118th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (TA)

The 118th Field Regiment was formed in 1939 as the second line regiment to 65th (8th London) Field Regiment (TA) to accommodate the large number of South Londoners (many from Lewisham) who wished to enlist. On the outbreak of war the 118th went to Woolwich to release the regular garrison, where it remained until 1941 when it was sent with the 18th Infantry Division to India. After arriving in India news reached them of the loss of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, which were ships defending Singapore. As events were developing in Singapore in December 1941 it was decided [sadly unwisely] to send reinforcements to Singapore and the 118th were told that they were to head for Singapore. Their equipment was camouflaged and set up for the wrong terrain and they had little or no experience of jungle warfare. In January 1942 the 118th Field Regiment joined 18th (East Anglian) Division, to reinforce the Singapore Garrison by about 20,000 at the 18th Division HQ, making the total strength of about 85,000. This was mistaken because unseen by the commanders Singapore was already beyond the point of reinforcement being able to save them. They arrived amidst the chaos of air raids on 29 January 1942. They were just in time to take part in the final week’s battle for Singapore [7-15 February 1942], but they were poorly prepared or equipped, so there very little they could do. During this time the Regiment lost 22 men.

Those who survived became prisoners of war of the Japanese and many lost their lives during the construction of the Thialand Burma Railway. The Regimental losses were 182 in the area of the railway out of a total of 291 lost during WW2. 72 further losses to the Regiment occurred after the official construction dates for the railway. Sadly 43 of the 72 post railway deaths occurred on 12-14 September 1944 when a Japanese convoy taking Prisoners of War to Japan was attacked by a US submarine wolfpack who did not realize over 2000 POWs were on board two of the ships.

The Regiment is recorded as lost in February 1942 and was disbanded in 1947.

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