Serjeant Cecil Bundy

Serjeant Cecil Bundy Royal Corps of Signals

Son of George and Elizabeth Bundy, of Tilshead, Wiltshire; husband of Dorothy Kitty Bundy nee Sartain, of Southampton.

Cecil was born 22 Nov 1910 in Tilshead with his birth registered in Amesbury in Jan 1911 Birth Register Volume: 5a Page: 133 refers

He was baptised on 22 Jan 1911 in Tilshead.

The 1911 Census records the following Bundy family members living in Tilshead (all born Tilshead except Elizabeth):   

  • George Bundy          43 b 20 Aug 1867 d 1940
  • Elizabeth Bundy (nee Neil) 42 b 30 Mar 1867 Southampton d 1957
  • William Bundy  18 b 1893
  • Percy Bundy 14 b 1897
  • Linda Bundy 12 b 1899
  • Leslie Bundy 8 b 1903
  • Freda Bundy 3 b 1908
  • Cecil Bundy  4/12 b 1910
  • James Bundy  59 b 1852 (George’s elder brother an Army Pensioner (1st Bn Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade possibly served circa 1871-1876)
  • (2 other children were born to George and Elizabeth who were still living in 1911 but not at the family address in 1911.  Was one Lilian C Bundy b 5 Jun 1892 who appears on 1939 Register?)

Cecil married Dorothy Kitty Sartain in 1937 – Registered in Amesbury.  Marriage Register Record Volume: 5A Affiliate Line Number: 78 refers

Dorothy was born 19 Feb 1916 and her death was registered on 1st Nov 2000 in Salisbury

They had a daughter

  • Cecily RK Bundy b 1938

1939 Register shows Dorothy living with Mother Kate Sartain (b 18 Sep 1884) Brother-in-Law Percy Bundy (b 13 Sep 1896) and the blacked-out record is probably Cecily all living in Queen St, Tilshead, Wiltshire.

Also, a separate 1939 Register entry shows George, Elizabeth and Lilian C Bundy living in the High St, Tilshead.

Service Record

2319902 Serjeant Cecil Bundy served with the Hong Kong Signal Company Royal Corps of Signals.  I would assume that holding the rank of Sergeant/Serjeant he enlisted before the war and was then posted to Hong Kong.  His service record will confirm when he enlisted.

Cecil’s actual service record is still subject to 100-year disclosure and privacy rules.  You can apply for a copy of someone else’s service records if any of the following apply:

  • you’re their immediate next of kin, for example their spouse or parent
  • you’ve got consent from their immediate next of kin
  • you have a general research interest – you’ll only have access to limited information, unless they died more than 25 years ago

You need to know the person’s full name, date of birth and service number.

There are 2 forms to fill out and a £30 cost.

The Battle of Hong Kong (8–25 December 1941), also known as the Defence of Hong Kong and the Fall of Hong Kong, was one of the first battles of the Pacific War in World War II. On the same morning as the attack on Pearl Harbor, forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the British Crown colony of Hong Kong, without declaring war against the British Empire. The Hong Kong garrison consisted of British, Indian and Canadian units, also the Auxiliary Defence Units and Hong Kong Voluntary Defence Corps.

The Japanese attack began shortly after 08:00 on 8 December 1941 (Hong Kong Time), four hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor (difference in time and date is due to the day shift that occurs because of the International Date Line). Commanded by Major-General Christopher Maltby, British, Canadian, Indian, as well as the local Hong Kong Chinese Regiment, and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps, resisted the Japanese attack by the Japanese 21st, 23rd and the 38th Regiments (Lieutenant General Takashi Sakai) but were outnumbered nearly four to one (Japanese, 50,000; Allied, 14,000) and lacked their opponents’ recent combat experience. The colony had no significant air defence assets and Hong Kong also lacked adequate naval defences; the destroyers were to withdraw to Singapore Naval Base.

By the afternoon of 25 December 1941, it was clear that further resistance would be futile and British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel. This was the first occasion on which a British Crown Colony had surrendered to an invading force.  The garrison had held out for 17 days. This day is known in Hong Kong as “Black Christmas”.

Cecil Bundy is recorded as being captured on 25 Dec 1941

POW Card

Cecil was initially held with others from his Company in the Sham Shui Po POW Camp. 

Sham Shui Po Barracks was a British Army facility built in the 1920s in the Sham Shui Po area of Kowloon, Hong Kong. The base was bounded by Fuk Wa Street, then to the east by Yen Chow Street and to the west by Tonkin Street and Camp Street.

The buildings on one side were known as Hankow Barracks, and the other Nanking Barracks. There was a large parade ground. Smaller buildings were later added, and the large Jubilee Buildings were constructed as married quarters.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army used it as a POW camp for British, Indian and Canadian soldiers. This was the main POW Camp in Hong Kong, operating from before the British surrendered the Colony, to the Japanese surrender. By the latter date, it was the only POW facility operating in Hong Kong, bar the hospital at the Central British School (now King George V School). Many POWs died here, especially in the diphtheria epidemic of 1942, and all shipments of POWs to Japan left from Sham Shui Po’s Bamboo Pier.

Cecil was transported from Hong Kong on the infamous Japanese cargo liner the ‘Lisbon Maru’.  He survived it’s sinking then sadly died of bacillary dysentery at Osaka POW Hospital Camp Ichioka (Itchioka).

The Lisbon Maru was a Japanese cargo liner built at Yokohama in 1920 for a Japanese shipping line. During World War II, the ship became an armed troopship. On her final voyage, Lisbon Maru was being used to transport POW between Hong Kong and Japan when it was torpedoed on 1 October 1942, sinking with a loss of over 800 British lives.

On her final voyage she was carrying, in addition to 700 Japanese Army personnel, 1,816 British and Canadian prisoners of war captured after the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941. The POWs were held in “appalling conditions … [those] at the bottom of the hold … showered by the diarrhea of sick soldiers above”.

On 1 October 1942, the ship was torpedoed by the submarine USS Grouper. The Japanese troops were evacuated from the ship, but the POWs were not; instead, the hatches were battened down above them and they were left on the listing ship. After 24 hours it became apparent that the ship was sinking, and the POWs were able to break through the hatch covers. Some were able to escape from the ship before it sank. The ladder from one of the holds to the deck failed, and the Royal Artillery POWs in the hold could not escape; they were last heard singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”. Survivors reported that Japanese guards first fired on the POWs who reached the deck; and that other Japanese ships used machine guns to fire at POWs who were in the water. Later, however, after some Chinese fishermen started rescuing survivors, the Japanese ships also rescued survivors.

The British government insisted that over 800 of these men died either directly as a result of the sinking, or were shot or otherwise killed by the Japanese while swimming away from the wreck. The ship was not marked to alert Allied forces to the nature of its passengers. The Japanese Government insisted that British prisoners were in fact not deliberately killed by Japanese soldiers and criticised the British statement.

Detail from The Hong Kong Signal Company account

Before dawn on 1 October 1942 off the small islands at the eastern extremity of the Zhoushan archipelago near Shanghai, Lieutenant Commander Rob Roy MacGregor, United States Navy, commanding the submarine USS Grouper, spotted a perfect target—a Japanese freighter of about 7,000 tons. Having delayed his attack until just after daylight, MacGregor fired a first salvo of three torpedoes; all missed. A fourth hit the freighter’s stern and she hove to. Sometime later, seeing that she was not sinking, MacGregor fired a fifth torpedo and then a sixth, which also missed. Grouper had now been spotted, however, and under attack she made a run for safety.

The freighter was the SS Lisbon Maru, a 22-year-old general cargo ship converted to carry a human cargo. On board were 1,834 prisoners of war from Hong Kong and 780 Japanese soldiers.

Japan had attacked Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. After 17 days of hard fighting the garrison surrendered on Christmas Day—for the first time, a British colony had been captured and a little under 11,000 men went into captivity on or near the island. Early in 1942, the Japanese reorganised the prisoners, with those of the British Army being imprisoned in Sham Shui Po Barracks in Kowloon. Officers were moved to Argyle Street Camp, also in Kowloon, in April 1942, along with some men to act as cooks and batmen. Amongst the prisoners in Sham Shui Po were the men of the Hong Kong Signal Company.

When the battle began, the Company numbered seven officers and 178 other ranks. Its efforts during the battle, which were highly praised, were greatly added to by a section from the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, numbering 33 all ranks, which supported ‘C’ Force, the Canadian contingent. Additionally, support was provided by the signalers of the locally raised Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force Fortress Signal Company and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force Signals. The diary compiled by the Chief Signals Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Eustace Levett, describes in detail the work done by the Company during the fighting and it is clear that it contributed materially to the battle. For their services during the defence of Hong Kong Lieutenant Colonel Levett would be awarded the OBE, Lieutenant Spong earned an MBE, Sergeant Charles Page and Corporal James Stott were awarded the Military Medal and Signalman Colin Hodgson was mentioned in dispatches.

Needing labour to support the war economy at home, the Japanese planned to move prisoners from Hong Kong to Japan in the summer of 1942. The first transportation of 620 men left on board the SS Shi Maru on 4 September. The second transportation was scheduled for the end of the month.

In late September 1942, 1,834 men were moved to the docks to board the freighter Lisbon Maru; this contingent included three officers and 126 other ranks from the Hong Kong Signal Company, including Sgt Cecil Bundy. On 26 September, 780 Japanese soldiers, including some wounded men, boarded the ship and she sailed the next day. Conditions on board for the prisoners were grim—the holds were cramped, the air was hot and foul, food was minimal, and diseased men went untreated. Diptheria broke out after a few days at sea and the few medical supplies available soon ran out. Hugging the coast, the ship sailed north until on 1 October it was in the East China Sea about 20 miles off the Zhoushan archipelago.

On the evening after it had been hit while under tow to shallower water, the ship began to list, and a Japanese destroyer and another cargo ship took off most of the Japanese soldiers and crew. The hatches to the holds had been battened down and the prisoners were left to their fate as the Lisbon Maru settled by the stern. The following morning the ship listed further, and men began to break out of the hold, only to be confronted by guards willing to shoot them down. The guards were soon overpowered, and the men took to the sea. Land could be seen in the distance—the Dongji Islands—and those that could struck out, taking hours to swim the four miles or so to land. Some were picked up by Chinese fishing boats that had set out from the island when they were told the swimmers were British. Later in the day some men were picked up by Japanese boats.

It was on 2 October that Signalman Topliff, who had managed to swim to the islands, acted most bravely. The currents along the islands’ weather shores were strong and the waves battered the shoreline with considerable force. Topliff saw that another survivor was unable to reach shore and was being taken out to sea by a change in the current. Although exhausted, and at considerable risk, he went back into the water and rescued an officer of the Middlesex Regiment, Captain Christopher Man.

Eight hundred and twenty-eight men died when the Lisbon Maru sank or in trying to swim to safety or were murdered in the water by the Japanese. One officer and 49 Royal Signals soldiers died, among them were Sergeant Page and Corporal Stott, who would never hear that they had been rewarded for their gallantry during the battle; all are commemorated on the Sai Wan Memorial in Hong Kong.

The survivors from the Lisbon Maru, including Cecil, were taken by the Japanese to Shanghai before sailing again for Japan and captivity. Forty-four men, those too sick to be moved and men detailed to look after them, were left behind in Shanghai. Sixteen of these men died, including two soldiers of the Corps—Corporal Joseph Watts and Signalman William Newbold, whose ashes were buried in Woosung (Wusong) Cemetery; they were reinterred in Yokohama War Cemetery in 1946.

Seventy-nine survivors from the Signal Company, including Cecil, finally arrived in Japan and went to work in Osaka as stevedores in the port; most remained there, although some were moved to other camps in the region. A further 23 men were brought to Japan on other transports. Sadly 17 men including Cecil, did not see the end of the war; their ashes are interred in Yokohama War Cemetery. Two others died in an air crash after their release in 1945.

The Hong Kong Signal Company had suffered grievously—93 men, more than half, were killed in action, died of wounds or died in captivity.

Official Date of Death: 28 Oct 1942 aged 37 (Cecil was actually 32 born in 1910)

Probate Date:  12 Jun 1946 Winchester, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom

Beneficiary’s Name: Dorothy Kitty Bundy

Ashes interred & commemorated at YOKOHAMA WAR CEMETERY Brit. Sec. L. D. 4.


War Medal 39-45
39-45 Star

George Clegg

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