Special Order No. 3
The following is a copy of Selerang Special Order
No 3 dated 4th September 1942, and signed by Colonel E. B. Holmes.
On the 30th August 1942, I, together with my Area
Commanders, were summoned to Conference House Changi Gaol, where
I was informed by rep. of Major General Skimpie Fafuiji, GOC
POWs Malaya that all POWs Changi were to be given an opportunity
to sign the form promising not to escape.
- By the Laws and Usages of War, a POW cannot be required by
the Power holding him to give his parole and in our Army those
who have become POW are not permitted to give their parole.
I pointed this out to the Japanese Authorities.
- I informed the rep. Officer that I was not prepared to sign
this form and I did not consider that any of the men in Changi
would be prepared to sign this form. In accordance with
the Jap order all ranks were given the opportunity to sign.
The result is well known.
- On the 31st August I was informed by the Japs that those who
refused to sign the certificate would be subjected to “measures
of severity” and that a refusal to sign would be regarded as a
direct refusal to obey a regulation which the I.J.A. considered
it necessary to enforce.
- Later on that night I was warned that on the 1st September
all POWs persisting in refusal to sign were to move by 1800
hours to Selerang Barracks Square. I confirmed both on my
own behalf and in the name of the POWs to refuse to sign.
- The move was successfully accomplished by nightfall.
- I and the Area Commanders have been in constant conference
with the I.J.A. and have endeavoured by negotiation to have the
form either abolished or at least modified. All that I
have been able to obtain is, that which was originally a demand
accompanied by threats of “measures of severity” has now been
issued as an official order by the I. J. Government.
- During the period of the occupation of the Square the
conditions in which we have been placed have been under my
constant consideration. These may be briefly described as
such that the existence therein will result in a very few days
in the outbreak of epidemic and the most serious consequences to
those under my command and inevitable death to many. Taking into
account the low rate of health in which may of us are, and the
need to preserve our force in tact as long as possible and in
the full conviction that my actions were the circumstances of
which we are now living know to them would meet with the
approval of His Majesty’s Government, I have felt it my duty to
order all personnel to sign the certificate under the duress
imposed by I.J.A.
- I am fully convinced that H. M. Gov only expects POWs not to
give their parole only when such parole is given voluntarily.
This factor can in no circumstances be regarded as applicable to
our present position. The responsibility for this decision
rests with me and with me alone and I fully accept it in
ordering you to sign.
- I wish to record in this order my deep appreciation of the
excellent spirit and good discipline which all ranks have shown
during this trying period. I look to all ranks to continue
in good heart, discipline, and morale.
Thank you for
your loyalty and co-op.
Sgd. E. B. HOLMES Col.
Commanding British and Australian