Location

This memorial plaque was originally sited on one of the benches in the nave. This area of the church suffered the worst effects of the bombing in 1941. Both bench and plaque were probably destroyed.
 

Memorial
No photograph available
(From a church ledger)
D.D. THE OFFICERS OF THE ROYAL MARINES
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF MR. SUPERINTD.
DIGBY DENT, LATE LIEUT. R.M.L.I. WHO DIED ON
THE 14TH FEBRUARY 1875, FROM THE EFFECTS OF WOUNDS
INFLICTED UPON HIM WHILE IN DISCHARGE OF HIS
DUTY IN THE CRIMINAL PRISON AT SINGAPORE


 
Further Information
 
On the 10th March 1875 the Hampshire Telegraph reported that in Singapore, on 6th March, the Coroners Court had returned a verdict of 'wilful murder' against 18 convicts in the case of the late Mr. Digby Dent, Superintendent of the Criminal Gaol who was killed in the outbreak among the Chinese prisoners on the 13th February.
 
Further details were revealed in an issue of the Telegraph on 27th March 1875.
 
The outbreak occurred while the prisoners were taking their evening meal. Mr Dent and the warders were at their stations watching the prisoners when without warning two Chinese prisoners grabbed the warder Mr William B Sandford stabbing him with a small chisel and aiming a blow at his head with a hatchet. Dent rushed in to rescue Sandford whereupon the prisoners turned on him, stabbing him repeatedly in the back whilst shouting to their comrades, 50 or 60 of whom sprang to their feet and rushed upon the warders with knives, chisels, hatchets and such other weapons as they had secreted about their persons.
 
Neither Dent nor the other warders had more than stout sticks with which to defend themselves but several native sub-warders who were mostly old Indian convicts fought bravely to rescue the Europeans. Mr Dent was finally felled by a blow to the head with a chopper; Sandford received further wounds as did warders Burton, Clarke, Savage and Reading. After overpowering the warders the mutineers rushed the gate leading to the workroom and once in armed themselves further with weapons from the toolchest. Some prisoners seized ladders which they used to scale the outer walls but most ran back inside the gaol thinking to take over the entire unit.
 
There were a number of European prisoners in the gaol, mostly soldiers and sailors, and they persuaded Mr. Lamb, their gaoler to release them. By this time the European guard had mobilised and entered the gaol. Two imprisoned soldiers named Felton and Headley seized rifles from the guard and shot dead two Chinese who were about to attack Lamb with axes. Once armed the European prisoners began to take revenge, executing every Chinese prisoner they could find. The rest attempted to scale the walls or find hiding places inside the gaol. Within half an hour the mutiny was over.
 
Digby Dent died of his wounds the following day. Fourteen of the native warders were wounded; fifteen prisoners were killed and 24 wounded. On the 15th February a Government Gazette Extraordinary announced with deep regret that "Mr Digby Dent, late of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, superintendent of prisons for the Straits Settlements, expired on the 14th inst. from the effects of wounds inflicted upon him while in discharge of his duty in the criminal prison of Singapore." The remains were interred in the English Cemetery at half-past five that day.
 
Forty two prisoners were arraigned upon two indictments for the murder of Henry Digby Dent. Eleven of them pleaded guilty and the other thirty one put on trial before a special jury who found seven of them guilty. All eighteen prisoners were sentenced to death. On the 15th June nine men were executed, three at a time. The first three submitted to their fate quietly but those following indulged in "the most disgusting obsenity". The sentences on the other nine were commuted.
 
There was a sad and controversial outcome to this affair in that the late Digby Dent's widow was initally refused a pension on the grounds that Dent had commuted it before his marriage. The matter was referred to the house where eventually it was decided to award a small pension of 120 per annum which compared miserably with the 2000 awarded to the widow of Lord Mayo who was similarly murdered during the course of exercising his duties.
 
In addition to the memorial raised in the Garrison Church, three more were erected, in the Cathedral of Singapore, in the chapel at Forton and in the Royal Naval School at New Cross.
 
Digby Dent's place in the Dent family history can be found at Links 2 Dent.
 
Tim Backhouse
Based on articles in the Hampshire Telegraph

 

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