1942: Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan, Japanese spy

On this date in 1942, with the British about to abandon Singapore to the Japanese, turncoat officer Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan was summarily executed at Keppel Harbour.

Heenan, who had taken a long leave in Japan in 1938-39, used a wireless set to feed intelligence aiding the Japanese army’s invasion of Southeast Asia.

Heenan was caught on December 10, but there was little werewithal to handle his case as the defenders’ situation deteriorated desperately — less for anything Heenan had on offer than for the comprehensive weakness of the British position. He never seems to have been judicially sentenced, but he was shot by a guard chosen by lot two days before Britain surrendered Singapore. Something of an outsider to begin with, Heenan had begun taunting his guards on their impending defeat.

The particulars of Heenan’s betrayal, and even his identity, were covered up until long after the war. His name was even listed on Britain’s Battle of Singapore memorial.

Part of the Themed Set: Unruly Britannia.