29.11.1943 No. 605 Squadron Fl/Lt. Grahame Prebble White
Operation: Transportation of PoW’s
Date: 29th November 1943 (Monday)
Unit: No. 605 Squadron
Serial: Not applicable
Base: RAF Tasikmalaja, Java
Location: Java Sea
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Grahame Prebble White NZ/411484 RNZAF Age 24. Missing believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
The Allied forces surrendered Java to the Japanese forces on Sunday 08th March 1942. Survivors from the Squadron and other units were then taken PoW. Later transported to the Island of Ambon to help build an airfield.
On the 29th November they were redrafted to return to Java when the Steamship they were on, the ‘SS Suez Maru’ was torpedoed at 08:00 hrs by the US Submarine ‘Bonefish’ North East of the Kangean Islands in the Java Sea.
Fl/Lt. Grahame Prebble White was on this ship and his body as that of all the 605 Squadron members lost that day were never recovered.
At 09:40 hrs the ‘SS Suez Maru’ disappeared from the surface - taking down many of the dead and seriously wounded who were unable to reach the decks. Some 200 plus survived and were on the surface clinging to pieces of the wreckage.
The captain of the Minesweeper that was acting as escort to the steamship orders the machine gunners to kill all those in the sea. By 16:30 hrs the killing stopped and the minesweeper left the area.
(After the war at Japanese War Crimes no action was taken against the Japanese Commander for this atrocity)
A memorial to the 414 British PoW's aboard the Suez Maru, who were murdered by the Japanese was dedicated on the 29th November 2013 at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.
A Detailed account of the ship, the sinking and subsequent atrocity, along with the trial documents and descriptions can be found in the book; "The Suez Maru Atrocity - Justice Denied!" ISBN-13: 978-0954272500
Fl/Lt. Grahame Prebble White. Singapore Memorial. Column 431. Born on the 03rd June 1919, the son of Harold Webb White and Gertrude Isobel White, of Wellington City, New Zealand.
Others from the Squadron lost from ‘SS Suez Maru’:
AC.2. Victor Lewis Clarke Brown 1407313 RAFVR Age 24. Singapore Memorial. Column 429. Son of Lewis William and Mary Jane Clarke Brown, of Buckland Brewer, Devon, England.
AC.1. Ernest Edward Checketts 1211362 RAFVR Age 21. Singapore Memorial. Column 428. Son of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Checketts, of Worcester, England.
AC.1. Colin Stuart Earl 1143310 RAFVR Age 42. Singapore Memorial. Column 428. Husband of Kate Earl, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.
AC.1. Alfred Frank Harris 1213243 RAFVR Singapore Memorial. Column 428. No further details.
Fl/Sgt. Stanley Kemp 531925 RAF Age 25. Singapore Memorial. Column 425. Husband of M.H. Kemp, of Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire, England.
AC.1. Cecil Frank Love 1046901 RAFVR Age 38. Singapore Memorial. Column 428. Husband of Annie Love, of Ashingdon, Essex, England.
Cpl. John Eden Palmer 903290 RAFVR. Singapore Memorial. Column 426. No further details.
LAC. Alfred Leslie Frank Pont 1012421 RAFVR Age 30. Singapore Memorial. Column 427. Husband of Minnie Pont, of Northfield, Birmingham, England.
AC.1. Derrick William Shouler 906113 RAFVR Age 23. Singapore Memorial. Column 428. Son of Frederick Percy Shouler, and of Doris Freda Shouler, of Torquay, Devon, England.
LAC. Cyril Geoffrey Tooth 805530 RAFVR Age 28. Singapore Memorial. Column 427. Husband of Winifred M. Tooth, of King's Norton, Birmingham, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, The Burma Star Association. Other sources as quoted below: