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Basham Brothers Missing in Action

It must have been bad enough having one son go missing in action, but it must have been almost unbearable having two.  This article featured in the Bromley & District Times local newspaper, reporting on two brothers who were reported missing after the fall of Singapore in 1942.

The brothers were the sons of Benjamin and Rose Basham of Bromley.  Bennett Thomas Basham was married to Constance Elsie (of Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk) who was living with his mother during the war.

Both brothers were members of the 118th Field Regiment (TA), which was formed in 1939 as a second line regiment to 65th (8th London) Field Regiment to accommodate the large number of South Londoners who wanted to enlist.  In 1941 the 118th were sent to India.  Soon after arriving news reached them of the loss of two ships defending Singapore (HMS Repulse & HMS Prince of Wales) and they were sent (sadly unwisely)  as reinforcements to Singapore.  They arrived amidst the chaos of air raids and took part in the final week’s battle (7-15th February 1942), but were unequipped and poorly prepared. 

At the fall of Singapore about 80,000 Indian, Australian and British Troops were taken prisons by the Japanese (including the 118th), with many transported in ships or marched to camps all over Asia.   The Basham brothers were taken prisoners of war and were sent to help with the construction of the notorious Burma-Siam Railway.  Sadly neither brother survived long. 

Bennett died on the 18th August 1943 (aged 30 years), and Sidney died on the 29th August 1943 (aged 24).  Both are buried at the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Mayanmar, close to the border with Thailand.

Drivers B.T. Basham and S.R. Basham

Two sons of Mrs R. Basham, 62 Raglan Road, Bromley, Drivers Bennett Thomas Basham (26) and Sidney Robert Basham (21), R.A. Regiment, have been reported missing after the fall of Singapore.

They were born at Crayford and went to the National School there, leaving Crayford for Bromley in 1936.

The brothers both worked as drivers in the Bromley district, and served in the Territorials (Royal Artillery).

Following the outbreak of war, they went over to France, came home after Dunkirk in 1941, and later in the year sailed for the East.

Mr B.T. Basham was married on October 11, 1941, to Miss Constance Hales, and his wife lives with this mother at 62 Raglan Road.

Two soldiers dressed in uniform, referenced as brothers Bennett Thomas Basham and Sidney Robert Basham

Source:
Bromley & District Times, 3rd April 1942 (page 4)
118th Regiment History – Lewisham War Memorials website
CWGC entry – Bennett Thomas Basham
CWGC entry – Sidney Robert Basham

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