Our thanks to Michael Pether of Auckland, New Zealand, who has provided more information about Lt Ralph Ripley and the circumstances surrounding the loss of HMS FANLING on 16 February 1942.
Ripley attended Ridley College in St. Catharines prior to attending the University of Toronto, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was heavily involved in athletics at both schools, participating in football, hockey, cricket, rugby and basketball and was a member of a Canadian cricket team which toured England in 1936. After graduation in 1937, he worked for the Canada Life Assurance Company in Toronto.
Following the loss of HMS PRINCE OF WALES on 10 December, 1941, he was one of two officers in the ex-customs launch HMS FANLING in Singapore. FANLING was believed to be about the size of a small Fairmile and possibly armed with a three pounder gun. Prior to the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, FANLING, carrying forty-seven people including Brigadier Aird-Smith and several other members of the staff of the 3rd Indian Corps, was among forty-six small vessels attempting to evacuate both civilians and military personnel. FANLING was intercepted in the Banka Strait between Banka Island and Sumatra by a Japanese cruiser and two destroyers, thought to be the Nagara Class cruiser YURA (seven 5.5” guns) and the Fubuki Class destroyers FUBUKI and ASAGIRI (six 5” guns each). FANLING reportedly engaged with her miniscule deck gun and was sunk. The Japanese made no attempt to rescue survivors and, indeed, survivors from other vessels who reached shore were herded back into the water and machine gunned. There were believed to be three survivors from FANLING. Lt Ripley was not one of them.