Halford Boudewyn



Halford Lovell Boudewyn (b. 1921–d. 26 April 1998, Singapore) was a long-serving police officer. During the Japanese Occupation, he risked his life by storing classified documents stolen from the Indian National Army. He also secretly gathered and shared war news censored by the Japanese, using an illegal radio.1

Early life
Educated at St Joseph’s Institution, Boudewyn had always aspired to become a policeman. In 1939, he joined the Straits Settlements Police Force as a constable. Two years later, he was posted to Alor Gajah, Malacca, as an inspector, but the assignment ended when the Japanese invaded Malaya and Singapore in early 1942.2


Wartime espionage
Stealing and storage of secret documents
During the Japanese Occupation, Boudewyn found work with a Eurasian contractor who supplied food to Indian army camps in Singapore. While making his deliveries in 1943, Boudewyn met and befriended Major Aubrey Wyman, a prisoner-of-war (POW) from the British Indian Army. From this POW, he learned of the ill-treatment by notable Indian politician Subhas Chandra Bose’s Japanese-backed Indian National Army (INA) of those who refused to join the INA.3 Boudewyn admired the bravery of men who had remained loyal to the Crown, and wanted to avenge those who had suffered for it.4

The POW told Boudewyn that documentary proof of the ill-treatment could be obtained, and the two men agreed on a plan to gather evidence.5 The plan involved Boudewyn selling his produce at the INA’s headquarters at Upper Serangoon Road, next to the POW camp.6 Each day, Boudewyn’s arranged contact (accounts differed on who this contact was, as Boudewyn had kept his promise of not naming the person) would purchase vegetables from him, and then claimed some were rotten and would return them with documents stolen from an adjutant’s office.7 Boudewyn would give a deep bow to the Japanese sentry as he left INA’s headquarters, and his bicycle carrier – where he kept the stolen papers – was never searched.8

Boudewyn continued with this routine until 1944 when he had all the relevant documents, which he stored in an oil drum buried beneath a tennis court at a friend’s house at Chancery Lane. The stolen documents revealed not only the mistreatment of POWs, but also Japan’s planned invasion of India via Burma. It is believed that the vital information was sent to the Pacific Allied command through a separate spy channel, though the original documents remained buried during the war.9

Eventually, the house was seized by the Japanese who then converted the tennis court into a vegetable garden, which made locating the oil drum difficult after the war. Boudewyn ultimately discovered that the drum was only one foot below the surface even though he had taken care to bury it four feet deep.10

Dissemination of information to POWs and the public
During the Occupation, Boudewyn had also re-joined the police force under the Japanese, and worked in the office dealing with espionage. Tasked with seizing citizens’ radios, Boudewyn saved two for himself. One was stored at his friend’s house at Chancery Lane, and the other was kept in a laundry basket at the Orchard Road Police Station where he worked. He monitored Allied broadcasts with these radios, and brought hope to POWs by transmitting the news to prison camps through his contact at the INA.11

In addition, Boudewyn had transcribed the news onto paper with a carbon pencil. He then produced flyers with a simple makeshift “printing press” using a tray of agar-agar jelly, and was able to make about 100 sheets each time before the jelly dried. While walking to work from his home on St Barnabas Road, Boudewyn would affix the flyers to lamp-posts and bus shelters using sago paste. These flyers were widely read and had helped to improve public morale.12

On one occasion, Boudewyn received a $50 reward when he submitted his leftover flyers at the station, claiming to have discovered them.13 He buried one of the radios after a friend had warned him that the Japanese were suspicious, but he was never questioned or arrested.14

Outcome and later career
Japan launched its invasion of India in March 1944, and was defeated four months later.15 The information stolen by Boudewyn had apparently been relayed to the Allies through other channels.16 After the war, Boudewyn hoped that the other documents would help to bring about the punishment of INA officers who had mistreated POWs. The papers were handed to Major Wyman, the man who had recruited Boudewyn as a spy, and sent to India for an inquiry. However, to Boudewyn’s disappointment, the case was unsuccessful. Nonetheless, Boudewyn received a thank you letter from the British Army Intelligence for his actions. In 1948, he was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for meritorious service, conferred by Governor Franklin Gimson (Sir) at the cadets’ passing out parade.17

For years, Boudewyn suffered nightmares arising from his wartime experience.18

When the war ended, Boudewyn resumed his work with the police force.19 He was promoted to chief inspector in 1948, and later deputy superintendent.20 He was popular in the force and was among a few selected for an advanced training course in England in 1952.21 During his career, Boudewyn had served as quartermaster,22 officer in charge of the Kandang Kerbau Police Station,23 as well as a public relations officer.24 In 1968, he received the Pingat Bakti Setia (Long Service Medal) from the Singapore government.25 He then retired a few years later due to poor health.26

Family
Father: F. M. Boudewyn27
Wife: Theresa Mildred Da Silva, a cosmetics saleswoman (married in 1946).28
Children and grandchildren: Son (Peter), two daughters, a daughter-in-law and seven grandchildren.29



Authors

Duncan Sutherland & Neo Tiong Seng



References
1. World War II veteran dies. (1998, April 27). The New Paper, p. 13; Knighthood for Dato Braddell. (1948, June 10). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4; Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Japanese could not stop agar-agar press. (1992, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Japanese could not stop agar-agar press. (1992, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Obituary – S’pore war hero dies in his sleep [Microfilm no.: NL 20243]. (1998, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 28.
14. Hill, P. (1948, November 16). He was a spy. The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. National Army Museum. (2016). Britain’s greatest battles: Imphal and Kohima. Retrieved 2016, October 27 from National Army Museum website: http://www.nam.ac.uk/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/britains-greatest-battles/imphal-kohima
16. World War II veteran dies. (1998, April 27). The New Paper, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Miller, D. (1992, March 13). Harmless-looking ‘vegetable seller’ who was really a spy for the Allies. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore. Police Force. (1949). Singapore Police Force annual report for 1948 [Microfilm no.: NL 8461]. Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., p. 9.
19. Nine Asian chief inspectors. (1948, May 1). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Nine Asian chief inspectors. (1948, May 1). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore. Government gazette extraordinary. (1968, August). National Day Honours (G.N. 2386) [Microfilm no.: NL 6568]. Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2832.
21. Presentations to police heroes. (1948, October 30). The Straits Times, p. 7; Govt. offers 48 study awards. (1952, January 15). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Singapore. (1955). Directory: Colony of Singapore, 1st September 1955 [Microfilm no.: NL 9602]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 17.
23. Singapore. (1960). State of Singapore Directory March 1960 [Microfilm no.: NL 9602]. Singapore: Ministry of Culture, p. 70.
24. Mesenas, C. (1969, July 8). Four men held after gang slaying. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Singapore. Government gazette extraordinary. (1968, August). National Day Honours (G.N. 2386) [Microfilm no.: NL 6568]. Singapore: [s.n.], p. 2832.
26. Miller, D. (2014). Duty bound: A Singapore war hero remembered. Singapore: DMBOOKS, p. 141. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703092 MIL-[HIS])
27. Easter Monday wedding. (1946, April 24). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Lee, G. (1973, January 26). Award for sales champ. The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Clarke, M. (1946, August 12). Wedding photograph of Tessie Da Silva to Halford Boudeweyn (1946S) [Photograph accession no. 137066]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
29. Obituary – S’pore war hero dies in his sleep [Microfilm no.: NL 20243]. (1998, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 28.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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.

 

Subject
Law and government>>Security>>Police
Events>>Historical Periods>>World War II and Japanese Occupation (1939 - 1945)
Boudewyn, Lovell Boudewyn 1921-1998
Personalities
Police--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies
Singapore--History--Japanese occupation, 1942-1945--Secret service
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore
1942-1945 Japanese occupation