- Ship sunk by Japanese submarine on 17 February 1942
[Version 2.2.1; July 2009]
Preface: This list has been compiled as a memorial and out of respect to the women, children and men who lost their lives in the sinking of the “SS. Tanjong Pinang” as the result of a cruel and callous attack by either a Japanese submarine (according to the testimony of a crew member who survived) or a torpedo boat, or warship during the evening of 17 February 1942. This very little ship (a 97 foot converted ‘tug’ ) was trying to make its escape with about 180 women and children, plus about eight wounded men, from Pom Pong Island where they had been shipwrecked and also had on board five ocean shipwreck survivors (who had been plucked from the sea by the “Tanjong Pinang” on the day before). Almost all these people were survivors, including many wounded, of an earlier sinking of the Singapore evacuation ship “SS. Kuala” by Japanese bombers at Pom Pong Island in the Indonesian Archipelago. One survivor, Able Seaman Richardson, poignantly states that the “Tanjong Pinang” picked up from Pom Pong Island ”… 130 women, plus 30 children including six babes in arms and an old man…”. Who was actually on board that day has been at best a partial picture since the Second World War and at worst a tragic mystery.
No single record (Commonwealth War Graves Commission or Changi Museum etc.) seems to have assembled anything like the list of 150 - 208 (depending on which testimony is used) passengers and 17 crew who crammed onto the deck (and into the hold) of the 97 foot long “SS. Tanjong Pinang” in the dark of the night of 16.2.42. The ship left from Pom Pong Island at dawn on the 17 2.42. One crew man said that a lifeboat came from the beach eight times with 20 people on board each time – except for the last trip when it only had 12 people in the lifeboat. Another crewman said there were 250 passengers on board.
These people had already undergone the horror, pain and privations during the bombing and sinking of the “SS. Kuala” only a few days before so their strength and morale would have been greatly sapped.
The ship was stopped at sea approximately 30 miles north of the Tanjung Ular lighthouse ( off the north west coast of the large Indonesian island of Banka Island) at 2030/2130 hrs., on the night of the 17.2.42, by a warning shot across its bows and, whilst some women and children were being lowered in the ship’s only two small boats ( there were no real lifeboats), the Japanese submarine or torpedo boat opened fire at point blank range whilst its searchlights were trained on the “Tanjong Pinang”, directly hitting the starboard side ship’s boat.
The ship then sank within five to ten minutes, inevitably taking down with it many of its women and children passengers who had been trapped in the hold and cabins.
Out of (and this can only be a “guesstimate”) the 60 - 70 women, children, babies and men who might have managed to get off the ship, only about 15 – 20 adults are known to have reached land. For those who managed to leave the “Tanjong Pinang” the flotation devices were only four small rafts (initially with about 40 people both on them and hanging on to the edges at one stage), a pram dinghy, two ‘small boats’ plus a Carley raft.
On the Carley float with a few of the ship’s crew, Abel Seamen Baird, Hissey and Arthur, were “…seven Sisters altogether of which six died with tortuous exposure. Sister Black was the only Sister who survived until we landed on the beaches of Banka Island…” (A/B Baird letter January 1946).
Amongst those finally reaching land were the ship’s Captain (Lt. Basil Shaw, NZRNVR, who was murdered by the Japanese on 21.2.42), plus between five and eight crew members, three European nurses, one civilian European woman and three Eurasian women (a nurse and two girls) - but one of the Able Seaman was killed with Captain Shaw, one nurse died within a couple of days of reaching land and two crew, another nurse and the civilian died in internment.
In many cases there appears to be no record of the deaths at the CWGC – it could be surmised that in some cases there were no family left to follow up the whereabouts of the missing person – in several instances it can be seen that where wives are listed as possibly lost in one of the sinkings there is the sad fact that there husband also lost his life as a POW.
One of the major omissions to achieving a more full list is also that there were said to be many women and children of Chinese, as well as Eurasian (to use the descriptive of the time), ethnicity and it is hoped that perhaps there is another source to complete this listing of those Chinese or Eurasian families who lost loved ones in this atrocity.
Information herein has been recorded in its original form (with reference sources) in the interests of historical accuracy and therefore includes some contemporary wartime errors (which have been noted in italics where known).
Note; in this list the people known to have survived the actual sinking are recorded in green font.
This list identifies the majority (about 160) of the people on the “SS. Tanjong Pinang”, but obviously there could be up to 50 more people yet to be identified – if anyone has additions, deletions or corrections to this material would you please email Michael Pether at firstname.lastname@example.org (postal address 55 Te Pene Road, Maraetai, Manukau.2018., New Zealand., and Tel: 09-5365490) who will copy all the organisations and individuals using this document in websites etc, with the updates. Thank you.
Sources: The researcher thanks Jonathan Moffat, John Brown and also Mr. Bill Shaw (son of Captain Basil Shaw) for their assistance with information used in this memorial document.
Other sources are;
ALFSEA = list sent from ALFSEA to the Colonial Office post war of those they understood to be passengers on the “Kuala’ – this list may be unreliable insofar as including people who actually left on other ships such as the “HMS Grasshopper” or “Tien Kwang” ( questionable insertions are noted in italics).
AUF = book “Angels under Fire”
BMP = Personal recollections by (Nursing Sister) Mrs. Brenda Macduff
BPPL – the pin point (microscopic writing) list on “Jeyes” toilet paper compiled by Jack Bennett in secret whilst an internee in Changi prison camp during 1942 with several thousand name and the last known information on these people after the Surrender of Singapore.
Evans = report by Sister Margaret Evans, QAIMNS, in May 1942 in India with a list of QAIMNS and their known fate. Information was supported by Miss Bryant, a Sister in the T. A. N. S.
CAS = “Casualties at Sea’ file WO 361/462 in National Archives, Kew, UK.
CWGC = Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – which contains 87 names of people who were killed in the bombing and sinking of the “SS. Kuala”
IWMDM = Story of (Nursing Sister) Marjorie de Malmanche lodged at IWM
IWMM = Story of Dr. Marjorie Lyon lodged at IWM
IWM-S = Edith Stevenson diary lodged at IWM
JPB = Japanese Propaganda Broadcast of list publicized in a 1943 edition of the Malayan Research Bureau bulletin of people ostensibly ‘captured’ on “SS. Tanjong Pinang” after it had picked up around 200- 208 survivors of the sinking of the “Kuala” from Pom Pong Island. This is recorded in the book “Singapore to Freedom” and in a Malayan Research Bureau bulletin in the Imperial War Museum. As can be seen from the correlation of names in the attached list, this has proven to be a very accurate list (they even have the first name of several of the people on board that the CWGC website lists only as an initial) of people on the “Tanjong Pinang” which is abbreviated to “TP” in the remainder of this document.
A private letter (from someone in Survey Dept., Singapore) to the wife of Captain Shaw after the war questions whether this Japanese Broadcast ever happened and attributes it totally to a list compiled by survivors of the “SS. Kuala” sinking gathering names whilst on the beach at Pom Pong island after the “Tanjong Pinang” had left with its complement of women and children. The title “Japanese Propaganda Broadcast” has been left as the source name because of its historical occurrence in documents of the time.
This is backed up by the finding during the compilation of this list that the JPB and the list under the name of Mrs. Ruperti are almost exactly the same including errors and matters of fine detail. It seems that what happened in fact was that the Malayan Bureau, GHQ. India chose to issue this list under the guise of it originating during a Japanese broadcast. At that time they would not have known the “Tanjong Pinang” had in fact been sunk.
Moffatt = Jonathan Moffatt, author and historian
MRB = Malayan Research Bureau bulletin
MH = Mary Harris, COFEPOW website (confidential accounts given to Mary)
MS = Margaret Shennan book “Out in the Midday Sun: The British in Malaya 1880-1960”
MVDB = Malayan Volunteer database of John Brown
MVG = Evacuees list on Malayan Volunteer Group Database
NHN = Naval-History. Net, Casualty Lists of the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies, World War Two, researched and compiled by Don Kindell.
NIL = Ngiong Ing Low book “When Singapore was Syonan-to”
PBD = Nurse Phyllis Brigg’s diary
PODC = Presumption of death certificates that were issued for people considered to have died on the “Kuala”
Ruperti = list provided by Mrs. Luba Ruperti to Malayan Bureau in 1943 at PRO – however this list is not entirely accurate since she has people embarking on the “TP’ who actually escaped from Pm Pong Island
STF = list in book “Singapore to Freedom” by Oswald Gilmour
SIA = book “Sisters in Arms “
TKD = “Life and Death in Changi” the published diary of Thomas Kitching
Wang = letter dated 11.4.43 from Mr. Wang Hau-nan to the Chinese Embassy ,London explaining his experience with his wife and daughter escaping from Singapore on the “Kuala” and asking for help in finding them since they had embarked on the “TP”
WNSF = World Naval Ships Forum website.
ALLAN - Miss. MAS, Singapore – listed as on “Tanjong Pinang” (JPB); Janet Elizabeth ALLAN, MAS. B.1898 (Australia) died on “TP” (C85) and (CWGC), wife of Dr. Harry Allan, MAS, Penang (MVG); also Miss E. Allan, MAS., S’Pore left on “TP” (Ruperti) Mrs. Allan, wife of Dr. Allan of Penang transshipped to “TP”(PODC) certainly the same person as Mrs. Elizabeth ALLEN, MAS, G. G., 1st aid Post, was seen on the “Kuala” (CAS); Sister Allen, seen alive on Pom Pong Island (IWMDM; STF); Miss Allen, S.J.B. (CAS) ALLEN – Mrs. Husband Private Practitioner in Penang – listed as on “TP” (JPB); also M
ARCHER – Able Leading Seaman Robert W. Archer, RN., from Yarmouth was on a raft with other crew (initially Captain Lt. Shaw, Young, Baird and Hissey) and a group of nurses .He had been wounded by shrapnel in his thigh, but he reached Banka Island with some of that group and after a few days was betrayed by local people and handed over to the Japanese , He was interned in Palembang and died there 17.8.45.(based on Archer testimony)
BAIRD – Able Seaman J. Baird was on a raft with other crew and nurses and ended up in internment in Palembang. He survived the war ( Archer testimony); after the war a Graves Investigation officer found a scrap of paper beside the lighthouse at Muntok on Banka island with the address” Baird, 92 Merton Road, Newcastle” and “Hissey” and “Archer” on it – this may have come from the site where Lt. Shaw had been buried ( Graves Registration & Enquiries letter 22 December 1948), Mr. Baird was indeed located and interviewed in Newcastle in 1948
BALL – Mrs. D. Ball, VAD, Singapore – boarded “TP” (ALFSEA list); Nurse Dorothy Kirker Ball, aged 36 years, Chatsworth Military Hospital, Singapore. Of Bukit Koman, Selangor, and FMS. Wife of Frank Ball - died on “TP” ( C255) and (CWGC)
BARNES –Mrs. Barnes on ALFSEA list as being on “TP”; also listed as on “TP” (JPB); but no other record of her death.
BARNETT – Mrs. Barnett, boarded “TP” and, when it sank, survived for several days on a raft but sadly drowned after leaving life raft to swim to nearby islands ( Dame Margot Turner statement); wife of Barnett, Agricultural Dept – listed as on “TP” ( JB); Mrs. Jean Patricia BARNETT (British) ,b.1915 died on “TP” ( C281) and aged 27 years, wife of Mr. H. L. Barnett, Kuala Lumpur(CWGC)
BEAUCHAMP–NOBBS – one record is “…E. Beauchamp – Nobbs boarded “TP” (ALFSEA); however there is also the record Alice Eileen Beauchamp Nobbs, British, daughter of Michael Egan, Pyrford ,Surrey – died around sinking of “Kuala” (CWGC); she was possibly the wife or a relative of Major Eric Herwald Beauchamp – Nobbs, FMS Volunteer and Manager of West Country Estate, Kajang, who died on 6.6.41 (Straits Times)
BIN RAFI – Ali Bin Rafi, Malay Seaman – he paddled to Banka Island with Captain Shaw and A/B “Geordie” Young. He survived and returned to service with the Navy upon repatriation in 1945 (testimony Ali bin Rafi to HQ. Allied Land Forces SEA April 1946)
BLACK – Nurse C.F. Black (Miss), QAIMNSR, ex Alexandra Hospital and engaged to a RAF pilot – survived the sinking of “TP’ and was on a small raft with Able Seamen Archer, A/S Baird, A/S Hissey and six other nurses (the nurses drowned or died of exposure a few days before reaching land) but Charlotte Black died of a wound to her leg on 22-23 or 24 February( according to differing testimonies) and was buried about five miles from the village of Rambut on Banka Island (post war testimony of Able Seaman J. Baird testimony); Sister Charlotte Florence Black, QAIMNS, 20th General Hospital, aged 26 years, #206670, daughter of Robert and Charles Black – she died 24.2.42 (CWGC)
BREBNER – Matron Brebner, Singapore (STF); also Miss Brebner seen on Pom Pong Island(CAS); boarded “TP” ( IWMDM); listed as on “TP” (JPB); Matron Margaret Brebner, General Hospital, Singapore, age 57,daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brebner, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire - died on “TP” (CWGC)
BRETT – Mrs. Dorothy Victoria Brett (British). B.1897.Aged 45 years, wife of Harry Cyril Brett, 3 Namly Ave., Bukit Timah Road, Singapore -died on “TP” (C544) and (CWGC); a Miss Brett(possibly one of the daughters below); was seen on the “Kuala” (CAS); ALFSEA incorrectly records a D. Brett being on the “TP’ but being recovered Sumatra
BRETT – Eleanore Barbara Delicia Brett (British). Aged 4 years, daughter of above. B. 1938. Died on “TP” ( C545) and (CWGC); also on the ALFSEA list as being on the “TP”
BRETT – Joan Helen Lilian Brett, aged 15 years, British. B.1927. Daughter of above. Died on “TP” (C546) and (CWGC); ALFSEA list records an I Brett as being on the “TP”;
BRETT – a Miss S. Brett is also recorded( is she a third daughter or other relative?) with the above as having been on the “TP” ( list of civilians on “Kuala” and “TP” at PRO); ALFSEA list records an S. Brett as being on the “TP” but , in contradiction, states “recovered Sumatra”
BREWER – Mrs. F. W. Brewer, from Singapore, boarded “TP” (STF); possibly (from her initials) the wife of Frank Brewer, Asst. Protector of Chinese, Penang, and 3rd Btn. SSVF who was a POW (MVDB); also listed as Mrs. Nell Brewer (list of civilians who were on the “kuala” and the “TP” at PRO).
BROOKS – Mrs. Brooks, Colonial Nursing Service, and husband Govt. Analyst Dept., left on “TP” ( Ruperti); in contradiction there are records of two nurses , G. Brooks and A. C. Brooks as having been on the “Kuala” but not getting on the “TP” ; also there is the record of Ethel Brooks, who died on 14.2.42 around sinking of “Kuala”(CWGC) , leaving some doubt over when Mrs. Brooks died.
BROWN – Alexander J. Brown, Chartered Marine Engineer, Inspector of Machinery and Ex. of Engine Drivers Penang, Supt. Fire Brigade, Penang. Sub. Lt. SS. MRNVR. Wife was Mrs. N. R. Brown. – as a crew member, being the ship’s Engineer, he died in the sinking of the “TP” (MVG)
CAMERON – Sister (Miss) J. Cameron, GH, seen on Pom Pong Island (CAS); Miss JessieCameron, MEO, - listed as on “TP” (JB and also Ruperti), Sister J. Cameron (British) - died on “TP” (C716) and (CWGC); J. N. Cameron, Colonial Nursing Sister (MVG)
CHIN – Miss Chin Kim Thye, seen on “Kuala” (CAS); also Miss Chin Ken Thye, Nurse, General Hospital, Singapore, left on “TP” (Ruperti)
CHOONG - Nurse (Miss) Choong Kwee Cheo, a 20 year old from Kuantan Hospital who had evacuated to Singapore and was working at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, boarded the “TP” and, when that ship was sunk she survived for six days with another Eurasian nurse before they reached an island near Banka Island. She returned to Singapore in August 1942 ( from undated transcript of “Syonan Times” article in PRO); also Nurse Chuong Kwee Choo in Kuala Lipis ( ALFSEA list)
CLARKE – Miss Daphne Clark, MCP., seen on Pom Pong Island (CAS); Mrs., Penang Municipality – listed as on “TP” (JPB and Ruperti); Mrs. Daphne Clarke (British). Wife of Mr. J. R. A. Clarke, Penang – died on “TP” (C849 and CWGC); incorrectly at the time was” Mrs., Daphne Clarke, reported by Spanish Embassy, Tokyo as being in Sumatra after being on “TP” (list of civilians on “Kuala” and “TP” at PRO); it is possible that the following entry in a secret document written in Changi Prison at the time refers to her husband “… Clark J. E. Alan PMC wife Kuala…” (BPPL)
CLARKSON – Isabella Clarkson, Nursing Sister – died on “TP” (MVG); there is no other record of her death
COLLETT – Mrs. Collett, Collett & Whittle, Kuala Lumpur – listed as on “TP” (JPB);also on ALFSEA list as boarding the “TP”; Marguerite Collett, aged 43 years, (British)., wife of J. R. W. Collett, Whittal & Co., Chartered Accountants, Golf View Road, Kuala Lumpur and an internee in Changi – she died on “TP” (C914) and (CWGC)
COOPER –Miss M. Cooper, QAIMNSR, Alexander Hospital, Singapore”…seen on island by members of QAIMNSR. Evacuated on “TP” .Not heard of since…” (Evans); Nursing Sister Mary Cooper, QAIMNS, survived the sinking of the “TP” after getting on a raft, but died in an internment camp in Muntok (Dame Margot Turner statement); she is also mentioned in Phyllis Brigg’s dairy as having joined them in captivity “…The only other QA with us was an Irish Girl , Mary Cooper, whose hands were badly lacerated from sliding down the ship’s rope into the sea before getting onto a raft ( not clear whether this means the “Kuala’ or the “TP”…”, also Mary Cooper died in June 1945 after ill-treatment after being put in Gaol whilst an internee ( PBD); survived sinking of “TP’ but interned at Palembang and died of typhoid in 1945 (IWMDM)
CORK – Miss M. Cork, MEO – listed as on “TP” (JPB and Ruperti); also Ms. Cork, AIF Nursing Service, last seen Pom Pong Island (ALFSEA); almost certainly Nurse Hetty Corke, Australian, below
CORKE – Ms. H. Corke boarded the “TP” (ALFSEA); Nurse Hetty Corke, MAS, parents live in Australia. She died on “TP” (C973) and (CWGC); Miss Hetty Corke, aged 38 years, is listed as having been on the “TP”(list of civilians on “Kuala” and “TP” at PRO); her age seems to be incorrect
CRAIG – Miss Craig, “boarded “TP” (STF); also Miss Craig (youngest) seen on Pom Pong Island (CAS); CRAIG – Miss,”...sister of Dr. Craig MEO, Education Dept, Singapore...” – listed as on “TP” (JPB), Miss Agnes Beatrice Craig, B.A. /LLB. Aged 37 years, (from New Zealand with British nationality), b.1905. Daughter of Dr. George Craig of Sydney, Australia – died on “TP” (C1042) and (CWGC); alsoDr. Agnes Craig – from NZ, Lady Medical Officer, Women’s Hospital, Kuala Pilah, NS. (MVG); must also be “Nessie” Thompson, sister of Dr. Florence Craig and Dr. Tessie Thompson
DARLINGTON – Nurse Darlington, killed by bomb on board “Kuala” (IWM- S); Sister (Miss) Darlingtons (sic) T.T.S., seen on “Kuala” (CAS); Nursing Sister Elizabeth Darlington, British, died on “TP” (CWGC); also Irene Eliz. Darlington “…interned ex S.S. Kuala…” (list of civilians on “Kuala” at PRO): ALFSEA list says she boarded the “TP”
DA SILVA – Miss Aurea da Silva, Medical Auxiliary Service, Singapore, about 26 years of age. Her mother, who had evacuated earlier by ship, was told in Bombay by Mrs. Pattara that “… Aurea had evacuated with other MAS on the “Kuala”, had swum to shore at Pom Pom (sic) Island during the bombing and met up with Miss Pattara (presumably Clio) .The latter’s sister was wounded and Mrs. Pattara was with her. As there was no food available Miss da Silva and Clio Pattara volunteered to go over the hill in the rear to obtain some food. They went off to the other side of the island and (we) are told that another ship came that way and picked them up. Unfortunately, this ship must have been bombed and sunk, as no trace of the ship, passengers etc. became available…” (article in Singapore medical Journal by L .S. da Silva, Retired Senior Pathologist); almost certainly Aurea da Silva boarded the “TP”.
De AMBROSIE – Sister (Miss) D’Ambrisie (sic), G.H. seen on Pom Pong Island (CAS); Miss J. E.de Ambrosie, MEO. – listed as on “TP”(both JPB and ALFSEA); Miss J. E. de Ambrosie ( British) died on “TP” (C109); also Miss Jean Emily Henrietta De Ambrosi, aged 35 years, on the “TP” (list of civilians on the “Kuala” and the “TP” at the PRO) ; Miss. J. E. de Ambrosi, civilian, daughter of Mrs. E. de Ambrosi of Chiswick, Middlesex – died on 17.2.42 in sinking of “TP” (CWGC)
DE SOUZA – Miss Z. De Souza, Singapore – listed as on “TP” (JPB). Probably the same family (one of the children?) as Cissy Catherine De Souza ( British) died around sinking of “Kuala” (CWGC); Mrs. Cecelia “Cissy” de Souza and six children – with the exception of Marie (below) they all died around the sinking of the “Kuala” (MVG); DE SOUZA – Marie, 25 years of age, daughter of Mrs. C.C. de Souza (above) survived sinking of “Kuala” and interned in Sumatra (MVG)
DONALD – Mrs. Donald, Kuala Lumpur. – listed as on “TP” (JB and Ruperti); also Mrs. K.L. Donald listed on “TP” ( list of civilians on “Kuala” and “TP” at PRO); no other record of her death – a Nurse McDonald/MacDonald did manage to escape safely - so it is unclear whether this is correct?
DUNCAN – Miss Duncan, teacher, Penang, sister of Mrs. Law, left on “TP” (Ruperti); Miss. Sister in Law (sic?) of Mrs. Law., teacher, Penang - listed as on “TP” (JB); (Note: Mrs. Elizabeth Law is also a casualty listed below); Miss RobinaDuncan. b.1888, civilian ,aged 54 years, daughter of Charles and Mary Duncan, Broughty Ferry, Angus – died in sinking of “TP” (CWGC and C1340) ; Ms. Robina Duncan , Headmistress, Wellesley Primary School, Sister of Mrs. Law – lost at sea 17.2.42 (MVG)