Padang - Sumatra **
Padang – Sumatra **
On St Patrick’s Day 17 March 1942 the Japanese arrived in Padang and took over control from the Dutch. There would be no fighting as the Dutch had declared Padang an open city.
The prisoners who had been quartered in the Chinese School at Padang were permitted to remain a few more days until their transfer to a Dutch Army barracks. Conditions had been quite good at this camp with plenty of room, organised sport and lectures and although rationed, the food improved when the Dutch took over cooking duties.
After about two weeks in this camp the Japanese made it known that in two days 500 prisoners would be departing Padang. Included in this group was Lt-Col Albert Coates of the 10th Australian General Hospital. On 9 May Lt.-Col Coates was ordered to fall in with this group of British from the three services who called themselves the British Sumatra Battalion.
The group moved north to Belawan the Port of Medan on the northeast coast of Sumatra and on 15 May boarded the England Maru, sailing to Burma to work on the rail link to Thailand.
For so many POWs who worked on the Railway, they would be thankful Lt-Col Coates was included in this small draft of 500 men. He will always be remembered for his work and devotion to duty at Khonkan 55 km Camp, Burma in 1943 and other camps.