Letter from Capt Bantley-Denniss

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by noah, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. noah

    noah Member

    I have joined the forum for a bit of help. I have a collection of first war stuff and do talks to youth groups and schools about it. last weekend I was helping a friend to move when he gave me a small bag containing officer pips, cap badges and shoulder badges for 'The Buffs' plus officer's pips (9) and (2) major crowns.

    Also in the bag were two letters, one of which stood out. typed on very thin paper and seems real, it reads-------

    From Capt G.A.Bartley-Denniss, R.A.
    Scarbutts, Boughton, Faversham, Kent.
    21st November 1945.

    I arrived in Tarsoa camp, on the Kwa Noi river about a week before John Died. I had served with him for three years in the 1st HKS regt., and was very distressed to find him so ill. I had brought up some "underground" wireless news with me, so I went to the hospital to see John and cheer him up with the news which was very momentous at the time, as we were all expecting the invasion of Italy.
    I was very upset to see how ill John looked, but, as filight.Lieut. Johnstone told you, he would not believe he was really ill, or in any danger, and he talked of expecting to be transferred to a better camp down in the plain of Siam. He was delighted with the news, and as I had been in touch with the "underground" service, he asked me to tell him all I knew about the Libyan and Tunisian campaigns. I felt he was getting rather excited than his health would permit, and I told him that he ought to rest, but he kept urging that he was perfectly alright, and only needed a little feeding up to be able to walk around again.
    Afterwards I saw him every day, until about two days before the end, when my own major, major F.R.Jevers, became dangerously ill, and I had to go and nurse him.
    I was deeply grieved to hear of John's death, although I am afraid we had expected it for several days before. I was one of the bearers at his Funeral. Six officers of the HKS acted as bearers at his funeral, and almost all the officers and men of the HSK in that camp who were fit enough, marched behind. John is buried in the hospital cemetery just above the river, rather a pretty place, very quite and peaceful under the Teak trees above the stream.
    John was, beyond any question, the finest young officer in any regiment of the HKS. Everyone in the HKS recognised this. He was intensely popular alike with regular officers, emergency officers and British officers and Indian other ranks. He knew everything there was to know about his job and about his men. He had a splendid knowledge of Urdu, and was one of the very few officers, regrettably few, who could converse on any subject fluently with his Indian troops. He went about his work with a keenness, and courage, which made us all realise that he was the best among us, and in every way a born leader of his men. I knew him equally well at work and play; I have played hockey and polo with him and I know that everything he did, he put his whole heart into, and was determined to give nothing of himself but the best.
    As you will know, he was the first officer in Malaya to receive the M.C. If I had been asked before the war to select the most likely officer to receive a decoration, I should without question have pointed to John. Splendid alike in promise and performance, his death has taken from the Royal Regiment one of the men it can lest afford to lose. He went through life and faced death equally with a pride and courage which we who knew him will never forget.
    " This was the happy warrior, this was he that every man in arms should wish to be"

    question 1, Who was John as I done a search on M.C. winners in Malaya but I didn't find a John.

    question 2 Were the buff's there?

    Question 3 what rank was John?

    all seems a bit strange with the items in the bag. the other letter is from a Rev .S.T.Percival returning to Guernsey after the occupation and describing his house and how the Germans had fortifed it.

    any help would be gratefully recived
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I assume 1st HKS regt is the 1st Hong Kong & Singapore Regiment Royal Artillery.
    That should help finding out who John was.

    9 Johns as first name in HKS on CWGC

    None with MC though :(

    Date of his death will be from late 1942 to early 1943.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    maybe this is him? He has MC & attached to HKS


    Rank: Lieutenant
    Service No: 74503
    Date of Death: 07/09/1943
    Age: 25
    Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery attd. 1. H.A.A. Regt. Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery
    Awards: M C
    Grave Reference: 4. B. 45.
    Additional Information: Son of Colonel Sir Charles Frederick Arden-Close, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., F.R.S., and of Lady Arden-Close (nee Percival), of Winchester.

    same surname as this chap's mother's maiden name.
    dbf likes this.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


  5. noah

    noah Member

    Thank you guys for that. very quick replies.

    It does seem to be John Christopher Close by first looks, well the strongest candidate anyhow.

    what or where would the Buffs fit into this any ideas? Was or could his father have been colonel in the buffs?
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    dbf likes this.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  8. Puttenham

    Puttenham Well-Known Member

    Wow, power of the forum. Well done !

  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  10. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    Bit of a puzzler this one.

    He was with 1HAA HKSRA in Singapore , definately not Hong Kong.
    However, 1HAA HKSRA were Singapore Fortress so this would make it impossible for him to have been taken prisoner on day 2 of the Japanese war.

    But, 1 battery of just 2 guns of 1HAA HKSRA had been sent to Brunei, so this seems to be the most likely place of his capture.

    The next time his name crops up is on 26/10/1942 when he is listed as being sent to the Railroad (from Singapore) as part of "W Party"

    Owen and bamboo43 like this.
  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I was hoping you might come along Mike, as you say an unusual posting and a puzzler. Might be worth lifting his index card at some point.
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList

    He was captured at Kota Bharu in Kelantan, Malaya. 1 HAA HK&SRA were manning 4x 3" AA guns on the airfield which was the target of the Japanese landing.
    After the RAAF abandoned the airfield, the gunners acted as a rearguard while the troops of 8 Indian Infantry Brigade withdrew from the beaches and the airfield. From scattered snippets (and memory), Close was captured, tied to a tree while the Japanese got on with the battle, then was flown to Saigon for interrogation before ending up on the Railway.
    There is a 'dramatised' account of the action in Gun Buster's book Victory Salvo. Apologies for being late to the party - that letter screamed 'Close' - thanks for posting it.
    Owen and Enigma1003 like this.
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The Buffs connection is perhaps more to do with Capt Bartley-Denniss living in Kent?
  14. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Excellent addition idler. I found a photo of his grave at Kanchanaburi, sadly it is a little blurred but confirms your details nicely:

    Close JC. Kan..jpg
  15. noah

    noah Member

    Thank you all for your input, I haven't got a great deal of time on my hands to research this so all the help is greatly received. I have a display for a local school coming up in a few weeks and this will be one of the items on show.

    When I get chance I will scan the letter and post it if it's of intrest to anybody.

  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks to Tony (bucklt) for this photo which I've cropped & resized.
    If you want the original large image noah I'll email it to you.

    Attached Files:

  18. noah

    noah Member

    if you could email it to me that would be great Owen.
  19. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Here's a photo of a young John Close from the book The Fall of Singapore by Robin and Justin Corfield:

    Owen and dbf like this.
  20. noah

    noah Member

    Here are the copied letters, hope this works :mellow:


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