The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- William Ernest
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- ‘ A ’ Company, No. 6 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Albany, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Ernest William Cake
- Mothers's Name:
- Jane Cake
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Camps Burma:
- Tavoy, Ye, Tavoy (May-November 1942) Thanbyuzat, Thetkaw, Meiloe, Aunggaung.
- Camps Japan:
- Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 17, Omuta
- 9353, 1318
- Awa Maru Party, Kumi No. 40
- Return Details 1945:
- Nagasaki-Okinawa-Manila, USS Cape Gloucester, Manila-Morotai-Darwin, PBY Catalina aircraft A24-201, Darwin-Perth, B24 Liberator aircraft 14.10.1945
Served as Corporal from 9 May 1941 to 6 March 1946.
Soldier was recovered from Mitsui Coal Mine, Omuta 11th October 1945.
The following extract from an Affidavit to War Crimes Commission, (AWM 54 1010/4/2 to 99 by William Ernest Cake of Kronkup, Western Australia, farmer …………
“While at the said camp I was employed in a coalmine along with other prisoners. My particular duties involved the timbering and layering of rails in the tunnels of the coalmine. The conditions under which this work had to be performed were particularly unpleasant. The tunnels themselves were insufficiently high for the average Australian to walk upright therein, hence work had to be carried out on a semi-stooping position. The tunnels were dripping with water and the only clothing worn by myself and the other prisoners working with me was a garment known as a “G String”, which consisted of a piece of cloth tied between the legs.
My condition while at the said camp was one of very poor health. My weight at that time was between 7 and 8 stone, whereas my normal weight is fourteen stone. I was also suffering from dysentery and suppurating carbuncles. The moisture in the said tunnels adversely affected my carbuncle so that they continually remained open and would not heal.
I remember a number of civilian overseers who directed the work of prisoners at the said Camp. I remember particularly one of these civilian overseers who was known to me as “the Screamer” or “the Screaming Demon”. This overseer was far shorter and more thickset than the average Japanese and had a very broad face and large mouth”.
I worked in a gang of prisoners supervised by “the screamer” on numerous occasions. He made conditions of work far worse in his gang than did other overseers under whom I worked. “The Screamer” had an uncontrollable temper and was continually screaming and screeching at prisoners. For no reason whatsoever he would frequently assault the men by hitting them with any implement available and also by throwing at them large lumps of coal or rock. It was his custom to make a particular point of hitting his victims upon any spot where they had suffered injury or had bandages to protect a wound or sore. When he assaulted me, which he did on numerous occasions he would always strike at my carbuncles, causing me the most acute pain and making conditions of the work almost insupportable.
I did not notice that any other prisoner died as the direct result of the assaults of “the Screamer”, although prisoners were dying continually throughout my stay in the Camp.
There were other overseers who ill-treated myself and other prisoners but I cannot now remember their names or describe them clearly. I have had difficulty in recalling details of the conditions at the said Camp owing to the fact that I endeavoured ever since my release to repress all memory of what we suffered during our internment.”
SWORN at Albany in the State of Western
Australia this 18th Day of July 1947
Before me: Signed W. E. Cake
Signed by A Commissioner of the Supreme
Court of Western Australia for taking Affidavits.”
Bill was one several children born to parents Ernest Will Cake and Jane Hargarth who had married in 1914. The Cake family settled at Kronkup (near Albany) farming for many years, and it was from here that Bill enlisted in May 1941.
On returning to WA from Japan, he married in 1947 to Florence Esther Caldwell. Bill died 14 March 1981 at the age of 66 years. (his father died in 1975 just 6 years before Bill).
From the Great Southern Herald, 28 February 1947
Lucas and Cake enlisted about the same date. Read their journey as POWs
Bill took part in and survived the charge at Ulu Pandan, Singapore.
From Singapore Bill was selected to work on the Burma end of the Railway with ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion which sailed from Singapore 14 May 1942 heading to Burma.
‘A’ Force comprised 3,000 men; Green Force made up of about 1,000 men disembarked at Victoria Point. However Cake sailed further to disembark at Tavoy where he remained working from May through to November 1942. During this time he was at Ye Hospital during September 1942 and discharged back to Tavoy.
From Tavoy Bill moved to the Railway end in Burma to Thetkaw 4.8 Km Camp, then to Meiloe 75 Km. During this time he was evacuated to Thanbyuzat Hospital 13 April 1943.
He was at Aungganaung 105 Km 15 August 1943 after which he was evacuated from Burma southwards with large numbers of POWs to Thailand, to Tamarkan.
At Tamarkan Bill was considered fit by the Japanese and selected to work in Japan on 28 March 1944 with ‘Awa Maru’ Party, Kumi 40. This party travelled by train through Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Indo China and then to Saigon arriving 15 April 1944. The Japanese however now realised it had become impossible to safely move any shipping to Japan from this port due to the American blockade. The Group were then moved back to Singapore, by train leaving Saigon 15th August 1944. During this 4 month period the POWs worked on the wharves, go downs and general labouring in Saigon.
Arriving at Singapore the POWs were accommodated at River Valley Road Transit Camp, to await ‘Awa Maru’. The POWs were kept working at Keppel Harbour – unloading and loading ships.
The 525 Australian, American and Dutch POWs finally boarded the ‘Awa Maru’ on 15th December 1944. The ship finally left Singapore on 26 December and reached Moji, Japan on 15 January 1945. Bill was included in 13 of the 2/4th men sent to Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 17 as was his best mate Harry Lucas. They remained working at this Mitsui Coal Mine until recovered at the end of the war on 11 October 1945.
Bill Cake with Gordon Orbst and others unknown. We believe the group includes Les Cody (3rd from Left) and Schurmann.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
- Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
- Tavoy (Dawei) - river port - Burma
- Thanbyuzayat, 415k - Burma
- Ye - Burma
- Omuta Miike, Fukuoka #17-B - Japan
- Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma