- RAF Seletar – Singapore during the Second World War -
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RAF Seletar – Singapore
4th Sept 1939 On Alert
8th December 1941 Kota Bharu
26th Jan 1942 Invasion
31st Jan 1942 Evacuation
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Those known to have served at
RAF Seletar – Singapore
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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AC1. Donald Arthur Sargent (d.4th Aug 1945)Donald A Sargent was my Uncle. He died 4th August 1945 in Sungei Ron POW camp in Sumatra. I wondered if there is anyone out there who may have known him or served with him. I know he was based at RAF Seletar in Singapore and was captured in the Malacca straits in an RAF Motor Launch. I would be grateful for any help in finding out more.Jackie Webster
Leonard Whatmore "Bill" Bayes 100 Sqdn.Seletar Incident. c.1939, RAF Seletar, Singapore
A quote from page 90 of "Time and Chance", an autobiography by Peter Townsend. Published by Collins 1978
"Outside my ground-floor bedroom was an asphalt space where I parked my beautiful, blue, long-nosed M.G. (which consisted of the bits and pieces of two or three others, put together by an ingenious Chinese). One afternoon I was changing the right, rear tyre when something made me stop and walk over to my bedroom, ten yards away, to look for a rag. During the few seconds I was there I heard an aeroplane pass over the mess, approaching to land. A moment later I was back beside my car; the right rear mudguard was deeply gashed and on the ground beside it lay a string of lead beads, the kind that were attached to the end of a trailing aerial. The weighted aerial would have cut me in half like a piece of cheese, had not that kindly unseen hand pushed me out of the way just in time."
This incident must have happened at RAF Seletar in Singapore, not long before World War II started in 1939. The aircraft involved are Vickers Vildebeest aircraft, rugged torpedo bombers, which were stationed at Seletar in two Squadrons. Townsend was flying with 36 Sqdn and my Dad, Leonard Bayes, was with 100 Sqdn. These lumbering biplanes were the only aircraft available to defend Singapore when the Japanese invaded in 1941.
With reference to Townsend's account; in actual fact, the "weighted aerial" was the hawser from which a target sleeve had been attached. The anti-aircraft (ak-ak) people practised using this sleeve as an airborne target. This sleeve had to released and towed in the air from the plane on many hundred yards of hawser, and after the practise, it had to be hauled back into the aircraft. This was my Father's job.
This particular day they had done well and shot away the sleeve. The sleeve had the added advantage of giving some stability to the assembly, without it the hawser whipped around in the slipstream. This made it extremely difficult for Dad to haul in the hawser, using this particular aircraft's air-powered winch. The pilot announced his intention to land at RAF Seletar. Dad said, "You can't land yet, I've still got a lot of hawser to haul in!" The pilot said that he had no option, as they were running out of fuel. As the pilot approached the landing area, you can imagine my Dad's thoughts as he cowered in the cockpit, listening to various ominous crashes and bumps as the hawser left a swathe of damage to anything in it's path!
A short while later, as Dad was splicing on another sleeve, the Adjutant marched up and barked, "Bayes! Do you realise you nearly killed someone, and what's more, you went through the C.O.'s telephone wire!"
Of course, Dad was subsequently absolved of any blame, but until he read the page quoted above, he had no idea who he had nearly killed. Townsend must have been a Pilot Officer in those days, later he became a fighter ace and rose to Group Captain. From 1944 he was Equerry to King George VI, Father of our current sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. It was during this time as Equerry, that he had his ill-fated love affair with the Queen's beautiful sister, the late Princess Margaret.John Bayes
Leonard Bayes 18 SquardronMy Father, Leonard Bayes joined the RAF in 1935. In the early hours of the 21st of January, 1936, he was a member of the duty crew at RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk when, following the death of King George V at nearby Sandringham, the ill-fated new King, Edward VIII, arrived to fly off to London. He was in no great hurry and chatted pleasantly to the people there, until an official suggested that they really should leave. No doubt the new King was dreading the formalities awaiting him. They then climbed into a De Havilland Rapide and it took off for the Metropolis. Dad therefore witnessed the first ever flight by a reigning Monarch.
Dad served in 18 Squadron at Upper Heyford flying Hawker Harts and at the ourbreak of WWII, he was stationed at Seletar, Singapore with 100 Squadron, equipped with Vickers Vildebeests. Heading home to the UK for training, he stopped off at Egypt, where he helped to re-assemble the long range flight Vickers Wellesleys. He then went on to Crete, where he missed the evacuation and was captured by the Germans. He ended up in Stalag Luft III, and was part of the evacuation March in January 1945. He was eventually repatriated in May 1945.Jack Bayes
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