AWARD OF ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL (OAM) TO MILTON THOMAS (“Snow”) FAIRCLOUGH IN THE AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS 2016.

Milton Thomas Fairclough, a survivor of the Burma Thailand Railway and a member of 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion was awarded an OAM in the Honours List announced on Australia Say this year. It was recognized that Snow (as he is universally referred to), has served the Australian Community by his outstanding achievements and contributions as a soldier (in particular as a prisoner of the Japanese) in time of war and as a concerned citizen in time of peace. He has 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 Two. He has also dedicated himself to service to the community since surviving World War Two and his incarceration with service and support of returned Australian prisoners of war of the Japanese, and participation in youth and community affairs. Snow was born at Perth on August 28, 1920, and grew up on a farm in Moora; 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 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 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 steal 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 Furlough’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. After discharge on January 31, 1946 Milton Fairclough immediately commenced an active association with supporters of returned Australian Prisoners of War of the Japanese and participating in youth and community affairs. Milton “Snow” Fairclough has 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. As with most ex Prisoners of War, Milton Fairclough confined any discussions and recollections of the Prison of War experience to fellow ex PoWs, usually in the confines of RSL clubs, but 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, he became an active member. 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. His Thailand visits had commenced prior to the formation of the Association. Milton “Snow” Fairclough is 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. In post war years he has regularly visited his mates when they are ill or close to death. He has played a large part in the activities of the 2/3rd Battalion Association. “Snow” was invested with his medal by Governor Kerry Sanderson in a ceremony at Government House in March this year.

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