Posted by: danguard | June 16, 2009

Day 9 – Wartime adventure, and things that go bump in the night

Hello followers. So did you enjoy your day’s rest from my incessant and no doubt slightly irritating prose? As nothing much of note happened yesterday I decided to give you some brief respite. Tonight, however, I intend to regale you with two stories I unearthed from the oral archives today. One is a stirring wartime tale of hardship, deceit and endeavour, which ultimately highlights life’s unpredictability and the randomness of fortune. The other is a ghost story (of sorts). Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin…

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a man who served in the Royal Malayan Navy. His name was Dahim Ahmad. He had only joined the navy two months previously when the Japanese began the war in the Pacific. After overrunning the British defences in Malaya and invading Singapore, the British gave the order to evacuate the island in February 1942. Ahmad was given a choice, either to stay in Singapore, or to leave with the British. He chose the latter, and found himself aboard one of 6 transports heading in convoy to Jakarta, at that point still part of the Dutch East Indies and friendly territory. During the journey though they came under attack from a Japanese bomber, and a bomb landed to the rear of Ahmad’s transport, and though it didn’t destroy her, it rendered her immobile. Ahmad, 40 Malay Navy comrades, and the European men, women and children who were also passengers aboard, were forced to abandon ship and land on nearby Bangka Island. Ahmad’s bad luck continued, as the following morning, the Japanese invaded the island and Ahmad and company were arrested as prisoners of war and he was put into forced labour. On the 2nd day, he was ordered to carry the ammunition for a company of Japanese troops marching across the island. After 2 or 3 kilometers they stopped for a rest, and under the pretext of going to the toilet, Ahmad made his way to a set of trees and bushes and promptly ran through the undergrowth and escaped. After 4 months on the run, he finally moved to a town where he got a job working for the Japanese military administration no less! After 2 and a half years he asked to be allowed to go to Jakarta in order to join the Imperial Japanese Navy. His request was granted, but it was merely a ploy, and on arriving on Jakarta he took up a job in a post office for a month, before attending navigation school and negotiating himself a position aboard a rice cargo vessel. As fortune would have it, the vessel was heading home, to Singapore! Upon arriving in port and seeing his chance to escape, he posed as a local coolie labourer to get passed the security guards at the port, and make his break for freedom and his family home. A few months later, the Japanese surrendered and the British returned, at which point Ahmad rejoined the Malay Navy.

'Ghost Ship' - RSS Endurance when she was the USS Holmes County

'Ghost Ship' - RSS Endurance when she was the USS Holmes County

Be warned, this next ghoulish tale will chill you down to your very soul! In 1975, the Singapore navy, now an independent force from the British, took delivery of an old American transport vessel, the USS Holmes County, renamed RSS Endurance. It was not long before strange happenings began occurring aboard the ship. Several of the men reported seeing a black sailor walking about in the engine room, however, no black sailors served in the Singapore navy. Neither was this a singular occurrence, and several more sightings were reported by others of this mysterious ghostly figure. Some say that the sailor was an American who died aboard the Holmes County during the Second World War. The chief engineer even remarked that he considered the figure an extra hand! To this day, however, the official line is, the Singapore Navy does not believe in ghosts.

You make up your own mind. But be sure to sleep with the light on tonight….



  1. Poor old Dahim Ahmad, it sounds like a series of ’24’ that never got aired, and took 4 years instead of 24 hours.

    What would have have likely been his destiny had he chose not to leave in the first place Mr Dan?

    And it sounds to me like someone in the engine room enjoyed smearing oil on their face and scaring people.

  2. To answer your question Mr Neil, Mr Ahmad woud most likely have been sent to one of the infamous Japanese POW camps, such as Changi. Not a pleasant fate. I’ve actually sent a letter to Mr Ahmad hoping to get an interview with him.

    As for your explanation regarding the ‘ghost’, you might be on to something! I’d inform the Singapore Navy immediately.

  3. I did inform them, this was their reply.

    From: Singapore Navy
    To: Mr Neil
    Subject: RE: RSS Endurance ghost

    Dear Mr Neil,

    Thank you for your comment regarding the legend of the ghost aboard RSS Endurance.

    Further investigation has yielded evidence that crew members aboard the ship took part in weekly poker games where the loser had to put oil on their face and walk round the engine room wearing a blindfold.

    If this sounds like fun, consider joining us on a competitive salary and 21 days paid annual leave.

    Goh Keng Tan

    Naval Officer

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