The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Nick Name:
- 'Jack' or 'Robbie'
- Regimental #:
- ‘C’ Company
- Place of Birth:
- Cottesloe, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Harry Quinn Robinson
- Mothers's Name:
- Josephine Robinson (nee Rosenberg)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Orchard Worker
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘ A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Tamarkan, Bangkok, Nacompaton (acting Sergeant Cook), Bangkok
- Camps Burma:
- Reptu 30km Camp, Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km
- Return Details 1945:
- Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Moreton Bay
John Robinson was initially reported dangerously ill.
As a POW at Selarang Camp, John Robinson was selected with ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion; the first work force to leave Singapore.
They sailed from Singapore mid May 1942 and reached Victoria Point on the South Western Coast of Burma on 21 May 1942 where Green Force worked to repair and extend the airfield. Initially a group were left at Victoria Point to work on the wharves loading and unloading fuel for Japan’s war effort in north Burma. This group then joined the airfield project. In early August Green Force commenced their journey north-east to begin working on the Burma end of the Railway.
Their first camp was Kendau 4.8km and they began work on 1 October 1942. The first Australians to work on Burma-Thai Railway. They would remain working in Burma until the end of December when the railway was completed.
John was at Reptu 30 km Hospital Camp – unfortunately there are no records of why (hospital Camp not work camp) He returned to work, and the Force went to Thetkaw 14 km 1 Dec 1942 – 28 March 1943, Meiloe 75 km 28 March – 11 May 1943, Aungganaung 105km 11 May 1943 to Dec 1943.
At this point John was amongst those POWs considered well enough to travel south to Thailand where the Japanese intended to regroup the POWs (and select the ‘healthy’ to work in Japan).
We have learnt John Robinson had ulcers on both lower legs/ankles.
He arrived Tamarkan Camp Thailand, later sent to Bangkok and then Nacompaton (acting Sergeant Cook) and was here at the end of the war. Sent to Bangkok, he then flew to Singapore where he sailed on HMT ‘Moreton Bay’ to return to WA.
John Robinson (in white shirt) Nacompaton Thailand
Taken 14 September 1945
Above: 2/4th men include Major Cameron and Syd Clayden.
John developed tropical ulcers on both ankles/legs. He was fortunate the ulcers healed sufficiently to avoid amputation. On his return home John required ongoing treatment for his injuries.
Above: Mrs M J Slayter, is in fact John Robinson’s only sister.
Above: those from 2/4th Syd and Harold Clayden and Noel Banks. Chairman of Mundaring Road Board is John’s father, Harry Quinn Robinson. He continued in this role for 20 years or so.
In his book “Colour Patch” History of the 2/4th – Murray Ewen has quoted John’s above speech on P.761. John’s writing is very patriotic and moving. He asks us to never forget our flag, to preserve the ideals and freedom for which those who did not return died for, and remain in foreign lands, to care for the bereaved and together we must maintain the spirit of co-operation learnt during the war. In today’s world we may well have misplaced some of John’s words of wisdom!
Above: Best man was his mate from 2/4th, Basil Clarke WX91236 who returned home as an amputee. Clarke and Robinson with ‘A’ Force Burma, went to the Burma end to work on the railway.
Another close mate of John’s was ‘Codge’ Thorns WX10289 the last 2/4th solider alive who died at Sandakan, beaten to death by Japanese guards. Codge and Robinson enlisted the same day, 18 December 1940. Before leaving WA, Codge who had obviously spent time with John at the Robinson home, asked John’s sister Mary to write to him while he was away.
John’s nephew, Bruce Slayter worked for Basil Clarke’s son, Noel Clarke. Bruce and his brother Tim farm at Wooroloo. Another brother currently owns the original Robinson home with 36 acres. The original property was 500 acres.
Isabel and John Robinson divorced four years later at the end of 1950. The marriage had been unhappy as was the divorce. Sadly for John, he left all his hopes and dreams for the future behind in WA and soon moved to South Australia.
He later remarried and although never returned to live in WA he always spoke warmly of the West, his childhood and possibly his pre-war dreams to pursue a political career. John had his challenges with alcohol as so many former POWs did. He had seen and experienced so much horror.
Below: John’s sister Mary Robinson marries with her brother John as best man.
John’s parents Harry Quinn Robinson and Josephine Rosenberg married in 1916. They had two children, John born in 1918 and Mary. Harry Quinn Robinson was an orchardist at Wooroloo which was then in the Mundaring Shire (Road Board). He actively participated in the Community.
In the social notes of Borehole Bulletin January 1972 – mention is made Jack Robinson and his wife Sylvia living at Whyalla, South Australia. Jack was running the Whyalla Fisheries.
Also known as ‘Robbie’, Robinson sold all his fish to customers at his plant – no shop sales. Robbie said ‘if they want fish they come to me’. He keeps a large tin of lollies on the counter and his favourite saying to kiddies is ‘have a lolly with Robbie’.
In April 1998 Borehole Bulletin, Mary J Slayter (John’s sister) of Wooroloo has written to Ted Wallin to confirm her only brother, John ‘Robbie’ Robinson had died from lung cancer at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 13 January 1976. Robbie had resided at Whyalla after the war for 28 years. She sent a photo of ‘Robbie’ with 2/4th mates taken in SA when they were at Woodside. She also had all of Robbie’s POW letters if he would like copies. (perhaps the above photos and POW cards are those she was referring to).
Parts of the above information have been provided by nephews of John. Tim and Bruce Slayter. (2019)
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
- Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
- Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
- Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
- Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
- Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
- Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
- Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma