard action, he saw only one British airplane after the first day’s fighting. The Japanese airplanes on the other hand were frequently around attacking the railway and British troops.

While Butters was attempting to delay the Japanese advance with damp gun cotton explosives dating back to 1921, the remaining troops of 9 Indian Division, including the remaining sections of Major Delmé-Radcliffe’s company, carried out considerable demolition work in the face of the advancing Japanese troops, including the disruption of Guillemard bridge – the longest railway bridge in Malaya. During the withdrawal the railway line of communication was most effectively neutralized as an axis for further Japanese advance.

Delmé-Radcliffe’s company withdrew down the east coast of Malaya and were in southern Trengganu State by the 26th of December 1941. During the night of the 31st of December/1st of January 1942 the sappers destroyed the ferry west of Kuantan on the Jerantut road. They then deployed in close defence of the Kuantan airfield [36].

They unit was forced to withdraw further south on the 3rd of January 1942 and moved to the River Pahang on the east coast. 2nd Lieutenant Butter’s section rejoined the company at Jerantut on the 7th of January, having escaped an attempt by the Japanese to cut him off from the main body of the British force. On the 8th of January General Wavell declared that 3 Indian Corps was no longer fit for active operations and the Corps was ordered to withdraw to Johore, the Malay state just north of Singapore [37].

Delmé-Radcliffe and his men reached Endau on the 14th of January. The remainder of 9 Indian Division was now assigned to a newly formed organization known as Westforce, whose mission was to deny the Muar-Segamet line to the Japanese. Units of 9 Indian Division were employed in support of 8 Australian Division along the trunk road near Gemas [38].

The withdrawal south continued under relentless Japanese pressure. Rumours of a great defensive line having been constructed by civilians across Johore near Segamat proved false. Consequently, the pattern of resisting the enemy only to be outflanked continued until the retreating British troops reached Singapore. As the men of the 19th Company approached Singapore, to their astonishment they saw that there were no prepared defenses on the north shore facing Johore.

Delmé-Radcliffe’s company reached Mersing on the 21st of January and Jemuluang on the 27th. By the 30th of January, 8 Indian Brigade was withdrawing down the railway corridor above Johore Bahru and on the following day the brigade crossed the causeway into Singapore. Once in Singapore, 9 Indian Division was broken up and its units assigned to 11 Indian Division. Units of 3 Indian Corps were placed in defence of the northern area of Singapore from, but not including Changi on the extreme east of the island, to but not including the causeway crossing from Johore to Singapore [39]. Hurried defences were prepared by all and Delmé-Radcliffe gave 2nd Lieutenant Butters and his Mahrattas the hopeless task of demolishing as much of the Naval Base as possible.

After two weeks of hard fighting, the Japanese captured Singapore. Major Delmé-Radcliffe was taken as a prisoner of war on the 15th of February 1942. While many of the British engineer officers, non-commissioned officers and men were sent to Japan after their capture, Michael Delmé-Radcliffe apparently was not one of them [40]. He spent the remainder of the war in an unknown prisoner of war camp.

D.H. Andreae was a 19-year old 2nd Lieutenant in 42 Field Park Company, Bombay Sappers and Miners during the long fight and withdrawal down the Malayan peninsula. Andreae remembers that initially the Japanese wanted to send all the generals and the Sapper officers to Japan rather than have them work on the Burma railway, although this did not apply to all Sapper officers. 2nd Lieutenant Andreae was one of those officers who did go to Japan. While he did not know Delmé-Radcliffe personally, he was almost certain that he was not sent to Japan [41].

d. Life as a Prisoner of War (1942-1945)

Initially, the British prisoners of war were marched off to Changi where the jail and big groups of Army barracks were located. The Japanese separated the British officers from the Indian officers and men for reasons of indoctrination [42]. Kenneth Butters relates that he was certain the Delmé-Radcliffe went with him into captivity in Changi. They were housed for the first six months in the Royal Artillery Mess in Changi Military Zone.

The military prisoners had been marched the 14 miles to Changi in long columns headed by at least four files of brigadiers and colonels. The housing shortage at Changi was acute, but the food shortage was worse. The prisoners went hungry and had to manage as best they could until the Japanese issued them sacks of rice during the first week of captivity.

At Changi the men were crowded to the extent of 200 to a space meant to house only 20 people under ordinary conditions. It was assumed that the accommodation would be temporary. The prisoners were soon organized into work parties, some of which, for the sake of convenience and not comfort, were moved into quarters nearer their place of work. All sorts of accommodation were utilized including schools, empty buildings of all kinds, tented camps on cricket fields, and thatched huts constructed by the prisoners [43].

Soon after their arrival in Changi, the officers of the 19th Field Company began to compile a diary of the events from the time of the Japanese invasion until their capture. This diary had to be produced from memory, as the original unit war diary had been lost at the time of their surrender. Most of the writing was done by Major Delmé-Radcliffe [44]. Lieutenant Butters concealed this pencil-written diary in his valise where he found it several months after he arrived home following the end of the war [45].

Whether Michael Delmé-Radcliffe remained in Singapore or was sent to work on the infamous Siam – Burma Railway made famous by the movie The Bridge Over the River Kwai, is not known for certain. Kenneth Butters lost track of Delmé-Radcliffe while they were in captivity because Butters spent six months in hospital suffering from beri-beri, malaria, dysentery and severe tropical ulcers. Following his stay in hospital, Butters spent five months convalescing.

When he was well enough, Butters was shipped to Japan and then to Mukden in Manchuria by way of Taiwan in a ship filled with of dysentery-sick people [46]. After about 12 months in southern Taiwan, he and the other officers with him (among them a number of Sapper officers) were moved to Shirakawa where conditions improved for the prisoners. In early in 1945 they moved to a camp in Meata, Japan and after two months were moved again to Korea. The prisoners’ journey finally ended at Mukden, Manchuria. Conditions had been bad during their journeys and the men suffered from intense cold and no heated accommodation. Additionally, 50 men were killed by American bombing raids. Once they were established at Mukden, they experienced a period of relative comfort, although they were still very hungry from lack of adequate rations. Butters believes that Delmé-Radcliffe was with him during part of this journey, at least until they got to Taiwan. If his memory serves him correctly and this was the case, then Delmé-Radcliffe did not work on the notorious railway. For those who did work on the railway life was much more difficult.

Squalid and disease-ridden as Changi and other prison camps might have been, the men who were sent to camps to work on this railway suffered a much worse fate. The causes of death and sickness in the camps along the route of the railway were starvation, climate, hardship, accidents, occasionally personal violence, neglect, poor physique, despair, neurosis and disease. The diseases included malaria in all its forms, recurrent fevers, dysentery, cholera, scurvy, pellagra, beri-beri, sleeping sickness, hookworm, ringworm, jungle ulcers and abscesses and general toxemia. The fatal casualties of all troops in captivity totaled about more than a third. Nearly every prisoner had some sickness, many had several diseases, and because of their poor diet every man lost weight, and consequently resistance to disease, to an alarming degree. They were always crowded together, so that contagion was inescapable. Washing was difficult, as water was in short supply. In some areas bathing in nearby rivers was allowed only rarely. Dirt encouraged swarms of flies as it was hard to keep eating utensils clean and in the damp heat of the jungle remnants of previous meals quickly went bad. The prisoners became vermin-ridden. The river water held the fearful risk of cholera unless it was boiled. Resistance was low so that the will to live was low too. Sick prisoners often preferred to lie down and die, for death for some was so much easier than going on under such conditions.

These or similar conditions are what Michael Delmé-Radcliffe might have had to endure and endure them he did until the Japanese surrender and the liberation of the prisoner of war camps by the Allies [47]. Neurosis and despair while a prisoner may have been at the root of his suffering as will be seen after his return home. The author has a portrait sketch of Michael Delmé-Radcliffe made by a Chaplain on the 5th of February 1945 while they were still in captivity. The sketch shows him as a thin-faced, gaunt looking man with drooping eyelids. The Chaplain’s caption on the sketch reads: "Delmé-Radcliffe – a manic depressive." This was rather a prescient remark by the Padre [48].

e. Return to India (1945)

After his release from captivity, Major Delmé-Radcliffe returned to India via Manila. Delmé-Radcliffe met up with Ken Butters again in the Officers’ Mess in Manila before Butters embarked on the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious bound for Vancouver, British Columbia. Butters was certain that Delmé-Radcliffe returned to India from Manila.

Brigadier C.H. Cowan, CBE was the Staff Major at the Headquarters and Depot of the Bombay Sappers and Miners in Kirkee when the majority of the released prisoners of war arrived there in preparation for their trip home to the United Kingdom. In an interview in April 2000, Brigadier Cowan remembered Delmé-Radcliffe’s arrival at Kirkee. He recalled that he appeared to be in surprisingly good shape both physically and mentally [49]. Unfortunately, this observation was to prove to be deceptive, especially with regard to Delmé-Radcliffe’s mental condition.

f. Return Home (1945)

Following some time for rehabilitation in India, Michael Delmé-Radcliffe was sent home, arriving in England on the 20th of November 1945. He returned to his pre-war home at The White Cottage, 9 Burton Road, Branksome Park in Bournemouth. Almost immediately upon his return to England, things began to go badly for Michael. The following newspaper article tells of the sad events that ensued [50]:


After Three Years In Jap Hands

"The tragedy of an Army officer whose mental outlook, as the Poole Coroner put it, had been altered by his experiences after three and a half years as prisoner of war in Japanese hands, was revealed at a local inquest on Tuesday.

It related to the death on Monday of Major Michael Delmé-Radcliffe, aged 33, whose home was at 9, Burton Road, Branksome Park.

His father, Mr. Arthur Henry Delmé-Radcliffe, told how his son returned to this country on November 20 from a Japanese P.O.W. camp. He seemed quite normal until he went out about 5 p.m. two days later. At 12.30 (the) witness was informed that his son was at the police station, having been seen acting strangely by a railway porter. Later he was seen by a doctor who prescribed rest and quiet. On Monday (the) witness found his son lying dead in his bedroom.

Captain C.H. Devereaux, R.A.M.C., said that two days previous to this he saw Major Delmé-Radcliffe and found him to be suffering from neurosis. On Monday (the) witness was called to 9, Burton Road and found that he had died from a self-inflicted throat wound.

P.C. Arnold deposed to finding a blood-stained razor blade on the dressing table. The Coroner, Mr. J.W. Miller, recorded a verdict that deceased took his life whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed."

Michael Delmé-Radcliffe’s death certificate, issued on the 28th of November, indicated that the cause of death was suicide resulting form "Hemorrhage from wound of throat involving jugular vein. Self-inflicted while balance of mind temporarily disturbed." His death was registered at Poole in the County of Dorset by S.M. Woodford, Registrar. Michael was buried at Bournemouth East Cemetery, Hampshire, Plot X, Row 1, Grave 197.

With regard to Michael Delmé-Radcliffe’s death, psychiatrists would opine that every suicide is both tragic and unique. Also, in general suicides are rare events, not lending themselves to statistical/epidemiological treatment. What would be needed to even begin to understand Michael’s death is in effect a psychological autopsy.

A guess about Michael’s death, made by an Army psychiatrist at the author’s request, is that he had sustained himself through the three and a half years in the prisoner of war camp with a vision of what it would be like to return home. That vision was shattered when he arrived by the actual circumstances he encountered when he did return home. Alternatively, perhaps he had done things to survive in the camp which, when reexamined in the light of the home environment brought his intense shame. If this were the case, then Michael Delmé-Radcliffe was certainly much too hard on himself if his suicide was in any caused by any feelings of shame for being captured or for the way he behaved while a prisoner. Kate Caffrey put it very well in her book Out in the Midday Sun when she wrote the following:

"Courage in battle (which may be the courage of the fool who does not see the risk or the higher kind that shrinks from the terror and still goes ahead) is, rightly, recognized and awarded with decorations. But there is a higher kind still – that of solid endurance, when there is no way of knowing how long one must go on, when there is no sign of light at the end of the tunnel, and always the inner fear that one is forgotten. Sometimes ex-prisoners have felt almost ashamed to admit that they were in captivity, not realising that as prisoners who managed to survive they can justly be regarded as being in a special category of bravery. News, action, hope, company and the cheers of the multitude reinforce the soldier in battle; no such comfort is available to the soldier in enemy hands, whose daily companions are silence and despair."

In Michael Delmé-Radcliffe’s case, something clearly happened on the way home or upon his return home to disturb him to point of seeing suicide as the only answer to his problem. If that something had been noticed by his mates at Kirkee, or by his family, or by the Royal Army Medical Corps doctor who examined him in England, perhaps Michael would have had a long and happy life after some psychiatric treatment. If that something could be uncovered, the mystery of his unfortunate death would be solved. Unfortunately, we will never know [51].


Michael Delmé-Radcliffe was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star, Defence Medal and War Medal for his service in World War 2 [52]. The medals along with a condolence slip from the Under-Secretary of State for War were forwarded to his brother Peter at Peak Farm [53] in West Meon, Petersfield, Hampshire, a town located about 15.5 miles north of Portsmouth and 15 miles northeast of Southampton. Peter was farming the land at West Meon at the time [54].

Michael’s will was probated in London on the 24th of September 1946. All of his estate, valued at Ł11,972-5s-6d went to his brother at Peak Farm. Peter, as Executor of Michael’s estate, would have shared it with his sister Elizabeth if she were still living.

Arthur Henry Delmé-Radcliffe died at Branksome Park on the 30th of June 1950 at the age of 80 [55]. One can only imagine the grief experienced by him at having to bury his son after waiting all those years to hear if he had survived the Japanese prisoner of war camps. Worse still, it is difficult to imagine Arthur’s horror when he found his youngest son’s body and realized the how he had died.

Peter Delmé-Radcliffe worked the farm at West Meon until September of 1952 when he relinquished the tenancy of Peak Farm to Mr. George W. Atkinson. Peter went to Pensholt Farm at West Tisted in Hampshire [56].

Peter Delmé-Radcliffe died on the 25th of December 1998 at the age of 89 years. His residence at the time of his death was Featherton House, Chapel Square, Deddington, Oxfordshire. Peter’s will was probated on the 18th of November 1999 with probate granted to Mr. Nigel John Yeadon and Mr. Anthony Scott Andrews of Banbury, Oxfordshire.


During the course of this research, many other Delmé-Radcliffe s were uncovered whose relationship to Michael Delmé-Radcliffe could not be determined. The names of these other individuals are presented below with the hope that anyone seeing them might be able to make some connection to Michael’s family.

  1. Brigadier General Sir Charles Delmé-Radcliffe, KCMG, CB, CVO, psc; Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus (Italy); Grand Officer of the Crown of Italy [57]. Born 1864, the only child of Sir Frederick Treves Delmé-Radcliffe [58]. Died 1938. Sir Charles was the author of an article in the Journal of the United Services Institute for 1907 entitled "The Swiss Military System." He was a First Class Interpreter in French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Hungarian.
  2. Ralph (born 1877), son of the Reverend Arthur Delmé-Radcliffe [59].
  3. Lieutenant Colonel E. Delmé-Radcliffe. Author of "Notes of the Falconidae Used in India in Falconry, 1860? [60].
  4. Captain Arthur Delmé-Radcliffe, Double Company Officer, 105th Mahratta Light Infantry, (Poona) c. 1912 [61]. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order, London Gazette, 12 December 1919. Born 16 June 1879; 2nd Lieutenant, South Lancashire Regiment, 3 August 1898; Lieutenant, 25 May 1900; Lieutenant, Indian Army, 8 August 1900; Captain, 3 August 1907; Major, 1 September 1915; Lieutenant Colonel, March 1919; Retired, 31 January 1921; Mentioned in Despatches. First Class Interpreter, German [62].
  5. Commander F.A. Delmé-Radcliffe, late Royal Navy [63]. Member of the Territorial Force Council for Hertford. Deputy Lieutenant for Hertford [64].
  6. Lieutenant Colonel H. Delmé-Radcliffe, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, c. 1912. Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Quetta. He was a First Class Interpreter in German and a Second Class Interpreter in French [65].
  7. Major S.A. Delmé-Radcliffe, Indian Army (Retired), c. 1924. The Great War, 1914-1921. Operations in Gallipoli, 2 August 1915 to 31 December 1915. Egypt, 2 January 1916 to 18 March 1916. Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 19 March 1916 to 31 October 1918. Mentioned in Despatches, London Gazette 6 July 1917 and 5 June 1919. Order of the Nile, 4th Class. Order of the Crown of Italy, 5th Class. OBE [66].
  8. Captain R.H.J. Delmé-Radcliffe, 12th London Regiment and Indian Army, c. 1920 [67].
  9. Margaret Delmé-Radcliffe, Aldborne, Wiltshire, c. 1999 [68].
  10. Lieutenant Colonel A. Delmé-Radcliffe, c. 1926 [69].
  11. Major Peter Audley Delmé-Radcliffe, Madras Sappers and Miners, c. 1944 [70]. Wife: Gladys Margaret "Peggy" Delmé-Radcliffe (nee Nugent). "Peggy" Delmé-Radcliffe died at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough on 12 May 2000, aged 87.
  12. F.P. Delmé-Radcliffe of Hitchin, Herts [71].
  13. Emma Delmé-Radcliffe, the wife of F.P. Delmé-Radcliffe, collected and pressed wild flowers. Her collection is presently in the Southampton University Library [73].
  14. Constance Louisa Delmé-Radcliffe (died 1927). Daughter of F.P. Delmé-Radcliffe. Married Lieutenant Charles William Talbot-Ponsonby, Royal Navy in 1868. They had one child, Major Arthur Hugh Brabazon Talbot-Ponsonby, Hampshire Regiment (T.F.). Major A.H.B. Talbot-Ponsonby married Alianore Rachel Howard. They had one child, Alathea Rachel Constance Talbot-Ponsonby (born 1914) [72].
  15. Major E.C. Delmé-Radcliffe took part in the relief of Lucknow and from July of 1863 he served at the headquarters of the Connaught Rangers [73].
  16. Lieutenant Frederick P.R. Delmé-Radcliffe, 23rd Foot. Killed on the 20th of September 1854 at the Battle of the Alma during the Crimean War [73].
  17. Major C. Delmé-Radcliffe. Mentioned in an article entitled "Description of Two New Fishes Discovered by Major C. Delmé-Radcliffe in Victoria Nyanza" published in The Annals and Magazine of Natural History [73].


The following War Diary and associated target list of the 19th Field Company, Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners were made available to the author by Lieutenant Colonel D.L. Jones, Hon. Secretary, Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners Officers’ Association and Mr. Kenneth Butters of Swanage, Dorset, who served in the company as a Lieutenant under the command of Major Michael Delme-Radcliffe.

of the 19th Field Company
Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners
During the Malayan Campaign, 1941-1942

Company Officers

Major M. Delme-Radcliffe, O.C.
Captain R. Kerr-Gibson, 2-I-C
Lieutenant Millar
Lieutenant Peel
Lieutenant Pande (No. 1 Section)
Lieutenant Butters (No. 2 Section)
Lieutenant Griffiths (No. 3 Section)

The following is a copy of the war diary of the 19th Field Company, Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners, 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, 9th Indian Division. The diary was written by the Officer Commanding (O.C.) the company, Major Michael Delme-Radcliffe while in captivity at the Changi Prisoner of War Camp, Singapore in 1942. When the officers of the 19th Field Company were moved from Changi to Taiwan, the diary was given to Lieutenant Kenneth Butters, Commander of No. 2 Section (Mahrattas) of the company, as Lieutenant Butters had a valise that offered a better place to hide the document. Throughout numerous moves made by Butters to Taiwan, Japan and Mukden in Manchuria, and through numerous inspections made by the Japanese, the diary survived. Not least remarkable was the survival of the diary during the confusion of repatriation after the war.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The actual War Diary or Intelligence Summary, Army Form C. 2118, was lost during the campaign. The following diary was reproduced from memory by Major Delme-Radcliffe, with the assistance of other company officers. For the transcription of the original diary for inclusion on this web site, some abbreviations in the original handwritten diary have been spelled out completely for clarity. Partial sentences and phrases have also been completed for better understanding of the writer’s meaning. Where question marks (?) appear in the diary, these are to indicate that certain words could not be deciphered. Major Delme-Radcliffe used many military abbreviations in common at the time. I have tried to clarify these abbreviations wherever possible. I may have made some errors in translation; therefore, I welcome any corrections noted by readers. It should also be noted that brackets [ ] are used to denote footnotes for the war diary.



Place, Summary of Events and Information

8 Dec 1941


Company Headquarters and Company at Montgomery Camp. Firing heard at Badang & Sabar beaches [1]. All sections loaded demolition stores and stood by.


Company placed at disposal of O.C., 1 Hyderabad for defence of Kota Bharu aerodrome. O.C. to HQ 1 Hyderabad [2]. [This order continued in force until 0730 hrs.]

8 Dec


Orders received at company headquarters from brigade commander for preparation of bridge on S. Golok branch railway line.


2 sub-sections of No. 2 Section with section commander and with stores to Kota Bharu for demolition of S. Golok branch line.


Anti-aircraft mountings sent out to O.C. 1 Hyderabad on Kota Bharu aerodrome. Order received from brigade commander for all road bridges east of inclusive Road Kota Bharu – Pasir Puteh to be prepared for demolition. No. 3 Section left Montgomery Camp to prepare Demolition Nos. 19, 20 & 22 and came under orders 2 Baluch [3] for preparation & firing of demolitions in Pasir Puteh area.
No. 1 Section left Montgomery Camp to prepare Demolition Nos. 6, 8, 9 & 10.


Golok branch line demolition party crossed by steamer to Palekbang.


O.C. to brigade headquarters at Kota Bharu.


Golok branch line demolition party left Palekbang by train, having been ordered to go without orders if enemy action threatened. O.C. reported air action on left bank of S. Kelantan (River).


Golok branch line demolition party arrived at Pasir Mas station.


Golok branch line demolition party left with orders received by phone from brigade headquarters to prepare and blow Demolition Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4.


Orders received from brigade headquarters to prepare Gillemard & S. Nal railway bridges. 2 sub-sections of No. 2 Section dispatched at 1315 hrs.


S. Golok railway bridge bombed by the Royal Australian Air Force.


No. 2 Section fired Demolition No. 1.


CO2 [4] met brigade commander at Kota Bharu aerodrome with 40 men in lorries. These men were not used. CO2 started evacuation of stores from company headquarters (Montgomery Camp) to brigade headquarters (Kota Bharu) [5].


No. 2 Section fired Demolition No. 2.


Company headquarters and spare personnel moved to vicinity of brigade headquarters. Stores sorted by O.C. with CO2 and Subedar.
No. 2 Section abandoned Demolition No. 3 owing to wetting by heavy rain.

8 Dec


Company headquarters moved to Public Works Department office at Kota Bharu.


Order received from brigade commander to blow Gillemard and S. Nal railway bridges. Order despatched by DR (?) & phone via station master Krai & station 1 mile north of Gillemard bridge. Demolition No. 4 abandoned due to wetting of explosives by heavy rain. Demolition No. 5 blown by No. 2 Section.


Demolition No. 7 blown (with help from 73 Field Battery) by No. Section.


Demolition No. 6 fired by No. Section, without orders, on withdrawal of infantry.

9 Dec


No. 1 Section blew Demolition No. 8.


No. 1 Section blew Demolition No. 10.


Demolition No. 9 abandoned without being fired by Havildar in charge owing to enemy action. Order phoned by O.C. to No. 1 Section to prepare Demolition Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.


Demolition No. 11 blown by No. 1 Section.


No. 2 Section demolition party crossed from Pasir Mas to the right bank of S. Kelantan.


No. 2 Section destroyed 4 barges in S. Kelantan (See Demolition No. 5) [6].


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 14.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition Nos. 12 & 13. Casualties: 2 wounded.


O.C. to brigade headquarters, ľ of a mile south of Kota Bharu. Company headquarters to Kota.


Company headquarters to Mulong.


Company headquarters to Chondong.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 15.


O.C. No. 2 Section reported Demolition Nos. 17 & 18 fired.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 16.


No. 1 Section improved Demolition No. 16.
O.C. to CO’s conference at Chondong.
During the day No. 3 Section fired Demolition Nos. 19 through 23 inclusive while withdrawing to company headquarters on completion.

10 Dec


O.C. No. 1 Section to recce of Demolition No. 16 for repair, in order to recover infantry lorries abandoned on the far side [7].


Scheme for repair abandoned.
O.C. No. 2 Section to Krai to obtain tools to make up losses during evacuation of Kota Bharu.


O.C. with brigade commander to recce Mhehang (?) position.
No. 1 Section repaired broken bridge at M.S. 8 Road Mhehang to Pasir Puteh. Section Commander No. 3 Section laid 50 anti-personnel mines in Chondong.

10 Dec


Despatched to Krai for CRE [8] 9th Division, plates for demolition of railway bridges south of Krai.


O.C. No. 1 Section to Krai for water supply stores for water point at S. Nal Estate.

11 Dec


Company headquarters to S. Nal Estate. No. 1 and No. 3 Sections rest. No. 3 Section fired Demolition No. (?).


CO2 destroyed 2 steam rollers at Chondong Camp


No. 2 Section carried Dannert wire [9] for brigade defensive position.

12 Dec


O.C. No. 1 Section recced road for alternate crossing Ismael bridge for improvement with corduroy.


No. 2 Section to Gillemard bridge (Demolition No. 17) to improve demolition.


CO2 recced wooden bridge at the entrance to Pasir Gajah Estate M.S. 34˝ for strength [10].


Demolition No. 28 fired prematurely due to approach of enemy patrol. O.C. to Pasir Gajah & Nal Estates to warn sections.


Work on diversion begun.


O.C. to Krai to bring sleepers. CO2, No. 1 and No. 3 Sections work on bridge.

13 Dec


O.C. with sleepers to bridge site 28˝ M.S. CO2 with No. 1 and No. 3 Sections returned to S. Nal Estate.


O.C. to bridge site with No. 3 Section. Heavy corduroy road [11] laid.


No. 2 Section returned to S. Nal Estate. NCO 1 Naik wounded.


No. 1 Section carried Dannert wire to brigade defensive position M.S. 34. Jemadar, No. 1 Section searched for 2 locomotives reported to be 2 miles north of S. Nal railway station. These were not found.


All troops retired south of bridge M.S. 28˝.
No. 3 Section carried Dannert wire for defensive positions M.S. 34.

14 Dec


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 29. No. 1 Section (working on) water supply at Pasir Gajah and S. Nal Estates.
No. 2 Section prepared Demolition Nos. 31 & 32. Also worked with No. 3 Section on corduroy approach to Ismael bridge alternative.

15 Dec

O.C. No. 1 Section searched unsuccessfully for 2 engines north of S. Nal railway bridge.
No. 2 Section, as for 14 December.
No. 3 Section worked on corduroy approach road to Ismael bridge alternative.

16 Dec


Company headquarters to S. Durian Estate. No. 1 Section demolished 2 wooden buildings M.S. 31.
No. 2 and No. 3 Sections, as for 15 December.

17 Dec

  No. 1 Section worked on corduroy approach road to Ismael bridge alternative.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 20.
No. 2 and No. 3 Sections, as for 16 December.


Company headquarters to Krai Club.


O.C. and No. 3 Section by rail to Lipis.
No. 2 Section remained north of Krai with 8 Brigade, subsequently coming under O.C. MACFORCE, [12] returning to 19 Field Company on 7 January. Diary of No. 2 Section during this period as follows:-

18 Dec


Fired Demolition Nos. 31 & 32.

19 Dec


Fired Demolition No. 33. No demolitions were done at Krai owing to need for secrecy [13].


By train to Pergau. Lived with Malay Regiment.

20 Dec

  Pergau station bombed. Repaired railway line.

21 Dec


Brigade commander arrived.

23 Dec


Section moved by train to Bertram. ˝ section to Kemubu.

24 Dec & 25 Dec

  Section O.C. to Lipis for explosives. Prepared Demolition No. 37.

29 Dec

  Section commander to Kemubu. Recced Demolition No. 34. Took over Demolition Nos. 34, 37 & 38 and 40 through 46 inclusive from Lt. Andreae, 45 Army Troops Company [14].

30 Dec

  Section commander joined party engaged in collecting railway lines at Kemubu.

31 Dec

  Blew Demolition No. 34. Also 2 water tanks, points and pumps.


To Bertam.

3 Jan 1942

  Prepared Demolition No. 38.

4 Jan


Fired Demolition No. 37.


To Gua Musang via Renoh Halt.


To Bertam.

5 Jan

  Party helped move food & stores from Bertam to railway accident 10 miles south of Bertam.


Section Commander to accident.


Fired Demolition No. 38.

6 Jan

  Demolition Nos. 43, 44 and 45 abandoned by order of O.C. MACFORCE owing to urgency of evacuation.


Fired Demolition No. 40.


Fired Demolition No. 41.


Fired Demolition No. 42.


To Bukit Betong.

7 Jan


Prepared and fired Demolition No. 46.


Arrived with section at Jerantut. Rejoined 19th Field Company.

18 Dec

  Company headquarters and No. 1 Section by rail to Lipis.


Company headquarters and No. 1 Section arrived at Lipis.
    Company less No. 2 Section spent the night of 18-19 December at Lipis Club.

19 Dec

  Company less No. 2 Section by road to Jerantut ferry. No. 3 Section ordered on detachment to Lipis for work on possible damaged to railway Lipis – Krai due to bombing.

20 Dec

O.C. recce to Maran for demolitions and M.T. harbour.
CO2 recce 3 bridges on road Jerantut – Benta for demolition. No. 1 Section dug slit trenches. Practiced manning ferry. Brigade commander recced M.T. harbour with O.C.

21 Dec

  No. 1 Section practiced manning ferry. Placed granite (?) in M.T. harbour road Jerantut – Jerantut ferry 2 miles east of Jerantut.

22 Dec

  As for 21 December. O.C. visited No. 3 Section at Lipis.

23 Dec

  No. 1 Section practiced manning ferry. Placed granite (?) on edges of quarry road 1Ľ miles west of Jerantut ferry.

24 Dec

  As for 23 December. No. 3 Section returned from Lipis.

25 Dec

  CO2 fell sick with dengue. No. 1 Section as for 24 December. No. 3 Section practiced manning ferry.

26 Dec

  No. 1 and No. 3 Section, as for 26 December.

27 Dec

  No. 1 and No. 3 Section, as for 26 December.

28 Dec

  O.C. recce with brigade commander and CRE for alternative ferry site. No. 1 and No. 3 Sections worked on approaches for alternative infantry ferries 1 mile downstream and 1 mile upstream from flying bridge. Decision reached to build alternative flying bridge 30 feet upstream from original flying bridge.

29 Dec

  42 Field Park Company 15] arrived at Jerantut ferry. Took over operation of ferry. No. 1 Section put 3˝-inch rope across river at lower infantry ferry. Rope broke. Spare lighters shifted upstream from flying bridge to avoid air threat. 400 coolies worked east and west approached of new ferry.

30 Dec

  42 Field Park Company [16] started work on crib bridge for east approach to alternative flying bridge 30 feet upstream of original flying bridge. No. 1 Section made anchorage for flying bridge on west bank. Cut S.W.R. [17] to length. No. 3 Section made anchorage on east bank.

31 Dec

  No. 1 and No. 3 Sections anchorages placed in position. Rigged (?) on spare lighters. East and west approaches completed by coolies.

1 Jan 1942

  S.W.R. put across stream. Crib bridge completed by 42 Field Park Company [18].

2 Jan

  New ferry started operating. No. 3 Section to 22 Brigade for demolitions.

3 Jan

  No. 1 Section and 300 coolies worked on approaches of third flying bridge (never completed). Began back loading surplus stores to Jerantut railway station.

4 Jan

  No. 1 Section demolished sawmill on west bank. Began working both ferries 24 hours a day. No. 3 Section fired Demolition No. 35.


Both ferries taken over from 42 Field Park Company [19].

5 Jan


Last of 22 Brigade units crossed ferry to west bank. Demolition of ferry began.

6 Jan


Demolition No. 36 completed by No. 1 Section.
Demolition No. 39 fired by No. 3 Section.
Company headquarters to supply depot (Jerantut station).
No. 2 and No. 3 Sections on perimeter defense.


Section Commander No. 1 Section left by train to recce Demolition Nos. 47 through 50 inclusive.
CO2 recovered from dengue. Blew craters in (?) road on Kuala Lumpur side under orders CRE 9 Division.

7 Jan


Section Commander No. 1 Section returned Jerantut from recce.


Left with ˝ section of No. 1 Section in armoured train to prepare Demolitions Nos. 47 through 50.


O.C. laid anti-personnel mines (20) as booby traps in sleepers stacked near Jerantut railway station.


Company less O.C. and No. 1 Section left by M.T. convoy for Bahau via Bentong.


O.C. and detachment of company headquarters left in armoured train for Mentakab.

8 Jan


O.C. fired Demolition No. 47.


O.C. fired Demolition No. 48.


Company less O.C. and No. 1 Section arrived at Bahau by M.T. convoy.


O.C. arrived at Mentakab in armoured train.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 49.


Section commander of No. 1 Section and 2 sub-sections No. 1 Section left by train to prepare Demolition No. 50.


CO2 rejoined company headquarters from sickness.

9 Jan

  Company headquarters to Bahau by train.


Company headquarters and No. 3 Section by M.T. convoy to Batu Anam.

10 Jan


Company headquarters and No. 3 Section with O.C. and CO2 arrived at rubber plantation at Batu Anam railway station.


No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 50.


No. 1 Section arrived at Bahau by train.


No. 2 Section left by train to Batu Belang to prepare Demolition No. 51.

11 Jan


No. 1 Section arrived at Batu Anam by train.


No. 2 Section handed over Demolition No. 51 to A.I.F. [20] and returned to Batu Anam by train.

12 Jan


No. 2 Section arrived at Batu Anam by train.


Company to 1 mile north of Buloh Kasap.

13 Jan

Company headquarters to Pekan Jabi.
No. 1 Section dug defensive position at Buloh Kasap on south bank of river.
No. 3 Section dug 2 company positions astride the railway crossing 2 miles north of Buloh Kasap.
No. 2 Section carried Dannert wire and tools for No. 1 and No. 3 Sections.

14 Jan

Company headquarters to 1 mile south of Buloh Kasap. "B" Echelon to rubber [plantation] 5 miles south of Segamat under orders of Sergeant Shaftoe [21]. This left with company 5 x 15 cwt trucks, compressor truck, 1 water truck and 6 x 30 cwt lorries containing digging tools, demolition stores, 1 set of tools for each trade and Q.M. stores.
No. 2 Section began preparing Demolition No. 52.
No. 3 Section began preparing Demolition No. 53.

15 Jan

No. 1 Section made railway bridge, 200 feet north of Buloh Kasap tank proof by cutting ends of sleepers.
No. 2 Section, as for 14 January.

16 Jan

No. 1 Section cut catwalks of railway bridge 200 feet north of Buloh Kasap station and demolished parapet of R.C. [22] road bridges across Muar River for anti-tank gunners.
No. 2 Section, as for 15 January.
No. 3 Section, as for 15 January.


No. 1 Section placed 3 tank blocks at (?) road junction 1˝ miles south of Batu Anam. Construction: R.C. cylinders.

18 Jan

Company headquarters to east side of road 1 mile south of Buloh Kasap due to departure of Australian battalion.
No. 1 Section delivered anti-tank mines and wire to infantry battalions at Batu Anam.

20 Jan

  "A" Echelon (?) joined brigade. "A" Echelon (?) at Pekan Jabi.


No. 2 Section fired Demolition No. 52 and returned to company headquarters.
No. 3 Section fired Demolition No. 53 and returned to company headquarters.


Company took up defensive position covering brigade headquarters. Enemy made feint attack using firecrackers (?) dropped from aircraft. No enemy crossed Muar River.

20 Jan


No. 1 Section sent back to 2 miles south of Buloh Kasap to guard threat from flank.


No. 1 Section shelled by artillery. 3 Indian Other Ranks wounded.


Company withdrew from brigade headquarters and marched to embus R.V. (?) 6 miles south of Segamat.

21 Jan


Company arrived at K(?) Bahru by bus.


No. 1 Section recced Demolition No. 58.
No. 3 Section recced Demolition Nos. 54 & 57.
No. 2 Section recced Demolition Nos. 55 & 56.

22 Jan

  Company moved by route march 3 miles to Kuala Chaah Estate.
    Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Sections worked on preparation of demolitions.

23 Jan

  Company headquarters to 1 mile north of Yong Teng.

24 Jan

No. 2 Section fired Demolition Nos. 55 & 56.
No. 3 Section fired Demolition Nos. 54 & 57.
No. 1 Section fired Demolition Nos. 58 & 59.


Company to Yong Teng. Embussed (?) Australian M.T. company.

25 Jan


Company arrived at 9 Division HQ at Rengam. Sergeant Shaftoe brought 4 x 30 cwt lorries from "B" Echelon transport.


O.C. with section commander No. 3 Section recced Estate road Layang Layang Station – Road (?) 5 miles S.E. of Simpang Rengam for demolition of bridges.
Section commander No. 2 Section recced Rengam Station and Layang Layang for demolition of railway bridges.

26 Jan

  No. 2 Section prepared railway bridge for demolition at Layang Layang.


Orders received from 9 Division to proceed to Singapore immediately.


Handed over bridge to 45 Army Troops Company.
No. 1 Section charged demolitions on the road from Rengam to Simpang Rengam and handed over to 22 Field Company.


O.C., CO2 and all stores in lorries left Rengam.


Unloaded stores 28 miles north of Johore Bahru and handed over to Sergeant K(?).


O.C. left by truck for Tebrau to collect "B" Echelon transport.


CO2 returned with transport to Rengam. Left with whole company for Singapore.

27 Jan


O.C. with "B" Echelon transport met company at Causeway.


Company arrived at Payar Lebar.


O.C. to CRE Fortress for orders.


O.C. to 41 Company at Changi for information reference defenses to be constructed.

28 Jan

No. 1 Section dismantled corrugated iron sheets from go-downs [23] at Pasir Riz and Ponggol.
No. 2 and No. 3 Sections recced construction of breastwork defence area between the end of the naval base to inclusive Seletar aerodrome.
No. 2 Section collected stores for RE dump.

29 Jan

  No. 1 Section cleared fields of fire between Seletar Pier and Seletar Creek.
No. 2 & No. 3 Sections work on defences recced on 28 January.

30 Jan

No. 1 Section erects breastworks and company assembly area between Seletar Pier and Seletar Creek.
No. 2 and No. 3 Sections as for 29 January.

31 Jan

  As for 30 January. A pioneer battalion was allotted for works of No. 2 & No. 3 Sections.

1 Feb

  As for 30 January.

2 Feb

  As for 30 January. No. 1 Section fired Demolition No. 60.

3 Feb

  Company transferred from CRE Fortress to CRE 11 Division.
Company moved to rubber plantation 500 feet east of Nee Soon.
No. 1 Section recced track from Nee Soon to Yo Chu Kang road, via Simpang area.

4 Feb

No. 1 Section built a culvert on track from Nee Soon to Yo Chu Kang road via S. Simpang. Used 200 Chinese coolies to improve track. These were brought by M.T. from Singapore but were very gun shy and did very little work.
No. 2 Section worked on entrance road to camp. Section commander recced dugouts for HQ 11 Division.

5 Feb

No. 1 Section worked on track from Nee Soon to Yo Chu Kang road with Chinese coolies assisting.
No. 2 Section completed dugouts for HQ 11 Division.


Section commander No. 2 Section recced with O.C. for anti-tank proofing of Mandai Road from Nee Soon to 5 miles west. 4 hours for building of west by-pass to Nee Soon village.
No. 3 Section worked on boom at S. Simpang.

6 Feb

Lieutenant Millar joined company from HQ 9 Division.
No. 1 Section, as for 5 February.
No. 2 Section worked on anti-tank mine field, Mandai Road to Nee Soon village.
No. 3 Section completed boom across S. Simpang.

7 Feb

No. 1 and No. 2 Sections, as for 6 February.
No. 3 Section commander with O.C. recced Demolition Nos. 62 through 64 inclusive.

8 Feb

No. 1 and No. 2 Section, as for 6 February.
No. 3 Section worked on Demolition Nos. 62 through 64 inclusive.

9 Feb

  Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Sections, as for 8 February.


No. 1 Section prepared Demolition No. 61.
Company headquarters to Lee rubber plantation, 8 Brigade HQ.

10 Feb

Fired Demolition Nos. 61 through 64 inclusive.
Lieutenant Millar with 2 sub-sections from No. 2 Section laid 2 anti-tank mine fields on Mandai Road.

11 Feb

  Lieutenant Millar blew 2 small bridges S.E. of Nee Soon.


Company took up defensive position 500 feet west of Nee Soon astride Mandai Road.


HQ Section shelled while evacuating position. 5 Indian Other Ranks wounded.


Company to 11 Division HQ 1 mile north of Nee Soon.


No. 2 Section took up defensive position with a troop of anti-tank gunners near Mc Pherson Reservoir.

12 Feb


Company took up defensive position with 30th Battalion A.I.F. at Mc Pherson Reservoir [24].


No. 2 Section rejoined company.


Company withdrew to Island Golf Club.

13 Feb


Company took up defensive position with 30th Battalion A.I.F. east of Island Golf Club.


Company withdrew and moved to HQ 8 Brigade, 500 feet south of Braddell Cross Roads.

14 Feb

  Lieutenant Millar laid 2 anti-tank mine fields on front of 2 Baluch. Section commanders of No. 1 & 2 Sections delivered anti-tank mines to 1-13 Frontier Force Rifles [25] and Dannert wire to all battalions.


Company headquarters to seminary 800 feet south of Braddell Cross Roads. All sections delivered Dannert wire to infantry battalions.

15 Feb


Brigade HQ heavily shelled for 5 minutes.


Capitulation and here we are!


[1] This was the start of the Japanese invasion of Malaya.
[2] 1st Hyderabad Infantry (Indian State Forces), 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, 9th Indian Division.
[3] 2/10th Baluch Regiment, 8th Infantry Brigade, 9th Indian Division.
[4] Thought to men Second In Command of the company.
[5] The reference to CO2 is believed to be the Second in Command of the company.
[6] This refers to the Target List at the end of the war diary.
[7] Recce is a military slang term for reconnaissance.
[8] Commander Royal Engineers.
[9] Coiled concertina-like barbed wire.
[10] The term M.S. throughout the diary indicates mile stone markers on roads.
[11] A road constructed using log or timbers laid on soft ground to support vehicle loads.
[12] A composite British task force.
[13] Ken Butters adds a correction to the diary at this point stating that his section fired a "time-fused demolition of a railway water tank" at Krai.
[14] Ken Butters makes a correction to the diary indicating the unit was actually the 42nd (Bengal) Field Park Company, 9th Indian Division.
[15] Original diary says 45 Army Troops Company, but Ken Butters corrected the entry to indicate that the unit was 42 Field Park Company.
[16] See Footnote 15.
[17] Steel Wire Rope.
[18] See Footnote 15.
[19] See Footnote 15.
[20] Australian Imperial Forces; that is, the Australian Army.
[21] Sergeant Shaftoe was the Motor Transport Sergeant of the 19th Field Company.
[22] Reinforced Concrete.
[23] Warehouses or storerooms. A term used in the Orient.
[24] This is questionable, since the 8th Australian Division in Singapore at the time does not show a 30th Battalion in the Order of Battle.
[25] This unit was part of the 8th Indian Infantry Brigade, 9th Indian Division.









8 Dec


Pasir-Mas-Golok Railway Bridge, No. 13, M.S. 12.

3x130’ Warren girder

1 pier blown

1400 hours


8 Dec

Pasir-Mas-Golok Railway Bridge, No. 10, M.S. 11˝.

3x100’ Warren girders

2 spans blown

1700 hours


8 Dec

Pasir-Mas-Golok Railway Bridge, No. 9, M.S.

2x150’ Warren girders


Abandoned at 1900 hours. Explosives wetted by heavy rains.


8 Dec

Pasir-Mas Junction

1x100’ span


Ditto at 2000 hours.


8 Dec

Ditto. Points, pump, tablet machines, 4 barges in river


All blown

2200 hours.


8 Dec

M.S. 5 Bru – Aerodrome Road

3x15’ timber spans
on R.C. [1] piles

Abutments blown

Primers defective due to heavy rains. 2340 hours.


8 Dec

Bru Aerodrome

Petrol dumps

Set on fire

2350 hours.


9 Dec

M.S. 3 Kota Bharu – Aerodrome Road

5x14’ timer spans

on R.C. piles

Abutments blow, spans damaged

Some charges on spans failed due to wetting by heavy rains, 0100 hours.


9 Dec

Road Hyderabad Camp – Badang, M.S. ľ

5x12’ timber spans


Havildar withdrew without firing due to enemy action.


9 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Badang M.S. 3˝

5x15’ timber spans
on R.C. piles

Abutments and piles blow, gap 120’

0130 hours


9 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Badang, M.S. 1

Floating bridge
(petrol drums)

5 piers blown by Bangalore torpedoes, gap 72’

0530 hours


9 Dec

Iron ore lighters, Kota Bharu Station

17 out of 28 lighters sunk


0700-0830 hours



Kota Bharu Station

Sternwheel ferry boat


0830 hours


9 Dec

Kota Bharu

Petrol dump

Set on fire

0730 hours


9 Dec


Road bridge.
Timber spans & piles, 4x20’

Abutments & spans destroyed, gap 120’

1630 hours


9 Dec

Kota Bharu – Krai Road, M.S. 12

Road bridge.
Timber spans & piles, 4x16’

Abutments & spans destroyed, gap 120’

2130 hours


9 Dec

Gillemard Railway Bridge

5x250’ spans
& 5x200’ spans

1x250’ span cut, 1x250’ span damaged, 2 piers blown

Rain interfered


9 Dec

S. Nal Railway Bridges

1x100’ span &
2x250’ span

All blown



9 Dec

Kota Bharu – Pasir Puteh Road, M.S. 5

17x20’ timber spans
on R.C. piles

1 abutment
and 2 spans
blown complete



9 Dec

Kota Bharu – Pasir Puteh Road, M.S. 10

10x20’ timber spans
on R.C. piles

1 abutment
and 2 spans
blown complete



9 Dec

Road Mulong - Peringat

2 spans x 18’ timber

2 spans and abutment blown



9 Dec

Road Gunong - Bachok

3x16’ timber spans
on timber piles

1 abutment and 2 spans blown



9 Dec

Road Gunong - Bachok

3x16’ timber spans
on timber piles

1 abutment and 2 spans blown



11 Dec

Road Pasir Puteh - Semerak

2 bridges, each 3x18’
timber spans

1 abutment & 2 spans blown in each



11 Dec

Jerteh Ferry



O.C. 2 Baluch issued orders to retire without blowing.


11 Dec

Road Pasir Puteh - Jerteh

2x20’ timber spans on timber piles

1 abutment
& 2 spans



11 Dec

Road Pasir Puteh - Machang

2 bridges,
3x18’ spans, timber

1 abutment &
2 spans blown,
each bridge



12 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Krai, M.S. 28˝

2 bridges,
2x18’ spans, timber

1 bridge fired prematurely

Due to approach
of Japanese patrol


14 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Krai, M.S. 30˝

1x18’ timber span

Span blown, gap 30’



17 Dec

S. Nal Rubber Estate. M.S. 39, Road Kota Bharu - Krai

Water supply tank & pumps




17 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Krai, M.S. 39, Ismael
suspension bridge

2x15’ & 1x150’ spans

Main span blown



17 Dec

Alternative Ismael Bridge

12x14’ timber spans
on timber piles

Gap of 100’

Attempt to widen gap failed through flooded S. Nal & Japs on opposite bank.


18 Dec

Road Kota Bharu – Krai, M.S. 41, S. Durian Bridge

Timber bridge on timber piles, span 100’




31 Dec

Kemubu Railway Bridge

1x200’, 4x150’,
1x100’ spans

1x200’ & 2x150’ spans cut



2 Jan 1942

Road Maran – Jerantut Ferry

3 bridges

Blown. Details
not available

By No. 3 Section for 22 Brigade owing to casualties of 22 Field Company.


6 Jan

Jerantut Ferry

3 lighters. 2 S.W.R. [2] cables. Small timber bridge (2x20’). Road craters on east bank.




4 Jan

Bertam Railway Bridge

2x250’, 1x100’ spans

2x250’ spans cut,
1 pier blown



5 Jan

Bertam, 1 mile south

of main bridge

Steel trestle bridge

Legs of 1 trestle cut



7 Jan

Jerantut – Benta Road

2 bridges


Details not available.


6 Jan

Renoh Railway Bridge

2x250’, 1x100’ spans

2x250’ spans cut
& 1 pier blown



6 Jan

Gua Musang Station

Tank, pumps & stand pipes




6 Jan

Gua Ninek Railway Bridge

1x205’ span

Span cut,
1 abutment blown



7 Jan

Railway bridge 10 miles south of Bertam

3x60’ spans


Prepared for demolition, but abandoned without firing by order of O.C. MACFORCE.


7 Jan


2x60’ spans


Prepared for demolition, but abandoned without firing by order of O.C. MACFORCE.


7 Jan


3x60’ spans


Prepared for demolition, but abandoned without firing by order of O.C. MACFORCE.


7 Jan

Bukit Betong

2x250’ & 2x100’ spans

2x250’ spans cut



8 Jan

Mai Halt, 1˝ miles south

2x150’ spans

2x150’ spans cut



8 Jan

Krau Railway Station,
˝ mile north

3x100’ spans

2x100’ spans cut



8 Jan

Mentakab Railway Station

4x150’ spans

4x150’ spans cut



10 Jan

Triang Railway Station

2x150’ spans

2x150’ spans cut



13 Jan

Railway, Gemas – Triang,
10 miles north of Gemas

2x100’ spans

Prepared for demolition

Handed over to A.I.F. [3]
for blowing


20 Jan

Buloh Kasap

Road bridge, R.C., 4x50’ spans & 5x30’ spans

3x50’ spans &

3 piers blown



20 Jan

Buloh Kasap

Railway bridge,
2x150’ spans

2x150’ spans cut



24 Jan

Yong Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. 3˝

2x22’ timber spans
on timber piles

2 spans and 1 abutment blown



24 Jan

Yong Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. 8

Defile of road through jungle

60’ of road cratering



24 Jan

Yong Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. 7

3x15’ timber spans on timber piles

3 spans blown



24 Jan

Yong–Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. 5˝

3x22’ timber spans on timber piles

2 spans & 1 abutment blown



24 Jan

Yong–Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. ˝

4x15’ timber spans on timber piles

Gap of 90’



24 Jan

Yong–Peng –
Labis Road, M.S. ˝

3x15’ timber spans on timber piles

Gap of 60’



2 Feb

Seletar Pier

6x15’ R.C. spans

Gap of 60’ made

Completed by
3 Field Company


10 Feb

Naval Base

2 power stations

Six generators destroyed



10 Feb

Naval Base

3x3" naval guns

blocks removed



10 Feb

Naval Base


11 traveling
cranes destroyed



10 Feb

Naval Base

1x250 ton crane
& 7x50 ton

Felled or rendered unserviceable



[1] Reinforced concrete.
[2] Steel Wire Rope.
[3] Australian Army.



1. CAFFREY, K. Out in the Midday Sun: Singapore, 1941-1945 – The End of an Empire. Stein and Day, New York, 1973.

2. CHARTERHOUSE. Charterhouse Register, 1872-1931. Third Edition. The Old Carthusian Club, Godalming, 1932.

3. CREAGH, O. & HUMPHRIS, E.M. The Distinguished Service Order, 1886-1923. J.B. Hayward & Son, London, 1978.

4. ETON. List of Etonians on Active Service, July 1916. Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co., Ltd., 1916.

5. GORDON, L.L. British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1971.

6. HARROW. The Harrow School Register, 1885-1949. Rivingtons, London, 1951.

7. HMSO. Army Honours and Awards. J.B. Hayward & Son, London, 197_.

8. HMSO. Services of British Army Officers, 1939-1945. Savannah Publications, London, 1999. Originally published as the Half-Yearly Army List, January 1946.

9. KINVIG, C. Scapegoat: General Percival of Singapore. Brassey’s, London, 1996.

10. LETTS, C. Roadbook of Britain. Charles Letts and Company Limited, London, 1977.

11. SANDES, E.W.C. The Indian Sappers and Miners. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1948.

12. SEARLE, R. To the Kwai – and Back: War Drawings, 1939-1945. William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., London, 1986.

13. SWINSON, A. Defeat in Malaya: The Fall of Singapore. Ballantine Books, Inc., New York, 1969.

14. VERMA, S. & ANAND, V.K. The Corps of Indian Engineers, 1939-1947. Historical Section, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, 1974.


1. ATKINSON, G.W. Letter to the author dated 7 September 1999.

2. BELENKY, G.L. Email to the author dated 1 October 1999.

3. BEHAN, W.P. Personal communication and photographs, July 1999.

4. BENNETT, P. Letter to the author dated 18 April 2000.

5. BUTTERS, K. Letter to Lieutenant Colonel D.L. Jones dated 11 December 2000.

6. BUTTERS, K. Letter to Max Hastings dated 20 April 1995.

7. Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth, BXBY 591840, General Register Office, London, 10 May 1999.

8. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, DAZ 038094, General Register Office, London, 11 May 1999.

9. JONES, D.L. Letter to the author dated 19 March 2000.

10. JONES, D.L. Letter to the author dated 24 April 2000.

11. JONES, D.L. Letter to the author dated 22 January 2001.

12. Last Will and Testament of Michael Delmé-Radcliffe, dated 9 January 1934.

13. LINDSAY, K.J. Letter to the author dated 11 April 2000.

14. ROLFE, A.W. Letter to the author dated 3 June 1999.

15. YEADON, N.J. Letter to the author dated 7 June 2000.

Internet Site

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission


2. CONOR, S. British and Commonwealth Forces at Singapore, 1941-1942


3. ISAACS, V. Hampshire Cricket


4. Royal Genealogy


5. RYAN, D. The Indian Army on 3 September 1939


6. HURST, M. Taiwan POW Society.



1. The Indian Army List, January 1924.

2. The Monthly Army List, December 1912.

3. The Monthly Army List, October 1935.

4. The Monthly Army List, April 1938.

5. MUIR, R.B. Sappers in the Malayan Campaign: 8 December 1941 – 15 February 1942. The Royal Engineers Journal, December 1950.

6. Oxford University Gazette, 21 January 1999.

7. Poole & Dorset Herald, November 29, 1945.

8. The Royal Engineers List, 1943.

9. Royal Engineers Quarterly List, January 1934.

10. Who’s Who, 1929.


[1]. Letter from Lt. Col. D.L. Jones to the author dated 22 January 2001.
Today MRA is an active network of people from many cultures and creeds across the generations, engaged in the ever-needed process of 'remaking the world'.
[3]. South Tidworth is located approximately 26 miles west of Basingstoke and 12 miles northeast of Salisbury.
[4]. The 1881 British Census shows that Arthur H.D. Radcliff, aged 10 years, was a scholar and boarder at Timsbury House on Tilehurst Road at Reading St. Mary in Berkshire. The source for this data is the Church of Latter Day Saints Family History Library Film 1341316, PRO Reference RG11, Piece 1304, Folio 12, Page 17.
Sherborne School is located on Abbey Road in Sherborne, Dorset.
[6]. ISAACS, V. Hampshire Cricket Web Site
[7]. Certified Copy of Birth Certificate.
[8]. Charterhouse Register.
[9]. Extract copy of the will of Michael Delmé-Radcliffe.
[10]. Alumni of Charterhouse are know as Carthusians because the school was originally founded on the site of a Carthusian monastery in London. Carthusian was a monk of an order founded by St. Bruno in 1086, noted for its strictness.
[11]. The Oration Quarter at Charterhouse was known elsewhere as the Autumn Term; that is, from September to December.
[12]. ATKINSON, G.W. Mr. Atkinson knew Peter Delmé-Radcliffe from his farming days at West Meon. It was he who described Peter to the author as "a very reserved man."
[13]. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List, 1934.
[14]. Letter from Lt. Col. D.L. Jones to the author dated 22 January 2001.
[15]. Extract copy of will.
[16]. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List, 1935.
[17]. Indian officers who had worked their way up through the ranks, rather like a British Warrant Officer.
[18]. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List, 1935.
[19]. Now Pakistan.
[20]. HMSO. Service of British Army Officers, 1939-1945, p. 777.
[21]. RYAN, D. The Indian Army on 3 September 1939.
[22]. This medal was probably among his personal effects when he was captured by the Japanese at Singapore in 1942. In all likelihood the medal was lost or destroyed by the Japanese.
[23]. GORDON, L.L., pp. 338-339.
[24]. The author remembers these wire screens very well from his days in South Vietnam during 1970 and 1971. Wire screens stretched in front of building housing military personnel were used to protect against hand grenades and hand-thrown bombs.
[25]. SANDES, E.W.C., pp. 662-668.
[26]. The sections were later renamed platoons.
[27]. Now Uttar Pradesh, India.
[28]. The war diary of only one of the companies of Bombay Sappers and Miners (not the 19th) is available at the Public Record Officer at Kew. The task of writing up the diary of events at the end of each day probably had a very low priority during the hectic days of the withdrawal down the length of the Malayan peninsula when the Sappers were blowing up everything on the routes south. Additionally, if any diaries were kept, they were probably taken or destroyed by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore.
[29]. Letter from Kenneth Butters to Lt. Col. D.L. Jones, dated 11 December 2000.
[30]. VERMA, S. and ANAND, V.K. The Corps of Indian Engineers, 1939-1947, pp. 158-159.
[31]. Verma and Anand show this unit as belonging to the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners. Lt. Col. Jones indicates that it was a Bengal Sappers and Miners company.
[32]. According to Lt. Col. D.L. Jones, this unit was probably "one of the first of the more specialist units of the Indian Engineers that formed up in Lahore and Sialkot after the war started and for which the instructors came initially from the three Corps of Sappers and Miners, thereby attracting their titles when first formed."
[33]. SWINSON, A., pp. 53-55.
[34]. MUIR, R.B., p. 441.
[35]. A Japanese memorial stands on the site of this battle today.
[36]. MUIR, R.B., p. 446.
[37]. KINVIG, C., p. 178.
[38]. SWINSON, p. 102.
[39]. MUIR, p. 450.
[40]. JONES, D.L. Letter to the author dated 19 March 2000.
[41]. Ibid.
[42]. The Japanese reasoning for this soon became apparent as they began to recruit both Indian officers and men for the Indian National Army (INA).
[43]. CAFFREY, K., pp. 187-190.
[44]. Letter from Kenneth Butters to Max Hastings, dated 20 April 1995.
[45]. Butters made a photocopy of the diary before sending the original out to India where he thinks that it is now at the College of Military Engineering at Pune. It is known that the diary is not in the Bombay Sappers and Miners Museum at Kirkee.
[46]. Captain Ronnie Dinwiddie, O.C. of the 45th Army Troops Company, Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners was in captivity in Mukden when the first Russian troops entered the camp after the Japanese surrender. The Russians asked the prisoners if they would like any of their guards shot forthwith. The prisoners declined with thanks, feeling certain that the Russians would have done anything the asked. Dinwiddie had been beaten badly by his guards, who may well have been Korean. The Koreans had a reputation for brutality equal to, if not greater than the Japanese.
[47]. Ibid., p. 228.
[48]. Kenneth Butters indicates that the Chaplain’s sketch is a very good likeness of Delmé-Radcliffe.
[49]. JONES, D.L. Letter to the author dated 19 March 2000.
[50]. Post & Dorset Herald, November 29, 1945.
[51]. Kenneth Butters, who apparently knew Delmé-Radcliffe rather well, felt that his introverted nature, which probably carried an over-developed guilt complex with it, bolstered by his religious leanings, may have had much to do with his suicide.
[52]. These medals are in the author’s collection along with the original box in which they were issued and the condolence slip from the Under-Secretary of State for War. It is interesting to note that the condolence slip accompanying the medals indicates that Michael Delmé-Radcliffe was a Captain. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission indicates that Delmé-Radcliffe was a Major. He was probably a Temporary Major and substantive Captain at the time of his death, hence the reference in the official condolence slip. He probably would have become a substantive Major on or about his 34th birthday, had he lived.
[53]. Peak Farm was originally owned by Sir Humphrey Nicholson, the head of the Nicholson gin distillery family. It was Sir Humphrey who leased Peak Farm to Peter Delmé-Radcliffe. When Peter terminated his tenancy, Sir Humphrey donated the farm to Trinity College, Cambridge in memory of the Nicholson family members killed in the Great War of 1914-1918.
[54]. West Meon is home to the Parish of St. John the Evangelist in the Diocese of Portsmouth. This church was founded circa 682 A.D. The Thomas Lord Public House in West Meon is named after a man famous in the world of cricket and founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground. Thomas Lord’s grave is also located in West Meon.
[55]. ISAAC, V.
[56]. ATKINSON, G.W.
[57]. Army Honours and Awards.
[58]. Who’s Who, 1929 and December 1912 Army List.
[59]. Who’s Who, 1929.
[60]. Internet site.
[61]. December 1912 Army List.
[62]. CREAGH, O. and HUMPHRIS, E.M.
[63]. Ibid.
[64]. December 1912 Army List.
[65]. Ibid.
[66]. Indian Army List, January 1924.
[67]. List of Etonians Serving in the Great War, July 1916.
[68]. Internet People Finder UK.
[69]. Harrow School Register. This is not the same A. Delmé-Radcliffe mentioned earlier in the list.
[70]. Harrow School Register.
[71]. Royal Genealogy Web Site.
[72]. Ibid.
[73]. Peter Selby, ex-Royal Corps of Signals.