Monday 15 February 1915 – We Lost 284

by greatwarliveslost

Singapore Mutiny Memorial

Singapore Mutiny Memorial

British recapture their trenches lost the previous day near St Eloi.

At 15:30 815 men of the Indian Army’s 5th Light Infantry Battalion (commanding officer Colonel E V Martin) with 100 men of the Malay States Guides Mule Battery mutiny at the Tanglin barracks in Singapore the day before they are due to leave for France.  Their command has been to serve as prison guards at the barracks.

They break out of their barracks and fire on a group of five British officers, killing three. Captain Percy Netterville Gerrard (Malay States Volunteers) is killed at age 45. His brother was killed at Ypres last November. He was a physician who published a book on the hygienic management of labor in the tropics. The other two escape and run off to get help.  They manage to get sufficient force together from other units in the barracks to drive off the mutineers. A group of 100 mutineers proceed to Tanglin Barracks where 309 Germans are interned, including members of the Emden’s crew.  The mutineers fire on the guards without warning killing all of them, but not before one brave guard manages to run across the courtyard under heavy fire to raise the alarm. The mutineers try to persuade the Germans to join them but only 17 plus 3 Dutchmen joined them. The rest refuse to have anything to do with what they consider a dishonorable act, and stay confined. Other mutineers go on a killing spree at Keppel Harbour and Pasir Panjang killing many men and women including a judge.  It is getting dark by this time and the authorities finally are getting organized. Marines and crew from HMS Cadmus come ashore and are mobilised with other garrison troops who have not mutinied. A radio message is sent to India and any allied warship for help.

In the meantime the mutineers lay siege to the bungalow of the commander, Colonel Martin, which is effectively blocking the way into Singapore. The Colonel and some men hold out all night until they are relieved at daybreak by armed volunteers and civilians. They capture a fair amount of the mutineers’ artillery. This action costs one killed and five wounded. The mutineers scatter and despite heavy sniper fire from the mutineers, the general population stays calm as the militia fights sporadic battles with the mutineers. Among the civilian casualties is Acting District Judge Cecil Venn Dyson a Cadet in the Malay States Volunteers. He is the son of the Reverend Samuel Dyson.

On the Western Front Lance Corporal (Acting Sergeant) James Henry Spanton (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) goes out during daylight hours under fire to bring in wounded men. For his actions this day and also for other consistent good work and gallant conduct he will be awarded the DCM. Lieutenant Spanton will die of wounds in July.

The merchant ship Membland (Master John Brotchie) is mined and sunk in the North Sea killing her crew of twenty.

 Today’s losses include:

  • A man who will be recommended for the Victoria Cross
  • Multiple families that will lose one, two and three more sons in the service of King and Country
  • An acting Judge
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • The son of a Baronet
  • A man whose daughter will be born after his death

 Today’s highlighted casualty is

Captain Robert Bruce Melville Wills (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 24. He will be recommended for the Victoria Cross for his actions. His daughter will be born on 16 July and his widow will suffer another personal tragedy when her fiancé will be killed in an accident when his plane collides with another on 5 June 1928.

  •  Major Vincent Robertson Hoare (London Regiment) is killed at age 41. He is the son of the Reverend Walter Marsham Hoare Rector of Colkirk and he is married to the aunt of Lord Hailsham.
  • Captain Edward Graeme Ozanne (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 32. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Edward C Ozanne KBE.
  • Captain the Reverend Lionel Fairfax Studd (London Regiment) is killed at age 24. He is the son of ‘Sir’ John Edward Kynaston Studd 1st
  • Captain Alexander Norman Galbraith (Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps attached Rifle Brigade) dies of injuries suffered in an auto accident in Egypt. He is the son of the late Venerable Henry Galbraith Archdeacon of Glendalongh on his way to attend a court martial.
  • Lieutenant John William Butts Archer (East Kent Regiment) dies of wounds at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend George Archer Rector of Stilton.
  • Lieutenant John Dutton Calvert (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 23. He is the son of the Honorable Mrs. Calvert.
  • Lieutenant Charles Francis Bateman Smith (Suffolk Regiment) is killed in action at age 28. He is the son of the late Reverend Canon George Herbert Smith of Madras who will lose two more sons in the war.
  • Second Lieutenant Francis Pemberton Greener (East Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 29. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
  • Corporal Bernard Daly (Shropshire Light Infantry) is killed by a sniper at age 35. His brother will be killed next July.
  • Private Julian Ashley Hall Woodhouse (Honorable Artillery Corps) becomes the third of four brothers who give their lives for their King when he is killed in action at age 24.  Three of the brothers are killed in the Great War while one was killed in 1902 in South Africa.