This story might be of interest to some, I don't think it's well known but it's a story close to me.
It's the Second World War 1941-1942, ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by the Japanese off the coast of Malaysia. Several Royal Marines survived and managed to get to Singapore where they carried on the fight, they met what was left of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (who already had close connections to Plymouth Argyle) and formed a new ad-hoc battalion to fight the Japanese. Given the Royal Marines were either from Plymouth or were based in Plymouth and were Plymouth Argyle fans this new merged group called themselves 'The Plymouth Argylls' and continued the fight in Singapore for a further three months before being captured by the Japanese.
On January 29th the 210 Royal Marines were moved to Tyersall Park Camp, Singapore, to join the 250 Argylls, all that remained of Lt Colonel Ian Stewart’s Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders who had fought a gallant and effective delaying action in the north of Malaya before being decimated at Slim River on January 7th 1942. Subsequently, the survivors of the battalion had acted as rearguard during the crossing of the Causeway to Singapore. On February 3rd the Argylls and Marines were amalgamated into a composite battalion known as the Plymouth Argylls. The Argylls old association with Plymouth, their influence on the creation of its football team and the fact that the Marines were of the Plymouth Division were good reasons for this nickname. Lt Colonel Stewart trained the Plymouth Argylls emphasising cooperation between armoured cars and widely dispersed infantry.
On the night of February 8th 1942 the Japanese successfully crossed the Straits of Johore and gained a foothold on Singapore’s north western shore. As exhausted and demoralised Australian defenders withdrew, the Plymouth Argylls were ordered late on the morning of February 9th to advance northwards up the Bukit Timah Road then westward along the Choa Chu Kang Road towards Tengah airfield. Shortly after debussing into the rubber and advancing on foot, the Royal Marines came under air attack and suffered casualties. Some sections became lost in wide nighttime dispersal in unfamiliar terraine. Two more days of fighting followed as the Plymouth Argylls engaged the Japanese between Tengah and the Dairy Farm that lay east of the Upper Bukit Timah Road. Most of the Argylls were cut off when the Japanese brought their tanks down the road, smashing through two Plymouth Argyll roadblocks. The main body of Royal Marines escaped across the Dairy Farm and down the Pipeline to the Golf Course, stretchering away a wounded Argyll officer. No sooner had they arrived back at Tyersall Park than the camp and the neighbouring Indian Military Hospital were destroyed in an air attack. In the confusion that followed and subsequent shelling and mortaring, there was a further dispersal of men including those wounded. When the surrender came on February 15th only some 40 Royal Marines remained in the trenches in the burnt out Tyersall Park.
The Argylls and Marines at Tyersall Park were on February 17th ordered by the Japanese to march to Changi. Headed by Piper Charles Stuart they marched out of Tyersall Park. Hundreds of soldiers from other units stood to attention as they passed. In fact, Captains Aylwin, Lang and Slessor [2A&SH] had no intention that their men march to Changi. A few hundred yards along the way what was left of the battalion transport drew up and embussed them into captivity passed marching columns of POWs. At first the Plymouth Argylls were quartered in the Changi Village shops area. Many were subsequently sent to smaller work camps at River Valley, Havelock Road and Kranji.
Thailand and Japan
In June 1942 the movement of POWs from Changi to Thailand to build the Death Railway began. From Singapore to Ban Pong in crowded rice wagons then force marched to Kanchanaburi and Chungkai and then on to jungle camps further up the line to Burma. Many of those who survived this were sent in 1944 by sea to Japan as slave labour, many of the ships being sunk by Allied submarines on the journey with huge loss of life. When liberation finally came in September 1945 33 Plymouth Argyll Royal Marines had died in captivity.
There is also a book "Moon Over Malaya'.
My grandad was a Plymouth Royal Marine aboard HMS Prince of Wales when it was sunk, he made it to Singapore and was a member of The Plymouth Argylls, he was eventually captured by the Japanese and became a prisoner of war. He was one of the very few to survive and returned to Plymouth after the war had finished and lived a full life until 1984 before passing away.