This account of Bert Baldry has been given from Bert’s grand-daughter, Jo Ditcham and with the very kind permission of Bert’s son, Brian Baldry. Bert served with the 5th Suffolk Battalion and was a POW at the hands of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore.
Bert Baldry was born in Ipswich on New Year’s Eve 1912, his mother and father, Eliza Naomi and John William Baldry, living in Parliament Road, Ipswich. He joined the Suffolk Regiment and served in India before the war and he was en-route home after competing his service in India when the Second World War broke out and for a while he had to remain in India. Upon finally returning home, his Army experience was put to good use when he was tasked with training Commandos in Plymouth. His experience was then put to further use when he joined the 5th Suffolk Battalion, ‘B’ Company, which were recruited locally from the Eye region and it was with the 5th Suffolks that he was thrust into the mayhem in Singapore in January/February 1942.
During February 1942 the 5th Suffolks came under Japanese fire and on 7th February Bert was promoted to Colour Sergeant Major (C.S.M.), but soon after this the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese and Bert, along with thousands of Allied men, became a Prisoner of War. Coincidentally Bert was placed in the same POW camp as his brother-in-law, Reginald Savage, but sadly Reginald did not survive.
Here are the service records of Bert and Reginald …
C.S.M. Bert William Baldry, 5825605, 5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – ‘B’ Company;
Born: 31st December 1912; Joined: 21st January 1932;
“W.C. Class II and then appointed to C.S.M. with effect from 7-2-1942.”
Next of kin, wife, Edith May, 3 Parliament Road, Ipswich. Occupation, Seaman.
Private R. Savage, 5830601, 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – ‘A’ Company;
Died in a Japanese POW camp 25th July 1943;