Born in the first quarter of 1908.
He married Florence Harwood in 1931. In 1939 they lived in 29 Franklin Crescent, Mitcham.
His daughter Margaret Purnell said :
My dad served with the RA 1939-1946. He managed to escape with others from Singapore during the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1942.
He was a Mitcham man from 1931 to 1973.
The British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 show a Lance Sergeant V. J. Cullum, Royal Artillery, service number 2040217, captured 15th February 1942. This is from The National Archives, reference WO 361/2058, POWs Far East Master Roll 1942-1943 (ABC).
His wife received the standard letter saying that he may have been captured, or is missing:
His daughter said that he wasn’t captured …
… although the army thought that was the case at the time.
Extract from my dad’s diary
’14th Feb 1942: – managed to leave the docks on HMS Penang, a small coastal boat. Under heavy gunfire for 2 hours for a long distance out. In the meantime, Singapore Docks were blazing furiously. They were pushed into Hold by Officers, sitting on drums of Kerosene. “Going to be unlucky if hit”. Got stuck on sandbank 2 hours out. Captain orders “Take to Lifeboats”. Our boat was holed by shell splinters, took all our time to keep afloat. Commandeered a Chinese Junk – “Penang” signaled to come back, had slid off bank. Mechanics had to take over engines. I volunteered with Rattue for Bofors gun duties; was glad to get out of Hold…………………….
They eventually docked & camped at Colombo March 10th 1942. Most of them were ill with various ailments. Back in the UK, my mum received a letter
“V.J.Cullum missing dated March 15, presumed dead” and telling her to get her papers in order. She received a telegram from my dad at the same time saying that he was safe….
The telegram he sent his wife:
In the Battle of Singapore, Britain surrendered on 15th February 1942.