Bert Mayor was born in the last quarter of 1917 in Lostock Hall. His father was Herbert Mayor (b. 1883 in Eccleston), who had worked as a gas stoker but later was a cotton loom overlooker. His mother was Annie Walne (b. 1882 in Eccleston). Herbert and Annie were married in Leyland in 1902 and they had 7 children. Bert was the youngest. His older siblings were: James (b. 1902), Elsie (b. 1903), Ellen (b. 1906), William (b. 1908), Annie (b. 1910) and John (b. 1913). The Mayors lived in Leyland but moved to Lostock Hall around the time John was born, and they lived at 3 GarfieldTerrace (on Croston Road, opposite the Anchor Inn).
Bert enlisted with 5th Battalion, the Loyal Regiment. 5th Battalion was trained as a motorcycle battalion in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Battalion was later transferred and converted, in 1941, into a Reconnaissance Corps unit for the 18th(East Anglian) Division and re-designated as the 18th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps. 18th Recce was designated with the rest of the 18th Division for deployment as reinforcements for the Battle of Singapore.
18th Battalion was the first unit of the new Recce Corps to see action. They left Liverpool aboard RMS Empress of Asia in November 1941, bound for South Africaand Bombay, but while in the Indian Ocean the ship was diverted to the Far East following the Japanese invasion of Malaya.
RMS Empress of Asia was one of five ships carrying troops and military materiel and supplies to reinforce Singapore in the face of the rapid Japanese advance on the island following their successful conquest of British Malaya at the beginning of 1942. The convoy came under aerial attack in the Bangka Strait on 4 February 1942 but suffered only minor damage. On 5 February, as the convoy entered the western approaches to Singapore, they were attacked by nine Japanese dive-bombers. The ship caught fire and anchored off the coast with its onboard personnel gathered on the bow and the stern. Several escort vessels managed to rescue 1804 survivors, but there were 16 deaths, including Trooper Bert Mayor. He was 24 years old.
RMS Empress of Asia after the Japanese attack
Having lost the bulk of its weapons and equipment when the Empress of Asia was sunk, the 18th Recce hastily re-equipped as an infantry battalion and moved into the northern sector of the defences of Singapore Island. But Singapore surrendered just 10 days later and the men of 18th Recce, the survivors from the Empress of Asia, spent the rest of the war as prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army. Bert had been killed before he had even made it to shore, but at least he was spared the horrors of the Japanese prison camps.
Service Number: 3859101
Unit/Regiment: Reconnaissance Corps, 18th (5th Bn. The Loyal Regt.) Regt.
Date of death: 05/02/1942
Commemorated at: SINGAPORE MEMORIAL
Memorial Reference: Column 7
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Mayor, of Lostock Hall, Lancashire.