rendleHilary Cameron Russell Rendle, one of three brothers, was born in Plymouth in 1898. His father, Charles, was a medical practitioner in Plymouth. The family has had a long connection with the city, Rendle Street being named after his grandfather.

Hilary began his education at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, leaving in 1911. In 1912 his father took his wife, Edith Mary, and the family to New Zealand returning in 1920 to take up a medical practice in Maidenhead. He retired to Yelverton about 1940, purchasing Furzeleigh, Golf Links Road, Yelverton.

Between 1912 and 1916 he attended Christ’s College, Christchurch winning in 1915 the Sixth Form prizes in Latin, English, and Divinity; the Set Prize in Mathematics (the only boy to get an Alpha) and French. No surprise then that he was awarded a scholarship to the University of New Zealand in 1917.

He became a civil servant, sailing to Singapore in 1921 as a Government Servant. In 1922 he became a cadet in the Malayan Civil Service. In 1925 he was Assistant Secretary to the Resident at Perak. Sadly Hilary’s mother died in February 1926 (aged 53) three months before he married Miss Valerie Patricia Gleeson at St Mary’s Church, Kula Lumpur. He won a shooting cup at the Muar Rifle Club in 1930 where he was the First Magistrate and Coroner.

Like his father, who was in a Plymouth Lodge, Hilary became a Freemason in 1932 having joined the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago, Kuala Lumpur. In 1933 he played rugby for Perak against Negri Sembilian in the Malaya Cup. The same year he was appointed Secretary of the Malayan Communications Board. On 7 January 1935 The Straits Times reporting on a rugby union dinner states “It was a jovial function, with a spate of speechmaking. Opportunity might betaken here to pay tribute to the very able work of Mr H.C.B. Rendle in organising all arrangements for the Final and for the dinner. As he was also referee, it was truly a case of ‘Little man, you’ve had a busy day!’”.

In February 1941, Hilary was announcing the news that the Malayan Government had decided to ration petrol. By March he was acting as Under Secretary in addition to his duties as First Assistant Secretary. On the 8 December Japan invaded Malaya and within two months had made great advances. The last major battle of the Malayan campaign was at Muar. By the end of January 1942 Malaya was in enemy hands. Meanwhile his wife, had been sent back to England before war broke out and was living at Furzeleigh, Yelverton with her parents-in-law. She is listed as living at Polvellan in 1935 which may have been the family home.

The movements of Hilary become hazy after the Japanese invasion. He was an important civil servant and it seems that he escaped to Singapore but was eventually interned in 1943. He ended up at Changi Prison. His family was convinced that he was tortured as can be seen from his death notice in The Times (26 Oct 1945):- “In proud and treasured memory of my dearly loved husband, Hilary Cameron Russell, Malayan Civil Survive, who died in Singapore on Oct 26, 1944, in the hands of the Japanese Gestapo, after seven months of terrible suffering: adored father of Molly, Michael and Diana.”

rendle-habbaniyaAfter the war the British Government held a series of War Crime Trials. Lieutenant Colonel Sumida Haruzo was charged with committing a war crime in that between 10 October, 1943 and 2 April, 1944 he contrived the arrest of a number of civilians residing in Singapore Island and in particular the arrest of 57 civilians at Changi Gaol. This was in violation of the laws and usages of war concerned in the ill-treatment including beating, torture and inhuman confinement of all the civilians and where fifteen civilians including Mr. H. C. R. Rendle lost their lives. The Defence challenged the Prosecution's argument that the deaths of the victims were due to torture. It denied that the cause of the deaths were not due to ill-treatment but due to diseases.They produced the Record Book on Burial and Death that showed Mr. Rendle's  death was due to dysentery and beriberi. The Defence were not believed!

He is remembered in numerous places including the Singapore Malayan Civil Service War Memorial, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore; the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, St. George's Chapel in Westminster Abbey; Buckland Monachorum War Memorial, Crapstone and on a framed parchment in St Paul’s Church, Yelverton.

He left an estate of £12,338. His widow, Valerie Patricia Rendle moved to Greystones after the war where she remained until her death in 1988. In August 1949 their daughter, Patricia Mary (Molly) married Roger Myddleton Bankes-Jones, elder son of the vicar of Bagshot. Roger Bankes-Jones started the Sampford Society in the 1980s and used to call on Joy Beer at Sampford Spiney and myself at Walkhampton. I met Molly in the 1990s – if only I had known what I know now about her father! Roger died 21 January 2012.

One of Hilary’s brother also died in the war and his father went to live with his remaining son, Michael, in Argentina, dying in 1956 aged 94.


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