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Lim Bo Seng file photo [6747]

Lim Bo Seng

Given NameBo Seng
Born27 Apr 1909
Died29 Jun 1944
CountryChina, Singapore


ww2dbaseLim Bo Seng was born in Nan'an, Fujian Province, China to the wealthy businessman Lim Loh who owned a manufacturing business based in Singapore. In the 1920s, Lim studied at the Raffles Institution in Singapore and at an university in Hong Kong. In 1930, he married Gan Choo Neo, a woman from Malaya of Chinese descent; they had eight children, one of whom died in infancy.

ww2dbaseUpon the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Lim was an active supporter of boycotting activities against Japanese businesses. He also raised money for the China Relief Fund to aid the Chinese government in the war against Japan. In Dec 1941, Japanese forces invaded Malaya and headed for Singapore, leading to Lim's exodus from Singapore on 11 Feb 1942. He ended up in India via Sumatra and Ceylon. At Calcutta, India, he was convinced by British Army officer Basil Goodfellow to lead a group of ethnic Chinese operatives from Malaya and Singapore against Japanese occupation. In mid-1942, Force 136 was born, with its operatives jointly recruited by the British and the Chinese and trained by the British at the Far East Military School in Poona, India. Beginning on 24 May 1943, Force 136 agents arrived in Malaya via British submarines, with Lim arriving himself in Nov 1943, and formed an espionage network. Under the alias Tan Choon Lim, he operated out of Singapore. He was among those responsible for persuading the leaders of the Malayan Communist Party to support the British attempt to fight against Japanese occupation, signing the Bukit Bidor Agreement on 1 Jan 1944. On 26 Mar 1944, he was captured at a roadblock near Gopeng, Malaya; the information of his whereabouts came from the fisherman Chua Koon Eng, who provided the information after his own capture. With its top leaders caught, the entire Force 136 intelligence network fell apart by end of the month.

ww2dbaseAt the Batu Gajah prison in Perak, Malaya run by the Japanese secret police (Kempeitai), Lim was tortured, but refused to provide any information to the Japanese. Seriously ill with dysentery and possibly other diseases due to ill-treatment, he was taken to a separate building away from the main prison complex, and was often denied of food and water. Near the end of his life, he wrote to his wife "[d]on't grieve for me, but take pride in my sacrifice. Devote yourself to the bringing up of the children." Lim died in the early morning of 29 Jun 1944 and was buried behind the prison in an unmarked grave. His wife brought his remains to Singapore after the war, and held a funeral ceremony and procession on 13 Jan 1946 at Singapore's City Hall. Lim now rests in peace at a hill on the grounds of the MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore.

ww2dbaseLim was posthumously awarded the rank of major general by the Republic of China.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jan 2009

Lim Bo Seng Interactive Map


Tan Chong Tee and Lim Bo Seng, India, late 1930s or early 1940s

Lim Bo Seng Timeline

27 Apr 1909 Lim Bo Seng was born in Nan'an, Fujian, Qing Dynasty China.
2 Nov 1943 Lim Bo Seng arrived in Malaya aboard Dutch submarine O 24.
29 Jun 1944 Lim Bo Seng passed away from diseases while in Japanese captivity at Batu Gajah prison, Perak, Malaya.
13 Jan 1946 A funeral service for Lim Bo Seng was held at the City Hall of Singapore.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. David Fulton Akin says:
5 Jan 2012 06:33:40 AM

I recall my Father talking about a "Benny Lim" on several occations who was a "Scout on the Phillipine Islands that would lead American Troops and Provide Intelligence to the Field Commanders. He was highly respected throughout the Military establishment and many of the American Army, Navy & Marines were very Honored of his commitment and dedication to the War effort.

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Tan Chong Tee and Lim Bo Seng, India, late 1930s or early 1940s

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