Sound: Ian Newlands describes the war in the Pacific

Hear Ian Newlands talk about his experiences.


So you were going in a taxi into the jungle to an airstrip to pick up some, some planes.

Yes two planes that their chaps had repaired and got them serviceable. It was pretty scary. We had our revolvers out the window all the time and we stopped two Sikh guards, we asked them and okay and they said, 'Go ahead, go ahead.' So we got to the plane, we hopped in one plane and there was nothing, little pathways off the aerodrome hidden in the jungle you see so you had to taxi down this bit of strip. So my plane started up right away, it must have just got the choke right, I think, sometimes they're pretty hard. I said, 'Well, I don?t want to stick around with the motor going because the Japanese will hear me across the strait and start shelling', so I just took off. I thought, while I'm up I will see if I can find that observation balloon that they've got over there and gave us hell the first day, so I flew up and down on the other side and enemy side of the strait and couldn't see the balloon so I just strafed the blimmin' jungle and along the shore and back home to Kallang. The other bloke came home later but I said nothing about it, it was all unofficial. Shortly after that they, the - oh, that's right the same day I thought, well I'm going back to the hotel and get a bit a breakfast now, done a good day's work, and back to the 'drome after that. Not a plane left. They'd all gone, left us. They'd left us without any planes and taken off back to Kallang, back to Palembang see.

So what, there was you and, your friend who had gone up to Seletar to get the planes?

Oh he'd, he'd got away.

He'd got away?

Yeah, he got one of the planes.

So because you'd dallied around?

Yeah, I don't know. No, I was a sergeant, the more senior ones had got off.

So what was the story? I mean, how many of you were left?

Oh, I'm not sure. I think there was probably half a dozen or so. I know I said, 'Well, we'll try and get a barge or a boat of some kind and, and try and sail out of it.'

Now this was, this was, what sort of date was this? This was around?

That was on the

When was that?

On the 11th

Of February [1942]?


So it was four days before the fall?


Did you know basically that Singapore was going to go?

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, they'd been, they'd been on the island and they'd got repulsed back and landed, made several landing by that time. We didn't know where they were you see. Just up the road.

Did you feel abandoned at that stage?

Oh yeah, pretty much.

So how did you get on?

That was the 11th. So that's the same day we found out eventually that the Empire Star was taking air force personnel and women and children and nurses. We got on her that night and the next day we got bombed to hell - on the 12th - getting out of, down towards Sumatra.

Ian Newlands

Ian Newlands.

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Posted: 10 Feb 2015

Thanks very much Toh Boon Kwan, I've updated our transcript now

Toh Boon Kwan

Posted: 07 Feb 2015

I refer to this extract from the transcript listed above: 'back to Kellanbang(?) see'. I believe Mr Newlands is referring to Palembang in Sumatra. The RAF evacuated their aircraft to Palembang from Singapore.