10 Day Fully Escorted Battlefield Tour
Proposed for September 2024
Fully escorted by Australian Military Historian and battlefield guide: Rod Margetts

Australia’s military history interest is focussed currently on the Centenary of the First World War. It is fitting that the significant events of that period should receive such attention, however there is another theatre, more recent in our historical timeline and closer to home, that is often overlooked. It is the area of the Australian 8th Division’s campaign in defence of Singapore.

The campaign was short, fast-paced and vicious. While ships of the RAN and units of the RAAF were part of Australia’s commitment, the majority of the action took place on the ground, in the southern Malayan state of Johore and on Singapore island. It is probably the least known of Australia’s commitments, mainly remembered for the long and terrible period of imprisonment that followed the surrender, rather than for the efforts to halt the Japanese advance through southern Malaya.

Boronia Travel would like to offer you the opportunity to revisit and understand this neglected campaign, with an exclusive tour to the southern area of peninsula Malaysia and Singapore in February 2023. The itinerary includes all the significant 8th Division actions on both the east and west coasts of the peninsula, including Mersing, Gemas, Muar, Bakri and Parit Sulong, as well as the final withdrawal down the Trunk Road and the defence on Singapore. In addition to an in-depth explanation of the various actions, there will be time to explore the historical trading port of Malacca, and free time for shopping in Singapore.

We will also attend the Official Commemoration Service to pay our respects to this short campaign that means so much in Australian history.

About Your Battlefield Guide

This tour is fully escorted by Australian Military Historian and battlefield guide, Rod Margetts. Rod will present information about the background and specific events which occurred, in an interesting and entertaining way. He will personally introduce himself to all tour members via email or telephone prior to departure, and invite you to advise of any subject of particular interest, such as relatives who had fought (and sometimes died) during the conflict. Rod will then research the matter to ensure, where possible, that the tour visits the particular site and that detailed information on the actions are provided.

This is a small group tour with a guaranteed departure, and may be taken in conjunction with the Thai-Burma Railway Tour.

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Your Battlefield Tour Includes:

  • Fully escorted by Boronia Travel Centre battlefield specialist and Australian Military Historian: Rod Margetts.
  • All battlefield excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary.
  • The opportunity to visit other places of personal interest in the area.
  • The best available accommodation in each town or city.
  • Breakfast daily.
  • Plenty of Free Time. We understand that you might want to have a break occasionally.
  • Services of a local english speaking guide throughout your tour.
  • Ground transport in deluxe air-conditioned coaches with toilet.
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary.
  • Boronia Travel Centre cap, ticket wallet and luggage tags.
  • With the exclusive resources available, Rod Margetts may be able to assist with any family research you may be doing.


  • Single Supplements are available.
  • Boronia Travel Centre uses Singapore Airlines for all their Singapore Tours, and has access to the most competitive discounted airfares available from Australia.
  • Group airfare add-on options available upon request.
  • Upgrade airfares to business and first class available upon request.
  • Spend more time in Singapore with one of our great accommodation packages available at discounted rates.
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Meals Included: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Day 1, 8 February – Arrival Day. Those members travelling on our group flight will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel. This evening join your battlefield guide for the opportunity to meet your fellow tour members.
Overnight: Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore

Day 2, 9 February – This morning we travel by coach to Mersing on the east coast of peninsula Malaysia. There we discuss the initial 22nd Australian Infantry Brigade deployments, including the 2/20th Battalion defence of the town. After lunch we follow the 22nd Brigade south to Jemalaung, stopping to discuss the 2/18th Battalion ambush of the Japanese at the Nithsdale Estate. We then travel to Kluang and our overnight accommodation. B
Overnight: Merdeka Hotel – Kluang

Day 3, 10 February – This morning we cross the peninsula to Malacca, on the west coast. After checking in to our hotel, the afternoon and evening are free to explore this historic former trading port. Controlled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, the old city centre was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. B
Overnight: Novotel – Malacca

Day 4, 11 February – Today we commence our consideration of the 27th Australian Infantry Brigade actions, as part of Westforce in the main battle area. First we drive to the Gemencheh River where we discuss the 2/30th Battalion ambush, the first contact between the Australians and the Japanese in the campaign. We then move on to Gemas, site of the subsequent battle at the 2/30th Battalion main defensive position. Next we drive to Batu Anam to discuss successive 27th Brigade delaying actions on the trunk road, before returning to Malacca for the night. B
Overnight: Novotel – Malacca

Day 5, 12 February – This morning we continue our consideration of Westforce actions. First we drive south to Muar and discuss Major General Gordon Bennett’s dispositions of the 45th Indian Brigade at the Muar River.  Australian units were drawn in to support the crumbling front in this area and we move on to Bakri to discuss the actions by the 2/29th Battalion, the 2/19th Battalion and the gunners of the 2/4th Anti-tank Regiment.  Next we drive to Parit Sulong to discuss the final stand of the Muar force and the escape of the survivors.  Our last stop is at Yong Peng where the 27th Brigade established a blocking position to cover the withdrawal of the remainder of Westforce and any of the force from Muar.  Finally, we drive to Batu Pahat where we spend the night. B
Overnight: Katerina Hotel – Batu Pahat

Day 6, 13 February – Today we follow the final stage of the 27th Brigade withdrawal to Johore Bahru.  We begin by driving to Ayer Hitam to discuss the 2/30th Battalion delaying action there.  Then we follow the trunk road through Simpang Rengam, via the Namazie Estate, to Ayer Bemban, pausing to discuss the 27th Brigade attempts to impose delay on the advancing Japanese at those places. We finish the day by following the Malaya Command withdrawal route over the causeway onto Singapore Island.  After checking in to our hotel, the evening is free. B
Overnight: Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore   

Day 7, 14 February – We have a full day of touring the key sites in Singapore today.  Commencing at the causeway, we travel through the 27th Brigade area and across the Kranji River to Eagle Point, in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands, and the beginning of the 22nd Brigade area.  We continue along the west coast to the site of Ama Keng village, then follow the route of the withdrawal to the Jurong Line.  Next we follow the 27th Brigade withdrawal south, down Woodlands Road to Bukit Timah.  After lunch we visit the Ford Factory, where the allied surrender was signed.  We then travel to the Malaya Command Headquarters complex at the ‘Battlebox’, at Fort Canning, before returning to the hotel. B
Overnight: Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore

Day 8, 15 February – This morning we trace the final days of the 8th Division action, ending at the Botanical Gardens. This afternoon we attend the service to commemorate the 77th Anniversary of the fall of Singapore (Please note this service is subject to change at any time by the Singapore Government).  Following free time to reflect in the Kranji Cemetery, we return to the hotel. B
Overnight: Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore  

Day 9, 16 February – Today is a free day to explore the sights of Singapore. You may wish to do some last minute shopping along Orchard Road.  Perhaps a walk around the spectacular Gardens by the Bay followed by a visit to the famous Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling to cap off your trip. B
Overnight: Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore  

Day 10, 17 February – This morning the tour comes to an end with a transfer to Singapore Airport for onward movements.  Those taking the Thai-Burma Railway extension will fly to Bangkok for commencement of that tour.

Please Note: Itinerary subject to change according to prevailing circumstances.

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Oasia Hotel Novena – Singapore

A 2-minute walk from Novena metro station, this upscale hotel in a glass high-rise building is 3 km from Orchard Road shopping street and 5 km from the Central Business District. Featuring contemporary decor, the polished rooms and suites come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screens, desks, and high-end linens. Upgraded rooms have coffee making facilities and rainfall showers, while club rooms have sleek decor and access to a private lounge providing breakfast and drinks. Suites add separate living rooms. Room service is available. Amenities include a fitness centre and an outdoor pool with a hot tub, as well as a Japanese restaurant and a modern bistro.

Merdeka Hotel – Kluang

Overlooking the majestic Gunung Lambak Mountain, Merdeka Hotel Kluang provides charming accommodation in Johor Bahru. Rooms are stylish and fitted with carpeted flooring. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. All the rooms are spacious, featuring classic décor. Each room comes with air conditioning, a comfortable seating area and coffee/tea making facilities. There is also an attached bathroom equipped with free toiletries and bathroom slippers. At Merdeka Hotel Kluang you will find a tranquil terrace and a shared lounge. Staff at the 24-hour front desk can assist you with free parking facilities and shuttle services. It also houses a tennis court and a golf course. For meals, guests can dine at the on-site restaurant which serves tasty Malaysian and Western dishes. In-room dining options are possible as well.

Novotel – Malacca

This straightforward city centre hotel is an 11-minute walk from A Famosa theme park and a 13-minute walk from the revolving Taming Sari Tower. The bright rooms have Wi-Fi and 102-cm flat-screen TVs, as well as tea and coffeemaking facilities and bathrooms with rainfall showers. Kids 15 and under stay free in existing beds. Club rooms and suites offer access to a top-floor lounge with free breakfast and afternoon snacks. There’s a relaxed lobby bar, plus an international restaurant with terrace seating. Other amenities include a fitness centre, a pool and a sauna, as well as 6 meeting rooms.

Katerina Hotel – Batu Pahat   

Featuring a mix of classic and modern design touches, this elegant hotel is 2 km from the Sultan Ismail Jamek Mosque and 4 km from Batu Pahat Mall. Contemporary rooms and suites come with minibars, safes and flat-screen TVs, as well as tea and coffeemaking facilities. Suites and upgraded rooms have separate living areas or rooms, while upgraded suites offer views of the Straits of Malacca. Room service is available. A free breakfast buffet is served in a low-key cafe. There’s a rooftop pool and a gym, as well as a grand columned lobby.

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Our tour members depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. We do our best to meet and exceed their high standards, which is what you’d expect from Australia’s leading battlefield tour company. Here’s what our past passengers say about Rod Margetts – our very popular and knowledgeable battlefield guide:

The 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore Tour was a wonderful experience. Thank you for the great information you provided. It is also fascinating to get some personal insights. We had a great group on the trip and Rod’s knowledge made it even more special. Best wishes.

Rod did an amazing job, and even though he wasn’t well for a few days, didn’t miss a beat. The Vietnamese guides were great, especially Chi who took us to a rooftop bar on the last day to try the most amazing Vietnamese coffee. Once again thanks to the team.”
Kay and John Woolnough

“I want to thank you for the exceptional tour I did with Rod Margetts and the other three tourists. We had the most wonderful tour because the guides, Rod and Sinan were so patient, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and we four felt that the tour was personal and tailored just for us.

Thank you John and your team for putting together such an outstanding tour. It will remain a highlight of my life and I’ll always be glad I went to the hallowed soil of Gallipoli to honour my two great uncles and all the soldiers, both Allies and Turks. With my very best wishes to you and again, my sincere thanks.”
Roslyn Burge

We cannot speak too highly of our guides. Rod and Sinan made sure that the tour was loaded with interest and information, and very enjoyable. Although we were such a small group yet we got the best presentation possible. The way Rod and Sinan worked together was amazing – you would swear it was fully scripted!!  There was no doubt that they enjoy working together, and mutually provided flexibility with the programme showing they had the specific interests of the 4 of us in the group. Didn’t matter whether it was Istanbul or the battlefields, they both covered the interesting and relevant parts so well. This included our visit to Shrapnel Valley Cemetery a second time to place flowers at my Uncle’s grave. Rod made sure the two “girls” in the group found the headstones etc which were of specific interest to them. We obviously could not take all the information in but what we did assimilate is food for further reading and understanding. By covering the main aspects fully they gave us a sound overview and the basis to look at other material, which we will do.
David Williamson and Andrew Williamson

I need to thank the 3 Tour guides Rod, Mark and Mark who gave everybody a great insight to the campaign, as soldiers we think we know our history but talking to many of the members and they all commented on how much they did not know, again well done. I also need to congratulate you on the 3 local guides who not only assisted in giving us an insight from the Turkish side but on their country, they were outstanding. Once again thank you very much.”
Graham Toll

Gallipoli 2015 – Anzac Day Centenary Tour
Rod, I knew you were a good instructor 35 years ago, but you have taken it to a new level. I had done a lot of reading leading up to the tour, but information overload, inability to relate it to ground and my faulty memory meant that I was having trouble putting it in context (to the extent that I recognised the relevance behind all your daily questions, but couldn’t remember any of the answers). Over a week you put all of that information and feeling for the ground into context in a measured, logical, informed and interesting way. I had wondered how those in the group who might not have been so committed to military history would remain engaged, so for me the proof of your approach was their enthusiasm throughout. The detail of your descriptions and ability to answer questions from left field with your broader understanding was simply outstanding. I re-read Sniffy’s book on the plane on the way home as a good summary of the first couple of days and it all makes sense now. (Actually, better to say I understand it now, as the whole affair certainly didn’t make sense). Thank you.
Garry Kelly

We had the trip of a lifetime, with the help of Rod Margetts, and Sinan (Our Turkish Guide) the Gallipoli trip was absolutely amazing, Rod explained everything in a way everyone in the group understood, my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity of laying a wreath for our Anzac at the Lone Pine Centenary Commemoration, which was televised and recorded by our family at home, a once in a lifetime opportunity. We also attended the Centenary “Smoking Ceremony” for our Indigenous Soldiers, also another once in a lifetime experience.  Rod’s guidance throughout out Gallipoli experience was absolutely fantastic, and Sinan gave us the cultural and the Turkish version of events. I don’t believe there was anything left out.
Margaret & Barry Weston

Our customers depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. Visit our page full of client testimonials.

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