THE CLASSROOM THAT WAS ONCE A POW CAMP - CONVENT LIGHT STREET

This Form 2 classroom at the Convent Light Street must be the most notorious class in the entire Convent as it served as the internment camp for a group of prisoners of war who were captured by the Japanese after the USS Grenadier was sunk in the Straits of Malacca. I wonder whether the present girls who use the classroom are fully aware of the history that their classroom carries.

 

During their incarceration, the prisoners scratched their names with their belt buckles, on various parts of the classroom walls.

 

The survivors sent various mementos to the Convent with a request they be permanently displayed in the classroom so that this piece of history will not be forgotten.

 

On left is pic of the corridor leading to that classroom and on right is another view of the class

 

Roll Call

 

from the diary of JA Fitzgerald, Lt. Commander, USN, Senior POW courtesy of Douglas B Hill

for more pics of Convent Light Street, please click here

Any experiences or stories to share? Use the form below:-

 

RESPONSE

Tom Whitemore

I heard different stories about the camp, as to the Japanese running animals through the camp and watching the American prisoners chase them for food, is this true. Maybe at this camp or another I also was told they made the prisoners take uniforms off dead Japanese solders to be used on other solders, is this true. R. J. Hinkson my Uncle, also told me he that one Japanese solders, an officer treated him pretty good an he got to know him well.

R Grasselli

I have a picture of Charles Doyle that was taken when he was in the Navy and stationed on the USS Grenadier 210. He was one of the sailors that died in a POW camp. Perhaps you would like it for the collection at the Penang Malaysia Light Street. I could email it to you.

Deb Johnson

My uncles, Charles Eugene Johnson and Norman "Al" Albertsen, were both on the Grenadier. While Uncle Gene never talked about his experience, Uncle Al did. Later in his life, Uncle Gene began sharing a few of his memories, too. I had the pleasure of attending one of their sub-vet reunions in the late 1970's when it was held in Norfolk, VA. If anyone has stories to tell about either of these fine gentlemen, I would love to hear from you. As of this writing on 05 Jan 07, Uncle Al is still living in Nevada. Sadly, Uncle Gene passed away in June, 2006.

Duane Stofan

My grandfather, Carl Quarterman, was on the Grenadier and held as a POW in the convent. His name is carved on the wall (third from bottom). He passed away several years ago and I was given his medals. My mother has his POW "diary" and the first letter sent upon his liberation following the war. I would like to travel to Penang someday to visit this place.

Michael K McCoy

i am in the processof preparing to write a biography opf my cousin Charles H. (Skeeter) McCoy. he ws assigned to the Grenadier when it was captured and taken with the crew to penang. anyone with stories or info regarding "skeeter" please write to me via e-mail: mmccoy6312@aol.com. thanks for any help mike mccoy

Kevin D. Harty CDR USN(Ret)

None but memories of that place in late April 1943!!

Rachel Harris

I would be VERY interested to hear from anyone who either was imprisoned in the Convent or related to someone who was imprisoned. I am interested as a History teacher in putting together a unit of work on this for students at the International School of Penang(Uplands) Please contact me if you have any helpful information. Thanks!

Dick Buschelman

i'm lyle sawatzke's nephew,,i am 71 years old and live in omaha,lyle went down on the grenadier,,he lives in crofton nebr and is doing well for a 82 year old vet. i was in crofton sunday 29 feb and had coffee with him,,i have lyles e-mail if you contact me i will give it to you,,i had the pleasure of meeting several of his fellow pows at the natl convention when it was in sacramento,,and proud to say they kinda got me drunk,,this is a beautiful web site and makes me proud to make this comment to it,,my claim to fame is the first postcard lyle sent from japan was addressed to me

Roger Mansell

Great to see that you are keeping up this site. (we link directly to you on our camp list) Question: What is the source of the J.A. Fitzgerald letter? Do you have a NARA record & box citation? Best regards, Roger Mansell Director Center for Research Allied POWS Under the Japanese Los Altos CA

Chuck Scharmann

My uncle, Richard Judd Hinkson, was on the Grenadier went it was scuttled. He would never talk about his experience as a POW but the family knew he had gone through a great deal. Finding this web site has been a great thing for our family. My uncle has passed away but just before he died he said that I could go with him to the next reunion. If anyone out there has any information about my uncle's experiences or if I might get invited to a reunion I would really be grateful.

Robert Grasselli

My mothers cousin Charles Doyle was held POW in the convent. That is his name scratched in the wall. He was on the submarine USS Grenadier SS 210. I have a picture of him in his uniform before he was captured. I could email you his picture to add to your memorial. Please let me know. Also if possible you could take a picture of the section of wall were his name shows. I would appreciate it and would be willing to send a donation to your convent. Please email me on these two requests. Thank you. My mother is elderly and she also would appreciate it.

Michael Vestal

I cut the hair of a salor that was on this sub, just doing some resurch He lives in winston salen, North Carolina.

Jasdev Singh

I swear my jaw dropped seeing this site. I travel back and forth to college everyday and pass convent light street and had NO idea of all this. It gives the tingling butterfly-in-stomach-feeling to be honest. All the history and all those people long long time ago. I wish there was some way I could visit that classroom. -jasdev

Douglas B. Hill

Hello, I am transcribing the original diary and report made to the CinC of the events that took place durring Lt Commander J.A.Fitzgerald Commanding officer of the "Grenadier" while he was a POW in Japan. Most of the diary takes place in Ofuna, But he must have spent at least some time at this convent. I am not sure but I believe that his name is inscribed in one of the pictures above along with several of the other men he was confined with. I will have it available for download soon. Any interested parties can email me directly.

Lt. Charles H. McCoy

I was on the USS Grenadier and a POW at the Convent.

Abdul Rahman Othman

Forwarding to you the website that Dr. Mohd. Ismail found on the USS Grenadier.

Judy Adkins Hartwell

My father, Ralph Adkins, was an EM1 on the Grenadier. it is his name scratched on the wall in the second photo on this site. following internment here in Penang, he and others were taken to POW camp in Kokura, Japan, which was the original target for the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki. surviving that experience, he returned to Kentucky after VJ Day, where he met my mother. yes, he did request duty in Japan after the war - I have photos of the 'reunion' he had with the Japanese guard. I was named after the wife of another Grenadier sub sailor and POW, J.C. "Chubby" Embry. I have fond memories of both Chubby and Judy. I myself am a Vietnam-era Navy vet - my father was my recruiter. Daddy died in August, 1974, but he has always remained my hero.

Sarah Adkins

Ralph Adkins was my Great-Uncle. I am very proud of him and the other men who served with him. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a POW.

Kaitlin Adkins

ralph adkins is my great uncle

Anita Adkins Spencer

My brother, Ralph Langley Adkins, was on the USS Grenadier during World War 11, and I would very much appreciate any information from others who have more information on him. Ralph's wife, Tommy, has informed me that after the war he requested an assignment in Japan. In the house they were renting, someone informed Ralph that someone in the next town knew Ralph. It turned out that it was the guard at the prison camp who was so good to my brother and it made National news in Japan that year. I have requested pictures of them, however, do not have them at the moment but will try again.

Robert York

My name is Robert York, I am a retired CPO of the U.S.Navy. On April 22,1943 The submarine I was on U.S.S. Grenadier SS210 was sunk by an airplane off the coast of Sumatra. We all survived and were taken POW and taken to Penang and the convent Light Street held in cognito for about 3 or so months while being interragated by the Japs. I am in contact via emial with Miss Dilys Yap at present. Robert York

Lt Goh Keng Loon RMAF

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a Royal Malaysian Air Force officer and now in training in Alor Setar air base as a student pilot. I love WWII very much until I found some submarine sunk in Penang including British, Dutch, Japanese ,USA, even German submarine. Your sisters done a great job to keep the names of the US POW and I hope that your school will keep the memorial of the USS Grenadier POWs historical names intact and don't destroy it. It mean a lot to them for those who fight for freedom . Peace and God Bless You . Have a nice day : ) Be free to write to me . Thanks .

Bill Bliss

My father was on the Grenadier from her beginning. He was on every patrol of that submarine but the last one. He was left in Perth for surgery on his arm and was to go back on the Grenadier when she returned. As you know, she never returned. If it had not been for the surgery, his name would be on the wall in your school. My father was good friends with the engenier Leslie, and The cook, Charley Westerfield. He knew the crew, but those were his best friends. When the Grenadier did not return, he served on the Grayling and the Gar, but it always bothered him that he was not with his shipmates on the last patrol of the Grenadier.

Gerald A. Landrum

My father, James D. Landrum was a member of the USS Grenadier that was sunk in WW2. He was held prisoner at the convent light street by the Japanese. I would like to get pictures of the school and where the prisoners scratched their names in the wall. Any information I could get would be appreciated. Do you have a mailing address? Gerald Landrum

Bill Evans

Convent Light Street was where American Prisionors from a submarine were held during WWII. If you can wrangle permission from the school they will take you to one of the class rooms, that held them. You can still see where they carved their names and their is a small memorial to the men, along with some photos, and news stories..

Tim J McCoy

As of October 2010, my father Charles H. "Skeeter" McCoy, is the last surviving crew member of the USS Grenadier SS 210 when it was scuttled and was held as a POW at the Convent Light Street. He is 86 years of age and enjoys good health. Bravo Zulu to November-Echo-Lima-Delta (Grenadier's radio call sign) and to all submariners now on eternal patrol. Pride runs deep!

 

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