Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. 'A' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
Victoria Point – Burma
‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion
Arrived Victoria Point 21 May 1942 and departed 6 August 1942 (the first detachment under Major Green arrived at Kendau 4.8 km Camp, Burma 1st October 1942)
Commanding Officer was Major Charles Edward Green WX3435 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
In May 1842 the Japanese announced at Singapore they required a force of 3,000 men to be drawn from the 8th Division. This Force was the first group to depart Singapore and was named ‘A’ Force.
On 14 May ‘A’ Force departed Singapore harbour on two ships ‘Toyohashi’ Maru and ‘Celebes’ Maru destined for Burma to work on the Burma-Thai Railway.
On 21 May 1942 Green Force comprising 1,016 POWs disembarked at Victoria Point, with them was the British Sumatra Battalion. (On 23 May Ramsay Force disembarked at Murgui and 25 May the remainder of POWs in the convoy disembarked at Tavoy).
Initially the workforce was to work on repairing runways at the aerodromes at all 3 locations which had been damaged and bombed during the earlier fighting with British troops prior to capitulation to Japan.
Green force was broken down to 2 groups – about 600 all ranks to work at the airfield camp and located about 7 miles from town. The Second group of 416 men were based at Victoria Point, accommodated in houses along the waterfront and worked at the docks unloading aviation fuel drums and rice from ships, rolling, stacking and loading fuel drums onto trucks for the airfield and roadwork.
The Airfield group were accommodated in huts on the western slopes of a range of hills located on the eastern side of the airfield – about 1,000 yards north of the Japanese Garrison.
Major Green pointed out housing inadequacies and overcrowding. To alleviate the problem the men pulled down some huts around the airfield and rebuilt them at their camp. Improvements continued as the men settled into their new surroundings.
Towards the end of May work commenced on the airfield. The Japanese had grand ideas about improvements, but without equipment to carry out these tasks it would be impossible.
Unexploded mines were found and daily searches discovered a total of 4. The former owners had damaged the runway before departing; leaving it pitted with craters which required filling before the airfield was serviceable. The total of 40 craters on the runway consisted of 11 small craters about 2-½ ft. in diameter and 6-8 feet deep. The 29 larger craters were about 25 feet in diameter and varied between 10 – 30 feet deep.
Other work consisted of levelling and rolling the runway, loading sand onto trucks, unloading and ramming sand, carrying sand in bags, filling bags, wiring the camp and roadwork.
From the end of July 1942, the men allocated to wharf work at Victoria Point, began arriving at the airfield to help, By 10 August the airfield was being cleared of refuse, the rollers moved and tools stack away.
Work on the last of three airfields was completed by mid September.
At this time, Green Force was split into two detachments.
The first under Major Green from 2/4th and the second under Major J. Stringer from 2/26th Btn.
The two detachments leap frogged each other until they joined forces again at Kendau 4.8 km Camp on 26 October at the first construction camp in Burma.
Major Green’s first detachment left Victoria Point on 6 August embarking on two ships, Tatu Maru and the other one had only the identification No. 593. They arrived Tavoy three days later on 9 August.
On 15 August the initial draft of the first detachment departed Tavoy by truck arriving at Ye the same day. On 17 August the remaining men departed Tavoy and arrived at Ye the same day.
All ranks, less the sick, marched out of Ye to Thanbyuzayat via Lamaign over 25 and 26 September; and arrived 28 September 1942.
On 1st October 1942 all ranks of Major Green’s first detachment that had left Victoria Point on 6 August marched out to Kendau 4.8 km Camp, Burma. They were the first Australians to commence work on the railway. Work had already begun on the Thailand side by a British work force.
Stringers’s second detachment left Victoria Point on 13 August on ship No. 593 arriving at Tavoy on 15 August. On 20 August, the group boarded Unkai Maru for passage on the Salween River to Moulmein.
They travelled by train from Moulmein to Thanbyuzayat on 23 and 24 October.
Major Stringer’s second detachment marched into Kendau 4.8 km Camp on 26 October and Green Force was once again united.
It now became No. 3 Battalion of the Burma Administration Group No. 3, under the command of Japanese 5th Railway Regiment.
Each prisoner was issued with a wooden plaque inscribed with his POW number.
Extracts from diary of Major Charles Green, 2/4th MGB whilst at Victoria Point, Burma in 1942 – printed Borehole Bulletin January 1992.
2 July – Supply ship has arrived. Tins of Irish Stew and potatoes to be held as reserve rations. First buffalo purchased $15.50.
7 July – Health generally much improved. Class 2 men not permitted to work on drome during showery weather.
8 July – 1000 hours: NX10420 Pte Goulden 2/9 Field *Also shown as 2/4th MG Ambulance was reported missing.
1200 hours: Report made to Jap HQ. Complete roll call and check of all POW. Goulden was rather moody, morose man. Did not tell anyone of his proposed escape attempt. Japs advise they have discovered POW have been selling clothing at village shop and thought Goulden may have done this finance escape. A check of all clothing and tools has been ordered.
12 July: Lt Iquchi arrived and ordered all men to be set to work clearing all shrubs and trees away from fence, POW guard increased to 1 Officer, 2 Sgts, 4 Cpls, 27 OR’s and 9 sentry posts around wire.
Informed that when Goulden captured would be shot. Major Green, Lts. Watson and Harris confined to barracks as punishment. Two Sgts, and 18 OR’s 5 days imprisonment.
The prison was a barbed wire compound without a roof. Tent supplied when it rained.
VX28968 Pte. J.T. Lockyer died at Vic Point. Funeral as before.
Pte. Goulden caught. Major Green protested strongly about death sentence. Refused permission to see Jap Officers.
1015 hours: Pte. Goulden brought to camp and taken to Jap guardhouse. Ten men sent on a truck with picks and shovels to prepare grave. Major Green had conversation with Pte. Goulden who told him he had been worried about his wife and so tried to escape. Got lost and gave himself up to Burmese policemen.
Obvious that in spite of Green’s protests he was to be shot. Goulden admitted he knew the rules and was caught outside the wire. Visited by Padre Cunningham and was allowed to write a letter. Advised Major Green that since his capture he had been treated well.
Pte. Goulden was marched down under an armed guard and paraded before assembled POWs. Capt. Yasuda made formal announcement in Japanese, translated by interpreter. Party them marched Pte. Goulden, Major Green, Major Stringer, Lts. McCaffrey, Watson and Bernadou towards the hills. At about 500 yards from camp, at 1200 hours Pte. Goulden was shot. Jap firing squad presented arms and marched off.
POWs lined up each side of road and blanket wrapped body carried on stretcher through ranks to main gate, loaded on truck and taken to Victoria Point English Cemetery where he was buried in Lot 13 at 1400 hours.
(To the best of Major Green’s knowledge Shiraishi did everything in his power to prevent the death sentence being carried out. It was obvious that the sentence and execution were carried out before the full facts were made known to the Japs.)