Tour Program - The Thanbyuzayat Death Railway Plus Snapshot In Myanmar General Tour
The tour follows on from the Quiet Lion in 2020
Click here for the details of the Thanbyuzayat Tour.
Tour Program - The Thanbyuzayat Death Railway Plus Snapshot In Myanmar General Tour
The tour follows on from the Quiet Lion in 2020
Click here for the details of the Thanbyuzayat Tour.
2020 Quiet Lion Tour - accommodation
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association (Inc) is calling for application for passengers to join the Quiet Lion Tour for 2020. The 2020 tour is a 12-day, 11-night all-inclusive guided tour to Thailand to visit Hell Fire Pass dawn service and Kanchanaburi Cemetery wreath laying ceremony on ANZAC Day.
The tour also includes, air flights, transfers, meals, accommodation, a commentary on the experiences of the POWs on the railway during WWII and visits to the sites of many of the POW camps. Next year will see some improvements to the accommodation.
The tour has moved to the Royal River Hotel for the first two nights of the tour and then the Centre Point Central Hotel. Both hotels are better appointed; the rooms at the Royal River Hotel have river views and have improved the comfort of our passengers. The positioning of the hotels also improves the access for the tour bus to the airport and the day tour for its passengers.
The tour will spend a day in Bangkok and surrounding areas experiencing the Thai culture and then travel inland to areas where the railway was built. The experienced guides will give a running commentary on the struggle of the POWs during the railway construction. The historic part of the culminates in the Heritage work along part of the original railway and ending at the Hell Fire Pass Museum. The detailed itinerary, application form and terms and conditions of the tour are on the BTRMA’s website.
Vacancies remain for the QUIET LION TOUR 2020 which departs Perth on 17th April 2020 and returns on 27th April 2020.
The Tour is for 11 days (10 nights) and the focus is on the story of the Australia POWs, their hospitals and camps and the Australian doctors. The ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Hellfire Pass and the later Memorial Service in the War Cemetery at Kanchanaburi are highlights. The Bridge on the River Kwai, museums and other areas of interest are visited as part of the tour. Descendants of exPOWs and experts on the Thai Burma Railway travel on the tour and provide commentaries in addition to English speaking Thai Guides.
Deluxe class air-conditioned buses with video equipment are used. The Quiet Lion Tours commenced in 1985 and travel to Thailand to honour Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop, all the other Doctors and medical attendants who tended the sick but most of all the Prisoners of War who suffered on the Burma Thailand Railway. The tours are operated by the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the memory of those who toiled on the Death Railway as Prisoners of War of the Japanese.
There are opportunities in Bangkok for tourism and shopping. Accommodation comprises of 3 nights at top hotels in Bangkok, 1 night at a riverside resort in Kanchanaburi and 6 nights at the Home Phu Toey Resort (on the River Kwai near Hellfire Pass) which includes the Weary Dunlop Peace Park.
For the 2020 Quiet Lion Tour the hotels in Bangkok have been changed to provide an improved service to the travelers. The locations are better from quality, safety, accessibility and presentation purposes.
Another new feature is a cruise along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok as guests of Thai Airways and the Tourist Authority of Thailand seeing Bangkok at night on board a safe and comfortable cruiser. Take in views of both banks of the river from the open-air upper deck and feast on a gourmet buffet dinner of international dishes traveling along Bangkok’s main waterway enjoying the beauty of the city's monuments, temples and other historic sights, illuminated at night. Be entertained by a live band performance performing hits from different eras
A visit to the Erewan Falls at Kanchanaburi has also been added to the itinerary.
Arrangements can be made for travel from any State in Australia. Significant discounts are available for early fully paid bookings.
The full itinerary and other details are available on the BTRMA web site.
Interested people should contact Tour Organiser Ian Holding on M 0418832281 email:email@example.com Tour Leader David Piesse on Tel 9447 7505 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
On Monday, 11 November 2019 Senator Eric Abetz of Tasmania made the following speech in regard to the death of Tasmanian World War II veteran TX3754 Adye Glen Rockliff of C-Company 2nd/3rd Machine Gun Battalion in World War Two:
“Today I had the privilege of laying a wreath on behalf of the Prime Minister and the people of Australia at the Hobart Cenotaph to commemorate the contribution of our service men and women on this Remembrance Day. As I did so I recalled that last month a simple death notice marking the passing of Tasmanian World War II veteran TX3754, Adye Glen Rockliff. The death notice read as follows: (the widows, children, grandchildren and friends of Adye's comrades from C-Company of 2nd/3rd Machine Gun Battalion extend our deepest sympathy to his family.
A humble, able and much respected man; and—most poignantly—the last surviving prisoner of war of this unit. One of Dunlop's Thousand). He was 98 years old. Adye enlisted in the Second AIF, aged 18, and trained initially in Tasmania. The 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion was formed in June 1940 and served in Egypt, Syria, the Netherlands, the East Indies and New Guinea. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Blackburn, the battalion was primarily a South Australian unit, although it had subunits: B Company in Victoria, C Company in Tasmania and D Company in Western Australia.
In April 1941, the battalion embarked for the Middle East. In June and July it saw action against Vichy French forces in Syria with the 7th division. Following Japan's entry into the war, Australian troops from the Middle East were transferred to the Pacific region. In early 1942, the Japanese advanced through the Netherlands East Indies. Four days after the fall of Singapore, and on the day Darwin was bombed, Australian troops disembarked in Java from the troopship Orcades, having been diverted on their return journey to Australia.
Adye's unit was joined by the 2nd/2nd Pioneer Battalion and the 2nd/2nd Casualty Clearing Station, which had served at Tobruk. The clearing station included the much renowned surgeon Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, a man whom I had the privilege of meeting.
These units and others already on the island became known as Black Force.
On the night of 28 February, when the Japanese began landing, Tasmania C Company was at the forefront of the action. It resulted in the loss of seven members killed and 28 wounded, but afterwards they found that they had killed no fewer than 200 Japanese. However, Black Force was ordered to surrender on 9 March, following the Dutch capitulation the day before.
Members of Black Force unit spent captivity in a wide range of locations, including Thailand, Japan and Singapore. One hundred and thirty-nine from the 2nd/3rd MG Battalion died as prisoners. Adye and other Tasmanians moved to a prisoner-of-war camp and came under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Weary Dunlop. They were then transferred to Changi, in Singapore, and then the Burma-Thailand railway.
Nine thousand five hundred Australians worked on this railway, where 2,646 died from the deprivations, the effects of tropical diseases and malnutrition. This was despite the heroic efforts of doctors and officers like Weary Dunlop. After 18 months of this brutal existence, Adye and some of his unit were selected to work in Japan in undersea coalmines. His convoy of 14 transport ships suffered bad weather and attacks by allied submarines, meaning only four ships reached Japan. Twenty-seven members of his machine gun battalion died on one of those sunken ships.
Rockliff survived in the coalmine until the end of the war. He returned to Tasmania after six years at war and immediately found it difficult to reacclimatise to normal life, no longer fighting to survive each day or dealing with life-or-death issues. He found Australia had changed. His brothers and sisters had grown. And he felt the loss of being part of a large organisation such as the Army. Like his prisoner-of-war camp commander Weary Dunlop, after the war Adye became an advocate for his returned comrades, often battling the department for medical and social assistance for fellow mates.
In recent years, he took the opportunity to write to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and also to write a book on his wartime experience, entitled simply The War Time Memories of Adye Rockliff. Adye was the loving husband of his wife, Sheila (deceased); loving father of John (deceased), David, Kathy and Chris; father-in-law of Merril and Sue; and grandfather of Claire, Megan, Aaron and Luke.
Adye Glen Rockliff's sacrifice in war for his family and his country was typical of many Australians who served in World War II and those who continue to serve in the Australian Defence Force. His battles with the Department of Veterans' Affairs remind us of the importance of getting the right response by government to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission's review of veterans' entitlements. His life reminds us of the importance of Australian values mateship, loyalty and courage in the face of adversity and that there are virtues, values and principles which are worthy of sacrifice.
His sacrifice and that of his fellow veterans was acknowledged by the Prime Minister in his recent visit to Hellfire Pass and the memorial to our prisoners of war that were on the Burma Thailand Railway. The memorial, I had the honour of visiting—and, indeed, of hearing, as I walked around, the reminiscences of former Labor minister Tom Uren and former Liberal government Senate leader John Carrick, both of whom continued their service, after the war, in this parliament.
It is appropriate on days such as this to reflect that our privilege to serve in this place was bought with the blood and lives of our forebears and continues to be protected today by similarly minded individuals in our ADF. In my home state, we have seen the Headstone Project in Tasmania mark the final resting place of World War I veterans who previously lay in unmarked graves. It is right and proper to continue the tradition of acknowledging the sacrifices of our diggers on Remembrance Day and to offer our deep heartfelt thanks to all those who served in any war or conflict. "
"Lest we forget”.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association extend their commiserations to the family of Adye Glen Rockliff and record their gratitude to Senator Eric Abetz for addressing the Senate.
The Association also acknowledges with thanks the source of the speech in the Senate as published in Hansard.
REMEMBRANCE DAY ON 11 NOVEMBER EACH YEAR PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ALL AUSTRALIANS WHO SERVED IN ALL CONFLICTS. THE BURMA-THAILAND RAILWAY AND HELLFIRE PASS IS PART OF ONE SUCH CONFLICT.
REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICES ARE HELD EACH YEAR IN ALL MAJOR CITIES AND MOST SUBURBS AND COUNTRY TOWNS AND PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY TO REMEMBER THOSE WHO SERVED OUR COUNTRY.
Excerpt from The Anzac Portal: Reference Here
“The Burma-Thailand railway was the common and dominant experience of Australian POWs. It distorted or ended the lives of over half of the Australian prisoners of the Japanese…” Hank Nelson, 'Measuring the railway' in Gavan McCormack and Hank Nelson (eds), The Burma–Thailand Railway, Sydney, Allen & Unwin, 1993, 17, 19.
But 'Hellfire Pass' was more than just a cutting. In its vicinity a sequence of bridges and embankments were needed to keep the railway route along the escarpment level. There were also many camps housing the thousands of workers, including Australians. These have now disappeared into the exquisitely beautiful landscape, but they have been reclaimed as witnesses to the POW story.
The Anzac legend and Australian memory
Over the years this story of atrocity and suffering has become an affirmation of Australian courage and resilience. Although prisoners of war suffered the humiliation of being defeated and captured, they came to be portrayed as men who had triumphed over adversity. Displaying in captivity the qualities of humour, resourcefulness and mateship, they were able to integrate their experiences into the dominant national memory of war since the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, the Anzac 'legend'.
The POW experience is also remembered for the dedicated service of the medical personnel who, with little equipment or medicines, cared for desperately ill men in primitive hospitals. Most famous of these doctors is the POW surgeon Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop. His statue now stands outside the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, not so far from another iconic image of compassion, Simpson and his donkey. Although Dunlop was only one of 106 Australian POW medical officers, in recent years he has come to represent them all—and the values of courage and compassion that they and many Australians manifested in captivity.
Military units to which the Australians belonged were broken up into work forces to meet the Japanese need for labour. From late 1942 more than 13,000 Australians were sent from Singapore, Java and Timor to work on the Thai–Burma railway.
Around 12,000 Japanese and 800 Korean soldiers worked on the Thai–Burma railway as engineers or guards. They were some of over five million soldiers who served with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Excerpt from The Anzac Portal: Reference here
The Building of Hellfire Pass
"It seems to run without much regard to the landscape as though someone had drawn a line on a map!" [E.E. Dunlop, The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop, Ringwood, Victoria, Penguin, 1989, 212.]
The Thai–Burma railway was built in 1942–43 to supply the Japanese forces in Burma, bypassing the sea routes that were made vulnerable when Japanese naval strength was reduced in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in May and June 1942.
Once the railway was completed the Japanese planned to attack the British in India, and in particular the road and airfields used by the Allies to supply China over the Himalayan Mountains.
Begun in October 1942 and completed on 16 October 1943, the railway stretched 415 kilometres between Nong Pladuk in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now Myanmar).
A rail connection between Thailand and Burma had been proposed decades before World War II. In the 1880s the British had surveyed a possible route but abandoned the project because of the challenges posed by the thick jungle, endemic diseases and lack of adequate roads.
The Japanese also carried out a survey in the 1920s and, after completing a further survey in early 1942, decided in June to proceed, using the large workforce of Allied POWs now at their disposal. At this time Japanese engineers were assisted by small numbers of prisoners marking and roughly clearing the route of the railway.
Aiming to finish the railway as quickly as possible the Japanese decided to use a massive workforce of prisoners and Asian labourers or rōmusha. The railway was to be constructed by units working along its entire length rather than just from each end.
Since 1945 prisoners of war and the Burma-Thailand Railway have come to occupy a central place in Australia's national memory of World War II. There are good reasons for this. Over 22,000 Australians were captured by the Japanese when they conquered South East Asia in early 1942. More than a third of these men and women died in captivity. This was about 20 per cent of all Australian deaths in World War II. The shock and scale of these losses affected families and communities across the nation of only 7 million people.
This article focuses on Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting), the deepest and most dramatic of the many cuttings along the Burma-Thailand railway. Not all Australian POWs worked here in 1943. Nor was the workforce in this region exclusively Australian. However, in recent years Hellfire Pass has come to represent the suffering of all Australian prisoners across the Asia–Pacific region. The experiences of prisoners elsewhere were, in fact, very diverse but this article can only hint at these. The Burma-Thailand railway Since 1945 prisoners of war and the Burma-Thailand Railway have come to occupy a central place in Australia's national memory of World War II.
There are good reasons for this. Over 22,000 Australians were captured by the Japanese when they conquered South East Asia in early 1942. More than a third of these men and women died in captivity. This was about 20 per cent of all Australian deaths in World War II. The shock and scale of these losses affected families and communities across the nation of only 7 million people.
This article focuses on Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting), the deepest and most dramatic of the many cuttings along the Burma-Thailand railway. Not all Australian POWs worked here in 1943. Nor was the workforce in this region exclusively Australian. However, in recent years Hellfire Pass has come to represent the suffering of all Australian prisoners across the Asia–Pacific region. The experiences of prisoners elsewhere were, in fact, very diverse but this article can only hint at these.
The Burma-Thailand railway
The Burma-Thailand railway (known also as the Burma–Thailand or Burma–Siam railway) was built in 1942–43. Its purpose was to supply the Japanese forces in Burma, bypassing the sea routes which had become vulnerable when Japanese naval strength was reduced in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in May and June 1942. Once the railway was completed the Japanese planned to attack the British in India, and in particular the road and airfields used by the Allies to supply China over the Himalayan Mountains.
Aiming to finish the railway as quickly as possible the Japanese decided to use the more than 60,000 Allied prisoners who had fallen into their hands in early 1942. These included troops of the British Empire, Dutch and colonial personnel from the Netherlands East Indies and a small number of US troops sunk on the USS Houston during the Battle of Java Sea. About 13,000 of the prisoners who worked on the railway were Australian.
To meet the tight deadlines the Japanese had set for completing the railway, a further 200,000 Asian labourers or rōmusha (the precise number is not known) were enticed or coerced into working for the Japanese. The 415km railway ran from Thanbyuzayat in Burma (now Myanmar) to Non Pladuk in Thailand. It was constructed by units working along its entire length rather than just from each end. This meant that the already difficult problems of supply became impossible during the monsoonal season of mid-1943.
Starved of food and medicines, and forced to work impossibly long hours in remote unhealthy locations, over 12,000 POWs, including more than 2,700 Australians, died. The number of rōmusha dead is not known but it was probably up to 90,000.
Remembering the railway
All memory is selective. Communities, like individuals, remember some stories of the past while forgetting others. For memories to survive at the collective or national level they need to be championed—not just once but over the decades. Many Australians performed that role for prisoners of the Japanese. World War II ex-prisoners published memoirs and eye-witness accounts. Many proved to be immensely popular. Russell Braddon's The Naked Island (1951), for example, sold well over a million copies and stayed in print for decades.
There were also memorable fictional accounts of captivity, some of which were adapted for commercial films and television series. The most famous of these was The Bridge on the River Kwai which, though bearing little resemblance to events in 1942-43, generated a popular interest in the railway which continues to this day. In the 1980s Australian ex-POWs returned to Thailand and reclaimed Hellfire Pass from the jungle which had swallowed it when the Burma-Thailand railway was demolished after World War II. The cutting soon became a site of memory for many Australians, particularly on Anzac Day. Its dramatic scale and its towering walls, scarred with drill incisions made by hand, spoke particularly vividly to the hardships endured by POWs.
The building of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum by the Australian government in 1998 also made it a key site of memory, attracting tourists and 'pilgrims' of many nationalities.
The terrain the railway crossed made its construction very difficult. However, its route was not entirely the dense and inhospitable jungle of popular imagination. At either end, in Thailand and Burma, the rail track travelled through gentle landscape before entering the rugged and mountainous jungle on the border between the two countries. When the track reached Wampo, about 112km from the Thai terminus, it started to meet jagged limestone hills, interspersed with streams and gullies. During the monsoon season, the land became waterlogged and unstable. This posed problems for construction as well as for transport and supply.
As far as possible the railway track proceeded at a gentle gradient, as steam trains could only climb a slight incline. Where the railway met unavoidable hills, cuttings were dug to allow the line to proceed. Often the line emerged from a deep cutting onto a series of embankments, and bridges. In all, 688 bridges were built along the railway. In addition, over sixty stations were built to allow trains to pass one another, as well as refuelling and watering points.
More than 60,000 Allied prisoners of war were employed in the construction of the Thai–Burma railway, including British Empire troops, Dutch and colonial troops from the Netherlands East Indies and a smaller number of US troops. About 13,000 of the prisoners were Australian.
In addition, the Japanese enticed or coerced about 200,000 Asians labourers (rōmusha) to work on the railway. These included Burmese, Javanese, Malays, Tamils and Chinese. Over 12,000 Allied prisoners died during the construction of the railway, including more than 2,700 Australians. Around 1,000 Japanese died. It is difficult to determine precisely how many rōmusha died, as record keeping was poor. The number is estimated to be between 75,000 and 100,000.
Despite being repeatedly bombed by the Allies, the Thai–Burma railway did operate as a fully functioning railway after its completion. Between November 1943 and March 1944 over 50,000 tonnes of food and ammunition were carried to Burma as well as two complete divisions of troops for the Japanese offensive into India. This attack, one of their last, was defeated by British and Indian forces.
As the railway was used to support the Japanese in Burma until the end of the war, prisoners of war and rōmusha continued to work on maintenance and repair tasks after the railway construction was completed.
“We do not know this Australian's name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children, we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was. Yet he has always been among those whom we have honoured. The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for Australia.”
Remembrance Day 1993: excerpt from commemorative address by PM Hon Paul Keating MP
Chairman of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Eric Wilson OAM APM, Vice Chairman Ian Holding and Tour Leader David Piesse attended the 21st Memorial Service for ex Prisoners of War conducted by Mount Lawley Senior High School at Kings Park on 3rd May 2019.
A wreath was laid on behalf of the BTRMA by the Chairman and Vice Chairman.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, the Ex-Prisoners of War Association and the Mount Lawler Senior High School have been associated with this function since 1997. Mount Lawley Senior High School has been regularly represented on the Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand for Anzac Day by students of the School
Again, it was a beautiful sunny day and a large contingent of people that included Arthur Leggett OAM ED, (President of the ex-POW Association), assembled at the Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Kings Park on 4th May, 2018. The service, now in its 22nd year, was co-ordinated and supported admirably by the Principal, Staff and Students from Mount Lawley Senior High School. This-included a wonderful choir, concert band and bugler Shannon Barrie.
The Australia Defence Force was well represented together with many veterans and their families. The Repatriation Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC was present with other distinguished guests. At the 2019 Memorial Service the Master of Ceremonies, Head Boy Ronan McEwen, opened proceedings with an Acknowledgement of Country and an address of welcome.
Mount Lawley Senior High School Chaplain, Mr Andrew Paul, presented the Call to Worship and referred to the first two students to attend the tour in 1998, Erin St Duke and Katherine Cooper, quoting sections of Erin’s address to a school assembly on her return. Mr Paul also referred to the value of the relationship between the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and the Mount Lawley Senior High School.
The school choir delivered a beautiful rendition of the hymn Abide With Me. School prefect Lucy Sutherland recited Psalm 121. School Principal Ms Lesley Street addressed the assembled guests with an excellent presentation during which reference was made to the passing of ex-POWs Sydney Shaw, John Gilmour and Professor Alex Kerr since the 2018 ceremony. Arthur Leggett OAM ED, addressed the ceremony with a moving speech during which he recited a poem, without missing a word, he had composed for the occasion. Year 9 student Amy Carter delivered an address. School Prefect Daniel Hall delivered The Lord’s Prayer.
Year 9 Councillors Ruby Molyneaux and Will Corbett laid the school wreath followed by many wreaths from individuals and kindred organisations. School prefect Sophia Profumo recited the Ode. Bugler, School Prefect Shannon Barrie rendered The Last Post and after one minute silence the Reveille.Flags were raised from half mast in perfect unison. The assembly sang the National Anthem before Mr Andrew Paul completed the ceremony with the Blessing.
The service concluded with tea, coffee and light refreshments supplied by the catering students at Mount Lawley Senior High School - including a packet of Anzac Cookies.
Once again, a wonderful effort by all concerned.
Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association.
The Quiet Lion Tour, conducted by the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, was again present on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2019, in Thailand when the event was commemorated with a Dawn Service and Gunfire Breakfast at Hellfire Pass and a Commemorative Service and Wreath Laying at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
The Dawn Service is in Hellfire Pass situated in Sai Yoke, commencing at 5.30 a.m. and lasting approximately 40 minutes. The site is actually Kannyu Cutting, below the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre, Kanchanaburi Province.
Hellfire Pass is accessed through the Royal Thai Army camp at Sai Yok which is the site of the Kannyu 1 Prisoner of War Camp and burial grounds from the building of the Burma Thailand Railway. Walking into the site is via newly installed steps and ramps down the steep face of the cutting and then along the old railway line. The ceremonial area at the end of the cutting has limited seating arrangements in hard tiers cut from the rock wall on one side and a substantial temporary grandstand on the other.
There is a catafalque and wreath laying area in the centre of the ceremonial area. Approximately 1,500 people are accommodated in the ceremonial area and another 800 or so people in the adjacent pass.
ANZAC Day in Kanchanaburi, Thailand 25th April 2019–Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
The commemorative service commences at 1100 (11.00 a.m.) at Kanchanaburi (Don Rak) War Cemetery, Kanchanaburi and lasts approximately 50-60 minutes.
All service attendees are invited to attend a Post Service barbeque held directly after the service from 1200 – 1500 in a clearing to the east of the War Cemetery. Generous local sponsors have provided a limited amount of food free of charge, and refreshments are available for purchase with all proceeds to be directed towards service charities.
The 2019 Quiet Lion Tour again attended both services and in the case of Kanchanaburi assisted in the wreath-laying phase. It was significant that ex-POW Harold Martin again attended the services and recited the Ode on both occasions. With assistance, Harold laid a wreath at the Kanchanaburi catafalque and Quiet Lion Tour juniors acted as wreath laying assistants there.
At the Dawn Service, the Anzac Address was delivered by His Excellency Allan McKinnon PSM, the Australian Ambasador to Thailand, and the Statement of Remembrance was delivered by Wing Commander David Bryers, Royal New Zealand Air Force.
At the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery Commemorative Service the prologue was delivered by Air Marshall Leo Davies AO,CSC, Chief of Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, the Anzac Address was delivered by His Excellency Taha Macpherson, New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand.The ex-POW Address was delivered by Mr Eric Wilson APM OAM, Chairman of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association. on behalf of the late Neil MacPherson OAM.
A tribute of Mustafa Kemal Attaturk was delivered by the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, Her Excellency Ms Evren Dogdelan Akgun and the Ode of Remembrance by Mr Harold Martin.
In the evening preceding the Anzac Day services, an alfresco welcome reception was hosted in by Home Phu Toey Managing Director Suparerk Soorangoora in the Weary Dunlop Park outside the Dunlop Museum, followed by the traditional Light and Sound Show in the specially built arena, and a celebratory dinner with Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors, service chiefs, dignitaries and the Quiet Lion Group. Quiet Lion group tour leader David Piesse welcomed the guests and invited the two Ambassadors to address those in attendance.
The occasion marked a great prelude to the Anzac Day commemorations. All attending (that were in a position to compare) considered the newly rebuilt and fitted Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre (hitherto generally known as the Hellfire Pass Museum) was a magnificent effort.
The graphics, exhibits and displays, together with the flow of exhibits, artefacts and video displays make for a remarkable experience. If any features could be isolated from the rest it would be the remarkable full length photographs of the late Bill Haskell rounding a bend in Hellfire Pass with the aid of his walking stick and Harold Martin sitting in a typical pose (Photo by Samm Blake).
The new outside area at the top of stairways to the pass below really adds to the spectacle. All involved in the planning, conception and completion of this project are to be congratulated.
Chairman, Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association.
Neil Ormiston MacPherson WX16572 of 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion of Williams Force Burma Thailand Railway 1942-1944, Japan 1945.
Born 14th May 1922. Enlisted 22nd September 1941. Died 30th March 2019.
Trained with 11th Battalion Senior Cadets in 1938-39.
Trained at Northam Training Camp. November 1941 to the Middle East on HMT Queen Mary. To Palestine for training. Transferred from 24TH Infantry Training Battalion to 2/2 Pioneer Battalion. January 1942 left Middle East on HMT Orcades with 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion and others to Dutch East Indies. Full Pioneer Battalion landed at Tanjong Priok, Java and saw action against the Japanese before capture. Transferred to Singapore on Kendon Maru and to Rangoon, Burma, on Mayabashi Maru in October 1942. To Moulmein on Yamagata Maru. Joined Williams Force.
In February 1942, 3000 Australians, the vanguard of the 7th Division, returning to Australia from the Middle East on the SS Orcades, were diverted to Java to help stem the Japanese invasion sweeping towards Australia.
On the 8th March 1942 the Dutch authorities surrendered the island along with all allied forces. At age 19 years Neil MacPherson became a prisoner of a cruel and brutal regime and joined over 22,000 fellow Australians. Of those over 8,000 or 36% paid the supreme sacrifice, most were to suffer intolerably cruel and lingering deaths.
In September 1942 under the command of legendary C.O. Lt Colonel Williams, 1800 prisoners from Java were shipped to Burma in dreadful conditions in three separate Hell Ships.
In Burma, Williams Force of 800 men was made up of 450 of Pioneers from the Middle East, the rest mainly young sailors, survivors of HMAS Perth. The officers had been in action in Syria and Java so was held in high esteem by the Pioneers.
Arriving in Thanbyuzayat in October 1942, Williams Force joined Brigadier Varley’s A Force of 3000 Australians just arrived from the port of Tavoy. A Force was the first Australians to start work on the Burma Thailand Railway.
The next Australians, Dunlop Force No 5 Group, arrived in Burma in January 1943 from Java and was the first Australian group to commence work on the Thailand end of the Burma Thailand railway.
The following 15 months were to test the mettle, morale, and Anzac spirit of the Australian prisoners in Burma. A starvation diet of a hand full of rice and watery (usually meatless) stew. Work clearing the jungle, on embankments, on cuttings, on bridges in the heat of the dry, and the misery and slush of the wet.
Clothes and footwear, long destroyed in the foetid jungle the only protection from the burning heat and the rain, was a loincloth. Bed bugs and lice left by native workers made for harrowing and restless nights, deaths were continuous and the numbers dwindled as work hours grew.
No 1 force actually worked continually through the wet, from Thanbuzayat right through into Thailand where the two ends of the Railway were joined on 17th October 1943.
With no drugs whatsoever, malaria, dysentery, beri beri, pellagra, tropical ulcers smallpox and finally cholera took its toll. The dedicated Doctors and medical staff were supermen, working with make shift tools, without them losses would have doubled.
The survivors, wrecks of men in rags, staggered out of their jungle camps in January 1944 to be transported to the well organised, better-equipped camps in Tamarkan & Kanburi (Kanchanaburi and Tha Makan). Despite a continuing death rate from the results of the ordeal, after six months of improved food and lighter work survivors regained some semblance of health but this transpired to be a well designed plan by the captors.
Thousands of Railway workers, Australians in a majority, were selected for shipment to Japan as slave labor, to work in mines, factories and on the docks. Thousands of them died in Hell Ships from attacks by US submarines and aircraft. Neil Macpherson’s luck as a survivor continued. He was on the last ship, the Awa Maru (his fourth Hell Ship), to successfully make the journey. He arrived in Japan in January 1945, the coldest winter Japan experienced in 40 years, to spend the remaining months working in a coalmine.
An unknown author described conditions on board these Hell Ships thus:
“Crowded onto cramped platforms, with barely enough space to turn around, a mass of unwashed bodies struggling to survive in a sea of sweat and revolting smells, in the stifling heat of the holds. Initially in the tropical heat near the equator, but the ensuing month was to see us making our way across snow covered decks for our limited toilet functions”
Finally, the ordeal was over, the Japanese capitulated and the POWs were liberated.
On 16th August, 1945, the prisoners of Neil’s group were freed. Left Senryu on 14th September for Nagasaki where they boarded ships en route to Okinawa. They travelled by B24 Liberator bombers to Luzon Island and by C45 Transports to Manila. By aircraft carrier HMS Formidable to Sydney and train to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Final discharge was on 11th February 1946.
The exPOWs took up life where they left off, brought up families, helped build a great nation, most drew a curtain on the horrors through which they had lived.
Maturing quickly, they adapted, found a maturity far above their age, learned self discipline - most importantly they discovered “mate-ship”. Neil MacPherson was fond of quoting Duncan Butler of the 2/12th Field Ambulance who wrote the poem Mates with the theme.
“No prisoner on the railway survived who did not have a mate”.
Vale Neil Ormiston MacPherson OAM
The Australian Thai Chamber of Commerce coordinated arrangements for the design, construction and maintenance of a memorial along an abandoned section of the route of the railway line constructed by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942 43 between Burma and Thailand. These arrangements were conducted with the kind cooperation of the Government of Thailand, particularly the Armed Forces Development Command. The memorial complex is intended to honour the Allied Prisoners of War and conscripted people from India, Burma, Malaya and other countries who died during the construction of the railway, as well as all who suffered as a consequence of the hardships endured during the railway's construction.
The original aim of the Project was to provide access pathways to Konyu Cutting at Hellfire Pass on the abandoned portion of the Thai Burma Railway. A Thai team conducted a detailed survey of the proposed route of the access pathways in October 1986, from which site plans were produced and approved in November 1986. Actual construction of the pathways commenced in early January 1987 and this was completed in mid March 1987. In April 1987 the Hellfire Pass Memorial Dedication Ceremony occurred with Sir Edward Dunlop making the dedication. To assist in the compiling of the wartime history of the area, a request for air photo coverage was made to the UK Ministry of Defence. Photos of excellent quality taken in December 1944 clearly show details of the railway together with roads and the remains of a camp at Konyu. A map was produced with sufficient detail to illustrate the important features of the area. Ken Bradley was the main contributor with advice from Bill Haskell.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial Project was coordinated by the "Hellfire Pass Sub Committee" of the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce and it was the Chamber's main contribution to the Australian Bicentennial 1988 Programme in Thailand. The initial phase of the project was funded by a grant of A$31,000 from the Australian Government.
The memorial concept became a reality under the leadership and guidance of Ken Bradley, who, through considerable devotion of time and energy, had been the mainstay of the project from inception to reality. Former PoW, Tom Morris, who originated the project concept, provided much essential background information, enthusiasm and encouragement during the establishment of the Memorial. Numerous other ex PoWs have made helpful contributions to documenting the history of the Hellfire Pass area. Special mention is due to Jim Appleby (Snowy Mountains Electricity Corporation) for initiating the Project and to his successors, notably Mike Power, for continuing to make outstanding contributions.
Other important contributors were Colonel Lachie Thomson, former Defense Attaché at the Australian Embassy, and his counterpart at the British Embassy, Colonel Mike Allen, who succeeded in locating air photo coverage of the area. The Hellfire Pass Sub Committee received encouragement and support from a number of government officials. Early visitors to the site included H.E. Ambassador Richard Smith; Foreign Minister Bill Hayden; the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment Barry Cohen; and the Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs Tim Fischer. Following his visit, Tim Fischer drew attention to the Hellfire Pass Project in a speech to the Australian House of Representatives on 27 February 1987.
Over the years the Australian armed forces have had exchange programs with the Thailand military. During some of these exchange visits Australian service personnel have visited Hellfire Pass to carry out work projects. One such visit took place in April 1989 when 33 members of 'C' Company 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, spent three days carrying out maintenance work at the memorial site. Their toil culminated in the re laying of a single section of original rail and sleepers in Konyu Cutting. These rails were laid on 22nd April, almost 46 years to the day since excavation work began at Hellfire Pass. In June 1990, 26 sailors from HMAS Perth and HMAS Swan carried out further maintenance work. As with the other groups of Australian servicemen, the sentiments of this group were that it was indeed an honour to assist with the upkeep of the memorial.
Exercise "Clear Trek" took a working party of some of the ship's company of HMAS Tobruk and some of the attached army personnel to Hellfire Pass in November 1990. Their aim was to clear the walking tracks of the ever-encroaching jungle and to make essential repairs to the timber stairways. October 1991 saw the demolition of the wooden stairway by members of the Western Australian based SAS Regiment and the start of work to replace them with concrete. This work was completed during December. At a service held on 4 February 1992 a monument featuring a bronze relief map of the area traversed by the railway and containing a time capsule was dedicated in the presence of a large gathering.
The start of the wet season in 1993 again saw major army involvement at Hellfire Pass with troops of Base Squadron, SAS Regiment involved in Exercise Burma Rail 1993 carrying out a major clearing exercise in the cutting. In February of 1994 the entire length of Hellfire Pass and the access pathway were given a major cleaning prior to the visit by Mr Paul Keating, Prime Minister of Australia on 9th April. Later the same month a plaque honouring the medical personnel, who saved so many lives during the construction of the railway, was erected and dedicated during the service to inter the ashes of Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop (12 Jul 1907 - 2 Jul 1993, age 85) on ANZAC Day 1994. Since that time the memorial has been kept clean by regular maintenance by Chamber of Commerce personnel on a voluntary basis. Also, during this time preliminary clearing and survey work was carried out northwards from Konyu Cutting along the route of the abandoned railway towards Hintok as a precursor to the establishment of a safe walking trail from Hellfire Pass to Compressor Cutting.
As donated funds have become available, further major work has been carried out. In late 1994 to early 1995 the "Bamboo" trail which winds around the back of the mountain above Hellfire Pass was upgraded to a concrete walking path and stairways. Rod Beattie of the Thailand Burma Railway Centre and curator of the Kanchanaburi and Chunkai Cemeteries has been heavily involved over the years and the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce is extremely grateful for his tireless efforts.
Major upgrading and improvements to the site have been funded by private and corporate donations, proceeds of sales of the Memorial booklet and the sale of slices of original rail bearing a small plaque. More recently funds have been raised by the sale of original rail "dog" spikes set in a piece of original sleeper carrying a small plaque. Additional funds have been raised by a Melbourne based group headed by Mr Bill Toon, a former prisoner of war and veteran of the Thailand Burma Railway.
DEVELOPMENT AS AN OFFICIAL WAR MEMORIAL
In May 1995, the Australian Government announced that it would provide funding (A$1.6 million) for the development of a substantial memorial complex at Hellfire Pass. This development was to be done over a period of two years and include development and construction of a museum/visitor information centre, construction of concrete stairways to provide a safe walking trail along the cleared section of abandoned railway northwards from Hellfire Pass construction of rest stations and information displays along the walking trail, improved road access and the construction of a car park adjacent to the museum/information centre. During 1995 and early 1996 more than four kilometres of the abandoned rail bed, from Hellfire Pass to Compressor Cutting was cleared of fifty years of jungle re-growth. Most of this work was done as a voluntary personal tribute by Rod Beattie and his wife Thuy to those men who worked and died building the Thailand Burma Railway.
Subsequently a further four kilometres was also cleared. This length is probably the longest continuous section of wartime railway still in existence in Thailand and contains probably the greatest concentration of major works of the railway. During the clearing of the railway many wartime relics were uncovered. Small items, such as rock drills used for drilling blast holes, steelwork from trestle bridges, items from the telephone line and debris from the air raids may eventually be displayed in the museum. More substantial features such as the narrow-gauge rail track, used to carry spoil away from some of the larger cuttings, have been or may be reconstructed in their original positions.
Early in 1996, when the government funding became available, construction of the permanent improvements began. Initially this was the work involved in making the walking trail safe and fairly easily negotiable for visitors. Concrete stairways were built over all difficult sections and a series of small covered rest stations were erected along the trail at significant locations. Information panels have subsequently been erected in each of these rest stations. A substantial rest station complete with toilets has been built at the junction of the abandoned railway and a local gravel road, close to the site of the former Hintok Railway Station. This rest station can be reached by vehicles, and provides a convenient pick up point for those walking the trail. The memorial walking trail was officially opened on ANZAC Day in 1996.
The major element of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Project is undoubtedly the museum/visitor information centre. A structure of this nature is of two major components, the building itself, and the display within the building. A renowned firm of museum designers, Hewitt Design Associates, was commissioned to design the display element of the museum and the visitor information panels of the walking trail. A Bangkok based Australian firm of architects, Woods Bagot (Thailand), designed the building and prepared all of the necessary documents leading to the selection of a local contractor to build the museum. The memorial museum/information centre was opened by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, on 24th April 1998.
|SUMMARY OF HIGHLIGHTS|
|Early 1985||Initial reconnaissance of line by Jim Appleby, Engineer with the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation based at Khao Laem Dam, River Kwai|
|May - July 1986||Detailed survey of area by Ken Bradley, Jeff Thompson and Thai contractors||Dec 1986 - Feb 1987||Construction of access pathways, stairway and steps|
|April 1987||Hellfire Pass Memorial Dedication Ceremony|
|April 1989||Rails relaid by 'C' Company 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment|
|April 1990||ANZAC Day Dawn Service and Dedication for relaid rails.|
|June 1990||Maintenance visit by Australian Navy HMAS Perth and HMAS Swan|
|November 1990||Maintenance visit by Australian Navy and attached Australian Army service personnel HMAS Tobruk|
|October 1991||Demolition of wooden stairways by SAS Regiment|
|Nov - Dec 1991||Construction of concrete stairways|
|February 1992||Dedication of Monument with time capsule|
|July 1993||Exercise Burma Rail '93 by SAS Regiment|
|April 1994||Visit by Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating|
|April 1994||Interment of the ashes of Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop|
|May - Aug 1994||Investigation of railway from Konyu to Compressor cutting and preparation of proposal for major development|
|Dec 1994 Feb 1995||Reconstruction of "Bamboo Trail"|
|May 1995||Australian Government announces the grant of funding to develop the site into a significant memorial|
|May 1995 - April 1996||Clearing of 4.5km of the abandoned railway and establishment of a walking trail|
|April 1996||Official opening of memorial walking trail|
|Aug 1996 - Feb 1997||Construction of way stations and rest areas along the walking trail|
|Aug 1996 - April 1997||Clearing of a further 4km of abandoned railway|
|Aug 1996 - April 1997||Construction of memorial museum|
|April 1998||Official opening of memorial museum by Australian Prime Minister John Howard|
|2007||New access stairs and landings erected by Hewitt Pender Design Associates|
Born 8 July 1934. Died 22 February 2019. Funeral - Karrakatta 7 March 2019.
Past Chairman and Life Member of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Inc.
Beloved husband of Stephanie and loving father of Louise, Penny (dec) and Emma; father-in- law to John and Cameron, passed away peacefully at Hollywood Hospital 22nd February. “Duty First”. Ken was a graduate of the OCS class of June 1954 and served with 1 RAR and 2 RAR in Malaya 1961 – 1963 and 7 RAR in SVN from April to November 1967.
Kenneth John Bladen was born in Western Australia and educated at Guildford Grammar School. He later graduated as a Second Lieutenant from the Australian Army Officer Cadet School as a career Infantry Officer and for the next 21 years served in various regimental, instructional and staff appointments in Australia and overseas.
His service as a junior officer included anti-terrorist operations in Malaya as a platoon commander, and as a foundation officer of the Special Air Service (SAS) Company in Perth. He served overseas with the lst, 2nd, and 7th Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, and in 1967 he saw active service in Vietnam as an Infantry Company commander with the 7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment.
Ken was a graduate of the Australian Staff College 1968 course and won the Queen's Medal for Champion Shots in 1969, as the Army Champion Shot for that year. As a Lieutenant Colonel he commanded the Third Cadet Brigade in 1973-1974, and later served in the Australian Army Reserve retiring in 1984 after 30 years service.
An RSL member since 1968, he was elected State President of the Western Australian Branch of the Returned and Services League in 1998, serving in that capacity until 2001. He was appointed Honorary National RSL Vice President for Life and awarded RSL Life Membership in November 2001. In January 2003 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for voluntary services to veterans and their families. Later that year Ken was awarded the Centenary Medal for similar services to veterans and their families.
Ken was an inaugural member of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Inc in 2002 and elected Chairman in May 2004, more than competently filling the role until May 2007.
He was made a life member at that time and continued to support the Association for the balance of his life.
The strength of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Inc was helped in every way by Ken Bladen and he will be sorely missed.
Konju Cutting 1983
Former prisoner of war Tom Morris revisited Thailand in 1983 as a member of the "Bamboo" tour to the Thailand-Burma railway. The visit to the Hellfire Pass area reminded Tom of his war-time experiences on the railway and he resolved to convince the Australian Government that the area could be presented as an historical site. In 1984, the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment requested the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) to make a reconnaissance of the railway to select a suitable site.
Jim Appleby, an engineer with SMEC at the Khao Laem dam site on the upper Kwai Noi River, devoted much of his spare time investigating the more accessible parts of the abandoned railway. Jim compiled sketch maps and notes of his observations and passed these to the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce when SMEC staff left Thailand in early 1985.
Tom Morris and Jim Appleby
Tom Morris continued his interest in the project through his work with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He unearthed many interesting documents relating to the railway and in particular to the Hellfire Pass area.
Extract from the address at dedication of HELLFIRE PASS MEMORIAL on the Thailand-Burma Railway by Colonel Sir Edward Dunlop AC, CMG, OBE, KStJ, 25 April 1987:
“Every imagined gesture arises from some initial creative thought followed by tangible support. The idea of this Hellfire Pass Memorial was that of Corporal T.J. (Tom) Morris following return visits to the railway. His enthusiasm took the matter through his Local Member of Parliament, Mr Ken Fry to the Minister of Arts, Heritage and Environment, Mr Barry Cohen, who later announced an Australian Government grant of $25,000. I have no doubt this was strongly backed by the Hon Tom Uren. Australian and Thai authorities agreed upon the project. The work has involved the co operation of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation and the Australia Thai Chamber of Commerce headed by the dynamic Ken Bradley. Also much is owed to Mr Jim Appleby senior resident Engineer at the Khao Laem Dam project. More money and effort will be required to maintain the project. Ian Gollings, RSL Australia, sent with me a cheque for $1000. Appropriately the memorial is not only in memory of those prisoners of war who died on railway construction but also to those Thais who risked their lives to supply money, food and medicines to those in such dire need. Very notable amongst them was the heroic Boon Pong Sirivijaphan, who, in his guise of a river trader saved a great many lives. I am deeply honoured that my name is associated with his in the ‘Weary’ Dunlop/Boon Pong Fellowship for Thailand Australia Medical Exchange. The fellowship honours all medical workers whose efforts saved many lives, as well as Thai helpers”.
The request by Tom Morris to the Australian Government concluded: "Would it be possible to have Hellfire Pass preserved as an historic site, dedicated to the memory of all our fellow PoWs and civilian slaves, of whom so much had been demanded in the construction of the Thailand-Burma railway?"
J.G. (Tom) Morris
Places are still available on the QUIET LION TOUR 2019 which departs Perth on 19th April 2019 and returns on 30th April 2019. If you are considering taking part in this most interesting and informative tour you are advised to make a booking now.
The political situation is stable, the new King settled in and the Military control accepted. No demonstrations are occurring nor are any expected.
There are no health threats current and this is likely to remain over the period of the tour.
The Quiet Lion Tours have always featured High School students from around Australia who are sponsored by various charitable and service organisations. The focus on students is to celebrate the work done by the Doctors on the railway and to perpetuate the message that “we may forgive but we will never forget” the horrific story of the Burma Thailand Railway. The tour normally includes survivors of the railway construction, but this is subject to the health of the POW’s and is not guaranteed.
The Tour is for 11 days (10 nights) and the focus is on the story of the Australia PoWs, their camps and the Australian doctors culminating in the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Hellfire Pass and the Memorial Service in the Cemetery at Kanchanaburi. Many sites of Prisoner of War camps, the Bridge on the River Kwai, hospital sites and other areas of interest are visited as part of the tour.
Descendants of ex-POWs who have become authorities on the Thai Burma Railway travel on the tour and provide commentaries in addition to English speaking Thai Guides.
The Quiet Lion Tours commenced in 1985 and travel to Thailand to honour Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop, all other Doctors who tended the sick and all the Prisoners of War who were on the Burma Thailand Railway. The tours are operated by the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the memory of those who toiled on the Death Railway as Prisoners of War of the Japanese.
Several days are spent in Bangkok for tourist, shopping opportunities and to acclimatise to the local weather conditions. Accommodation comprises of 3 nights at a top hotel in Bangkok, 1 night at a riverside resort in Kanchanaburi and 6 nights at the Home Phu Toey Resort (on the River Kwai near Hellfire Pass) which includes the Weary Dunlop Peace Park.
Arrangements can be made for travel from any State in Australia. In the Case of Brisbane, the flights are via Sydney.
Itinerary and associated information details are available on the BTRMA web site.
Interested people should contact:
Tour Organiser Ian Holding on M 0418832281 email: email@example.com
Tour Leader David Piesse on Tel 08 9447 7505 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
See Booking Conditions on the BTRMA web site.
MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION awarded to Mr Hugh Wynter WARDEN, Fremantle WA 6160
For service to primary industry, particularly to livestock management, and to the community.
Managing Director, Australian Livestock Management Services, since 1995. Consultant, Stud Merino Breeders' Association WA. Inductee, Australian Sheep and Lamb Industry Roll of Honour, LambEx (Annual Lamb Industry Conference), 2010. Royal Agricultural Society WA: Member, Wool and Shearing Committee, 1995-1997, Member, Cattle Committee 199. Former Board Member Meat Program Partnership with Agriculture WA, Councillor 1995-2009. Councillor-in-Charge of History, Strategic Planning, Trade Cattle and Led Cattle. Member since 1973. Wesfarmers: Board Member Wesfarmers Rural 1985-1994,Stud Livestock Marketing and Export Development Manager 1989-1994 Livestock Manager 1976-1989. Stock Manager 1973-1976. Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association: Co-founder 2002. Chair and Vice-Chair. Counsellor, Salvation Army Care Line until 2015.
FRIDAY, 4TH MAY 2018 AT THE EX-POW MEMORIAL IN KINGS PARK.
Chairman of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, Eric Wilson OAM APM, attended the Memorial Service for ex Prisoners of War conducted by Mount Lawley Senior High School at Kings Park on 4th May 2018. A wreath was laid on behalf of the BTRMA.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, the Ex-Prisoners of War Association and the Mount Lawley Senior High School have been associated with this function for two decades,commencing in 1998. Mount Lawley Senior High School has been regularly represented on the Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand for Anzac Day by students of the School.
At the 2018 Memorial Service, Mount Lawley S.H.S. Chaplain Mr Andrew Paul referred to the first two students to attend the tour in 1998, Erin St Duke and Katherine Cooper, and he quoted sections of Erin’s address to a school assembly on her return. The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association value the relationship between the Association and the Mount Lawley Senior High School.
On a beautiful, sunny day, a large contingent of people that included veterans Arthur Leggett (President) along with Syd Shaw, John Gilmour, Norm Eaton (who traveled with family up from Bunbury) and Professor Alex Kerr assembled at the Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Kings Park on 4th May, 2018. The service (the 21st year) was coordinated and supported admirably by the Principal, Staff and Students from Mount Lawley Senior High School.
The Commanding Officer of 11/28 Battalion LT COL R. Colligan and RSM, Warrant Officer Class One Guy Kesby plus MAJ J Kurtz, (standing in for the Commanding Officer of 16th Battalion RWAR, LTCOL C Watennan) and RSM, Warrant Officer Class One Carl Hemberg, represented the Australian Defence Forces.
The ceremony included a wonderful choir, concert band and bugler, Gemma Sabbadini. NCOs and Soldiers from 11/28 RWAR mounted the catafalque party and were resplendent in their new Service Dress.
School Principal, Lesley Street, addressed the assembled guests with an excellent presentation opening the proceedings by stating, "It is a privilege to be part of this important ceremony here today. We come together to pay tribute to the almost 40,000 Australians who have been held as prisoners of war over the years from the Boer War to Korea. Here in the peaceful surroundings of Kings Park reflect and commemorate our exPOWs whose members, through time are fading. We especially welcome those POWs who I know are here with us this afternoon – our own Arthur Leggett, Norm Eaton, John Gilmour, Syd Shaw and Professor Alex Kerr”. “This ceremony is dedicated to all who became prisoners of war while fighting for our freedom whether at Gallipoli, on the Western front, Crete, Italy, North Africa, Singapore, New Guinea, Borneo, Japan, on the Thai – Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass, or Korea to name just some of the 58 countries where Australians have been held over the years.
Today we reflect and honour not only on their courage but also the other attributes displayed by these fine Australians their heroism, sacrifice and mateship which were the defining characteristics of the prisoners of war. John Howard when Prime Minster said of the POW's - "These men turned the reality of atrocity and suffering into an affirmation of Australian courage and resilience”. “They are ANZACS who in captivity triumphed over adversity, displaying humour, resourcefulness and mateship in profoundly difficult circumstances”.
Peter Cosgrove said of every POW – "You hold a special place in the heart of this nation. And that is true of all of us here today who gather to honour our Prisoners of War -they do hold a special place in our hearts”.
“To the POWs, both those present today and those who are not well enough to attend the ceremony, I say to you that I am confident that in the years to come the Australian people will remember and honour you as will the youth of Australia but I know without a doubt that today's students and staff from MLSHS and future students and staff will remember and honour all those who have been held prisoner. We will remember the sacrifices you made, the things that you endured and the mates that you lost. Rest assured we will never forget you"
The service concluded with Tea, Coffee and light refreshments supplied by the catering students at MLSHS - including a packet of Anzac Cookies.
Western Australia's 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion was raised at the end of 1940 as one of the support units for the ill-fated 8th Division. Formed with men from across the state, they all came together at Northam military camp, east of Perth, where they carried out their initial training. In July 1941 the 2/4th moved to Adelaide and as more of the 8th Division was deployed "up north", by October it was in Darwin with the 23rd Brigade. The division's other two brigades were in Malaya and Singapore and the 2/4th was to follow.
Told of their move just before Christmas, the battalion left Darwin on 30 December, sailing via Port Moresby. Following a Japanese attack on Rabaul, New Britain, the convey turned around and sailed to Sydney and then Fremantle. Sailing under escort the convoy finally reached Singapore at the end of January 1942. It was not long before the 2/4th was in action. By this time the Japanese had captured Malaya and were preparing to attack Singapore. Similarly, the British were desperately preparing their defences and the battalion's companies were sent where they were needed: B Company was sent to the British Manchester Fusiliers, constructing weapons pits around the Naval Base; C Company went to support the 44th Indian Brigade on the west and south-west coast of the island; D Company supported the 22nd Brigade on the north-west coast; and A Company was in the 8th Division's reserve, close to the island centre.
After days of air raids, the Japanese attacked Singapore on 8 February - crossing the Johore Strait and attacking along the 22nd Brigade's front and the 27th Brigade near the Causeway. Deployed to different units, the 2/4th's companies were quickly in action but by 10 February the Japanese had captured the island's west coast. Five days later the British forces were pushed back to a defensive line protecting the city. However, the battle was virtually over and on 15 February Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival surrendered Singapore. The machine-gunners suffered heavily. Between 8 and 15 February the 2/4th had 137 men killed or missing, 106 men wounded, and 24 described as having "shell shock". These casualties constituted almost one-third of the battalion. Worse was to follow, with the battalion held in Japanese prisoner of war camps for the next three years.
Following the surrender, the 2/4th was concentrated in Changi gaol. From Changi the Japanese took drafts of men to work throughout their Greater South East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. Some of the battalion were sent to Borneo, while others worked on the Burma-Thai Railway or in Japan. By the war's end, another 263 men from the battalion had died as prisoners. The 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion was an Australian Army unit raised for service with the all volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) during the Second World War. Formed in late 1940 as part of the 8th Division, the battalion was established to provide direct fire support to the division's infantry brigades. It was the fourth, and last, such unit raised within the 2nd AIF. The unit's personnel were largely drawn from the state of Western Australia and after formation, the battalion concentrated near Perth for basic individual training before moving to the Adelaide Hills to complete more advance manouevres.
In late 1941, amidst concerns of war in the Pacific, the unit was deployed north to Darwin in the Northern Territory, where they undertook garrison duties in the weeks following Japan's entry into the war. Following Japanese landings in Malaya, the 2/4th embarked from Darwin and were transferred to Malaya, arriving in Singapore in the final days of the fighting on the peninsula. In the wake of the withdrawal of British and Commonwealth forces to the island, the battalion was hastily deployed in support of the two Australian brigades—the 22nd and 27th Brigades—in the north-western sector of the island.
During the initial Japanese landing, elements of the battalion were heavily engaged around the landing beaches but they were outnumbered and over the course of the week the defenders were pushed back towards the centre of the island, towards the city of Singapore. They suffered heavy casualties during this time, before subsequently becoming prisoners of war after the fall of Singapore. Meanwhile, a detachment of about 100 men from the battalion, who had been left behind in Australia when it deployed to Singapore, also took part in the fighting on Java. After a brief campaign, the majority of these personnel were taken into captivity when the Allied forces were overwhelmed around Buitenzorg in mid-March 1942, although some attempted to fight on as guerillas.
Eventually these men were either killed or captured; prisoners remained in Japanese captivity until the end of the war in August 1945. During the three-and-a-half years they were held by the Japanese, members of the 2/4th were sent to prison camps around the Pacific, where they were used as slave labour and subjected to harsh conditions and extreme brutality. After the war, the surviving members of the battalion were returned to Australia but the 2/4th was not re-raised.
Ex Prisoner of War of the Japanese and survivor of the sinking of the “hellship” Rakuyō Maru, Harold David Martin again attended the Anzac service services at Hellfire Pass and Kanchanaburi in 2018. The following is his story:
Harold David Martin Service Number WX204 of 2/10 Ordnance Work Shops was one of the Prisoners of War who survived the sinking of the “hellship” Rakuyō Maru on the morning of 12 September 1944. Harold was born at Kanowna, Western Australia on January 1, 1917. Enlisted 11 Dec 1940 enlistment depot 164 Bourke Street, Kalgoorlie, WA. Address at enlistment Claremont WA. Next of kin Emma Martin. Date of discharge 17 May 1945. Rank Private. Post at discharge Second 10th Ordnance Workshop Company. After training the unit embarked Sydney 10 Jan1942. The unit was landed from transports at Borneo and taken from there to Singapore in “pig-boats”* (see below). Disembarked Singapore 26 Jan 1942.
An expanded version of the travel to Singapore is mentioned in DonWall’s book. He stated ‘In all likelihood he (Private Martin sailed for Singapore with many others on the Aquatania. That ship sailed initially from Port Moresby 4 January then to Sydney. Left Sydney 10 January direct to Fremantle arriving 15 January. Left Fremantle 16 January bound for Singapore. Short of Singapore, probably in the Sunda Straits on 20/21 January transhipped to Dutch small vessels (6)* and moved into Singapore. Soon after landing the group was sent up country in Johore but shortly after returned to Singapore and set up their workshop at the Hume Pipe Works. They remained there till Feb 8th when the works were shelled and they were in Singapore until the capitulation of Feb 15th.
They were sent by the Japanese to the Changi P.O.W. camp and were there for three months. They were employed in the building of a Japanese memorial in Raffles Square in place of the Raffles monument which was pulled down. While at Changi they were fairly well treated by the Japanese regular troops who were the guards but were warned by them that when they were sent up country the treatment would not be good as there were Koreans in charge of prisoners. They were eventually sent to the Thailand Burma railway. Martin was said to be driving a truck at Singapore.
According to the Australian War Memorial, Private Harold David Martin was a POW in Thailand who was returned to Australia after the sinking of the Rakuyo Maru and was discharged on 17 May 1945 as a recovered casualty. He was in A Force. Note:‘The men on the Rakuyo Maru were all ex-Burma men (that is A Force plus Williams and Black Forces)”. They were at Changi POW camp for ‘three months’. A Force left Singapore in May 1942 and worked along the Railway from the Burma end (Kilo 0 Thanbyuzayat).
Martin was at Kilo 118 (Kami (Upper) Songkurai) at one stage. All survivors of the Railway, including A Force (that had started from Burma), were evacuated from the Thailand end of the Railway some time after the Railway was completed on 17 October 1943. A Force men working on the Railway were passing through the area of the F Force camp of Kami (Upper) Songkurai at Kilo 118. (It is noted in DonWall’s book that A Force’s Commander, Brigadier Varley, had himself gone beyond this point, to Kilo 133 Camp (Neike), by October 1943.)
Harold Martin was among POWs who had returned from the Burma Railway and were on the Japanese transport ship Rakuyo Maru headed for Japan when it was torpedoed by the USS Sealion II on 12 September 1944. He was picked up three days later by another submarine, the USS Pampanito, and subsequently returned to Australia. The highest-ranking Australian POW on the Railway, Brigadier Arthur Varley was apparently machine-gunned in the water by the Japanese. Some POWs including Doctor Rowley Richards, were rescued by the Japanese and taken to Japan, whilst others including Martin, were rescued by US submarines. In November 1944—more than one year after the Railway had been completed—the Australian public learnt through the rescued POWs of many details of the capture, ordeals and fate of the men on the Burma Thailand Railway.
Harold returned home to his wife, Molly, and young son, Ray, in late 1944, and their family was blessed with four more children. Background to the sinking of the Rakuyo Maru. In May 1942 the Japanese began transferring POWs by sea. Similar to treatment on the Bataan Death March, prisoners were crammed into cargo holds with little air. Many died due to asphyxia, starvation or dysentery, some POWs became delirious and unresponsive in their environment of heat, humidity and lack of oxygen, food, and water. These unmarked prisoner transports were targeted as enemy ships by Allied submarines, more than 20,000 Allied POWs died at sea when the transport ships carrying them were attacked by Allied submarines and aircraft. A force of 2,300 prisoners commanded by Brigadier A. L. Varley left Singapore on 6th September 1944. These men had previously worked on the Burma-Thailand Railway. In the group were 649 Australians who embarked on the Rakuyo Maru. Off East Hainan Island the Rakuyo Maru was torpedoed and sunk at around 5:00am on 12/09/1944 by US submarine Sealion and 503 AIF, 33 RAN and 7 RAAF personnel were lost. 80 survivors were rescued by USS Pampanito SS 38.
The log of the USS Pampanito recorded: "1605. A bridge lookout sighted some men on a raft, so stood by small arms, and closed to investigate. 1634. The men were covered with oil and filth and we could not make them out.... They were shouting but we couldn't understand what they were saying, except made out words "Pick us up please." Called rescue party on deck and took them off the raft. There were about fifteen (15) British and Australian Prisoner of War survivors on this raft from a ship sunk the night of 11-12 September 1944. We learned they were en-route from Singapore to Formosa and that there were over thirteen hundred on the sunken ship. After four days of drifting on makeshift rafts they were in extremely bad shape. Most were covered with oil from the sunken tanker, and had long since used up what little food and water they had with them. Slowly, the story of what had occurred was unveiled by the survivors brought aboard Pampanito.
* “Hell ship” – A hell ship is a ship with extremely unpleasant living conditions or with a reputation for cruelty among the crew”. The crew of Pampanito spent four hours rescuing as many survivors as could be found. Volunteer teams were formed to get the almost helpless men aboard. Some of Pampanito's crew dived into the water with lines to attach to the rafts so they could be brought in close enough for others, on deck and on the saddle tanks, to carefully lift the men aboard. Crew members swam out to rescue the POWs, leaving the relative safety of the sub and risking being left behind if the boat had to dive. It was a tense and emotional period as the shocked crew worked to save as many of the oil soaked survivors as possible. During the rescue many of the crew came topside to help. If an Imperial Japanese plane attacked at that time they would have been left on deck as Pampanito dived to avoid attack.
During the five-day trip to Saipan, the nearest Allied port, the survivors were berthed in the crew's quarters amidships and on the empty torpedo skids and bunks in the after torpedo room where they were cared for by the crew. Some of the survivors were critically ill and in need of medical attention. Submarines carried no doctor on board, so the monumental task of treating these men became the responsibility of the only man on board with training in medicine, Pharmacist's Mate First Class Maurice L. Demers who, worked around the clock. dangerously close to total exhaustion.
A message was sent to Pearl Harbor relaying what had happened with a request that more submarines be called in to continue the rescue. The only other boats in the area were Queenfish and Barb; they were ordered in as soon as possible. Both boats were 450 miles west in pursuit of a convoy, but when they received the new orders they dropped the track and headed full speed to the rescue area. Queenfish and Barb arrived at 0530 on the 17th to begin their search for rafts among the floating debris. Just after 1300 they located several rafts and began to pick up the few men still alive. They only had a few hours to search before a typhoon moved in, sealing the fate of those survivors not picked up in time. Before the storm hit, Queenfish found 18 men, and Barb found 14 men. The boats headed on to Saipan after a final search following the storm revealed no further survivors.
Of the 1,318 POWs on the Rakuyo Maru sunk by Sealion, 159 had been rescued by the four submarines: 73 on Pampanito, 54 on Sealion and the 32 found by Queenfish and Barb. It was later learned that the Imperial Japanese had rescued 136 for a total of 295 survivors. Those picked up by the Japanese were sent to the Kawasaki group of factories, and Moji and Sakata prison camps. The story of the sinking of the HMAS Perth, the Burma Thailand Railway, the “Hell” Ships’, the sinking of the Rakuro Maru and the ordeal of the Prisoners of War of the Japanese is one of the more horrific of the World War11 events.
Official Japanese records tell a grim story: of 55,279 Allied POWs transported by sea, 10,853 drowned, including 3,632 Americans. At least 500 perished at sea from disease and thirst. The destination of 90 percent of those vessels was Japan. 106 members of HMAS Perth crew died as POWs. Of a crew of 681 only 214 returned to Australia.
Cranston Albury McEachern (1905-1983), army officer and solicitor, born September 9, 1905 at Dongara, Western Australia, Educated at Brisbane Grammar School, Commissioned in the Australian Field Artillery, Militia, in 1924; and in 1936 he was commanding the 11th Field Brigade as a major (1929).
In February 1937 McEachern was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Following the outbreak of World War II, he gave up his law practice and on 1 May 1940 joined the Australian Imperial Force as a major. He regained his lieutenant colonelcy in October on being appointed to command the 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment, which deployed to Malaya (Malaysia) with the 8th Division. The unit saw action against the Japanese from 27 December 1941 until the surrender on 15 February 1942. McEachern’s superior, Brigadier C. A. Callaghan, reported that, throughout the operations, he was ‘an inspiration to his Regiment owing to his outstanding ability, command and control which were exercised without regard for personal safety’. From 6 February he commanded the divisional artillery in Callaghan’s absence. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1947).
In captivity McEachern was assigned to command the Australian part (2220 men) of ‘D’ Force, sent in March 1943 to work on the Burma-Thailand Railway. At the Hintok Road camp, Thailand, he commanded the whole formation plus Dunlop Force (when Lt Colonel Dunlop agreed to concentrate on medical administration), some 5000 Australian and British troops. His men worked on the ‘Pack of Cards Bridge’ and ‘Hell Fire Pass’. He was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier with effect from April 1942. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, he was the senior Allied officer in Thailand. He took charge of repatriating approximately 30 000 troops.
Claiming to the Japanese an authority he did not hold, he persuaded Japanese officers not to comply with Allied orders to concentrate their former prisoners in the Bangkok area. He knew that the already emaciated and malnourished soldiers would have been marched long distances, sometimes more than one hundred miles (161 km), and hundreds might have died. In November 1945 he returned to Australia. For his services while a prisoner of war he was mentioned in despatches.
He transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 19 February 1946 as an honorary brigadier. McEachern resumed his legal practice; Cranston McEachern & Co. Honorary colonel (1966-70) of the Australian Cadet Corps, Northern Command.
He continued in full-time legal practice until his death on 15 October 1983 at Bridgeman Downs, Brisbane and was survived by his wife and their daughter and two sons, and the son of his first marriage.
NOTE TO ARTICLE.
D Force. Under joint command of British Lt Col G.G. Carpenter and Australian Lt Col Mc Eachern, 5000 POWs, 2780 British and 2220 Australian departed Changi 14th to 23rd March 1943 for Ban Pong. The Australians were organised into three battalions, "S' "T' "U", commanded by Lt Col McEachern, Major E.J Quick and Capt Reg Newton. This mixed force were spread over an area including Tarsao, Hintock, Konyu and Kinsayok and some worked on the notorious Hellfire Pass cutting.
|25 August||75th Anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay||Australian War Memorial, Canberra|
|14 September||Anniversary Australian Peacekeepers and Peacemakers||Anzac Parade, Canberra|
|26 September||Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood||Passchendaele Zonnebeke, Belgium|
|23 October||75th Anniversary of the start of El Alamein||Australian War Memorial, Canberra|
|31 October||Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, Sinai Palestine Campaign||Be'er Sheva, Israel|
|2 November||75th Anniversary of Kokoda and the beachheads||Australian War Memorial, Canberra|
|Current Residential Location||Ex-POW Europe||Ex-POW Japan||Ex-POW Korea|
|Total WW2 Ex-POWs remaining:||194|
|WW2 deaths since Sept 2016 report:||23|
|Total Korean Ex-POWs remaining:||6|
|Korean deaths since Sept 2016 report:||0|
|Average Age of remaining Ex-POWs:|
|Europe 94.9 years old|
|Japan 95.6 years old|
|Korea 88.5 years old|
Built in 1928, the SS Vyner Brooke was a British-registered cargo vessel of 1,670 tons. She was named after the Third Rajah of Sarawak - Sir Charles Vyner Brooke.
Up until the outbreak of war with the Japanese, Vyner Brooke plied the waters between Singapore and Kuching, under the flag of the Sarawak Steamship Company. She was then requisitioned by Britain's Royal Navy as an armed trader.
On the evening of 12 February 1942, Vyner Brooke was one the last ships carrying evacuees to leave Singapore. Although she usually only carried 12 passengers, in addition to her 47 crew, Vyner Brooke sailed south with 181 passengers embarked, most of them women and children. Among the passengers were the last 65 Australian nurses in Singapore. Throughout the daylight hours of 13 February Vyner Brooke laid up in the lee of a small jungle-covered island, but she was attacked late in the afternoon by a Japanese aircraft, fortunately with no serious casualties. At sunset she made a run for the Banka Strait, heading for Palembang in Sumatra. Prowling Japanese warships, however, impeded her progress and daylight the next day found her dangerously exposed on a flat sea just inside the strait.
Not long after 2:00pm, Vyner Brooke was attacked by several Japanese aircraft. Despite evasive action, she was crippled by several bombs and within half an hour rolled over and sunk bow first. Approximately 150 survivors eventually made it ashore at Banka Island, after periods of between eight and 65 hours in the water. The island had already been occupied by the Japanese and most of the survivors were taken captive.
However, an awful fate awaited many of those that landed on Radji beach. There, survivors from the Vyner Brooke joined up with another party of civilians and up to 60 Commonwealth servicemen and merchant sailors, who had made it ashore after their own vessels were sunk. After an unsuccessful effort to gain food and assistance from local villagers, a deputation was sent to contact the Japanese, with the aim of having the group taken prisoner. Anticipating this, all but one of the civilian women followed behind. A party of Japanese troops arrived at Radji Beach a few hours later. They shot and bayoneted the males and then forced the 22 Australian nurses and the one British civilian woman who had remained to wade into the sea, then shot them from behind.
There were only two survivors - Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, and Private Cecil Kinsley, a British soldier. After hiding in the jungle for several days the pair eventually gave themselves up to the Japanese. Kinsley died a few days later from his wounds, and Bullwinkel spent the rest of the war as an internee. Of the 65 Australian nurses embarked upon the Vyner Brooke, 12 were killed during the air attack or drowned following the sinking, 21 were murdered on Radji Beach, and 32 became internees, 8 of whom subsequently died before the end of the war.
The stories of the Vyner Brooke and Vivian Bullwinkle are completely inter-connected. Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel (Mrs Statham) AO MBE ARRC ED FNM, 18.12.1915 – 3.7.2000, the sole survivor of the Bangka Island Massacre Vivian Bullwinkel was born on 18 December 1915 in Kapunda, South Australia, to George Francis and Eva Bullwinkel (née Shegog). She had a brother, John. She trained as a nurse and midwife at Broken Hill, New South Wales, and began her nursing career in Hamilton, Victoria, before moving to the Jessie McPherson Hospital in Melbourne. In 1941, wanting to enlist, Bullwinkel volunteered as a nurse with the Royal Australian Air Force but was rejected for having flat feet. She was, however, able to join the Australian Army Nursing Service; assigned to the 2/13th Australian General Hospital (2/13th AGH), in September 1941 she sailed for Singapore. After a few weeks with the 2/10th AGH, Bullwinkel re-joined the 13th AGH in Johor Baharu. Japanese troops invaded Malaya in December 1941 and began to advance southwards, winning a series of victories. By late January 1942 they were advancing through Johore and the 13th AGH was to evacuate to Singapore.
A short-lived defence of the island ended in defeat, and, on 12 February, Bullwinkel and 65 other nurses boarded the SS Vyner Brooke to escape. Two days later, the ship was sunk by Japanese aircraft. Bullwinkel, 21 other nurses and a large group of men, women, and children made it ashore at Radji Beach on Banka Island. Others on board either went down with the ship or were swept away and never seen again. The group were joined the next day by others making a total of about 100 including about twenty English soldiers from another ship sunk earlier. They elected to surrender to the Japanese.
An officer from the Vyner Brooke walked to Muntok, a town on the north-west of the island, to contact the Japanese. While he was away Matron Irene Drummond, the most senior of the Australian nurses, suggested that the civilian women and children should start off walking towards Muntok. In an action that later became known as the Banka Island Massacre, Japanese soldiers came and killed the men, then motioned the nurses to wade into the sea. They then machine-gunned the nurses from behind. Bullwinkel was struck by a bullet which passed completely through her body, missing her internal organs, and feigned death until the Japanese soldiers left. She hid with British Army Private Cecil George Kingsley of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps for 12 days, tending to his severe wounds, only then realising the extent of her own wound, before being captured. They were taken into captivity, but Private Kingsley died soon after due to his having sustained such serious wounds, including a gunshot wound in his abdomen. Bullwinkel was reunited with survivors of the Vyner Brooke. She told them of the massacre, but none spoke of it again until after the war lest it put Bullwinkel, as witness to the massacre, in danger.
Bullwinkel spent three and half years in captivity. Another surviving nurse, Pat Darling died in 2007. Vivian retired from the army in 1947 and became Director of Nursing at the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital. Also in 1947 she gave evidence of the massacre at a war crimes trial in Tokyo. She devoted herself to the nursing profession and to honouring those killed on Banka Island, raising funds for a nurses' memorial and serving on numerous committees, including a period as a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and later President of the Australian College of Nursing. Bullwinkel married Colonel Francis West Statham in September 1977, changing her name to Vivian Statham. She returned to Bangka Island in 1992 to unveil a shrine to the nurses who had not survived the war. She died of a heart attack on 3 July 2000, aged 84, in Perth, Western Australia.
Australian Ex POWs return to Japan Over the years, the memories of the Burma Thailand Railway fade away with the passing of the survivors of the Railway. As part of the experience of coming to terms with the horrors of the Railway experience, a number of survivors returned over the years. The following is a description of one such visit.
Five Australian ex POWs and their family members (a total of ten people) visited Japan from 1st to 9th March 2011 at the invitation of the Japanese Government as part of the project "The Japanese/POW Friendship Programme". Few young Japanese know that Japan fought against Australia during the Second World War and fewer still knew of the atrocities which occurred.
About 22,000 Australians became prisoners of war (POWs) under the Japanese army after the invasion of the Far East. Most of the POWs were sent to Japan and Southeast Asia and the latter included Thailand, particularly the Thai-Burma railway, so called the "Death Railway". About 8,000 of them died of the harsh labour, starvation and diseases. The death rate was as high as 36 per cent. The total number of Australian deaths in WW2 was about 19,000. The fact that 40 per cent of them died as POWs under the Japanese army has put a dark shadow on Australian national history. Many survivors suffered from the scars on their bodies and hearts, and anti-Japanese feelings arose from time to time. With this historical background, the Japanese government invited personnel related to the Australian army to return to Japan. During a one-week stay by the ex-POWs, a sincere apology by the then Foreign minister, Maehara, was a highlight. There were assemblies in Kyoto and Tokyo and escorted trips to internment camp sites. All ex POWs were warmly welcomed in each region. Two days after the group left Japan (saying "It was a very fruitful trip"), an earthquake hit Japan.
Visiting members of the party were: Mr. Harold Ramsey, born 1921 (89 years old at the time) of Victoria. Joined the Australian army at the age of 18. Involved in the action in the Middle East. Before being sent to Java, captured by the Japanese army and was interned in Changi. Forced to work at the Burma-Thai Railway. On his way to Japan on the “Hell Ship” Rakuyo Maru, his ship was torpedoed by a US submarine and sunk in the South China Sea on 12 September, 1944. Rescued by a Japanese ship, he was interned in the Tokyo No.11 dispatched camp (later No.14 Branch camp, in Tsurumi ward, Yokohama city). Forced to work at Toshiba Tsurumi factory. After the camp was destroyed by American air bombing on 15 April, 1945, he was transferred to the Tokyo No.15 Branch camp in Niigata and worked at Niigata iron factory. Accompanied on the trip by Mr. Stephen Ramsey (son).
Mr. Norman E. Anderton, born 1921 (89 years old at the time) of Queensland. Signalman of 8th Battalion. Injured before the fall of Singapore on 13 February 1942 and became a POW at the hospital. Was forced to work at the Thai- Burma railway. The war came to the end while he was in Tambaya hospital camp in Burma (Myanmar). Accompanied by Ms Nichole (Nikki) Wood (niece).
Mr. Alfred John Simmonds (Jack), born 1922 (88 years old at the time) of Queensland. Became a POW in Singapore, interned in Changi POW camp and transferred from Singapore to Moji, Japan, on the Kyokko Maru in May 1943. Interned in the Osaka No.10 Branch camp (Taisho Branch in Shinchitose-machi, Taisho ward, Osaka city) and forced to work at the Osaka iron factory Transferred to the Osaka No.7 Branch camp (2 Kitago, Takefu city, Fukui) in May 1945 and forced to work for Shin-Etsu Chemical in Takefu. He had earlier visited Japan in 2004 with Australian ex- POWs, Mr. Neil MacPherson and Mr.Jack Boon courtesy of the Japan-Australia Society of Nara and visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Yokohama. Accompanied by Ms. Dawn June Steindl (partner). Dr. Charles Rowland Bromley Richards, born in 1916 (94 years old at the time) of New South Wales. Became a POW in Singapore, was sent to the Thai-Burma railway and instrumental in saving the lives of fellow POWs as a medical officer. Sent in Saigon and on the way to Japan on the Rakuyo Maru the ship was torpedoed by a US submarine and sunk. He was rescued by a Japanese naval frigate, interned in the Sendai No.9 Branch camp (Sakata city, Yamagata) forced to work at Sakata branch of Nippon Express. Accompanied by Dr. David Alexander Bromley Richards (the eldest son), Ms. Patricia Margaret Reed (partner), Ms. Maria Clare Richards (the wife of the eldest son). Ms. Lois Yvonne Richards (the wife of the second son). Published "A Doctor's War". Previously visited Japan in 1959 and had a reunion with two civilians who were kind to him in Sakata. Rowley had made a speech at a seminar held at th Australian National University in Canberra under the auspices of the University in 2006.
Mr. GF (Fred) Brett, born in 1925 (85 years old at the time) of Tasmania. Captured in Timor in 1942, interned in Changi POW camp and forced to work on the Thai-Burma railway. He was later transferred to Fukuoka No.13 camp (in Saganoseki, Oita) in September 1944, after a two-month journey on the Rashin Maru, the so called Byoki Maru (sick ship). He was forced to work at the Saganoseki refinery at Nihon Kogyo and later at the No.8 camp (later called No.5 Branch camp) in Kawasaki, Fukuoka. He was forced to work in the coal pit of Omine mine of Furukawa Kogyo. He was accompanied by Mr. Robert Bennett (registered nurse).
Jack Thorpe was born at Claremont WA on 9/11/1921 and died at Ellenvale, Busselton on 30/8/2016. Jack’s funeral took place at Busselton Funeral Centre on 7/9/2016. Jack was the eldest of four children and due to circumstances he played a large part in watching out for his younger siblings. He left school at fourteen years of age to work as an apprentice mechanic in his father’s bus service. After two years the apprenticeship was interrupted and he obtained a job as a “bowser boy” at a garage in North Fremantle. His father later arranged for him to recommence his apprenticeship as the bus service was sold to the Metro Bus Company and they needed an apprentice.
After the outbreak of World War Two, Jack wanted to enlist immediately with his mates Ron Gwynne and Gordon Page. There was a complication because of age and he put his age up by three years. He finally enlisted on 20th December 1940 and joined the Second Recruit Training Depot at Northam. He then volunteered for Mechanical Support Unit and after training at Puckapunyal in Victoria he left for the Middle East on 18th September 1941.
His unit travelled via Port Tufic to the Suez Canal and El-Kantara and then across the Sinai and on to Barbera. He then joined the 1st Australian Troop Carrying Column attached to the 7th Australian Division as part of the 105 General Transport Company. At Port Tufic, Jack joined the troopship Orcades which sailed on the 29th January 1942 en route to the Dutch East Indies where he became a Prisoner of War. After several months in Batavia he joined other Australians on a ship for Singapore and Changi Prisoner of War Camp and later on, a ship heading for Burma. He was part of A Force. Jack’s group commenced work on the Railway at the third camp, Kunknitway (the 25 Kilo Camp). He was later at the 105 Kilo, 75 Kilo and 55 kilo camps on the Burma end of the Burma Thailand Railway.
A feature of Jack’s POW experience occurred whilst in the 55 Camp. Jack met Basil Clark of the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion from Cadoux who he had known previously. Basil had a bad ulcer on his leg. The bottom half of the leg below the knee was 75% eaten away with gangrene. Jack was talking to Basil when the Medical Officer (Lieutenant Colonel Albert Coates later Sir Albert Coates) said, “That leg will have to come off, Clark. If we leave it on you have got no chance, let me take it off and you have got better than 50% of getting home”. Basil said, “I’ll have it off”. The operation was done next morning when two orderlies arrived with the stretcher consisting of bamboo poles with two rice bags stretched over the two long poles. The operating theatre was nothing more than a lean to at the end of the hut, with a dirt floor. There was a 44-gallon drum outside with a fire blazing to burn the amputated limb. The Colonel explained that the anaesthetic would only last a few minutes and proceeded with the operation, Jack Thorpe holding the patient. One of Colonel Albert Coates’ students was Weary Dunlop. (Note: Basil Clark survived on returning to Three Springs and built a successful farming venture).
When the two ends of the Railway joined on the Thailand side of the border at Konkoita, Jack’s unit travelled by train to Tamarkan. Later the group went to Saigon and later still back to Singapore. On Christmas Eve 1944, Jack left Singapore on the Awa Maru to go to Japan where he was lodged at Camp 22 Iisuka and working in underground coal mines.
In August 1945 he was freed after the Japanese capitulation. Jack travelled home to Australia via Manila, the last leg in the HMS Speaker, an aircraft carrier, which called at Guam and New Guinea en route to Sydney. He finally reached Perth. Jack went on to transfer to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. When he returned to Australia on an annual leave period he decided to take over his father’s hotel at Three Springs and was given a discharge from the BCOF. Post war, Jack was the President of the Three Springs Arrino RSL in WA for about 40 years and was awarded the OAM in 2002.
Over a period of 15 years he raised over $50,000 to assist with sending many young people (aged 14-16 years) from his District to the Burma Thailand Railway on Quiet Lion Tours.
Jack Thorpe was a bloody lucky man by his own statement. Surviving life as a POW on the Burma-Thai Railway, Jack lived a full life as a community leader in Three Springs. In 2006 he wrote a book on his life story called 'Bloody Lucky'.
At 106 when he died, Eric was one of the oldest soldiers surviving from World War 2.
Eric was born in South Australia and the family moved to WA in 1924 taking up a farm near Northam-Goomalling. After his father set up a butchering business in 1933, Eric decided to start his own milk round in Northam with a horse and cart. He later tried goldmining before going into share farming in Dowerin. In 1941 Eric joined the Army and was shipped to the Middle East. His brother Claude followed later and they wer allocated to the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion. After service in the Middle East the Battalion were transported on the RMS Orcades, ostensibly to return to defend Australia after the Japanese entered the war. However, orders were changed and and they disembarked in Java without their machine guns and equipment. They were given old Dutch rifles and only a few rounds of ammunition and it was not long before they were forced to surrender to the Japanese when the Dutch capitulated.
Eric and his brother Claude were POWs in Java and Thailand together. Eric cared for his brother when he became gravely ill and under the care of Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop. After completing the railway, the Japanese shipped the fittest POW’s on the “Hell-ship” ship Byoki Maru to Japan where Eric and Claude worked in coal mine at Ohama.
On returning from the war Eric bought a farm south of Cunderdin with another brother, Keith, and they ran a wheat and sheep property with Eric retiring at age 70. Faith was a major part of Eric’s life from an early age and he believed it to be a major factor in his survival as a POW.Both Eric and his brother Claude were Church of Christ elders for many years. Eric always attended the memorial services to represent his battalion.
He did not find his war experience as a defining part of life. To him his family came first, he was a devout Christian, and his great love was farming. These three segments of his life kept him mentally strong and tough as a POW.
A very large group attended the funeral at Fremantle Cemetery on 7th October 2016. The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association reveres the memory of Eric Roediger and our condolence and thoughts are with the family.
His funeral service was held at Karrakatta on 10.10.2016.
Snow was born at Perth on 28 August 1920, grew up on a farm in Moora and he was a “jack of all trades” working in rural areas of Western Australia prior to World War Two.
He was with a group of country boys who were members of the Militia in the 10th Light Horse and enlisted in the AIF on June 19, 1940, joining the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion which was mainly raised in Western Australian. In 1940 the battalion sailed from Fremantle on the Isle de France in a convoy with the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth 11, Aquitania, Mauritania, Isle de France and the Andes.
The convoy called at Colombo and the battalion disembarked at Port Tewfik on the Suez Canal and later trained at Palestine and in Tel Aviv. The battalion saw action in Syria and later at Mrouj, near Beirut in Lebanon. In February 1942 the battalion traveled on the troop ship RMS Orcades via Durban, South Africa, to Oosthaven in South Sumatra. They disembarked at Batavia (Jakarta) before traveling by road to Bandung. On 9th March 1942 the Dutch surrendered, which inevitably included the Australians.
After nearly a year in Bandung, the battalion went to Makasura before being shipped to Changi Prison on Singapore with Dunlop Force under Lt Colonel Edward Dunlop. In January 1943 Dunlop Force went by train on a five-day journey in cramped steel rice wagons from Singapore to Non Pladuk in Thailand and then to the Konyu River Camp, the Hintok River Camp and the Hintok Road Camp. Dunlop Force worked on the section of the Burma Thailand Railway between Konyu (Hellfire Pass) and Compressor Cuttings.
Members of Dunlop Force suffered similarly to all prisoners on the Burma Thailand Railway with diseases, inhumane and brutal treatment, starvation, overwork, lack of basic needs and terrible conditions. By the completion of the railway Milton Fairclough’s health was bad and when his group went to Tamuang where men were selected for virtual “slave” work in Japan he was unfit and was admitted to the Nakon Pathom Hospital. He was then on maintenance work and remained in Thailand until the Victory in the Pacific.
Snow Fairclough returned to Thailand on twelve occasions as a mentor to students sourced from High Schools and sponsored by the Burma Thailand Burma Railway Memorial Association, the Extremely Disabled War Veterans Association, various Community Service Clubs and the Retired Prisoners of War Association of Western Australia on Quiet Lion Tours.
Snow was the focus of the outstanding documentary titled “War, Hate and The Lizard” produced by the Town of Victoria Park to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Pacific Day in 1945. The ‘Lizard’ was the name given to the most brutal of all the prison-guards who received a 20-year gaol sentence by the War Crimes Tribunal that ironically was ultimately reduced to five years.
A significant occasion for Snow was being invested with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM). The presentation took place in April this year recognising his service to veterans and the community. This was a proud moment for Snow, his family and the Battalion. Another very significant event in Snow’s life was his visit to Japan with his son, Dennis, in October 2014.
Snow and three other POWs participated in the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Program aimed to: “deepen mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and Australia by inviting former Australian POWs to Japan to foster reconciliation”.
Snow’s memoir written in 2002, “My Soldiering Days 13.11.39 – 14.1.46” shows classic Aussie defiance encompassing views of British and Dutch military attitudes.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association reveres the memory of “Snow” Fairclough.
Gordon was born at Moora, Western Australia to a farming family on March 3, 1919 and was a “jack of all trades” working in rural areas of Western Australia prior to World War Two. He was one of a group of seventeen country boys from the town of Moora in WA who were members of the Militia in the 10th Light Horse and enlisted in the AIF on January 21, 1940, joining the all-Western Australian 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. The Battalion sailed from Fremantle in a convoy including the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth 11, Aquitania, Mauritania, Isle de France and the Andes. The convoy called at Colombo and the battalion disembarked at Port Tewfik on the Suez Canal and later trained at Palestine and in Tel Aviv.
The battalion saw action in Syria and later at Mrouj, near Beirut in Lebanon.
Gordon Roberts was considered a leader of men and was promoted to Lance Corporal.
In February 1942 the battalion travelled on the Orcades via Durban, South Africa, to Oosthaven in South Sumatra. They disembarked at Batavia (Jakarta) before travelling by road to Bandoeng.
On 9th March 1942 the Dutch surrendered (including the Australians).
After nearly a year in Bandoeng the battalion went to Makasura before being shipped to Singapore with Dunlop Force under Lt Colonel Sir Edward Dunlop. In January 1943 Dunlop Force went by train on a five day journey in cramped steel rice wagons from Singapore to Non Pladuk in Thailand and then to the Konyu River Camp, the Hintok River Camp and the Hintok Road Camp.
Dunlop Force worked on the section of the Burma Thailand Railway between Konyu (Hellfire Pass) and Compressor Cuttings. Members of Dunlop Force suffered similarly to all prisoners on the Burma Thailand Railway with diseases, inhumane and brutal treatment, starvation, overwork, lack of basic needs and terrible conditions. At the completion of the railway Gordon Roberts went with his group to Tamuang in Thailand, followed by movements to various other areas on maintenance work and he remained in Thailand until the Victory in the Pacific.
When it was decided in 2002 to form the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, dedicated to ensure that the story of the “Railway” would not be forgotten, Gordon became an active supporter. The Association arranges an annual pilgrimage to Thailand for Anzac Day, the Quiet Lion Tour, which is named for Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop. A feature of the tours is that a large group of High School children and service cadets are taken to Thailand.
During his war service and following his discharge from the Australian Army on January 31, 1946, Gordon Roberts was renowned for his “mateship”, resourcefulness and his compassion for his fellow prisoners. During captivity he spent countless hours foraging for little extras for his mates who were ill, on light rations and unpaid. He would stay with men in their dying hours maintaining the tradition of “nobody must die alone”. Even when the dreaded cholera epidemic raged he still nursed cholera patients without any regard for his own health.
He was a very robust man, raised in the country, and withstood the ravages of the prisoner of war experience to the point he often stood in for his mates who were too sick to work. A very notable aspect of the resourcefulness shown by Gordon Roberts was his ability to scrounge, barter and acquire by any dubious means food and medicine to help his mates. This ability may not be recognized generally but in the circumstances prevailing on the Burma Thailand Railway it was most important. One illustration of this is provided in the authenticated story involving close friend and POW “Snow Fairclough. “Snow” made his way most nights from the Hintok River prison camp to the nearby Kwai Noi River to set improvised fishing lines and on one occasion snared a large fish. He took it to Gordon Roberts with a view to them sharing the extra rations with his mates. Gordon instead went to the adjacent English officer’s camp where he was able to sell the fish to an English officer and received what was regarded as a fortune. He in turn used the proceeds to acquire salt and fresh vegetables from Thai villagers and various medicines from Thai River Traders. An interesting sidelight is that the English Officer was a Major named Swanton who transpired to be E.W. Swanton, the noted English cricket commentator. “Snow” Fairclough met Swanton post-war during a Test Match in Perth and Swanton recalled the exchange, adding that he got the fish for a “song” and out-bargained the Aussie POW.
After discharge on January 31, 1946 Gordon Roberts immediately returned to farming and agriculture and with many years of hard work and good business practice he created a thriving business breeding cattle and sheep.
It is of particular note that with Gordon Roberts’ passing, his friend Milton “Snow” Fairclough is the only remaining man of the seventeen from Moora who enlisted together and were all captured by the Japanese.
Gordon Roberts was deemed eminently suitable for recognition by the Australian Honors and Award system due to his Military service, his service to the ex Prisoner of War movement, his success in business, his community service and his encouragement and mentoring of youth.
Gordon’s medal is awarded posthumously.
I have been involved with the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Inc since 1997, when my daughter, Amy, attended the Quiet Lion Tour that year as a sixteen year old. The trip was partly funded by my mother, a widow of an ex-PoW of the Japanese who was determined to send all of her grandchildren on the tour in memory of their grandfather WX4123 Pte C.R. Piesse, 2/3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion, AIF, who was captured in Java when the Dutch surrendered on the 9th of March 1942. The members of Blackforce under the command of Brigadier Arthur Blackburn VC also were ordered to lay down their arms and became prisoners of war. This group included the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion, the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station under the command of Lt Col Edward Dunlop ( later Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop) and the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, Texas National Guard (the Lost Battalion).
The 131st Field Artillery group sailed on the USS Republic on the 21st of November 1941 and was diverted from the Philippines when Pearl Harbour was bombed on the 7th of November 1941 and landed on Java in the Dutch East Indies to reinforce the Australian and British troops already there. The Australians had come from the Middle East on the ship HMT Orcades heading for Australia but they were diverted to Java to reinforce the Allied troops already in the Netherlands East Indies.
After the battle of the Sunda Straight where the USS Houston and the HMAS Perth were sunk, most of the survivors came ashore on the local islands and Java, only to be rounded up by the Japanese or handed over to the Japanese by the Javanese for rewards and placed into captivity in prisoner of war camps. Some went to the Bicycle Camp near Batavia (including the 131st Field Artillery) and some went to Bandoeng in the Javanese Highlands (Including the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station).
Those that were in Bicycle Camp were put into work parties, Anderson Force and Williams Force, and were sent in cargo ships as hold cargo to Burma via Singapore. These work parties were named after the officers commanding them. They arrived in Burma in July of 1942. The Allied prisoners of war interned at Bandoeng were placed into Dunlop Force, a work party sent to Thailand via Singapore in January, 1943, under the command of Lt Col Edward Dunlop. Lt Col Edward Dunlop had been the officer in charge of the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station and on the arrival of a larger force at Bandoeng including Wing Commander Nichols (Royal Air Force) and Lieut. Colonel Van der Post (British Army), (both senior combatant officers) it was agreed that Dunlop would continue as camp commander. This was unusual as Dunlop was a surgeon, not a combatant officer. From Singapore Dunlop Force travelled for five days by train north to Ban Pong, Thailand. Fortunately there was road transport to take them on to Kanyu, the site of their first labour camp on the railway. Subsequently they occupied Hintok Mountain Camp and Hintok River Camps until the railway was completed in September 1943.
In 1985 a small group of Western Australian ex POWs conceived the idea of taking a trip to follow the route that the World War 11 Prisoners of the Japanese had taken, starting in Jakarta, Indonesia, then on to Bandeong in the Javanese highlands where most Dunlop Force were interned for approximately nine months. They then went on to Singapore and then to Bangkok Thailand. From here the plan was to find the railway by travelling up the Kwai Noi River until they recognised the bluff overlooking the river at Hintok River Camp, which they did. Sir Edward " Weary" Dunlop accompanied this tour. This was the beginning of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and the Quiet Lion Tours to Thailand commemorating ANZAC Day.
The tour format that we use for our current tours began in 1997 which has incorporated school groups from all over Australia. To date we have taken approximately five hundred students and in excess of two thousand people on tour to Thailand. These groups are made up of people who have had relatives involved with the railway or who have an interest in Military History, some are visiting graves of relatives at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery others attend to pay respects and to learn the history of the railway. For many it is the opportunity to attend the moving occasion of the Dawn Service in Hellfire Pass before the memorial service at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
The objectives of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Inc. are: To perpetuate the memory of the privations and sacrifices of Australian and Allied prisoners of war and the selfless dedication of the medical personnel during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway by informing current and future generations through all forms of education and particularly with the Annual Quiet Lion Tours to the Burma Thai Railway; the River Kwai; the Three Pagoda Pass; ANZAC Day at Hellfire Pass and Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
The name of our tour comes from the Ambonese soldiers that stayed loyal to the Netherlands East Indies, many of whom were treated in the Allied General Hospital set up by Lt.Col Dunlop in Bandeong Java after the action they saw against the Japanese. They called Lt.Col Dunlop “Singa yang Diam” which in English translates to The Quiet Lion. This is the name chosen for our tours in honour of Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop who was selected to command Dunlop Force onto the construction of the railway between Konyu and Hintok in Thailand.
Any person with an interest in the history of events that took place during this period is welcome to apply to come on the tour. Our emphasis is to tell the story and keep it as a piece history that can be passed on and not forgotten, school groups are particularly welcomed. As history fades from living memory and is forgotten is a sure way of repeating it.
David Piesse. Tour Leader, Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand.
ACKNOWLDEGEMENT.The BTRMA wishes to acknowledge the support of RAMSAY MEDICAL GROUP, HOLLYWOOD PRIVATE HOSPITAL and PEEL HEALTH CAMPUS over a long period of time. From the commencement of the Quiet Lion Tours in 1997 HOLLYWOOD PRIVATE HOSPITAL has assisted the Association with the provision of nurses on the tours and providing the use of meeting facilities at the hospital. Initially, CEO Kevin Cass Ryall and Director of Nursing Nola Cruikshank were very cooperative and latterly CEO Peter Mott and Director of Clinical Services Karen Gullick have maintained the valued relationship. Debra Taylor has been a constant help. PEEL HEALTH CAMPUS has assisted in sponsorship of Service Cadets on Quiet Lion Tours after commencing an arrangement with ex Prisoner of War, the late Wally Holding OAM, and the Mandurah RSL. Peel Health Campus Chief Executive Officer Doctor Margaret Sturdy continued this arrangement after her appointment and the passing of Wally Holding. The Association values such support in addition to other support from donors and organisations.
The Association is delighted to confirm the recent award of an Order of Australia Medal to our Chairman and long time tour leader of the Quiet Lion Tour. Congratulations Eric.Eric Wilson first went to Thailand in 1999 at the request of an ex-prisoner of war friend, Mr. William Haskell, who had been returning regularly to Thailand from 1985 onwards with ex prisoners of war, including Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop, identifying the location of many camps, cemeteries and other features of the Burma Thailand Railway, including Hellfire Pass. Due to advancing age and reduction in numbers of surviving Prisoners of War, assistance was sought from capable volunteers to further the cause of perpetuating the memories of the Burma Thailand Railway. After assisting with Quiet Lion Tours from 1999, in 2002 Eric Wilson played a role in creating the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association (Incorporated). He was the inaugural Secretary. In 2004, he assumed the roles of sole organizer and leader of the Quiet Lion Tours to Thailand. Eric was able to search out, process and systematically record details of much of what took place during the construction of the Burma Thailand (Death) Railway, organize and lead tours and help to establish an incorporated Association to provide a base for the cause. During his career in the Western Australian Police Service, Eric had advanced to a prominent role in the senior administration of the Service with a substantive rank of Chief Superintendent and acting rank of Assistant Commissioner. He had completed tertiary studies as a mature aged student in Personnel Management and Public Administration. He retired in 1991 and was later awarded the Australian Police Medal for his distinguished service in the senior administration of the W.A. Police Force. In the Australia Day Awards 2015 it was announced that Eric had been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to veterans and their families.
Father Barry May and Kathleen. Final Concert Quiet Lion Tour 2006
The Quiet Lion Tour 2014 tour group outside Home Phu Toey after the Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass. Ex POWs Milton Fairclough, Neil MacPherson OAM and Harold Martin seated at the front with Thai Agent Vivatchai Wongusthat.On 17th April a complement of thirty four travellers assembled at Perth International Airport for the 2014 Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3:30pm. The group then proceeded to the Royal Benja Hotel where the party met the other five members. On tour were ex POW s Neil MacPherson (accompanied by his son Alan MacPherson, granddaughters Krishna Vanderwiede and Gypsy O'Dea and three great grandchildren) and Ex POW Milton (Snow) Fairclough (accompanied by his niece Sue Sheridan). Committee members on tour included Eric Wilson, chairman BTRMA, Neil MacPherson, Alan MacPherson, Krishna Vanderviede, Ian Holding and David Piesse. Owing to the media reports of the Thailand political situation the Western Australian Department of Education withdrew their approval for school groups travelling on the tour. Some junior members were able to come accompanied by parents. This gave us a small group of twelve juniors which were able to participate in the Wreath Laying Service at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, accompanied by students from Kings College, Auckland, New Zealand. Esperance was represented by Olivia Morris and her father Steve, Jamie Shaw and his father Jason. Mingenew was represented by Hannah Poultney and Wagin was represented by Meg Pearce accompanied by father Tom Pearce. On Day Two, we travelled to the Summer Palace at Bang-Pa In, then on to Ayuthaya, an ancient Thai capital before cruising back into Bangkok on the Chayo Praya River with lunch served aboard. It was a good chance for all to get to know one another. This was followed by a short foray by some to try retail therapy in Bangkok City before dinner. Day Three, with fun and niceties done we headed to Nakhon Pathom , Nong Pladuk, Ban Pong, Tha Muang and Kanchanaburi, learning the Railway Story as we progressed into western Thailand. After lunch we visited the Thai-Burma Railway Centre and had a brief visit to the War Cemetery. We arrived at Pung Waan Resort for an enjoyable swim, dinner and an overnight stay. Day Four saw our group back at Kanchanaburi Cemetery and the Railway Centre before catching the train to travel over the Bridge over the River Kwai and later over the remaining "Death Railway" to Wampo, including crossing the infamous Wampo Viaduct. After lunch we visited the site of the Tarsao prison camp and hospital (Now a resort). Returned to Home Phu Toey at 5:00pm. The next five nights were spent at the Home Phu Toey and everyone had a chance to get comfortable and not have to get bags out to move on for the next phase of the tour. It is a very convenient base from which to visit the Kanyu- Hintok section of the railway. Day Five, we went to the site of the Takanun camps with particular reference to F Force. From there we went to Khao Laem Dam, an irrigation and hydro-electric supply built by the Snowy Mountain Authority under the Colombo Plan and completed in 1985. Lunch at the Dam staff club, courtesy of EGAT. Visited Wat Takanun overlooking the site of the Australian POW camp, Returned via Brankassi and Hindato camps. Walked the Railway Heritage Memorial Trail through Hintok Cutting, the Three Tier Bridge site, the Seven Metre Embankment, the Hammer and Tap Cuttings, several trestle bridge sites, over shelving into Kanyu Cutting and on to Hellfire Pass Museum. Day Six we had the Buddhist Ceremony in Weary Dunlop Park followed by a ceremony to mark the passing of Khun Kanit Wanachote, a long term friend and creator of Home Phu Toey. Visited the site of the Hintok Mountain Camp, Kinsayok Camp area and Sai Yok Yai Waterfalls followed by lunch served on a houseboat whilst travelling down the River Kwai Noi, terminating at Konyu River Camp. Returned to Home Phu Toey via the Hintok River Camp which is now an “eco” camp. On day seven visited Tarsau (Nam Tok) town area, the Sai Yok Noi Waterfalls and the site of Tonchan South Campsite, and Thadan Bridge and the Elephant Park (also a POW camp site). From there we travelled to Lat Ya Shinto Peace Park and on to lunch on a raft on the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai rivers. Back to Home Phu Toey via Chungkai Cemetery and Chungkai Cutting. We had our farewell dinner and concert night as guests of Khun Suparerk. Day Eight, free day with passive activities, a chance to visit Weary Dunlop Park, Jack Chalker Gallery and other displays. A small group travelled to the camp sites of Shimo Songkurai, Songkurai and Kami Songkurai (the main camps of F Force) and on to Three Pagodas Pass. Returning to Home Phu Toey at 3:30pm in time for a run through with the juniors for the Wreath Laying Service, Media interviews for ex POWs and dinner for special guests and the Quiet Lion Tour group. Day Nine, ANZAC Day, early morning call for the Dawn Service, bags to the lobby and on the bus by 3:15am, arrived at Hellfire Pass in good time to find good positions around the cenotaph. The service began at 5:30am with dawn breaking and birds starting to chatter in the trees making for a memorable and emotional time. After a gunfire breakfast at Hellfire Pass Museum we returned to Home Phu Toey for breakfast then off to Kanchanaburi for the Wreath Laying Service at 10:00am. This is also an emotional service among the nearly seven thousand graves with our Quiet Lion traveller ex PoW Neil MacPherson giving the address for the POWs. The Junior Members of the Quiet Lion Tour joined with the student members of the Kings College Auckland, New Zealand, to carry the wreaths and present them for laying by the dignitaries from the various embassies stationed in Bangkok. It was great to see the NZ component of ANZAC take part in the ceremony. We enjoyed a couple of drinks courtesy of the NZ Embassy and departed to Tida Loa Riverside Restaurant for lunch at the Bridge over the River Kwai then back to Pung-Waan Resort for swimming and dinner and an early night. Day Ten, to Kanchanaburi Stadium for the ANZAC Cup, an AFL football match, hosted by the Thailand Tigers AFL Football Club versus the Pakistan Markhors. The match was won by the Tigers. Back on the bus again, this time for a lunch appointment at Sampran Riverside, formerly known as the Rose Garden. Lunch was followed by an Elephant show and a Thai cultural show. Back into Bangkok for our last night. Day Eleven, breakfast and a free day in Bangkok for sightseeing, shopping, riding trains and lunch out. Final dinner and wrap up of Quiet Lion Tour 2014. Left for Suvarnabhumi Airport at 8:30pm. A very successful tour completed despite the smaller than usual number that travelled with us. The plane left at midnight and the Perth contingent arrived home safely at 8:00am on Monday morning. David Piesse Tour Leader.
Khun Kanit Wanachote’s association with Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop commenced when ex POWs and Thailand Burma Railway survivors Keith Flanagan OAM and Bill Haskell OAM decided in 1985 to organize the 'Weary Dunlop Tour", a tour retracing the course of Surgeon and Force Commander, Colonel (Later Sir) Edward Dunlop and his Force from Java through to Thailand (in World War Two) and having his exploits recognized.
A chance meeting occurred between Sir Edward Dunlop and Khun Kanit Wanachote when the touring party met Khun Kanit whilst traveling up the Kwai Noi River hoping to locate the Kannyu and Hintok River Camps, which were in the region of Hellfire Pass.
Khun Kanit was developing his Home Phu Toey Resort down river from the camps.
With the proximity of Hellfire Pass to his development, Khun Kanit had constantly thought of there being some association between the Burma Thailand Railway and his project and here were a group of Australian ex POWs who had actually been in the area, including the revered Doctor/Surgeon, Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop, who was already well known. Weary Dunlop and Khun Kanit struck a chord, which was the genesis of an enduring association.
Khun Kanit dedicated a large section of his resort into a Weary Dunlop Park which includes the Weary Dunlop Pavilion.
Khun Kanit Wanachote of Home Phu Toey Resort, Tarsau, Thailand, was nominated for an honorary OAM (General Division) in the Honors and Awards system of Australia.
The nomination submission suggested that Khun Kanit Wanachote, a had served the Australian Community by his contribution to the preservation of Australian/Thailand history. In particular, he had assisted significantly in perpetuating the memory of the privations and sacrifices of Australian Military personnel and the selfless dedication of the medical personnel during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway in World War 11.
Further, that at the same time he had assisted in reinforcing the establishment of the repute of Australian of the Year, Sir Edward Dunlop.
Khun Kanit had been prominent in the scouting movement in Thailand. He was a Baden Powell Fellow (presented by The King of Sweden) and a member of the Senior Counci1 of the National Scout Assembly of Thailand. Accordingly, he was readily receptive to the concept of youth perpetuating the story of Weary Dunlop and the Burma Thailand Railway and he has always insisted the Quiet Lion Tour stay as his guests at Home Phu Toey Resort, a 190-hectare estate set in beautiful tropical gardens, eighty kilometers upriver from Kanchanaburi and four kilometers from Hellfire Pass.
In excess of 1100 people have been on Quiet Lion Tours and stayed at Home Phu Toey. The number includes 400 juniors as of the 2013 Tour.
Home Phu Toey Resort has become the focus of the Quiet Lion Tours and is central to the annual Anzac Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass.
Following are some examples of the contributions of Khun Kanit Wanachote to the success of the Quiet Lion Tours.
After Weary’s death some of his ashes were taken back to Thailand during a tour. A part of the ashes were spread in Hellfire Pass. The balance was floated down the Kwai Noi from Home Phu Toey Resort in a ceremony devised and overseen by Khun Kanit Wanachote.
First the ashes were blessed as those of an “enlightened soul” in a Buddhist ceremony organized by Weary’s medical friends. As they floated down the river on a candle-lit boat at dusk, ten others followed, five launched by Thais and five by Australians. The night finished with fireworks and Weary’s name spelt out in letters of fire on the hillside.
The dominant feature of Home Phu Toey is the Peace Park where Sir Edward’s statue has pride of place. Perched on rails on a ledge on the side of the hill and floodlit, an old locomotive and wagon overlook the scene. There is also the replica of a POW camp.
The Weary Dunlop museum, dedicated by Khun Kanit to his friend “Weary”, overlooks the park guarded by a huge carved wooden statue of “Weary” Dunlop. Sir Edward’s son and other relatives formally opened the Dunlop Museum on 24 April 1997.
The Jack Chalker Gallery is an integral part of Home Phu Toey Peace Park. It was opened on 20 October 2000 by Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.On the eve of each Anzac Day, Khun Kanit caters for the large crowd of visitors and provides the Sound and Light Show where a model "Bridge on the River Kwai" crosses a small stream.
The story of the bombing of the bridge on 24 June 1945 is narrated, combined with the music of the times, sound effects and a miniature train, ending in shattering explosions, gunpowder flashes and the collapse of the central spans of the model bridge. The show sets the tone for the Hellfire Pass Dawn Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony. Sir Edward later referred to "the remarkable" and "rather mysterious" Kanit who was something, he said, of a modern Kublai Khan.When the Quiet Lion Tour party arrived for a five-night stay, Khun Kanit (and before her passing, his wife Khun Oonjai) hosted a welcome dinner and the sound and light show. The tour party dines variously in the Peace Park, the main dining room, on the lawns outside the dining room and on the “Green Beach” by the river and the swimming pool. Khun Kanit provides a farewell dinner in the Weary Dunlop Park and hosts the now famous talent quest concert where Quiet Lion juniors entertain their friend and benefactor. Due to Khun Kanit’s good offices, a Buddhist ceremony is held each year during the Quiet Lion Tour. This ceremony pays homage to those who died in WW11 but in particular to the POWs who died during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway.On a recent tour where an extra large number of persons were on the tour, Khun Kanit temporarily converted a Conference Centre to a dormitory to accommodate sixteen schoolboys and two housemasters. Without the generosity of Khun Kanit Wanachote it would have been difficult to achieve the objective of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association.
It is not only the history of the Burma Thailand Railway that can be taught to Australian youth by the generosity of Khun Kanit Wanachote. Ex POWs are able to revisit areas where they were incarcerated and thus obtain some closure. The relatives of the POWs are able to also achieve closure by visiting graves and participating in the ceremonies. Being able to visit and experience the Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass and the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Kanchanaburi is a most moving experience. All this is possible due to the generosity of a great man whose attributes were instantly recognized by a great Australian, Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop.
It was proposed that Khun Kanit was eminently suitable for recognition by the Australian Honors and Award system, notwithstanding by an honorary award. He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (OAM) medal in 2010.
The decree stated that Khun Kanit Wanachote, had served the Australian Community by his contribution to the preservation of Australian/Thailand history generally. In particular, he had assisted significantly in perpetuating the memory of the privations and sacrifices of Australian Military personnel and the selfless dedication of the medical personnel during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway in World War 11. At the same time he had assisted in reinforcing the establishment of the repute of Australian of the Year, Sir Edward Dunlop.
Khun Kanit’s award was presented to him by His Excellency Paul Grigson, Australian Ambassador to Thailand on Australia Day, 2010 at the Australian Embassy, Bangkok. The late Bill Haskell and Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association Chairman Eric Wilson attended the ceremony.
Without the generosity of Khun Kanit Wanachote it would have been difficult to achieve the objective of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association.
He was born on 15th February 1928 in Surajthanee Province, Thailand. He married Oonjai Wanachote in 1951 and they had three daughters and two sons followed by a number of grand children..
He was educated through external studies at institutions in Thailand England and the United States. He became a teacher, book reviewer and translator and later established a chain of English language schools under the name Home of English.
This venerable gentleman passed away in Bangkok on 1st April 2014 after a lingering illness. Khun Oonjai pre-deceased him.
On the 19th, 20th and 21st July 2014 a series of funereal functions will be held in Thailand concluding with a Loy Unkarn Ceremony where his ashes will be floated down the Kwai Noi River from Home Phu Toey.
Friends, I am honoured to join you at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Here we commemorate the lives of those men who gave their today for our tomorrow 1 .
Our hearts break as we remember their courage, in the face of extreme torture.
Our brave heroes – many so young.
Their sacrifices enshrined in these graves; in this serene place that echoes with their suffering.
“Speedo! Speedo! Speedo! 2 ”
Frenzied beatings followed barked orders.
They toiled in misery: drilling, blasting and digging through solid rock, in disease ridden and formidable terrain, shivering uncontrollably with malaria, dysentery, cholera, beriberi.
Ugly ulcers wept through filthy rag bandages . 3
In the huts, bedridden patients languished three deep, head to foot on unforgiving bamboo slats.
There was no medical equipment.
No drugs, no bedpans, no soap, no disinfectants.
But wonderful dedicated care by Australian doctors, skilled and ingenious.
The best known was ‘Weary’ Dunlop.
“His simple, gentle, tenacious leadership still dominates my life today,”
Tom Uren told me yesterday.
Dr Mike Kelly, who sits in our Federal Parliament and whose grandfather, Gunner Joseph Kelly, was at Hellfire Pass, says: “All that kept them alive was the mutual support they gave each other…their enduring bonds of mateship ”4; a smile, a laconic laugh, a gentle whisper. They clung to those special bonds of brotherly love.
Affection, that made the unbearable bearable.
They risked their lives: fleecing guard’s vehicles for tubing to use as cannulas, scrounging for scraps of cloth, leather, rubber, string, wire, nails, screws, tins, to build artificial limbs 5
By October 1943, more than 12,300 soldiers had died from illness, overwork, beatings or accidents.
I am privileged to have travelled with four of our countrymen: Mr Alexander Arthurson, Mr Cyril Gilbert, Mr William Schmitt, The Hon. Tom Uren.
And I know others who may also be here today.
All fine, courageous veterans who carry the physical and emotional scars of their own time on the railway.
They join us to honour the 1,362 Australians who rest in peace, in this place; to remember our British, Dutch and other allies, and the labourers from China, India, Malaya, Indonesia and Burma who suffered alongside them.
In the words of Pericles: The whole earth is the tomb of heroic men.
Neither is their name graven only in stone which covers their clay, but abideth everywhere wrought in the stuff of other men’s lives 6.
For many who survived, their recollections are “so clear they almost frighten 2 ” –
“It was a blur of continuous work, mates dying, guards bellowing, heavy loads carried, fever in tides of heat and cold, dysentery and hunger.”
A debt of gratitude, respect and love is owed.
Lest we forget.References Inscription on the memorial at the War Graves Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat, Burma. Savage, R. A guest of the Emperor. 2004 Australians on the Burma-Thailand Railway 1942-43. P. 49. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 2003. Dr Mike Kelly. Personal diaries. Walker, Allan S. Middle East and Far East ‘Clinical problems of war’. 1962. Pericles honouring the Athenian dead 430 BC
Friends, thank you for travelling to Hellfire Pass to see in this Anzac dawn.
Today is a pilgrimage. Alongside one another here, and with countless others throughout the world, we journey to the places that war has etched and scarred.
The theatres of conflict.
The graves and cenotaphs.
The shrines and memorials.
Our minds and memories.
Here, in the Thai jungle, standing on the bones of the “Death Railway” at the withered heart of darkness 1 .
Our silence begs the relentless hammer and tap of our soldiers’ tools; the Last Post’s haunting final wail as another succumbs to the brutal toil.
Our torchlight recalls the long-lit, gruelling nights of work, the days that never gave way to nourishment and sleep.
Our soldiers’ strange and gruesome battlefield.
Not the sort they’d imagined: bullets, bayonets, mortar blasts; hand-to-hand combat on the front line; courage under fire.
The fire here was from hell, they said.
It needed a different kind of courage 2 .
Exiled from the Allied war effort, and held captive to advancing its defeat our soldiers braved a battle fought in the shadows.
In the shadows of the hell fires. In the shadows of their captors’ torture and menace.
In the shadows of their ravaged frames and private anguish.
It was in this impenetrable, malarial jungle of monsoon deluges, saw-toothed mountainous rock, crocodiles, scorpions, snakes and mosquitoes,that our soldiers built a railway with a few crude pulleys, derricks and mixers, and their mighty bare hands.
In ten months: four million cubic metres of rock was shifted, 14 kilometres of bridgework constructed.
Our soldiers, prisoners-of-war, among an extraordinary slave-labour force: 30,000 British; 18,000 Dutch; 13,000 Australians; 700 Americans; and with them, 250,000 Asians 3 .
As the aggressors grew anxious to expand their offensive, so the toll grew, on our soldiers’ lives and wellbeing.
Abject cruelty and neglect, increasingly signified their treatment.
Inevitably crippling fatigue, starvation, horrific sickness, disease and death gouged their ranks.
Just about everything was filthy: the miserable rations, the water, the men’s bodies, their loin cloths, their rotten wounds and ulcers, the brazen inhumanity.
But there were some things that transcended the filth.
The feisty dictum that the path home is an empty mess bowl, no matter what was dished up 4 .
The miracle workers in the makeshift hospitals.
The men’s spirits: somehow impossibly sustained by faith and hopes and dreams; the poetry of Keats and Arnold; their own quiet lullabies; a budding Plumbago flower; a decent, gutsy laugh.
Their deep, generous, tender friendships.
The fires that burned in their starving bellies.
The home fires they burned for one another.
Long after the war, when Chilla Goodchap nursed his wife before her death, he thought of his dead mates:
In Burma we would link up in a group of say four or five, and work as a family.
You’d know every mortal thing about them.
They’ve told you every one of their stories of home, and their upsets and their pleasures. With those five fellows, no matter what you get you’d share, and if one bloke is crook, you stand with a bloke, in his dying moments, his bloody awful bloody death, and you’re holding his bloody hand 5 .
Friends, let this new day, this Anzac sunrise, blaze in the deeds and memories of the tens of thousands of soldiers who suffered and died and rest here now.
In those who survived the filth and rallied to rebuild their bodies and lives, find their families, and hold onto their mates. In those who are with us today to affirm the injustice, the pain and the torment, and the long, slow road back to healing and living well.
I sincerely thank my fellow countrymen, my companions, for showing me the way today.
Mr Lex Arthurson
Mr Cyril Gilbert
Mr Bill Schmitt
The Hon Tom Uren
And with us, Mr Neil McPherson.
Fine, courageous, knowing veterans of this place, who join all of us here to honour the wartime sacrifice of those we love and respect.
In the aftermath of such atrocity, let us be thankful for the lessons of war; for what Anzac Day offers every year in growing our wisdom; and for the mutual sense and compassion of our governments in preserving this memorial to honesty, peace and understanding.
The fires will always burn here, as they should, in rightful remembrance of all they destroyed and all they nurtured.
The fires from hell.
The fires in the bellies.
The home fires of mates who made their terrible way together here, who built a railway in the jungle by hand – our soldiers of the Hellfire battle. Friends of Australia and Thailand.
Lest we forget.
Cameron Forbes used this metaphor in his book, Hellfire, Pan Macmillam Australia, 2005, Chapter 17 “Hearts of Darkness”, p 279
Ibid, Chapter 1 “A Different Courage”, p 1
Ibid, p 263
Ibid, p 299
Ibid, p 289
Bill Haskell was born at Fremantle on 9th May 1920 and died just short of his 91 st birthday on the first of May 2011. Bill was one of nine children. His father Bernie came with his parents to the Eastern Goldfields and later to Fremantle. Bill’s dad Bernie married Vera Sullivan in 1910 and the family home was established in Gill Street, East Fremantle.
Bill had his formative years in the pre-depression and depression period. He attended the Richmond Primary School and Fremantle Boys High School where completed his Junior Certificate.
His first job was as a lowly paid messenger boy in Fremantle followed by general and junior clerical work at the Robbs Jetty Meatworks. He commenced part time studies in accountancy.
When World War 11 broke out he tried without success to join the Navy. At 19yrs he joined the 16th Battalion Cameron Highlanders and completed a three month camp at Northam.
In November of 1940, after enlisting in the AIF, he went to the Woodside Camp in South Australia until in April 1941 he sailed away the 2/3 rd Machine Gun Battalion after pre-embarkation leave.
Bill was the first of his family to enlist but before the end of the war his Mum had seven of her nine children overseas.
He was on the Isle de France in a convoy with the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth 11, Aquitania, Mauritania and the Andes which called at Colombo and terminated at Port Tewfik on the Suez Canal. They later served in Palestine and in Tel Aviv.
The 2/3 rd Machine Gun Battalion then saw action in Syria and later were in Mrouj, near Beirut in Lebanon.
In February 1942 they traveled on the RMS Orcades via Durban, South Africa, to Oosthaven in South Sumatra. They disembarked for a short time before returning aboard and sailed to Batavia. (Jakarta) and then by road to Bandoeng.
On 9 th March 1942 the Dutch surrendered (including the Australians).
Life in the Bandoeng prison camp was not good but better than what was experienced later on in Thailand. Food, clothing and medical supplies were between non-existent and very short.
After nearly a year in Bandoeng, Dunlop Force went to Makasura before being shipped to Changi Prison on Singapore for a short time.
In January 1943 they went by train to Thailand and to the Konyu River Camp, the Hintok River Camp and the Hintok Road Camp. Bill later worked on the Thadan Bridge over the Maeklong River before transferring to a river transit camp at Tamuang.
Conditions in the camps on the Railway were dreadful; starvation, ill-treatment, brutality, disease and no clothing, medical supplies or even the most basic of personal requirements. Only mateship and valiant Doctors and medical staff got some of them through. In the “speedo” period when the Japanese tried to accelerate the building of the railway it got worse. Every disease known to man was prevalent with cholera, dysentery, malaria, beri-beri, vitaminosis and lethal ulcerated legs rife.
Their work was moving dirt, timber, rock and other materials by hand and carving through solid rock with only hand-tools. Terrible accidents were frequent.
All this time they had no news of home and very little knowledge of the outside world.
After the construction phase of the railway, Bill travelled from Tamuang Camp to Singapore in the primitive rail-cars before sailing, on 4 th July 1944, with 3,000 other prisoners, to Japan in one of the “Hell” ships, the Byoki Maru. The voyage lasted ten weeks.
Bill spent almost 12 months at the Ohama Coal Mine under the Sea of Japan.
Conditions there were again dreadful with the heat replaced by the cold and having to work in narrow tunnels under the sea. Food was as scarce, as it had been in Thailand, due to the overall conditions in Japan.
After the atomic bombs were dropped the POWs were liberated.
Bill always remembered the parachuted supply drops in 44 gallon drums, some of which burst.
In the drums were many supplies but Bill remembered most of all the Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate and the Campbell’s Pea Soup because he sat next to the broken drums and ladled soup into his mouth at the same time having bites of chocolate.
The Prisoners of War were then able to also assist the local Japanese, particularly the kids. The locals had had a pretty tough time and were as deprived of food and clothing as the prisoners.
Liberation was wonderful but it took Bill and his mates a long time to get home by various ships. They travelled via Osaka to the port at Wakayama where Bill was overawed by the number of naval ships at anchor. As with the soup and chocolate, Bill always remembered the hot showers and the Lifebuoy soap. The next joy was being kitted out with “T” shirts, trousers and boots. (His first experience of denim jeans). Then there was the next piece of heaven. Ice cream, fresh bread and plenty of butter.
It was at Wakayama that Bill first heard of the Atomic bomb.
From Wakayama, Bill’s group boarded the hospital ship “USS Consolation. Another new experience; white linen sheets and pillow cases…. and nurses.
From the USS Consolation, Bill and his group were transferred to a Liberty Ship, the USS Haskell and taken to Okinawa and then Manila where they boarded the escort carrier the Speaker and travelled to Sydney. After a short stay at Ingleburn Army Camp Bill then travelled on the Dominion Monarch to Fremantle.
It had not been until Bill arrived in Manila that he that he was officially acknowledged as being recovered. His Mum had been very ill in hospital. The war had just about caught up with her, all her children were overseas, one had been killed in New Guinea and Bill had not been heard of for three and a half years.
Bill’s sister Emily was a nurse serving in New Guinea and returned home on compassionate leave. She and Bill’s dad were the only people at home the day a telegram boy arrived on his bike at the house. The worst was feared. Bill’s dad opened the telegram and on getting the great news gave the telegram boy ten bob (a fortune in those days) and ran down the street yelling “it’s Bill, its Bill”.
Emily was unaware of what was happening because she had been in the shower when Dad answered the door and she was the last in the street the last to know. Bill’s mum received the news at the Mount Hospital and recovered to be at the wharf for the family welcome to the homecoming POWs.
After a period in the Point Walter Camp through to Christmas 1945, Bill resumed his pre-war work at Robbs Jetty as quick as possible and re-established his life. An opportunity arose to obtain a position in the Commonwealth Public Service and although it would mean a drop in income, the prospect of security was inviting as he had met his future wife Dulcie Neave. He accepted a position as a base range clerk with the Taxation Department and then found out that his military service entitled him to tax free status for two years. All the tax paid on the overtime at Robbs Jetty was thus returned.
Through long hours of part time study Bill qualified as an accountant and had a life-long career with the Taxation Department.
Bill married, built a home and raised a family. He also resumed his pre-war sport of lacrosse (representing his State) and later commenced his early morning swimming.
Bill always mentioned his delightful wife Dulcie and how she was able to cope with his post-war problems, particularly stomach ulcers and the effect on his diet.
Bill returned to Hellfire Pass with Weary Dunlop on a special tour via Jakarta and Singapore in 1985 and again in1987. He has returned to the area many times since with Quiet Lion Tours and other special visits such as Keith Flanagan’s Loi Kratong and Khun Kanit Wanachote’s OAM award. One special visit was after our “Grand Tour” in 2009 when we visited Jack Chalker and many other friends in England. Bill’s joy at meeting his friends and touring Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and Hampshire was palpable.
Bill Haskell joined with Keith Flanagan in convincing Weary Dunlop to publish his war diaries and they then worked together to keep the story of Weary Dunlop and the Burma Thailand Railway alive. They commenced the Quiet Lion Tours to Thailand for Anzac Day and were later co-founders of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association.
The BTRMA has now conducted 18 Quiet Lion Tours. There have been in excess of 1,300 people taken on Quiet Lion Tours including over 300 High School Students and other juniors.
Bill, together with Keith Flanagan and Ken Wood, played a major part in establishing the Boon Pong-Weary Dunlop Medical Foundation which has been responsible for training in excess of 60 young Thai Doctors in specialist surgical fields under a mentoring scheme.
In the Australia Day Honours List for 2004 Bill Haskell, together with his long-time friend Keith Flanagan, was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for “Service to the community, particularly through establishing public educational tours to the Burma Thailand Railway”.
Bill died at home of 1 st May 2011. His wife Dulcie, with whom he shared a deep devotion, pre-deceased him by a number of years.
Bill Haskell was a man of many interests and amassed a large group of good friends from all over the world, particularly Thailand. Bill was a devout Christian, a life-long early morning swimmer with the Port Beach Polar Bears, had an abiding interest in history, particularly military history, was an active participant in Probus and was a life-long supporter of the East Fremantle Football Club.
More than any of this, Bill Haskell was a great family man and his principal legacy is a fine group of children, grand-children and great grand children who have an exemplar beyond comparison on whom they can model their own lives.
He was a loved father of June, Douglas and Errol, father in law of Steve, Maureen and Barbara, “Pop” of Christabel and Matthew, Andrew, Mark and Leah, Marcia and Nathan, Carla and Nicco and Great Grand Poppy of Zane, Casey, Cody, Noah and Oliver.AS THE SUN SLOWLY SETS……………… DAWN WILL SEE IT ARISE FOR SERVICE ABOVE SELF……………… DEMANDS ITS OWN PRIZE YOU HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT… LIFES RACE HAS BEEN RUN AND PEACE YOUR REWARD…………….. FOR ETERNITY BEGUN AND WE ARE THAT LEFT ………………… WILL NEVER FORGET REST IN PEACE FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE…….. FOR THE SUN HAS NOW SET.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, a group of veterans and supporters who have resolved to perpetuate the memory of the Burma Thailand Railway and the ordeal of Prisoners of War of the Japanese, once again took a tour to Thailand for the 2011 Anzac Day Dawn Services at Hellfire Pass and the Wreath Laying ceremony at Kanchanaburi.
The Association has conducted annual pilgrimages to Thailand in the form of Quiet Lion Tours (named for Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop regularly since 1997. High School students have always been a priority in order to perpetuate the story. The numbers of juniors have increased each year, partly due to a number of generous sponsors and contributing groups.
The 2011 Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand was significant due the attendance of the Governor General Australia, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, who was accompanied by a group of survivors of the Burma Thailand Railway; the Hon. Tom Uren, Lex Arthurson, Cyril Gilbert and Bill Schmitt. Another survivor present was Neil MacPherson who traveled with the Quiet Lion Tour. Regular ex POW travelers Bill Haskell and Milton Fairclough were unable to travel due to illness.Over the years a host of people who had kin on the Railway have achieved closure on the tours. This was the case in 2011 when the following traveled:-
Richard and Sally Steel of Toowoomba Queensland . Richard's father was John Hart Steel VX24121 of 2/2 Pioneers who died at Tamarkan;
Ron and Bronwen Walker of Mildura Victoria . Ron's father was Harry Walker VX 22708 of 2/2nd Pioneers. Harry went to coal mines in Japan after the railway was finished and survived).
Jenny and Peter Caddy of Port Pirie, South Australia . Jenny’s uncle was Edward Thomas Sorrell, 2/3MGB Dunlop Force. Ted died at Tarsau Hospital on 11/11/43 after time at Hintok. (Bill Haskell knew him well from Java on);
Jan and Phillip Burbury of Woodbury, Tasmania . Phillip’s kin was Claude Samuel Iles, TX4214 CCS.
John and Francis Kennedy of Arcadia, Victoria and their daughter Bronwen Stewart and grandson Matt of Sebastopol, Victoria . John Kennedy’s uncle (Crocodile Kennedy) was a padre and prisoner captured in Java. and later sent to Mukden (Manchuria).
Max and Sue Cunnington . Max’s father was Sandy Cunnington of the 2/3MGB.
David Piesse . His father was Ron Piesse of the 2/3 MGB.
Susan Harrington was part of a large contingent from the Harrington family. Her father was Frank Thaxter. Frank Thaxter was also a member of the 2/3 rd Machine Gun Battalion. Frank Thaxter and Susan returned on an earlier occasion to the Railway on a Quiet Lion Tour before Frank passed away.
Jan and Phillip Hawkins and Jan’s brother, Terry Cant, of Melville . Jan and Terry’s father was Albert Ronald Cant 2/7th Field Battery.
Neil MacPherson of the 2/2 Pioneers has been a member of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and travels each year. His son Alan and grand-daughters Gypsy O’Dea, Krishna Vanderweide, Shannon Pearce and Jemima Butterworth toured.
Emma Egerton-Warburton . Her Grand Father is Wally Holding of the 2/4MGB who is a member of the Burma Thailand Memorial Association management committee.
At the traditional Concert held on the final night of the stay at the Home Phu Resort all of the above performed a joint item as direct descendants of prisoners on the Railway.
On 17 th April 2012 the Quiet Lion Tour will again take many such travelers to the Railway.
The 2011 Quiet Lion Tour to Thailand for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass and the Wreath Laying ceremony at Kanchanaburi (both attended by the Governor General Quinton Brice) was significant to a South Australian couple from Port Pirie; Jenny and Peter Caddy.
Jenny’s uncle was Edward Thomas Sorrell, SX8795 of the Second Third Machine Gun Battalion and Dunlop Force on the Burma Thailand Railway. For many years the family only knew the basic details of Eddie’s service and the manner of his death on the Railway. They knew he died at Tarsau Hospital on 11/11/43. It was a source of much pain that they though he may have died from cholera as the date of death coincided with the latter end of the cholera epidemic.
The Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association from Western Australia has for many years conducted their Quiet Lion tours to Thailand and has also assembled an extensive data base on prisoners of war of the Japanese. They also have a strong working relationship with the Thai Burma Railway Centre in Kanchanaburi which has become an authority on the Railway under the management of Australian ex-pat Rod Beattie.
Jenny contacted the Association regarding Eddie Sorrell and within days had comprehensive details of Eddie’s service and the manner of his death. Not only that but one of the founders of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association and an originator of the Quiet Lions Tours, the late Bill Haskell, personally knew Eddie. They became friends from the early days of the formation of the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion and their course was parallel through to the Hintok Mountain Camp near Hellfire Pass.
Eddie was much older than most of the rest and became critically ill at Hintok. He was transferred to Tarsau Hospital camp where he died of dysentery. (This news afforded some relief to the family because of the fear that he died of cholera). Eddie was buried at Tarsau but his remains were recovered after the war and interred at Kanchanaburi Hospital.
Jenny and Peter then decided to travel with the Quiet Lion Tour and were able to visit the camps where Eddie had worked, travel the majority of the remaining railway and lay a wreath on Eddie’s grave after the ceremony at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. They were able to spend time at the sites of both the Hintok Mountain Camp, the Kinsayok Camp and the Tarsau Hospital camp as well as walking the Heritage Trail from Hintok Cutting to Hellfire Pass (Konyu) Cutting.
Unfortunately Bill Haskell had to pull out of the tour due to illness and he died as the tour finished. Jenny and Peter did get the chance to speak with Bill by telephone before the tour.
Jenny and Peter Caddy have expressed their deep gratitude for the help of the BTRMA and for the experience of the Quiet Lion Tour. Excerpts from their summary of the tour and their observations follow.
“THOUGHTS ON THE QUIET LION TOUR 2011
We were first time participants in a Quiet Lion Tour and returned home from the 2011 tour enriched, extended and satisfied. Eric Wilson’s summary of the tour in a BTRMA newsletter reignited these feelings. Through our initial contact with Eric Wilson and the BTRMA, we learned of the mission of the Association, “to perpetuate the memory of privations and sacrifices of Allied Prisoners of War and the selfless dedication of the medical personnel during the construction of the Burma Thailand Railway by informing current and future generations through all forms of education and particularly with Quiet Lion Tours” ... idealistic and admirable aims.
These aims were achieved with excellence on the Quiet Lion Tour 2011. From our first enquiry of Eric Wilson regarding the tour, it was obvious that we were dealing with both a person and an association possessing exceptional passion for their cause. Then, as soon as we met Eric Wilson, David Piesse, ex POW Neil McPherson and all the group members we knew we had made the best decision of our lives and that we were in for a memorable time. These wonderful people gave their all to make our tour worthwhile, well organised, enjoyable and unforgettable.
We marveled at the knowledge of Eric and David and their success in ensuring that all group members gained the utmost from each session. Neil MacPherson supported Eric and David as they told the story of the Railway.
Bill Haskell and ex POW Snow Fairclough was referred to frequently. We heard of Bill’s death at the end of the tour and we mourned with those who knew him personally. We rejoiced for the remarkable person that Bill was. There were so many truly memorable moments for us on the tour, not the least of which was unraveling so much of the story, with Eric’s help, of an uncle who died on The Line and whom we discovered was not only in Dunlop Force, but who was also a good friend of Bill Haskell. Finding Ted Sorrell’s grave at Kanchanaburi Cemetery was a particularly poignant moment. So very memorable, too, were the Anzac Day services, the Heritage Walk, the train journey along The Line, the Hellfire Pass Museum, beautiful and serene Home Phu Toey, Chungkai Cemetery and the gradual piecing together of the puzzle through sites at Nakom Patom, Non Pladuk, Banpong, Tamuan, Kanchanburi, Tamarkan, Chungkai, Wampo, Tarsau, Konyu, Hellfire Pass, Hintok, Kinsayok and Takanun.
The whole tour was a highlight for us. We feel greatly privileged to have been given this opportunity to learn at first hand the rigours and hardships of the POWs and medical teams on The Line, the beauty yet the challenges of the Thai jungle, the selfless contributions of wonderful local people such as Kun Kanit Wanachote and Boon Pong Sirivejaphan, and, last but not least, the inspiring life of Weary Dunlop and his fellow medicos such as Arthur Moon and Ewen Corlette.”
Jenny and Peter Caddy Port Pirie SA
This Japanese issue unbleached calico undershirt belonged to POW NX48180 Private Stanley Herron. It was on display at the POW gallery at the Australian War Memorial Canberra for many years.The entire body of the shirt and part of the sleeves are covered in indelible pencil signatures and addresses, most of which have been over embroidered in red, blue, green, yellow and mauve stem stitch. Those signatures on the sleeves which have not been embroidered are now illegible. The name of the owner of the shirt has been machine embroidered on the left sleeve in the 1970s, 'STAN HERRON 2/20 Bn'. There is a brown and green embroidered cartoon on the back of the shirt with the caption '"Who called the cook a b_?" "Who called the b_ a cook!". The drawing was made by Leon Leon Leleux a very gifted artist. Stan’s story NX48180 Private Stanley Herron was born in England in 1914, later emigrating to Australia. He enlisted for service in World War 2 in Sydney on 24 September 1941 and served first with 2/19 Battalion. The battalion was posted to Malaya with the 8th Division and Herron later transferred to 2/20 Battalion. He escaped from Singapore on a Chinese boat shortly before the surrender to the Japanese and reached Java, where he joined an Australian-bound ship. It was bombed by the Japanese and Herron ended up in a lifeboat. After drifting for five days he landed on Java again, escaped to the hills and joined a guerrilla group but was forced to surrender to the Japanese when they threatened to kill local villagers. He was taken to Singapore and then sent to work on the Burma-Thailand railway. He avoided a double amputation of his feet due to tropical ulcers, after doctors applied maggots to clean them out and eventually returned to Singapore Changi - River Valley Road Camp. From here he was sent by sea on the Hell Ship Awa Maru to work in the coal mines at Senryu in the mountains of Japan and it was there that he was issued with the calico undershirt. Herron did not wear the shirt but kept it under the floorboards taking it out for fellow prisoners to sign in indelible pencil, after the Japanese surender. The shirt eventually had about 200 names on it, some of them added immediately after his release, before he was repatriated to Australia. The signatures include those of fellow 8th Division prisoners of war and those of survivors from HMAS Perth and USS Houston who were sunk in Sunda Strait in 1942. The cartoon about the cook refers to Herron's experience as a cook in the mines. Herron was evacuated through Nagasaki 5 weeks after the atomic bombing, by US Carrier Chenango to Okinawa, B24 Bomber to Manilla and HMS Formidable to Sydney, was discharged from the army on 3 December 1945. His wife Betty embroidered over the names after the war when she noticed that the pencilled signatures and addresses were fading. Before she donated the shirt to the Australian War Memorial she realised that her husband, who had died in 1967, has never signed the shirt, so she had his name machine embroidered on the left sleeve. The names of the following Australians have been identified on the shirt: After pains taking work by fellow prisoner Neil MacPherson VX45260 Corporal Ian James Cameron, 2/29 Battalion QX14696 W O Class Two John Michael Collins, 2/10 Field Regiment NX72294 Sapper Robert Davis, 2/12 Field Company B3093 Able Seaman Charles Arthur Goodchap, HMAS PERTH QX13325 Gunner Charles Edward Helmhold, 2/10 Field Regiment NX49013 Sergeant Colville Duffy, 2/20 Battalion NX26885 Driver Vincent Joseph Augustine Leonard, 2/30 Battalion VX56830 Private William Douglas Rhook, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion WX7355 Sapper Harry Roy Ribbins, 2/6 RAE NX25602 Driver James Hynd Richardson, AASC QX14246 Signalman Robert Francis Rolfe, 8 Corps of Signals VX47141 Private Harry Victor Rooke, 2/29 Battalion NX42406 Sapper Thomas Sisson, 2/12 Field Company NX37543 Lance Sergeant Oswald Victor Skinner, 2/30 Battalion VX56184 Private Kenneth James Swanson, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion VX24166 Private Kenneth Cicil Tingate, 2/29 Battalion VX34519 Corporal Richard Lloyd Trewin, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion NX58037 Sergeant Ronald Lawrence Tulloch, Headquarters 8 Division NX49365 Private Donald Leo Walker, 2/18 Battalion NX28436 Gunner Kenneth William Wills, 2/15 Battalion NX33605 Signalman Noel Frederick Adamson, 8 Corps of Signals NX72557 Private Frederick James Asser, 2/19 INF NX67807 Sapper Noel Robert Baker, 2/12 Field Company VX55245 Private Frederick James Barnstable, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion VX61315 Private George Gregory Beavis, 4 Australian RES MT NX65921 Corporal Frederick Joseph Bentley, 2/6 Field Company NX59568 Sapper Stanley Charles Booth, 2/6 Field Company NX35494 Driver Stanley Brodie Cannon, 2/19 Battalion S5930 Able Seaman Francis Charles Chattaway, HMAS PERTH VX47817 Corporal Charles Edward Clark, 2/29 Battalion NX45053 Private John Arthur Cooper, 2/19 Battalion 22886 Able Seaman Ronald Frederick Crick, HMAS PERTH NX35317 Private Robert Henry Darling, 2/19 Battalion QX15584 Gunner Victor Robert James Drane HMAS PERTH NX35317 Private Robert Henry Darling, 2/19 Battalion QX15584 Gunner Victor Robert James Draney, 2/10 Field Regiment NX66461 Sapper Duncan Campbell Ferguson, 2/6 Field Company VX19538 Corporal William Finch, 2/2 Australian Pioneer Battalion NX23295 Private Fred Gilbert, 2/18 Battalion VX56017 Private Richard Gill, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion QX10431 Lance Corporal Robert Leslie Gourley, 2/26 Battalion NX48180 Private Stanley Heron, 2/20 Battalion NX54516 Sapper Arthur George Holloman, 2/12 Field Company NX4734 Driver William Thomas Hudson, 105 General Transport Company NX29972 Corporal John Robert Israel, 2/18 Battalion NX26566 Gunner Eric John Jenner, 2/15 Field Regiment NX69341 Driver William Killian, 2/3 Reserve M T Company NX30981 Gunner Timothy Bayton Lee, 2/15 Field Regiment WX16572 Private Neil Ormiston MacPherson, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion VX45047 Corporal Ernest Marson, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion WX13285 Private Jack Maude, 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion NX71593 Driver James Patrick McCraw, 2/3 MT VX38580 Gunner Keith Ross McKenzie, 4 Anti Tank Regiment NX31833 Lance Corporal John Harold McQuire, 2/12 Field Company NX52577 Private John Stevenson Meek, 2/20 Battalion VX22505 Private Michael Norton, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion X19734 Corporal William George Nutt, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion NX16288 Sapper Thomas Victor Phillips, 2/6 Field Company QX12254 Private George Albert Pill, 2/26 Battalion VX23691 Lance Sergeant William John Reilly, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion VX8241 Private William Alfred Simpkins, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion.