The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Murtagh
First Name:
Edwin John
Nick Name:
Ted
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX10792
Company:
‘B’ Company
Enlisted:
15.01.1941
Discharged:
21.12.1945
DOB:
3.03.1919
Place of Birth:
Crumpsal, Manchester, England
Father's Name:
Percy John Murtagh
Mothers's Name:
Mary Agnes Murtagh
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Dairy and Farmhand
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi, River Valley Road Camp
Force:
‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Tamarkan
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw, Meiloe, Augganaung
Camps Japan:
Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 24, Sendyu
POW#:
1532
Japan:
Awa Maru Party, Kumi No. 42
Return Details 1945:
Nagasaki-Manila, U.S. Navy ship; Manila-Sydney, HMS Formidable; Sydney-Melbourne-Perth by troop train

General Description

Soldier wounded in action at Tengah on 9/2/1942, admitted to Field Ambulance with a shrapnel wound to his left shoulder and left eyebrow. Transferred to 2/13th Australian General Hospital on 17/2/1942. Transferred to 2/9th Field Ambulance on 7/3/1942 and discharged to unit on 1/4/1942.

 

Our Departed Comrades

In the depths of southern Burma
Our departed comrades lay
Their grave there, marked by crosses
Beside the railway stay.
To make the hellish passage of those
Who passed that way.
They toiled, starved and suffered,
Our captors did not care
If we had no food or medicine
To fight disease with there
And when there came a small amount
They had the lion’s share
The doctors fought their hardest
And did their level best
To bring them through the darkness
To keep life in their breasts
But they went on their journey
And we left them there to rest
Comrades, left behind out there,
In our hearts will be
Your memory, till our race is run
And we meet up there with thee.

By Ted Murtagh (printed January 1999 Borehole Bulletin)

Ted was selected to work on Burma-Thai railway with ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion (this and ‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion included the largest numbers of 2/4th.)

From Singapore 3,000 POWs sailed for west coast of Burma. Green Force’s 1000 men arrived at Victoria Point on 21 May 1942 their task was to repair and extend the aerodrome; another smaller party remained at Victoria Point working on the wharves, mostly loading and unloading fuel for the Japanese push into northern Burma, (and  finally their last stand against the British and Allied Forces.)

From Victoria Point, Green Force made its way up the coast, some men assisted completing the airfield at Tavoy and Ye. Then the Force moved in inland to where the northern most point of Thai-Burma railway would commence.

Green Force was the first Australians to commence working to establish the railway. They started at Kendau 4.8km Camp on 1 October 1942.

Thereafter Green Force moved to Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km and reached Aungganaung 105km Camp by 11 May 1943, remaining until December 1943 when the railway was completed.

The Japanese began moving all POWs in Burma south into Thailand, to one of about 4 large camps. Those too ill to be moved, remained behind with medical staff to die.

Many arrived in Thailand in appalling health. The idea was to fatten the POWs up to send them to Japan. Japan was short of manpower and resources.

Ted Murtagh was probably at Tamarkan, Thailand (there are no records, however those who remained here were selected for Japan parties) with Kumi No. 42 and eventually sailed to Japan with ‘Awa Maru’ Party. Many of his mates from Green Force had earlier lost their lives in South China Sea when ‘Rakuyo Maru’ was torpedoed in September 1944. ‘Awa Maru’ party was first sent to Saigon, French Indo-China as did ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party, before the Japanese decided it was too risky sending further shipping from Saigon as US submarines had successfully blockaded the coast.

They returned to Singapore by train and waited for a ship there.

On arrival in Japan, Ted was one of 3 2/4th men assigned to work at Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 24, Sendyu not far from Nagasaki and the atom bomb. He was recovered from here when the war was over.

Read about ‘Awa Maru’ Party

Read about Sendyu, Japan

 

Ted aged 6 years departed London on 26 February 1926 on ‘Diogenes’ with parents Percy John Murtagh and Mary Agnes (nee Wright) and two younger brothers Ronald (4) and Peter (2).  The family had previously been living at Manchester. His father Percy’s war service is below.

 

When Ted Murtagh enlisted he had been living with his parents at Lyall Street, South Perth.  After the war ended, he returned to WA and then moved to Victoria where he married Dulcie Isobel Fletcher in 1947.  In 1949 the couple were residing in Box Hill, Victoria.  In 1972 they lived in Surrey Hills and when Ted died 3 November 1998 aged 79 years, he and Dulcie were residing at Croyden.  Ted’s occupation was recorded ‘armed forces’.

 

 

 

 

Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Sendyu, Emukae, Fukuoka #24-B - Japan
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
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