The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Holdman
First Name:
Norman Phillip
Nick Name:
Lofty
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX7465
Classification:
Driver
Company:
Headquarters Company
Enlisted:
6.08.1940
DOB:
10.10.1910
Place of Birth:
Cottesloe, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Henry Hugh Holdman
Mothers's Name:
Elizabeth Baker
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Transport Worker
Memorial:
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Plot 1, Row L, Grave 37, Age 34.
Java:
'Blackforce’, attached to ‘A’ Coy 2/3rd M.G. Bn.
Force:
'A' Force Burma Java Party No. 4, Williams Force
Camps Thailand:
Kami Sonkurai 116 km, 122 Camp, Nikhe 131 km Wood Camp, Kanchanaburi No 3. Camp (Aerodrome), Tamarkan, Bangkok
Camps Burma:
Tanyin Camp 35km, Taungzun 57 km Camp, Beke Taung 40km Camp hospital, Reptu 30km Camp hospital, Mezali 72 km Camp, Apalon 77 km Camp, Kyondaw 95 km Camp,
Camps Java:
Bicycle Camp Batavia
POW#:
4657
Cause of Death:
Killed during an Allied air raid
Place of Death:
Go-downs Bangkok, wharf area
Date of Death:
27.03.1945

General Description

 

Photo taken January 2018, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

 

Norm’s parents Henry ‘Hugh’ Holdman and Elizabeth Baker from Albany married at Claremont in 1907. It is believed Norm was one of three children. He had one sister and a brother. His father Hugh Holdman was a public servant and during 1920’s the family lived at Gosnells. In 1930’s the Holdman family was residing at McCourt St, Wembley where they remained for a long time.

As a young man Norm joined the Australian Naval Reserves.

The 1930’s Depression hit Western Australia and Norm moved interstate to find work. He was recorded living at Mildura and working as a miner. He met and married Grace Ellen McConnell and in 1936 the couple were recorded residing at ‘Round Plain Station’ Balranald, NSW. Norm was a station-hand.
Their first son was born here and sadly died at Balranald.

 

When the young couple moved back to Western Australia with their second son Allan who lived with his Grandparents in McCourt St, Wembley while Lofty and Ellen lived and worked in the country where conditions were pretty rough.   They were to tragically lose Allan who died at the age of 4 years.   In 1937 the family were recorded residing at McCourt Street, Wembley wth Lofty’s parents.  Their third son Ross was born and it was while Lofty was in SA 1941 training with 2/4th that fourth son Trevor was born.

 

There is little doubt Norm and Grace Holdman together and each faced many challenges during the Depression of 1930s and it was probably the reason Norm enlisted with the army, to provide stability and regular income for his family.  Enilstment seemed like a good option when work was hard to find.

When  ‘Aquitania’ anchored off Fremantle Lofty went AWL wth a large number of 2/4th men.  He wanted to see his new son Trevor,  wife Ellen and Ross.    He was unable to re-board  Aquitania prior its departure on 16th January 1941.

Read about being AWOL and Java

 

Grace Ellen McDonnell remarried in 1946 to Lofty’s first cousin Cecil Davey and the family moved to Davey’s orchard at Pickering Brook.  Ellen died in 1990.

Ross Holdman became a mechanic, married and had 4 daughters. Trevor and his wife Roslyn Holdman took up farming at Jerramungup in 1964.  Amongst their neighbours were 2/4th’s Colin Cameron and McLennan families.  Trevor had 3 sons.

Lofty never saw his sons growing up and did not met his seven grandchildren.

 

Whilst at Northam Army Camp, Lofty Holdman was champion in his boxing class.  (This information from Noel Bell April, 2018 – Bell and Holdman are related.  Noel Bell is the husband of Patricia Bell (nee Fraser) daughter of WX6506 James Eric Fraser).

 

Holdman, Lofty's truck licence
Holdman, Lofty’s truck licence

 

 

EPSON MFP image
The above note was written by mate’ Baldy’ Philp to ‘Lofty’ Holdman on his arrival in Singapore 12th October 1942. As the note indicates, ‘Baldy’ was unable to leave Selarang Barracks due to his legs/feet being ‘crook’.   Lofty was with ‘A’ Force Burma, Java Party No.4, Williams Force  having sailed out of the Port of Tanjong Priok, Batavia four days earlier. Their nightmare sea journey provided little room, water or food. Lofty’s work party only stayed two days before departing Singapore to sail to Rangoon, the Burma end of the Railway.

 

It is not known if ‘Baldy’ and ‘Lofty’ did manage to meet up in Singapore during those two days in October 1942, we certainly hope so. The two friends had enlisted in August 1940 and became Drivers at Headquarters Company.

 

Lofty survived the hellish conditions of working on the Burma-Thailand Railway with Williams Force during the monsoons and speedo.  Working conditions were horrific, they had little food and medicine and were at the mercy of their spiteful and sadistic Japanese and Korean guards.  Whilst at Kanchanaburi he was selected for Japan (probably Awa Maru Party) in 1945.   His work party was directed through Bangkok supposedly to sail to Japan.  While working at the go-downs, Bangkok wharves ‘Lofty’ was tragically killed in an Allied Air Raid.

Read further about ‘A’ Force Java Party No. 4 Williams Force

‘Baldy’ Philp, William Hawksley Philp WX7902 who had been working on the Railway with ‘D’ Force which undertook some of the most demanding and dangerous work on the Railway, tragically died  of malaria at Kuii in September 1943.

 

Holdman

 

March 1948.

Tragic death of 4 year old Allan Holdman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Locations:

  • Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
  • Kami Songkurai, 299k - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Apalon, Apalaine, 80 Kilo, 337k - Burma
  • Beketaung, 40Kilo, 374k - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Taungzun, 60 Kilo, 358k - Burma
  • Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***
  • Bangkok - Thailand
  • Tanyin 35 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Anakwin 45 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Mezali 70km Camp - Burma
  • Nikhe, Ni Thea, 133Kilo Camp, 281.80km - Thailand
  • Kyondaw 95 Kilo Camp – Burma
  • 122 Km Camp, Thailand (Sonkurai Region)
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