The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Herbert John
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- ‘C’ Company
- Place of Birth:
- Dongolocking, Dumbleyung, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Roy Henry Wall
- Mothers's Name:
- Edith Annie Wall
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘ A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kanchanaburi, Non Pladuk
- Camps Burma:
- Khonkan 55km
- Camps Japan:
- 1520 & 290
- Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 35 (rescued by Imperial Japanese Navy)
- Return Details 1945:
- Sakata‐Sendai by train, Sendai‐Yokohama, HMS Wakeful, Yokohama-Okinawa‐Manila by aircraft, Manila‐Sydney, HMS Formidable, Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide by troop train, Adelaide-Perth by aircraft.
L-R: Kyros, Badock, Jim Elliott, John Gilmour, Bert Wall, Bob Dunnell, Wally Holding, Dick Ridgwell, Alf Worth
‘Regrettably I only had the good fortune to meet Bert Wall on several occasions – I found him to be charming, energetic and a true gentleman. Physically he seemed to be quite tall, broad-shouldered and well-built man. He had a twinkle of fun in his eyes! (C. Mellor, Secretary, 2012).
Read the story Members of 2/4th nominated for Medal but not awarded.
And the story written by Roy Cornford NX44955 of the 2/19th Battalion.
Bert was a fortunate young man – well fortunate in one way that he survived long enough after the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ sank in South China sea in September 1944 – probably less fortunate than those POWs who were picked up by the Anmerican submarines – whereas Bert was picked up by the Japanese. Bert and the other survivors on the Japanese ship received no welcome, care, wash or medical treatment. In fact the POWs were treated appalling.
View Peter Winstanley’s video interview of Bert Wall WX12989.
Read more on the Donnybrook Boys.
Read Bert’s affidavit relating to the conditions on transport Rakyo Maru WX12989 Wall.
Herbert (Bert) John Wall – Recollections of WW2 service
Marched to Thanbuzayat and group were the first Europeans on the line. Freddy Webb, Bert Wall and Vern Trigwell each got a shovelful, went 1,2,3 and threw dirt on. They dug trenches and dragged the dirt to make an SOS. Thanbuzayat was a village. Went to 4 kilo then 13 Kilo named Thetkaw, named after the lizard on the rubber tree.
Lt Cl. Watanabe was in charge and they built the line in 12 months even over dead bodies. The rice was reasonably good as was Thanbuzayat. – 14 kilo camp reasonably good. Thought they were being swapped for POWs. In Changi, go out and raid ducks. Don camp faced main blast. Shambles! Webb and Wall on artillery gun. They escaped across inlet and joined up with battalion. Vern was with C Company which was mainly rifle fire.
Landed and went to Sunset. Then dispersed battalion up until actual fighting. Off Aquatania onto Javanese boats. There was a rumour they were going to India. Captain wasn’t waiting (Malacca Straits). They had cows for company. Australia surrendered 10am 14th. Capitulated the night before. Japs shelling, hit a Chinese chook shed and Vern’s loud voice yelling out, “cut it out, you’re frightening the chooks”. He had jumped on the chook-shed roof. Vern crawled through mangrove swamps to escape Jap fire and when he reached the allied lines, said “Never knew mud was so beautiful!” Vern had been cut off from his group and made his way back alone.
Bert’s 21st, pinched sugar, eggs and maize flour and made cake and took it to the kitchen. He had the day off with malaria (trying to wangle it). Fellows including Vern sat on the end of the bed and ate his cake!
In October 1942 they were at the 105 Kilo camp. Joined up the line near the Three Pagoda Pass. Roughest patches were around 75 Kilo. Last POW card was at 105 Kilo. Then to Kanburi (Harold at Chungkai). There was no option on the Japan Party. Line them up on parade ground in the nuddy. Tested them for Cholera with glass tube. Then to Promproduk. Vern kept pretty well though small, “Shiny little bugger”.
At 14 Kilo had a hill of rock ¼ mile long, 12 ft at the deepest. Hammer and tap levelled with boring rods. Struck Cholera – boiled water to remind them.
3 months in Changi then to Vic point by boat and to Tavoy – Tattoo Maru. By truck from Tavoy to Ye and marched from there to Thanbuzayat. Train a few miles before Thanbuzayat. It was a 2 day journey. Marching on ballast on line. Finished laying lines. Teams making ballast broken by hammers, carted rock from quarry half a mile from the line, bamboo and cloth, and bullock carts. Ate bullocks after crashing them. Convinced the Japs the tigers had got them!! Another mob cutting firewood. Freddie Webb went 3 weeks earlier to Tamarkan. The last 48 Vern was amongst them. Aussies worked well together. Laid line, not sleepers. They worked 56 hours without a break as the middle came closer. Worked at night, blokes losing fingers, etc. They used a bamboo fire for working at night. Built all the bridges from teak, blokes towed logs, all piles driven by hand and they used rubber plants for scaffolding. Bert hit and broke shoulder; Vern had an ulcer but got rid of it. Relationship with coolies ok on the surface but escapees were dobbed in by coolies.
In Saigon fellows were treated poorly. Previously burying 5 or 6 a day, but in Saigon none died. Mieta was OK; the boy bastard caught Bert and tied him to a barbwire fence. When the guard changed, Mieta let him off. He had been there 20 minutes.
When they left Singapore to go to the Japan front, the line soldiers were ok.
All guards Korean.
At 105 Camp Japanese Cpl. always had to be saluted. Georgie was born in Japan but spoke American. Only there 3 weeks. At R.M. had to load own stores. Flour under armpits.
Leaving Changi robbed boots but all left feet and no rights. Feb 42, long time before fed in Changi. Cameron requested all supplies to be handed in. One day just hard biscuit dunked in water.
On R.M. all had life jackets, Bert’s responsibility. Bert felt explosion, felt as though went to the bottom of the sea. Some of the boys saw the torpedoes coming. Bert had to get everyone out of the hold. The R.M. lurched and stopped. Bert and Ross Dunbar waited to see all was clear then went over. Blokes threw over planks from the hold, hit Campbell. Bert went back to boat and found a kerosine tin all got a drink at least.
Harry Cain poem on how he was shot.
Bert was on a raft, or swimming rather. Then in lifeboats after Japs picked them up. Varley’s lot headed for the shipping lanes. Rest headed with Duncan’s lot in another direction. In Japan after freedom, was 5st, 12. ??
Pinched a pumpkin, was beaten and stood in snow for 24 hours wearing only shorts. Bert was frozen into ground. Till 6.30pm to bend one joint. Had no voice for 3 months. There were further beatings. Coughed up and had to wait for 10am parade. All had pneumonia. One guy died and Bert passed out for 15 days. When he woke up the room was empty, they had all died.
R.M. – Rakuyo Maru
(Please note the above has not been edited – there may be some anomalies.)
Height 5′ 9″
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
- Non Pladuk, 0k - Thailand
- Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
- Sakata, Sendai #9-B - Japan