My Youngest Brother Faisal “Chal” Azwan infront of the entrance to my village – Kg Parit Tegak Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat Johor
It was just one of those days when I was back at home in the loving arms of my mother and father. This time the whole pack came home, wife, husband and children in tow. With the exception of my youngest brother Cal who is still single and enjoying the life of traveling on trains from ends of Malaysia to Singapore or Bangkok. I would recalled how my daughter would shout in glee when she say rail tracks or trains or even lrts – “Uncle Cal built that”
It was mother’s 60th birthday and we were back to all the adjectives one could associate with pleasing one’s mother. My brother Faiz had brought an extra expensive ice-cream cake from Baskin Robbins (am sure with the persuasion of my sister in law Gee) and I wanted to impress her with a new Sony Ericsson phone.
Little did we know that my mother is still a soft spoken kampong girl at heart, who whiz her way through an English medium High School back in the 40s with villagers telling my late arwah grandfather Wak Banioo Bin Sukoromo, you child is going to a devil’s school and she will become a Christian. My late grandfather would just as “Hmm…” brushed off the comments and walked away like a true Jawanese gentleman – kain pelekat, the wide huge green tali pinggang haji (a type of belt) and serban (a type of turban), capal and ALL.
But am sure if he was alive we would have been proud to know that when his daughter spoke, she even personified the whole hall of the Queens Park Country Primary School in Brighton when come PTA meetings, head scarf and ALL! – I was seven then and proud as hell.
Yeaaa I love my mother to bits.
My Parent’s house in Parit Tegak
My mother often told me the war time stories. The Japs in Parit Sulong and the Comunist in Pagoh. But one story always comes to mind when we do the Saturday morning shopping at the Parit Sulong market, whenever I am back in town.
I’ve taken time to actually do a bit of reading on Parit Sulong and told my dad that an Australian writer and historian Lynette Ramsey Silver wrote a book called The Bridge of Parit-Sulong – An Investigation of Mass Murder.
Parit Sulong Massacre
extracted from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
On January 23, 1942, the Parit Sulong Massacre was committed against Allied soldiers by members of the Imperial Guards Division of the Imperial Japanese Army. A few days earlier, the Allied troops had ambushed the Japanese near Gemas and blown up a bridge there.
During the Battle of Malaya, members of both the Australian 8th Division and the Indian 45th Infantry Brigade were making a fighting withdrawal when they became surrounded near the bridge at Parit Sulong. The Allies fought the larger Japanese forces for two days until they ran low on ammunition and food. Able-bodied soldiers were ordered to disperse into the jungle, the only way they could return to Allied lines. Approximately 150 Australians and Indians were too badly injured to move, and their only option was surrender. Some accounts estimate that as many as 300 Allied POWs taken at Parit Sulong.
The wounded prisoners of war were kicked and beaten with rifle butts by the Imperial Guards. At least some were tied up with wire in the middle of the road, machine-gunned, had petrol poured over them, were set alight and (in the words of Russell Braddon) were “after their incineration — [were] systematically run over, back and forwards, by Japanese driven trucks.” Anecdotal accounts by local people also reported POWs being tied together with wire and forced to stand on a bridge, before a Japanese soldier shot one, causing the rest to fall into the Simpang Kiri river and drown.
The massacre’s aftermath
Lt Ben Hackney of the Australian 2/19th Battalion feigned death and managed to escape. He crawled through the countryside for six weeks with two broken legs, before he was recaptured. Hackney survived internment in Japanese POW camps, and was part of the labour force on the notorious Burma Railway. He and two other survivors gave evidence regarding the massacre to Allied war crimes investigators.
The commander of the Imperial Guards, Lt Gen. Takuma Nishimura, was later in charge of occpuation forces in eastern Singapore. He was indirectly involved in the Sook Ching massacre in Singapore. Nishimura retired from the Japanese army in 1942 and was made military Governor of Sumatra. Following the war, he was tried by a British military court in relation to the Sook Ching massacre. Nishimura received a life sentence, of which he served four years. As he returned to Japan, Nishimura was removed from a ship at Hong Kong, by Australian military police and charged in relation to the Parit Sulong massacre. Nishimura was taken to Manus Island in the Territory of New Guinea, where he faced an Australian military court. Evidence was presented stating that Nishimura had ordered the shootings at Parit Sulong and the destruction of bodies. He was convicted and executed by hanging on June 11, 1951.
In 1996, Australian journalist Ian Ward published Snaring the Other Tiger, which suggested that the Australian Army prosecutor, Captain James Godwin — a former Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot who had been ill-treated as a POW in Sumatra — had “manipulated” evidence to implicate Nishimura. Ward states that Godwin took no action on the testimony of Lieutenant Fujita Seizaburo, who reportedly took responsibility for the Parit Sulong massacre. Fujita was not charged and his fate is unknown.
Lynette Silver, 2004, The Bridge at Parit Sulong – An Investigation of Mass Murder, The Watermark Press, Boorowa. ISBN 0-949284-65-3.
Russell Braddon, 1951, The Naked Island, Penguin Books, Melbourne,
Lionel Wigmore, 1957, The Japanese Thrust – Australia in the War of 1939-1945, AWM, Canberra.
Iain Findlay, 1991, Savage Jungle – An Epic Struggle for Survival, Simon & Schuster, Sydney.
Gilbert Mant, 1996, Massacre at Parit Sulong, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst.
^ Russell Braddon, 1951, The Naked Island, Penguin Books, Melbourne, p. 101.
^ Tony Stephens, “The killing field at The Bridge” (Sydney Morning Herald, September 13, 2004). Access date: February 16, 2007.
^ Ian Ward, Snaring the Other Tiger (Media Masters Publishers, Singapore, 1996); Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, “Godwin, James Gowing 1923 – 1995”. Access date: February 16, 2007
Other interesting related online reading :-
- WW2 People’s War – An archive of World War Two memories – written by the public,gathered by the BBC
- The ‘maimed and bloodstained’ group: Parit Sulong
- Archival vision from the 1982 program, The Fall of Singapore
Lt-Col Charles G.W. Anderson, from the Australian 2/19th Battalion and his troops attempted to dislodge the Japanese hold on the Parit Sulong bridge but were unable to withstand the attack by tanks, aircraft and artillery. When they failed, Anderson allowed his troops to escape through the jungle to Yong Peng. (RealVideo)
- Massacre at Parit Sulong (Paperback) by Gilblert Mant
- Sugamo and the River Kwai
Robin Rowland 2003
Paper presented to Encounters at Sugamo Prison, Tokyo 1945-52
The American Occupation of Japan and Memories of the Asia-Pacific War
Princeton University, May 9, 2003
- The 2nd A.I.F in Malaya 1941-1942 by Jean Birch
Other photos on Parit Sulong Johor
photo of my house and mom in the distance taken with my dad’s camera phone
Banjir at Parit Sulong, with the famous Bridge at the back.
My Brother’s Wedding – the “parit” is on your left
My Grandma’s house