Close to the wind
A Story of Escape and Survival out of the Ashes of Singapore 1942
In May 1940, a group of Auckland yachtsmen who were members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve left for the war. Leonard Hill, a young Māori sailor, and his friends arrived in Singapore under siege. Playing to their strengths as small boat sailors, they manned fast motor launches, raiding and rescuing Allies from behind enemy lines. On the night of 13 February 1942, the eve of the fall of Singapore, they took two Fairmiles, ML310 and ML311, to evacuate members of the Allied High Command and survivors of sinking vessels. Hunted down by the Japanese, most of the almost one hundred men perished. Some became POWs, and of those who attempted to escape, only three succeeded: Leonard Hill, Herbert ‘Johnny’ Bull and Andrew Brough. This is the story of how they evaded the Japanese and survived.