I am from Parit Tegak, Parit Sulong

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.”[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.


References
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.

Footnotes
^ 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 :-

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

9 Comments

Filed under Famous Malaysians, Malaysia, My Family, Parit Sulong, Parit Sulong Bridge, Parit Tegak, World War 2

9 responses to “I am from Parit Tegak, Parit Sulong

  1. James Doucette

    I like your website, but have one minor correction to make. Captain Godwin who prosecuted General Nishimura was a member of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, not the Royal New Zealand Air Force. See Lynette Silver’s book, page 304.

    Jim Doucette

  2. janatunaliya

    Thanks James! I have had chance to grab Lynette’s book yet.I’ll see if I can make the correction from the from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, since it was extracted there. Wll check the real thang. Have just been compiling stuff from the internet about my hometown.

    Thanks again!

  3. Hi Janatunliya,

    Nice photos! I have read both Lynette Silver’s and Ian Ward’s books on Parit Sulong. Lynette’s is the more recent of the two, and strongly criticises Ian Ward.

    Unfortunately both authors have been influenced by forged documents concerning the War Crimes Investigator James Godwin. – You can read the remarkable story of the forgery in a paper that I wrote with Prof. Greg Hadley, “MacKay’s Betrayal”, for the US Journal of Military History (see website above).

    The end result is that Ward’s criticism of Godwin has been thoroughly undermined. I think Godwin’s collection of witness statements from the Japanese officers (whose evidence was presented to prosecute General Nishimura) was ethical and accurate, and I have no doubt that Gen. Nishimura did order the prisoner executions that happened.

    Nishimura’s own elite unit had suffered heavily over the previous days of battle and in a way his decision to seek revenge is understandable. There is a quote from General Yamashita in Gilbert Mant’s book which summarises the sad situation that occurred.

    Best Regards from James in Sydney.

  4. janatunaliya

    Thanks James for that wonderful insight. Such an honor to have you comment and correct this piece.

    KUDOS

  5. siann dengan umah banjir itewww..

  6. proud citizen

    Hi,

    Just feel proud to be born in Parit Sulong, back in 1956, (about 10 years after the war). I would like to post a comment here. Hope my comments concur with the topics mentioned.

    I have heard lot of stories from older generations about the war fought in Parit Sulong. The mouth -to-mouth stories have some variations though although most of my generation were staying in Parit Sulong until late 60’s.

    I once been told that they were a lot of casualties and sometime when I was about 10 years old, some of my elderlies (inclusive my parents) told me some oil palm trees had been planted (adjacent to the Government Health Centres) purposely planted to locate the war victims’ body for future marking. Alas that was back in 1964~1965, because sometime in 1970’s the trees are already missing. Perhaps those trees have already passed their age.

    In the small town itself, according to the map enclosed in this site, I can still remember there is a strong small concrete cement fort at the heart of the town (left side of the road from Muar) which I have been told the remains of the fortress after the war.

    The best post war remains in Parit Sulong should be the bridge itself. This bridge is however is torn down to make way for smoother road conversions. It is pathetic that the historical bridge has been totally diminished from sight rather than keeping it as historical landmark. Although the bridge is now demolished, it shall stay very rigidly and hard in my mind.

    To old folks it is good to remember those years..they are gone but the memories shall always lingers on. No matter how the places has changed over time..anytime we can dwell and dig the memories almost instantly because we have endure it as important events in our lives.

    Regards.

    Resident of Parit Jambi/Pt Raja Ahmad.

  7. nangburi

    kampung saya tuuuu. rumah belah darat sekali. Dekat simpang ke Parit Gantong/Parit Pulai. Boleh join ni

  8. Shahril Suleiman

    It is a huge lost to us in Parit Sulong after the Johor state government demolished the historic bridge. Sadly, to most of us, the bridge is the bridge and the stronger bridge is a need without thinking of the greater value that this bridge had. Today, I am very happy to find this website and share the same feeling about this bridge. This bridge is already gone and will only stay in our memory but we still have the old Radin Cinema and old JKR quarters as well as other historic buildings and sites to be restored. Even my kampong house is a huge Johor traditional house built around 1920s. We should work together to retain all of these for our younger generations. If anybody interested to start this with me, you may call me at 60133538153 and we can plan something together.

    shahrilsuleiman@yahoo.co.uk
    No. 45-D, Jalan Muar,
    83500 Parit Sulong,
    Batu Pahat,
    Johor, Malaysia.

    (saya anak 1980 dan cintakan sejarah Pt. Sulong!.)

  9. Kathy

    Hello from Perth,
    I have just found your page. I love your photos and your writing.
    Because of my interest in WW2 (especially in Malysia) I found myself reading an article in The West Australian Newspaper (Saturday) about Lt Ben Hackney. I am a fan of Lynnette Silver. It was Lynette’s book about the Sandakan Death March that got me interested in what happened in Malaysia. It is difficult to read the facts about what happened during this time but I think we owe it to those who suffered. We need to learn and
    make sure we tell as many people who will listen what we know.
    How do we get to Parit Sulong? and Is accommodation easy to find.
    Thank you for your efforts in putting this page together.
    Best wishes,
    Kathy
    We love to holiday in Malaysia and a big part of our activities is to go to the War Memorials and the grave sites.

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