|Laying field telephone cable|
| Field Telephone Exchange from No. 1 Coy HKVDC HQ at Taitam Bungalow|
(Courtesy: Dave Willott)
He married twice. Firstly, in 1919, to Bertha Winifred Lockwood (1894-1962) who predeceased him, and secondly in 1966, to Hilda Mona Worthington Newton (1903-1994). Eustace and Bertha had two sons one born in 1926, and the other born in 1935. Bertha and her youngest son, six-year-old John Kay Levett, were evacuated from Hong Kong to Australia in July 1940.
Levett was awarded the OBE (Military) in 1945. He retired from the Army in 1946, aged 53, after thirty years service. He had served in both world wars and had been a prisoner of war in each. After retiring from military service he then became a Bursar at a school in Eastbourne. He retired aged 65 in 1958. He passed away, aged 79, in Eastbourne in 1972. He was recommended for the OBE by Major-General Maltby. Whose citation was as follows:
"Outstanding ability in organising and controlling the Royal Corps of Signals during a very tense period. Damage caused by enemy shell fire, mortars and air bombardment was severe and incessant yet repairs were always carried out and no call made on the Corps was ever disregarded or unaccomplished. He was always cool, cheerful and prepared to undertake at short notice any demand upon him. His personal example was an inspiration to his whole Corps."His private war diary, and a type-written memoir, is held at the Imperial War Museum in London. The personal diary was compiled whilst he was a POW in Sham Shui Po and Argyle Street Camps. The cover is made from a khaki drill (KD) shirt. The diary and memoir were given, after his death, to his former comrade in arms, Lt-Col Montague Truscott, RCS, by his his widow Mrs Hilda Mona Levett. The Truscott family must have passed it to the Imperial War Museum. The diary has a hand-drawn emblem of the symbol for Yin and Yang. Underneath the symbol he has written the following lines:
I viewed the official war diary at the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford Camp, Dorset. I got the impression that Lt-Col Levett was a popular officer, a sympathetic man who cared for his men and demonstrated strong leadership."And when the great scorer comesTo mark against your nameHe cares not whether you won or lostBut how you played the game."
At the outbreak of war on 8th December 1941, the Royal Corps of Signals were comprised of 6 officers, 175 Other Ranks (ORs), augmented by 33 Canadian Signallers and 15 Volunteers and 96 civilian linesmen.
Chief Signals Officer: Lt-Col Eustace Levett
Hong Kong Signals Company
O.C. Company: Major Leonard Hayes
No. 1 Operating Section: Lt Cyril Bucke
No. 2 Maintenance Section: Lt Harry Spong
No. 3 Infantry Brigade Section: Lt Charles Brown
No. 4 Section: Sgt. George Somerville
Area Signals Officer: Captain Peter Gracey
Total: 6 Officers, 175 ORs, and 96 civilian employees.
Kowloon Infantry Brigade Signals Section
OC Section: Captain George Billings
Total: 1 Officer and 32 ORs (Canadian Signals)
Fortress Signals Coy - HKVDC
OC Company: Major John Sherry
2 i/c Captain Walter Clark
Total: 2 Officers, 26 ORs
The Royal Corps of Signals had a very high casualty rate with more than 97 men either killed in action, or died of wounds or died during incarceration. A 54% death rate. The Canadian detachment lost 9 killed out of 33 All Ranks. A 27% death rate. The HKVDC (Signals Section) lost 6 men killed (a 21% death rate). The Hong Kong Signals Coy lost 50 men killed in the sinking of the Lisbon Maru.
Communications is the life blood in battle, without effective communications there is only chaos, confusion, and individual actions by units. Although there was some wireless communications, most communication was by telephone with cables usually laid in a ditch or a shallow trench. In battle conditions the cable would be laid along the ground. The telephone cable was easily broken by artillery, mortar and aerial bombing. When this happened linesmen were sent out to repair the cables which often had to be done under fire. Without telephone communications commanders had to revert to runners and dispatch riders, who were often killed before they could deliver a message.