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The Alexandra Hospital Massacre

by BBC Open Centre, Hull

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BBC Open Centre, Hull
People in story: 
Lt. F.T. Moore,
Location of story: 
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Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 January 2006

As witnessed by Lt. F.T. Moore

14th/15th February 1942
During the early morning, the water supply was cut off, shelling and air activity became intense, some of the shells bursting in, and many near, the hospital. These appeared to be mainly enemy mortar bombs with an occasional shot from artillery. The enemy were drawing nearer and approaching the rear of the hospital from the Ayer Rajah Road area.

The number of incoming patients had lessened considerably and there was little or no traffic in the wards. During the morning routine work continued.

Japanese troops were seen for the first time at 13:40hrs, attacking towards the Sister’s quarters. Jap fighting troops were about to enter the hospital from the rear. Lt. Weston went from the Reception Room to the rear entrance with a WHITE FLAG in order to indicate the surrender of the hospital. The Japanese took no notice and Lt. Weston was bayoneted to death by the first Japanese to enter.

These troops now entered the hospital and ran amok on the ground floor. They were very excitable and jumpy; neither pointing to the RED CROSS brassard nor shouting the word HOSPITAL had any effect.

The following events all commenced at approximately the same time:

a) One Japanese party entered the theatre block, (at this time operations were being prepared in the corridor between the Sister’s bunk and the main theatre, this being the best lit and most sheltered part of the block). The Japanese climbed into the corridor and at the same time a shot was fired through the window wounding Pte. Lewis RAMC in the arm. About ten Japanese came into the corridor and all the medical personnel help up their hands. Captain Smiley RAMC pointed to the RED CROSS brassards, but they appeared excited and took no notice. The Japs then motioned the staff to move along the corridor, which they did, when for no apparent reason the Japanese set upon the staff with bayonets.

Captain Smiley was lunged at with a bayonet but struck the blade aside and it hit his cigarette case in his left breast pocket. He was then again lunged at and wounded in the left groin, the previous thrust having cut his thumb and wounded the left forearm. He then pretended to be killed and pushed Private Sutton, who was unharmed, to the floor, calling to the others to keep quiet. The Japs then left the corridor.

After 15 or 20 minutes, Captain Smiley saw the CO coming along the corridor. Lt Rogers RAMC had been bayoneted twice through the back of the thorax and died at once. Captain Parkinson, Corporal McEwan and Private Lewis were also bayoneted to death. A patient, Corporal Holden of the 2nd Loyals, who was on the operating table, had also been bayoneted to death.

B) Another party of Japanese went into a ward and order the Nursing Orderlies and patients that could walk outside the hospital. In this ward two patients were bayoneted. Two Japanese went upstairs and gave similar instructions. These two must have been more humane than the others as they motioned patients on stretchers to stay behind.

Patients and personnel numbering around 200 were taken outside. Their hands tied behind their backs with a slip knot, one length of uncut cord being used for 4 or 5 men. Some of the patients could only just hobble. Some had only one arm; some seriously ill patients showed signs of distress, one or two collapsed and had to be revived. This party was marched by a circuitous route to the Old Quarters, where they were herded into rooms which varied for 9’ x 9’ to 10’ x 12’.

Here the men were literally jammed in and it took minutes to raise ones hands above ones head. Sitting down was out of the question and the men were forced to urinate against each other. During the night many men died and all suffered from thirst and the suffocating atmosphere. Water was promised but it never arrived.

When dawn came the Japs could be seen with cases of tinned fruit which they kept entirely to themselves. By the evening shelling was at its maximum and shells were bursting all around. One shell struck the roof of the Old Quarters injuring some of the prisoners and blowing open the door and windows. When this happened about eight men tried to escape. Some were successful but others got hit by machine gun fire. Prior to this the Japanese had been leading small groups out of sight and the ensuing yells and screams, coupled on one occasion with a Jap returning wiping blood from his bayonet, left little doubt as to the men’s fate. Except for the few who escaped, non of this party were seen alive again.

Captain Allardyce RAMC, who could speak a little Japanese, Corporal McDonough and Corporal Wilkins were taken off. Captain Allardyce was under the impression that he was being taken away as a hostage, or that the Japanese wanted some wounded attended to. However he was only seen again that night and for the last time the following morning at the servants quarters were the doomed 200 were imprisoned. It must be assumed that he and Corporal Wilkins suffered the same fate as the others. The body of Corporal McDonough was found outside the hospital and it appeared he had been killed by shrapnel.

C)A party of Japs came into the Reception Room shouting and threatening the staff and patients who were congregated there. Sergeant Sherrif was bayoneted and died; the remainder were similarly treated. Another party of Japanese went into Wards 16 and 17 causing injuries to the patients. They entered the kitchens of these two wards and killed Private Bruce, probably using a Tommy-gun. This party was also shown the RED CROSS brassards and replied by firing and throwing a hand grenade into the Sister’s bunk.

At 16:00hrs, 40 or 50 patients and staff were herded into the corridor and a guard placed over them. Later the guards went away and Captain Bartlett went out to investigate but saw no sign of the Japs; the party stayed there till dawn.

About 18:00hrs the Japs took a party, including Sergeant Anderson and about 20 thers away. Their hands were tied and they were put in a drain, near the Sergeant Major’s quarters, where they remained all night, but were given cigarettes and raisins.

It is difficult to understand the reason for this barbaric attack on the hospital and investigations were carried out to find a possible explanation for it. Rumour has it that Indian Sappers and Miners digging a tunnel at the rear of the hospital had presumably made a run for it and passed through the hospital building.

February 16th
About 08:00hrs the Jap looters arrived. At 10:00hrs a Jap Medical Officer, of the rank of DDMS, entered the hospital and saluted all our dead. He complimented the staff on the way the patients had been looked after and provided a guard against the looters.

February 17th
The Japanese S.O.C. called and expressed his regret at what had happened and assured the staff that they had nothing further to fear. He also told the O.C. of the hospital that he was to be regarded as a direct representative of the Emperor and that no higher honour could be paid to the hospital.

Transcribed by: Alan Brigham -

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