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Maurice Edwards

Royal Marine

HMS Prince of Wales

 

Maurice is mentioned in 'The Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse', written by Alan Matthews.

Maurice Edwards - Royal Marine.

Was on the ship from its commissioning at Cammell Lairds at Birkenhead.

At the action when Bismark sunk the Hood and Prince was damaged. 

Took Winston Churchill to Little Placentia Harbour Newfoundland to meet President Roosevelt. 

Operation Halberd convoy to Malta during which HMS Nelson was hit in the bows by a torpedo.

 

Extracts from 'The Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse':

Force Z to Singapore.

Royal Marine Maurice Edwards recalled his feelings on leaving the colony onboard Prince of Wales:

"As we left the Straits of Johore I had a terrible feeling of foreboding we just didn't know what we were going to encounter but one thing I do remember is being convinced that we'd never get back to the colony in one piece "However Bert Wynn an Able Seaman onboard Repulse had different feelings on confrontation with the Japanese". "On leaving Singapore, Repulse was a hive of activity, all necessary equipment was checked, then double-checked; nothing was left to chance. For the first couple of hours I was in my action station where the main topic of conversation was how long would it take us to sink the Japanese warships felt to be in attendance around the coast of Singora. I still remember the feeling of absolute confidence running throughout the ship. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the kind of action we'd trained for during the past two years the outcome of such an engagement was felt to be a formality!"

 

Both ships were sunk by Jap aircraft.

Maurice's experience of the final bombing of the Prince:

"We were several decks below with a Stoker P/O who'd been ordered to flood the High-Angle Ammunition Magazine though before doing this we managed to open the armoured hatch and get the lads out. My next recollection is being alongside another Marine close to the hatch leading through the armoured deck when the bombs struck the Cinema Flat by pure luck I missed the force of the blast but the poor lad alongside me caught it and was immediately blinded. Soon after I remember making my way onto the quarterdeck it was absolute chaos with Carley floats being cast astern where they'd be of absolutely no use. I distinctly recall our skipper asking for volunteers to fight the ship but this was hopeless as the ship was sinking fast. From my position on the quarterdeck I was looking down onto the Express watching the wounded being transferred across but some of those not injured suffered a terrible fate as in their impatience they tried jumping across from the Prince onto the destroyer's deck only to fall in between both ships to be crushed or drowned. I soon decided, to take my chances on the seaward side and that's how I left the Prince watching her finally sink. It was a harrowing sight, initially she was upside down. Though in a few minutes her bow went up in the air and she plummeted into the depths"

Maurice survived and was picked up by HMS Express.

 

He served with the Plymouth Argyll's on Singapore Island and fought in the Battle for Singapore, subsequently became a POW.

On the Burma Railway spent three years in Thailand:

Shortly after the sinking the remainder of Marine's from both Capital ships merged forces with remnants of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, becoming known as the Plymouth Argyll. Whereon they took part in a series of land actions against the Japanese though with them being ill prepared for Tropical warfare and without air-cover it was a mission doomed from the onset. Subsequently on February 15th 1942, the Argyll's were led by a piper from Tyarsell Park Singapore into 3 and a half years incarceration, As with John Dykes he also spent time working on the "Railway" But at the time of Japan's surrender was some 60 miles north of Bangkok taking part in the construction of an airfield. Maurice now lives in Shrewsbury and has the most incredible knowledge of the Far Eastern War and is also a tremendous individual.

 

Maurice sadly died on 3rd May 2004, here are a few words by Co-webmaster Alan Matthews, a close friend of Maurice:

This is just a quick line to inform everyone of the passing of a special person. A week last Monday my great friend Maurice Edwards (Marine-Prince of Wales) passed away. To say he was an inspiration to me would be a huge understatement. It is still hard to imagine that this caring human being had, for three and a half years, been a prisoner of war of the Japanese. For all his suffering he never showed any malice against his captors. Such was his vision, Maurice reserved his anger for those responsible for causing wars - not those that were unfortunate enough to have to fight them. I can also state, without fear of ridicule that Maurice was the most intelligent person I have ever met. At this time my thoughts are with his wife Hilda.

 

Alan Matthews.

 

Please contact me with any information.

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

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Maurice Edwards