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After the battle of Muar, the surviving members of the 45th Indian Brigade and the Australian 2/19th and 2/29th Battalions, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Anderson of Australia, retreated south towards the British stronghold at Yong Peng, taking with them all their wounded.

However, when they reached the bridge at Parit Sulong, they found the Japanese blocking their way. Anderson made two attempts to take the bridge, both failed. On 22 January 1942, he gave the order for all able-bodied men to flee into the jungle and make their own way to Yong Peng. They left behind the wounded in the care of a few voluntary attendants assuming that under Red Cross protection, they would be given medical attention.

However, instead of medical attention, they were brutally murdered. Dragged out of their vehicles, they were marched to the Public Works Department (PWD) building, and were beaten if they lagged behind. Here, they were strip searched before being herded into a small garage next to the building. Some suffocated to death and the rest were moved into two rooms towards the end of the block.

In the late evening on the same day, each prisoner’s hands were tied and they were roped together around the neck. At an empty space near the building, away from the watching eyes of the villagers, they were machine-gunned and then set on fire. Two men, Ben Hackney and Reg Wharton, miraculously survived to tell the story, corroborating the accounts of eyewitnesses from the village. The villagers were not spared either; many were hunted down and killed on suspicion of helping the Australian and Indian soldiers.

After the war, Hackney gave evidence against Lieutenant-General Takuma Nishimura, the perpetuator of the massacre. Found guilty, Nishimura was hanged in 1951.

Parit Sulong remembers the massacre.

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