333 Mr V. G. Bowden, Official Representative in Singapore, to Department d External Affairs

Cablegram unnumbered SINGAPORE, 14 February 1942, 11 a.m.

Our work completed. We will telegraph from another place at present unknown. [1]


1 This cablegram was transmitted by a small handset located at the point where the cable line entered the water. Late that night Bowden, A. N. Wootton (Commercial Secretary) and J. P. Quinn (Political Secretary), knowing that capitulation was very near, left Singapore for Palembang, Sumatra, with a group of senior military officers on the motor launch Mary Rose. On 17 February, at the entrance to Banka Strait, the Mary Rose was forced to surrender to two Japanese patrol boats, and the group landed on Banka Island. There Bowden attempted to make known his diplomatic status, but was assaulted by Japanesc guards. He was subsequently forced to dig his own grave and was shot by the guards. Wootton and Quinn were interned in Sumatra for the duration of the war.

See Lionel Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957, PP. 385-6.

Lt Gen A. E. Percival, U.K. General Officer Commanding Malaya, surrendered British, Indian and Australian forces in Singapore to the Japanese, led by Lt Gen Tomoyuki Yamashita, at 5.15 p.m.

(local time) on 15 February. Some fifteen thousand Australian troops of the Eighth Division were taken prisoner, most interned initially at Changi, on Singapore Island.