Eric Stephen Gerard

Additional Information: 

Son of George and Freda Maria Gerard; husband of Valerie Gerard, of Lower Hutt.

  • CWGC

Biographical Notes:


Believed to have died in the sinking of the SS Panjdong Pinang, by Japanese forces, during the evacuation of Singapore. 

GERARD – Lt. Eric ‘Stephen’ Gerard, RNZVR and Sub. Lt MRNVR, was born on 4th November 1908 making him aged 34 years at the time of his death. He was from New Zealand and a journalist in civilian life.  Stephen had attended Christ’s College in Christchurch, then Canterbury College (now Canterbury University) and at age 17 gained a place at Oxford University in England. Apparently he “ …He had a year or so at Brazenove and come down without a degree but with a Grave blazer to mark his having fought for England at an international fencing meeting at Aix …Gerard looked like a duelist, hard and raffish …” ( ‘Memoir’ by Stuart Perry in the book “Strait of Adventure” publ. 1952) . In 1935 he married Miss Valerie Maud Denniston (born c. 1911). In 1936 he was reported giving an exhibition of the epee at a fencing competition between “the Navy and Wellington’” in Wellington. In 1938 he wrote and published ‘Strait of Adventure’, a very well written book about the wild Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand including its waters, shores and history. Stephen was a journalist during this time for ‘The Dominion’ in Wellington - and possibly the ‘Evening Post ‘newspaper. It must have been a foregone conclusion that Stephen would join the Navy on the declaration of war – which he did on 29 April 1941 at ‘HMS Philomel’ (the New Zealand shore base)” … for service in R.N. …”,being immediately  attached to the shore base in Singapore ‘HMS Sultan’. He wrote in his Registration Form For Active Service – the application for a commission in the RNVR - “… sailed yachts in all parts of the world, including Home waters. Extensive Pacific cruise 1931-33 as skipper. Can navigate. Air pilot in 1929 …”. He is recorded as a tall (five feet eleven inches) and lean (ten stone) man with brown hair and grey eyes, married with one child. Colonial Naval records show that he was commissioned as Tempy. Lt. Eric Stephen Gerard, RNZNVR on 29.7.41. His service records show him being attached to ‘Pangkor’ and then, most interestingly, the ‘2nd Malay’ (which must mean the 2nd Malay Regiment which later heroically fought in the defence of Singapore island) in the months prior to the Surrender. In the records of the Changi POW camp ‘Bureau of Record and Enquiry’ whose OIC was Captain David Nelson from NZ – and in a post war statement by Captain Nelson it was confirmed that “… those records definitely show that Lieutenant Gerard was on the Tanjong Pinang when she was sunk, as he states in his letter he is of the firm opinion that neither Stephen Gerard nor Basil Shaw survived …” (solicitor’s letter to The Naval Secretary, Wellington, dated 3 April 1946. Stephen is also listed in the crew list recorded by A/S Archer in POW camp; he is shown as “Sub Lt Gerrard, RMNVR”. In ‘The Malayan Bulletin’, 22.1.45, there appeared under ‘Enquiries’ the following” … Lieut. Eric Stephen Garard [sic], R.N.V.R., - His last known address was R.N.V.R., Headquarters, Singapore. He is supposed to have left there with his ship about three years ago and nothing has been heard from him since. Various rumours have reached his wife, but nothing that could be regarded as definite information. Please pass any information on to the Officer in Charge, Missing and Prisoners of War department, Red Cross Society, Christchurch, NZ …”. One source states that he was Ex ‘HMS Pangkor ‘and appears to have survived the sinking but “… was left weak with wounds and drowned…” (NZ Military Historical Society Inc). Finally, in the view of this researcher, perhaps the best memorial to the man who was Stephen Gerard is contained in ‘The Memoir’ in his book as written by his Christ’s College contemporary Stuart Perry,” … he had packed a good deal into his life…. I fancy he did with his life more or less what he wanted to do with it. He was willful and solitary, but he had a capacity for friendship. Sometimes in funds, sometimes hard up, he was never in a minor key. There was originality in all he tackled, an almost foolhardy sense of adventure, and a rejection of conventions which was automatic rather than impatient. He simply found conventions a nuisance …”.

[ precis from Michael Pether's  "SS Pandjong Pinang, Researched Passenger and Crew List". Jan.2020]

Public Contributions:

There are no public contributions written for this casualty

Personal Tributes:


Eric Stephen Gerard
Date of Birth:
Not known
Date of Birth - Unverified:
Date of Enlistment:
Not known
Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, SS Pangkor.

Casualty Details

Cause of Death:
Missing Presumed Killed
Date of Death:
17 February 1942
Day of Death:
Age at Death: 

Embarkation Details

Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum


Cemetery Reference: 
Panel 7.
Cemetery Location: 
New Zealand
Eric Stephen Gerard
More information
  • Files must be less than 100 MB.
  • Allowed file types: png gif jpg jpeg.
More information
  • Files must be less than 100 MB.
  • Allowed file types: txt pdf doc.