Unveiling the Parit Sulong Memorial, Johor, Malaya
On 4 September 2007, a memorial was unveiled at the tiny village of Parit Sulong, Malaya, to commemorate all those who died in The Muar Battle. While 2/18th was not at Parit Sulong (they were at Jemaluang), Lynette Silver represented the 2/18th Association to lay a wreath at Parit Sulong in memory of their comrades of the 2/19th and 2/29th.
Sixty-five years ago in January 1942, as the Japanese pushed the main Allied army down the Malay peninsula, two under-strength Australian infantry battalions (the 2/19th and 2/29th), a handful of gunners from 2/15th Field and 4 Anti-tank Regiments, and a depleted Indian Army contingent held back a vastly superior enemy force of 10,000 crack Japanese Imperial Guards.
This epic battle, which prevented the enemy from cutting off the line of retreat of the main Allied forces, was one of the most desperate, and least known, fighting retreats of the Second World War, for which the Australian commander Lieutenant-Charles Anderson was awarded a Victoria Cross.
After four days of relentless combat, the defenders reached the bridge at the village of Parit Sulong, only to find it in Japanese hands. Unable to break through and with no hope of relief, surrounded by superior enemy forces but unwilling to surrender, Anderson gave the order 'every man for himself'. Left behind at the bridge were the very badly wounded - over 100 Australian and 35 Indian soldiers, expecting Red Cross protection. This was not to be, and what followed was one of the most infamous massacres of World War 2.
In June 1997, while researching material for her 2004 publication, 'The Bridge at Parit Sulong', Association member Lynette Silver wrote to the director of the Office of Australian War Graves suggesting that the site of the massacre and the efforts of these gallant Australians be marked in some way. Her proposal received excellent support, but it took ten years to obtain the funding and secure the necessary permissions to finally become reality. Lynette, who was invited to sit with the VIPs at the unveiling in recognition of her work and efforts in bringing the memorial to fruition, was also proud and honoured to officially represent the surviving members of the 2/18th Battalion. On their behalf she placed a wreath of beautiful purple and green Singapore orchids on the simple granite memorial, in memory of fallen comrades. Di Elliott who, like Lynette, is an honorary member of the Association, was also present. Di's father, Sgt Fred Howe, who survived the war, fought at Parit Sulong with the 2/19th.
Photos & text provided by Lynette Silver on 18 Sept 2007, with permission to use on this site only.
Page created 12 Oct, 2007. Last Updated 13 Oct 2007 18:34:53 +1000
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2/18 Battalion (AIF) Association. - A.B.N.
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