Halford Boudewyn was a policeman and a war hero. His exploits during WWII are the stuff of legends. Fittingly, Boudewyn’s loyalty and courage, so wonderfully described by David Miller’s prose, continue to inspire his modern-day successors. Courage, loyalty, together with integrity and fairness, remain enduring values that today’s Singapore police officers swear to uphold.
Halford Boudewyn - a war hero who should be remembered.
During WW2, Boudewyn risked his life smuggling classified documents of the Japanese plans for the invasion of India and handed them to the Allies during the Japanese Occupation.
He also monitored news from a foreign radio station and pasted updates of Allied victories at bus stops and on lamp posts.
He took great risks and was almost caught. His story is told in DutyBound: A Singapore War Hero Remembered. More Singaporeans should be aware of his story.
He was conferred the Colonial Police Medal after the war. He continued serving in the police force for another three decades.
An incredible story of bravery, sacrifice and service.
Minister for Home Affairs
Minister for Law
Recorded on his Facebook page
Feb 10 2020
THE ONLINE CITIZEN
DutyBound – what you will not read in history text books
By Howard Lee
As the year draws to a close, it is normal to reflect on the events that have taken place throughout the year. This is all the more so as the coming year will usher in our nation’s 50th milestone birthday. As we near our fifth decade, it is only natural to contemplate upon the achievements, difficulties, contributions and failures that have brought us to this day.
There have certainly been many efforts made to commemorate the sacrifices made by Singaporeans in the past 50 years and beyond. The government has unveiled a marker to memoralise the hardships endured by those who fought against the communists.
Movies like To Singapore With Love, while banned and not likely timed to coincide with our momentous birthday, have certainly made us more reflective and reminds us all that many from all walks of life have played a part in the development of our nation.
This year saw the release of a book, DutyBound - A Singapore War Hero Remembered by David Miller. It is an account of the war seen through the eyes of retired police officer Halford Boudewyn. Written in a lively and engaging manner, World War II is brought to life in nail biting fashion.
Having studied history all the way to my GCE ‘A’ Levels, I can quite honestly say that although I knew the war caused unspeakable hardships to many Singaporeans, it was never “alive” to me. Singapore does not actively commemorate Remembrance Day and my grandparents were reluctant to talk about this turbulent time.
The war therefore remained consigned to history and subconsciously to exams. There was no way to personalise the conflict. Of course, I knew the names of war heroes like Elizabeth Choy and Lim Bo Seng but their names do not resonate as much as Sir Stamford Raffles, when really they should!
It was therefore with a sense of intrigue, pride and shame when I read about the exploits of Halford Boudewyn and the immense risks he undertook to liberate Singapore from the Japanese. Shame that I have never even heard of him prior to the book, pride at the heroism displayed by a local and intrigue as the war and the toil it had finally came to life for me – an effect that our emotionless textbooks which lacked any human element never aroused.
The book also recounted the war from a Eurasian perspective – something that is clearly under represented in our historical accounts.
The mood of those days, the human connection and the sense of purpose felt by Halford Boudewyn are well captured and conveyed much sense of place. At certain chapters, I almost felt like if I closed my eyes, I would be transported back into the 40s, right into the thick of action.
Without revealing too much of the plot, I was impressed not just by Halford’s attitude but by his resourcefulness, discipline and resolve. Reading about his various disguises and harrowing near escapes as he smuggled out sensitive documents from Japanese hands for the Allied war effort – it really hit home just how much our pioneers have done for our nation and it is imperative that we remember these sacrifices when we contemplate our history. Nation building is not just the effort of one but a combination of efforts from the collective.
Names like Halford Boudewyn should not fade into the annals of time. As we enter 2015, Duty Bound would be an interesting and opportune read.
A thoroughly enjoyable story of a courageous man. His widow must be very proud to see his story told - Helena (Australia)
I've read 'DutyBound', an inspiring story of commitment and bravery, and a desire to bring hope to
his fellow countrymen. However, being in the midst of, and witnessing the horrors of war has dreadful consequences and it was disturbing and sad to read of his nightmares. He well deserved acknowledgement and commendation as a hero. Thank you for putting Halford Boudewyn's story in print - Eleanor Nunis, Australia. Review submitted via email
After reading DutyBound, memories of my Dad and I sharing time together over Saturday lunches returned so vividly to me. It is uncanny. He spent many an afternoon sharing brave encounters of his younger days and the history of that time. I often wish I had been around to witness those events. What rich experiences people of that era have to share, being that many had such important roles. My Dad taught us vital values by the way he lived his life: One of many was the importance of finding ways to give back to others, not just with our loved ones; of sharing ourselves, no matter what the cost. Deep lessons taught by example.
I have learnt a lot from his examples. The war had cost my mother, early in her life, the loss her Mum. Yet both my mother & father have been so inspiring and complete power-houses-of-giving to others. Such great examples for us to try and emulate! I thank the Good Lord for these wonderful memories that she has, as these have sustained her this long and fueled her to accomplish her husband’s memoirs. Thank you David Miller for breathing life into Dad’s notes and painstakingly documenting his thoughts. Dad’s notes laid dormant since his death in 1998. And since this book has come about, it has given to the younger Boudewyn generation a legacy to cherish - Carol Ann Boudewyn (eldest daughter)
If you too would like to leave a review or comment on this book, please
send an email to feedback(at)dmbooks(dot)org. Much thanks!