Double Tenth incident

Singapore Infopedia


On 27 September 1943, during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), seven Japanese shipping vessels were attacked and some sunk in Singapore waters.Although the saboteurs escaped unnoticed, the Japanese suspected that prisoners interned at Changi had been responsible for the incident. On 10 October 1943, the anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China, the Kempeitai (Japanese military police) raided the cells in Changi Prison, interrogating 57 prisoners, with tortures resulting in the death of 15. This Kempeitai raid is known as the Double Tenth incident, the name referring to the date when the arrests began.2

Except for personalities in essential services required by the Japanese and the neutrals such as Swedes and Danes, Europeans civilians were interned in Changi Gaol during the Japanese Occupation. The facility was run by the internees themselves, with the camp commandant and a committee elected to allocate work to the internees. Japanese sentries and the Japanese camp commandant connived to set up a black market for food. Wireless parts were easily smuggled into the prison,3 with an elaborate system set up to circulate weekly news by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) using sheets of copied notes. In fact, a book marked “W.S.” with notations of the weekly BBC news was collated and circulated by an internee, Walter Stevenson.4

Operation Jaywick
On 27 September 1943, a commando raid code-named Operation Jaywick, led by Captain Ivan Lyon, resulted in seven Japanese shipping vessels sunk or damaged in Singapore waters.5 The Japanese authorities received information from the Johor Branch of the Kempeitai that foreign internees in Changi Gaol had transmitted news to the raiding party. Lieutenant Colonel (then Major) Sumida Haruzo, chief of the Kempeitai, then received orders to investigate the Changi camp and arrest persons suspected of sabotage.6

Double Tenth Incident
At 9 am on 10 October 1943, internees at Changi Gaol assembled at the courtyard while the cells were thoroughly searched. A wireless set belonging to Walter Stevenson was found and he was immediately arrested. Similarly, a total of 19 men were arrested that day including barrister, Robert Heeley Scott, a prominent Foreign Office employee who was suspected to be the ringleader of the anti-Japanese elements; and John Long, the camp’s ambulance, driver who was executed. By 2 April 1944, a total of 57 men were arrested, with many other civilians from the city taken to either the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Central Police Station on South Bridge Road or a Smith Street residence that had been transformed into a temporary jail. For the next seven months, the suspects were kept in cramped quarters and subjected to constant interrogation and torture.7

Scott was first interviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Sumida Haruzo, and thereafter interrogated and tortured by Warrant Officer Monai Tadamori for a month. However, all Scott confessed to was being anti-Japanese, conveying nothing about Operation Jaywick. Scott was charged for his anti-Japanese propaganda and for his work with the wireless set in Changi. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in Outram Road Gaol. 15 internees out of the 57 arrested died under torture.8

On 18 March 1946, 21 Japanese soldiers and interpreters were put on trial for the torture and murder of civilians in a war crimes trial known as the Double Tenth trial.9

70th Anniversary
A ceremony was held on 26 September 2013 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Jaywick. In attendance were war veterans from Singapore, Australia and Britian, together with Australian and British high commissioners.10

Heng Wong

1. Lynette Ramsay Silver, Deadly Secrets: The Singapore Raids, 1942–45 (N.S.W: Sally Milner Pub, 2010), 163–166, 182. (Call no. RSING 940.5425957 SIL-[WAR])
2. Sumida Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo and Twenty Others (the ‘Double Tenth’ Trial), ed., Colin Sleeman and S. C. Silkin (London: W. Hodge, 1951), xv, xxii–xxiii, xxix, 3. (Call no. RCLOS 341.69 HAR); Timothy Pwee, “A War Crime Trial Snapshot,” Biblioasia, 11, no. 4 (January–March 2016): 34.
3. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvi–xviii; Pitt Kuan Wah and Leong Wee Kee, eds., Syonan Years 1942–1945: Living Beneath the Rising Sun (Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, 2009), 326. (Call no. RSING 940.93074595957 TAN-[WAR])
4. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xxiv.
5. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xxii; Constance Mary Turnbull, A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), 213. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
6. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xx, xxii, 6–7.
7. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xvi, xix, xxiii, xxv–xxix, 3, 7, 14.
8. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xxix, xxvi–xxviii.
9. Haruzo, Trial of Sumida Haruzo, xxx–xxxi, 1, 3; “‘Double Tenth’ Trial Opens,” Straits Times, 19 March 1946, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Andre Yeo and Kelvin Chan, “Commando Attack at Keppel Harbour,” New Paper, 27 September 2014, 14–15. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at January 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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