Sub-series ETN 1/3/13 - Interview with Tom Eaton conducted by Imperial War Museum

Identity area

Reference code

ETN 1/3/13


Interview with Tom Eaton conducted by Imperial War Museum


  • c 1996 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

5 compact cassettes.

Context area

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Please note that the content of these recordings may cause distress and contain language which may cause offence.

No written material was deposited with these recordings which would allow for the verification in spelling of names. For this reason, the Norfolk Record Office would be pleased to hear from anyone who notices any inaccuracies in the spelling of names cited in the text given below.

In ten parts.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 1':

Subjects covered in interview include First World War, schools and education, Second World War, working life, transport, food and leisure. Places mentioned include Norwich, Tidworth Park, Wymondham, Attleborough and Thetford.

00:00-05:00 - The male interviewer asks Major Eaton (ME) when and where he was born. He replies with Norwich, 1918. He explains that he and his father were solicitors. He describes his siblings including a brother in the RAF who died in 1941 and a sister who was in Princess Mary's Nursing Service. He remembers his education, mentioning Miss Copeman of a local kindergarten school in Norwich, Winton school on Newmarket Road, Norwich, Aldeburgh Lodge near Thorpeness, Suffolk, from 1927-1932, finally attending Stow from 1932-1936. He explains that he was better at games than academic subjects and mentions being in Stow OTC (Officer's Training Corps), attending camps in Tidworth Park and Strensall, gaining a certificate enabling him to enter the Territorial Army (TA). ME describes the OTC training after being asked.

05:01-10:00 - ME continues to describe the training in the OTC including taking part in a Vickers machine gun section. He mentions transporting the guns by cart while on camp at Tidworth Park. He is asked whether they fired any weapons but ME cannot remember. He mentions a trip to Netheravon, the machine gun school. ME describes Major R. H. Haworth, the OTC commander at Stow who gained a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) in the First World War and went on to instruct at Sandhurst. He explains that his father was commander of the Special Constables in Norwich during the First and Second World Wars, describing his father's influence on his career including being articled to him in 1936. He describes his interest in joining the TA. ME and the interviewer begin to discuss events in Germany.

10:01-15:00 - ME describes himself as politically conscious, joining the Junior Imperial League in Norwich and the relationship between the legal profession and the TA. He mentions the 4th Battalion, describing their headquarters at Chapelfield Drill Hall, on the corner of Chapelfield Road, Grapes Hill and The Tuns Inn, Norwich. He mentions Captain Francis Drake Briscow, the adjutant of the 4th Battalion. He describes his family's standing in Norwich as hereditary freemen and the arrival of his great great grandfather to Norwich in about 1790, and the relation of this to his acceptance into the 4th Battalion. He mentions the rarity of his commission, being signed by Edward VIII. He describes his first posting to B Company of the 4th Battalion, Commanding Officer Major A. E. Knights (MK), covering the area of Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford and East Harling. ME mentions that the TA was under strength in 1936-1938, and remembers people carrying flags to represent other companies during exercises. He remembers drill night in Wymondham.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues describing drill nights and the drill hall in Wymondham, mentioning the Norfolk rail service. He explains travelling there in his parents' car (Baby Austin). The interviewer asks ME about his role on drill nights. ME explains that he supervised and instructed, describing the exercises and the role of the other participants. He mentions another officer, Marler Dray, a corn merchant from Attleborough who was killed in Singapore. He describes the PSI (permanent staff instructor), 'Tiny' Long (TL), an asthmatic with an expert shot. ME describes how TL recruited for the TA in the area, mentioning Hardingham, Harling and Holt, with only a military bicycle.

20:01-25:00 - ME explains why people were attracted to the TA, describing the pay and benefits, including 'Smoking Concerts', held at the Royal in Attleborough. He describes the food and the entertainment, including Sidney Grapes from Potter Heigham, a Norfolk storyteller. He explains that the officers and the men socialised at the concert together without women, emphasizing the importance of friendliness in the detachment. He explains how men travelled to drills, mentioning Colonel Edwards of the Hardingham Estate. ME describes how the battalion members referred to each other by rank, mentioning Sergeant Roberts, NCO.

25:01-end - ME explains the benefits of being in an East Anglian division, knowing other members and being from the same area. The interviewer asks whether ME trained alongside the men, he explains he supervised only, because of his OTC certificate. ME describes the difficulties of transporting the troops to the countryside, mentioning rifle training at Thetford range. He describes the officers using land belonging to Harry Wharton at Thrigby to conduct tactical exercises without troops (TEWTS). He mentions Eaton Hall and grounds, built by Jonathan Davy in 1790, where the officers would dine after TEWTS. He gives examples of what was covered at TEWTS.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 2':

Subjects covered by the interview include First World War, leisure, Second World War, working life. Places mentioned include Norwich, Arundel Park, Loddon, Wymondham and Colchester.

00:00-05:00 - The interviewer introduces the subjects from the previous reel and asks about the officer's mess in B Company. ME explains why they did not have one, mentioning Major A. E. Knights (MK) and the smoking concert. He explains that there were weekend TEWTS, mentioning Barton Mills and Colonel John Jewson (JJ), and an annual dance for 4th Battalion officers at Samson and Hercules house. He mentions his first camp at Dibgate, near Folkstone, in 1937, and describes a TA course at Sandhurst in 1938 which he attended, mentioning the Bren gun, the Lewis gun and the 2 pounder anti-tank gun.

05:01-10:00 - ME continues to describe weaponry, then mentions the 1938 camp in Arundel Park and remembers the officer's mess at the camp. He describes how to play games called 'Are you there Moriarty' and 'High Cockalorum'. He tells an anecdote about an officer who broke his neck playing High Cockalorum in Ross on Wye. ME talks about the alcohol consumed in the mess.

10:01-15:00 - The interviewer asks about the 4th Battalion's alcohol consumption in peacetime. ME describes them as 'sensible'. He explains the rules for conversation in the mess and describes what was discussed. He mentions entertaining superior officers. He remembers his last camp at Falmer in 1939. The interviewer mentions the Munich crisis in 1938 and ME describes the effects this had on his experiences in the TA. He describes how the doubling of the TA affected the 4th Battalion and the creation of the new 6th Battalion, mentioning Norwich

15:01-20:00 - ME continues talking about the division of Norfolk amongst the battalions, mentioning Yarmouth, Loddon, Wymondham, Attleborough and Thetford. He talks about recruitment for the TA and national service. ME describes JJ, mentioning the First World War, Gaza and Jewson's timber merchants. He goes on to describe MK, mentioning the First World War and France.

20:01-25:00 - ME continues describing MK. He talks about transferring to Loddon, mentioning Phillip Hall, estate agent, of Wymondham, Laurie Barrett, articled clerk, from Cambridge. He explains that Loddon was the 3 inch mortar detachment and describes the relevant training and procedure. He mentions Stubbs Green, Hales Green and Beccles. He describes the Loddon detachment, mentioning Command Sergeant Major W. R. Paige who was killed in Singapore and his brother Jerry Paige.

25:01-end - ME continues describing the Loddon detachment and mortar training. He describes a mortar course in Colchester he attended in 1939 with Sir Paul Hawkins who was prisoner at St Valery. He describes the tactical role and technical capabilities of the mortars, mentioning the training at Colchester and the camp at Falmer.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 3':

Subjects covered in interview include Second World War, working life. Places mentioned include Loddon, Norwich and Yarmouth.

00:00-05:00 - ME talks about the TAs preparations for World War Two, mentioning Falmer. He tells an anecdote about a trip to Letheringsett in 1939 for a party where people talked of war. He mentions Sir Samuel Hoare of Sidestrand. He describes being embodied before the declaration of war; driving to the drill hall in Loddon; relocating to Chapelfield drill hall because of billeting problems and the occupation of the battalion at this stage.

05:01-10:00 - ME continues describing the battalion's occupation at the outbreak of war. He describes relocating to Gorleston Holiday Camp where they stayed until 1940, and then moving to Langley Park. He explains the location of the other companies, mentioning Belton, Yarmouth Race Course and Acle. He describes celebrating his 21st birthday at Woodbridge on a platoon commander's course. He explains that the TA were training their officers, including new courses in Felixstowe run partially by Major Litten of the 4th Battalion Essex, and describes what was taught.

10:01-5:00 - ME continues to describe the training on the courses; explains moving from the mortars to A company at Yarmouth Race Course, second in command to Alan Tunbridge (AT). He mentions a gas training course at Winterbourne Gunner, a small arms school in Hythe and a company commander course at Plas Newydd. He counts the number of courses he took part in and explains their importance, describing the fear of gas attacks and the training procedures.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues to describe the fear of gas attacks; AT's background and career; the responsibilities of the second in command of a company; how companies were organised and the role of the company commander. He mentions punishments and discipline, comparing Norfolk men to those of other regions, referencing Highlanders and Geordies. He mentions the then Sergeant Major of A Company, Algie Mann (AM) of Yarmouth and explains why he was known as 'Mr Football'.

20:01-25:00 - ME continues to describe AM, comparing his role to other Company Sergeant Majors such as Bill Nelson (a Police Constable in the Norfolk Constabulary and Sergeant Major of C Company in 1941). He mentions Fred Brown, living in Thorpe at the time of recording, who became acting Regimental Sergeant Major of the battalion after the death of Joe Lung. The interviewer asks how drafts (regulars and Norfolk and Wiltshire regiments of the militia) fitted into the battalion. ME describes the groups and the attitudes towards them, mentioning Drummer Wones, a bugler. The interviewer mentions Dunkirk asking how this affected the troops, ME describes the bombing at the time.

25:01-30:00 - ME continues to describe the strategies taken after Dunkirk. He describes defending the coast with positions at the race course, on the road between Yarmouth and Caister , and at Hopton. He describes the laying of beach mines mentioning the death of Corporal Gunnel. He describes his role as Liaison Officer and tells an anecdote of an accident on the Thetford to Bury St Edmunds road.

30:01-end - ME finishes telling the anecdote of the accident, referencing the minimal safety equipment.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 4':

Subjects covered include Second World War, working life, transport, travel, health and welfare. Places mentioned include Cambridge, Stobs Camp, Hawick and Blackburn.

00:00-05:00 - ME describes the role of the Liaison Officer in September 1940; an invasion alert on the 22nd of September, (Operation Cromwell). Mention is made of the battalion's move to Cambridge. ME explains how training was increased for active service mentioning conditions at Barton Range in Cambridgeshire. He describes his role as officer in charge of the firing point and the purpose of the training. He mentions the division's move to the Scottish Lowlands and Stobs Camp, Hawick in January 1941.

05:01-10:00 - ME describes Stobs Camp; the conditions and the training that took place, mentioning Tweed Valley and Peebles. He tells an anecdote of one of the officers called Mark Quinn, a journalist for the Daily Mirror, telephoning the newspaper from camp. He describes route marches and their purpose. The interviewer asks whether the troops knew they may be sent to Egypt. ME explains what was known.

10:01-15:00 - ME explains what he believed the destination of his battalion would be. The interviewer mentions this was cancelled and asks about training in Blackburn in April 1941. ME describes the purpose of this training, and the defence of the Skipton Gap. He credits Commanding Officer John Jewson (JJ) and Colonel Alfred Knights (AK) with the effectiveness of the battalion. He mentions river crossings in the Ribble Valley. The interviewer mentions the move to Ross-on-Wye in August 1941 and ME explains the purpose of this move in relation to other troops and the importance of relocation. The interviewer asks about the change in Colonel, from JJ to AK. ME describes how the company reacted to this.

15:01-20:00 - ME tells an anecdote about the 2nd Battalion in Burma who had Jock Carroll posted to them and who did not succeed. He describes the differences between JJ and AK and mentions JJ's book. He then remembers an inspection by the King at Gorleston in July/August 1941, but cannot recall one at Ross. The interviewer mentions his promotion to Commander of C Company in September 1941. ME mentions Frank Nicholls, previous commander and explains why the role was given to him. ME mentions Bill Nelson, (Sergeant Major) and a man known as 'Branch', (Quartermaster Sergeant). He describes the command of the company when he was made commander, mentioning Leslie Forks, Commander of B Company, Tom Phillips, Commander of D Company, Alan Tunbridge, Commander of A Company, Roy Humphrey, Commander of Headquarters and John Packard who was second in command of the battalion and Mike Gowing as adjutant.

20:01-25:00 - The interviewer asks how ME felt about these men. ME describes the relationships within the battalion. He lists his platoon officers (a man known as 'Jeffs', W. H. Shannon and J. R. Tomkins) and how they died. He mentions his second in command, Morris Gaymer, of the Wymondham [Attleborough] cider manufacturer who died in Singapore. ME explains that there was a battalion mess in which JJ entertained. The interviewer asks about the tropical kit they were issued, and ME describes the troops' reactions and practicalities. He describes the preparations for embarkation, mentioning that the 18th Division were the first fully equipped division to leave Britain after Dunkirk. He describes his family reactions to his embarkation and the journey, via Liverpool.

25:01-end - ME describes the ship they crossed the Atlantic in called 'The Andes'; the conditions on board and travelling on the American ships after transferring in Nova Scotia. He mentions the three remaining troop ships; 'The Wakefield' (The Manhattan), 'The West Point' (The America) and 'The Mount Vernon' (The Washington). He compares the conditions for officers and troops on the American ships.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 5':

Subjects covered include World War Two, travel and transport. Places mentioned include Cape Town, India, Singapore, Serangoon, Johor Straits and Pulau Ubin.

00:00-05:00 - ME describes the division's arrival in Cape Town. He describes visiting places of interest such as Parliament Gardens and Table Mountain. He tells an anecdote about General Smutts attending a dance and criticizing the Americans reluctance to join the war. He mentions the troops' treatment of the South African natives, and compares this to the Japanese treatment of prisoners in the war camps. ME begins to describe their journey along the east coast of Africa.

05:01-10:00 - ME explains that the 'Mount Vernon' left for Mombasa; describes their arrival in Bombay on Boxing day; his first impressions of India; their pastimes while stationed in India, commenting on their lack of jungle training. He describes the accommodation, conditions and transport by rail to the troopship called 'Wakefield'.

10:01-15:00 - ME describes the weather in India at the time of year. He describes the reaction on the 'Wakefield' when it turned left out of Bombay. The interviewer asks about the pamphlets provided on jungle warfare which ME cannot remember. He remembers part of the convoy being bombed in the Sunda Strait, sinking 'The Empress of Asia'. He describes the division's arrival in Keppel Harbour, Singapore, and the scattering of the division into company positions, his company being located at Serangoon Jetty.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues describing the division locations, mentioning Pulau Ubin. ME then describes C Company's actions at Serangoon Jetty including reconnaissance and the effect of mangrove swamps, mentioning the 53rd Brigade's escape from Johor through the swamps. He describes their observation of local inhabitants, and that all the boats should have been destroyed but that Colonel Knights (CK) had to complete this. The interviewer asks whether ME was aware of the Japanese approach.

20:01-25:00 - ME remarks that he was unaware of events outside Singapore. He describes a 'secret group' who were working in Serangoon with radio equipment, but did not pass information on. The interviewer asks about Pulau Ubin and ME cannot remember stationing platoons from C Company there. He remarks that the island has now been converted into a tourist attraction. Mention is made by ME and the interviewer of the Japanese landing on Pulau Ubin in February. ME describes moving out as part of 'Tomforce' under Colonel Thomas of the Northumberland Fusiliers, of which ME describes that he felt unaware of being part of a force and explains his feelings towards the Japanese as an enemy at the time.

25:01- end - ME continues describing the journey from Serangoon, mentioning the MacRitchie Reservoir. He describes the troops who had been defending the Johor Straits retreating as they approached, shouting and the effect this had on the men, mentioning their lack of experience. He describes how the local inhabitants dropped a sack of flour nearby to indicate their position to the enemy planes, causing them to withdraw.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 6':

Subjects covered include Second World War, health and welfare. Places mentioned include Johor Strait, Serangoon, Bukit Timah and Norwich.

00:00-05:00 - The interviewer reminds ME of the point they had reached with the previous reel and asks about casualties the battalion suffered. ME explains there had been none, but mentions an ambush of B Company. He describes the air activity and the location of the companies near the race course, recounting an incident in which he encountered a man outside the dug-out who he shoots and kills.

05:01-10:00 - ME continues describing the aforementioned incident mentioning Henry Fowler, an intelligence officer. He describes how the man entered the camp, identified ME as Commander, and had stolen the uniform and equipment. He explains they were beyond Japanese lines of advancement and were shelled, before being given commands to withdraw. He describes his first experience of being under full fire and their withdrawal from the camp.

10:01-15:00 - ME continues to describe their withdrawal, mentioning the death of the Regimental Sergeant Major Lunn at headquarters and describing the Japanese use of snipers. He mentions an article in 'The Spectator' by Jim Swanton which references the shooting of Major Merry by a sniper. He describes the types of fire they were under, mentioning bombs, machine guns and mortars and that they had not yet seen any Japanese troops. He explains that they withdrew to the Bukit Timah road and attempts to provide dates for the movements of the troops from Serangoon Jetty to Bukit Timah. He mentions that the Japanese attacked their position at Bukit Timah.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues describing the Japanese attack on their position at Bukit Timah, mentioning the death of Maurice Gaymer, his second in command and his own wounded arm. ME and the interviewer discuss who would have taken over the company in his absence, mentioning Officer Jeffs and Major Faux. He describes his treatment, telling an anecdote about overhearing the surgeons considering amputation while under anaesthetic. They discuss the surrender to the Japanese, and that when ME woke up he was a prisoner. ME describes his feelings when he awoke. He mentions the mortar platoon officer David Bregal (DB) who contracted septicaemia.

20:01-25:00 - ME describes DB's death, and considers whether the Japanese would have allowed visitors to the patients, explaining that he still hadn't seen Japanese troops. ME describes how their training was useful or not in relation to their conditions. They discuss the rubber plantations, fear of gas, infiltration and ambush. ME describes the ambush of B Company.

25:01- end - ME comments that they were the first fully equipped division, intended for the Middle East, to which their training was suited. He describes the wound to his arm and the treatment, attributing his healing to maggots. He mentions R. H. Mottram (RM), author of 'The Spanish Farm', and later Lord Mayor of Norwich. ME concludes with an anecdote about RM.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 7':

Subjects covered include health and welfare, Second World War, travel, food and drink. Places mentioned include Singapore, Bukit Timah, Padang, Changi and Selarang.

00:00-05:00 - ME describes his feelings about landing in Singapore, their dependence on motor transport as new troops without reconnaissance in unknown territory and mentions 'Tomforce'. They discuss his period in the Fullerton Buildings (hospital with makeshift operating rooms for wounded British soldiers), lack of interaction with the Japanese and progression of treatment for an arm wound, mentioning the Roberts Hospital.

05:01-10:00 - ME continues talking about treatment for his wound. The interviewer mentions the bayoneting of Norfolk soldiers by Japanese troops in Alexandra Hospital. ME describes this incident, then returns to talking about his treatment and hospital life, including being guarded by Japanese and Sikhs. ME mentions the Indian National Army and explains that until he was discharged he did not travel to either Changi or the Padang. He describes the rations in the hospitals as inadequate and explains that detailed information on his discharge from hospital can be found with the notebook he placed with the Norfolk Record Office [later transferred to the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, Norwich, on request of Tom Eaton], mentioning the state of his arm upon his discharge.

10:01-15:00 - ME continues to describe lasting damage from his arm wound. He then describes conditions in Padang, including the officers mess and the mixing of the 4th and 6th battalions. He mentions Major Chaplain, Monty Smythe, John Cose and Henry Fowler. He explains that Colonel Knights (CK) and the majority of the 4th Battalion had moved towards Bukit Timah and describes the relationship between the Japanese and other armies guarding the camps, mentioning the Indian National Army. He describes working parties leaving the camp to cut wood, explaining that he took responsibility for supervising food distribution within the camp and explains what that entailed.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues to describe the process of food management and distribution within the camp. He describes the move to Selarang which had better accommodation, mentioning Knobby Clark (Quartermaster of 5th Norfolks) and Sergeant Boris (5th Norfolks). He describes the camp diet in detail, including available vegetables. He explains that Lord De Ramsey, later Lord Lieutenant of Peterborough or Cambridgeshire [Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire from 1947-1965, and Huntingdon and Peterborough from 1965-1968] established gardening at Changi and lists what was grown.

20:01-25:00 - ME continues describing the food within the camp, explaining what was rationed and what was supplemented. He mentions the few bits of meat, including buffalo and shark. He describes making the equivalent of Cornish pasties, and a rice based dish called a 'stopper'. The interviewer asks how long they were camping outside in tents and ME explains that Changi's military base status meant it had permanent buildings. He then describes the variety of accommodation at Changi.

25:01-end - ME continues describing the accommodation at Changi. He explains that the Japanese started sending out working camps, mentions River Valley Camp and explains that the Japanese chose an advance party to travel to Thailand, mentioning John Lee Barrett (Officer of the 4th Norfolks). He describes how prisoners were moved North from Changi, while moving others in from Java and Sumatra. He describes the 'Selarang incident' in which General Fukuye attempted to break the Geneva Convention.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 8':

Subjects covered include Second World War, food and drink, health and welfare, working life and travel. Places mentioned include Singapore, Selarang and Changi.

00:00-05:00 -ME continues talking about the Selarang incident, mentioning some photographs which may be part of his collection at the Norfolk Record Office [later transferred to the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, Norwich, on request of Tom Eaton]. He explains how the incident related to the attempted escape and execution of some prisoners. He describes the crowded conditions in the square mentioning cholera, food, pastimes and hygiene. The interviewer explains that the senior officers signed the agreement, and ME describes what happened afterwards with the Japanese moving prisoners towards Thailand, mentioning Siam Road, Changi and the railway. He mentions a short stay in hospital.

05:01-10:00 - ME describes the arrival of a Red Cross ship with medical and other supplies from South Africa and how this affected his first bout of malaria. He describes what was called the 'Garden and Wood Area', where groups felled trees for fuel and where ME served as messing officer. He mentions the introduction of inoculations. ME explains that in 1943 the groups known as 'F and H Force' were moved from Changi and Selarang to work on the railway and only half returned. He describes how men were relocated from prisons and other camps into Selarang to create an aerodrome in Padang. He explains that his exclusion from F and H Force was due to being unfit, and describes his treatment.

10:01-15:00 - ME continues describing treatment for his damaged nerves and arm. He explains that he continued acting as messing officer for the remainder of the 4th, 5th and 6th Battalions of the 18th Division who were supervised by Lieutenant Colonel Eric Prattley (EP), previously Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion and of the 5th Battalion while at the River Valley Camp. He mentions EPs adjutant, Michael Keith and his Quartermaster, Knobby Clark. He describes the facilities available for cooking, explaining that Changi was possibly the most well equipped of the camps. He describes his daily routine as messing officer.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues describing his daily routine, including giving the men the opportunity to voice their concerns. He agrees with the interviewer that there were frustrations in the camp, and explains that as a known officer in The Royal Norfolk Regiment, he was trusted. He describes their supply of news from secret radios, mentioning the role of the news liaison officers. The interviewer asks about entertainment in the camp and ME mentions Major Fred W. Bradshaw of the 148, Ozzie Daltrey of the 135 Field Regiment and performances in the camp. He describes his own role as organizer. The interviewer asks if any education was provided and ME confirms there was.

20:01-25:00 - ME mentions Paul Burrow who began the process to enter the Church and later became a bishop. He mentions the workshops in which they made toothbrushes and vitamin C and explains the pastimes employed to maintain morale. The interviewer asks ME how his morale was in the camp, and ME describes it. He credits EP with maintaining morale and the importance of conversation. He mentions Jim Swanton talking to the Australians about cricket scores. He tells an anecdote about Lieutenant Donald Steward (DS) of the 4th Norfolks (a director of Steward and Patteson Ltd, brewery of Norwich) giving lectures on the process of brewing beer.

25:01-end - ME continues telling the anecdote about DS. He mentions Colonel Knights' book. ME describes the demographic of the occupants of Changi and their general health, mentioning malaria, dysentery, injury, vitamin deficiency and beriberi. He explains that deaths were constant but not epidemic. He describes the Japanese process of marching the prisoners in Java and Thailand, explaining that this would have caused higher fatalities had it taken place in Changi.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 9':

Subjects covered include Second World War, health and welfare, food and drink, working life and travel. Places mentioned include Singapore and Changi.

00:00-05:00 - ME describes beriberi in detail, including the differences between wet and dry beriberi. He mentions Repps Goodwin and tells an anecdote about a man known as Rabbits White of Hindringham who was in the 5th Battalion who contracted wet beriberi and survived. ME lists the illnesses he contracted and explains how his early hospital stay in Singapore resulted in his continuing good health. ME explains that the Japanese distributed money to workers which could be spent on cigarettes.

05:01-10:00 - ME recalls buying a mug of peanuts while in hospital. The interviewer asks whether there was a difference in the living conditions of the men and the officers before going into Changi gaol and ME describes them, mentioning the 'coolie quarters', 'attap huts' and the gaol. He describes the gaol kitchens; the process of feeding the inmates; the military hierarchy, and how the Japanese promoted more 'pliant' officers, placing Lieutenant Colonel Newey (CN) in charge of the camp.

10:01-15:00 - ME describes the role of CN and the camp hierarchy, mentioning Colonel Prattley. The interviewer asks whether CN was more pliant, and ME will not comment. He mentions Colonel Knights and Colonel Toosey who were in charge of camps on the railway. He explains that CN was fortunate as the Japanese man known as Takahausi who was in charge of Changi, was sympathetic. He describes the relationship between the prisoners and the Japanese guards; that many of the guards were Korean, describing them as 'tolerable'. ME emphasizes that Changi was effectively a convalescent camp and therefore very different from the working camps.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues to describe the differences between Changi and the other camps, mentioning the pressure on the guards from their superiors. He describes his role in the working parties, building the aerodrome, detailing the daily routine and the location of the aerodrome. He explains that the working parties he took part in were not subjected to the same treatment as those on the railway.

20:01-25:00 - ME continues describing the daily routine with the working parties on the aerodrome. He mentions the loss of salt due to perspiration, describing the process the prisoners used to make salt. He explains that they were aware the end of the war was approaching and that the prisoners knew about the dropping of the atomic bomb before the Japanese guards in the camp. He explains that he was aware of an invasion taking place but had no concept of the scale. The interviewer asks what happened to the guards.

25:01-end - ME comments that the guards disappeared, explaining his understanding of why this was. He describes how the rations gradually improved after this. He explains that it was around three weeks until the allied forces arrived and mentions the contrast between their physical condition and that of the prisoners. He describes the role of the allied forces.

Recording entitled 'Major Eaton Reel 10':

Subjects covered include Second World War, health and welfare, travel, working life, family life. Places mentioned include Singapore, Changi, Norwich, Norfolk, and Guildford.

00:00-05:00 - The interviewer asks about the liberation of Changi camp. ME describes the process of the allied forces' entry into Keppel Harbour, recalling himself and Major Smythe visiting 'HMS Nelson'. He describes the process of returning to a European diet and mentions that they remained in camp accommodation until boarding the Polish ship called 'Sobieski'. The interviewer asks ME what his feelings were on liberation, and he describes how he was still dependent on others, remaining static in Changi which was being emptied. He recalls sailing from Singapore c 27 September 1945 on the 'Sobieski'.

05:01-10:00 - ME describes the voyage from Singapore to Liverpool, mentioning a refuel at Colombo. He tells an anecdote in which their guide in Colombo was sister of a man ME had been at school with, Major General D. B. Egerton. He describes visiting a military clothing and equipment depot near the entrance to the Red Sea and his actions on arrival in the United Kingdom including travelling back to Norwich.

10:01-15:00 - ME explains that he wasn't demobilized until 1946; describes his medical condition on return; the medical tribunal resulting from his damaged arm mentioning his disability pension and explaining how it has affected playing sports and other aspects of his life.

15:01-20:00 - ME continues talking about how his life has been affected by his damaged arm. He describes his actions between arrival and demobilization, including socializing and returning to work in a law office in Guildford. He describes cycling to and from Guildford during this period before taking the Law Society finals. He explains that the demobilization was implemented in grades. The interviewer asks whether ME experienced any difficulties adjusting to civilian life. ME explains he did not, but that his relationship with his parents may have changed.

20:01-25:00 - ME continues describing his adjustments to civilian life and relationships. He talks about joining Norwich City Council and his political activity including standing as the parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, 1951and 1955. He describes the pressure to take over his father's law firm, and his need for an outlet. He explains that he remained in the Territorial Army in the same battalion, the 4th Battalion of The Royal Norfolk Regiment which reformed in approximately 1947 and mentions attending a company commanders' course at the School of Infantry in Warminster in August 1947. He describes how the regiment had changed. He continues describing his political career, becoming Lord Mayor in 1957.

25:01-end - He describes meeting his wife who was keeper of Stranger's Hall. He remarks that he has been in the same room with the same desk for forty-two years. The interviewer thanks him.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Appears to be copies from open reel audio tape with each side of a cassette containing a recording from a reel.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions apply, contact Norfolk Sound Archive staff for details. The Norfolk Sound Archive acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this/these recordings and the rights of those not identified.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

ECopyDuration: 4 hours 51 minutes 20 seconds

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Ecopy part 1: scop_001-001418T001V001.wma (29 minutes 58 seconds)
Ecopy part 2: scop_001-001419T001V001.wma (28:58)
Ecopy part 3: scop_001-001420T001V001.wma (30:47)
Ecopy part 4: scop_001-001421T001V001.wma (28:51)
Ecopy part 5: scop_001-001422T001V001.wma (28:45)
Ecopy part 6: scop_001-001423T001V001.wma (29:26)
Ecopy part 7: scop_001-001424T001V001.wma (30:11)
Ecopy part 8: scop_001-001425T001V001.wma (29:33)
Ecopy part 9: scop_001-001426T001V001.wma (29:08)
Ecopy part 10: scop_001-001427T001V001.wma (25:43)

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 22/02/2012 by drobf. Modified 30/08/2019 by Droip.


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places