The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Rennie
First Name:
Robert George Staunton
Nick Name:
Darkie
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX7493
Classification:
Carpenter
Company:
Headquarters Company
Enlisted:
6.08.1940
DOB:
11.11.1905
Place of Birth:
Kamptee, Central Province, India
Father's Name:
Robert Starling Rennie
Mothers's Name:
Winifred Alice Rennie (nee Vardon)
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Labourer
Memorial:
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Plot 1, Row E, Grave 58, Age 37.
Java:
‘Blackforce’
Force:
‘D’ Force Thailand, Java Party No. 6, P Platoon
Camps Thailand:
Konyu 1 River Camp, Hintok Rd, Hintok River, Thailand
Camps Java:
Makasura
POW#:
12210
Cause of Death:
Post Leg Amputation
Place of Death:
Tamarkan
Date of Death:
4.10.1943
Buried:
Grave E31,Tamarkan

General Description

Rennie had his right leg amputated at the thigh due to a tropical ulcer. This operation took place at Tamarkan Camp, and tragically he died aged 37 years of post operative complications. His general health as a POW would have been poor prior to his amputation.

Rennie’s amputation was done by Dr. Moon, a doctor so highly regarded by Dunlop and British Officer Toosey, in Charge at Tamakan and his patients.

 

Rennie was AWOL at Fremantle following the anchoring of ‘Aquitania’ at Gauge Roads off Fremantle on 15th January, 1942 (no doubt he wanted to see Rita and their children).  All leave was cancelled for those onboard  men of 2/4th were outraged they would not see their families since leaving 4-6 months earlier for training in SA and NT.  Although many machine gunners were able to reboard their ship before it sailed midday on 16th January, up to 100 were not.

Please read further about these men of whom Rennie was one.

They were offloaded at Java to form defence forces with other Australian forces, Dutch forces and some Americans.  Rennie was placed with ‘Blackforce’ to defend the island.

Once taken POWs of Japan the men were placed into various camps set up throughout Java.    Rennie could have been at several, but departed from Makasura to the port.

D Force Java Party 6 sailed from the port of Tanjong Priok on 4th January 1943 to Singapore.   They remained in Singapore for about 2 weeks before departing by train for Thailand to work at the Hellfire Pass Cutting.    Their first work camp was Konyu 1 River Camp arriving 25 January and remaining until 12 March.  The men then moved to Hintok Road Camp working there from 22 March to 1July.

Their next camp was Hintok River Camp from 1 July to 17 September when the party moved to Kinsaiyok and worked until early December 1943.

Rennie would have been evacuated probably by barge, sick from Hintok to Tamakan Hospital Camp.   It here Dr. Moon performed the necessary amputation to Rennie’s right leg at his thigh.  Amputation was always the last resort to prevent death by gangrene.  He died 4th October 1943.

 

 

 

 

Although recorded as Robert George Stanton Rennie, his name was in fact ‘Staunton’.

He was born Kemptee, India to Robert Starlling Rennie and Winnifred Alice Vardon who married Calcutta, Bengal, India on 12 April 1901.  Both Robert Rennie and Winifred Vardon were born in India.  Winifred Vardon born 20 Dec 1879 Calcutta and baptised 23 June 1880 her parents were Alfred and Adelaide Emily Vardon.  It is thought Robert Starling Rennie died India about 1914.  Winifred Rennie was residing in England in 1916 until she died 1963 Surrey, aged 84.  During the earlier years she practised as a midwife.

Unfortunately we know little else of Robert Rennie’s life until  1922 when he sailed from England to South Australia on SS ‘Balranald’. He was 17 years of age and his occupation was recorded as ‘Farming’ and his address London – he possibly travelled as a migrant or with a group of retrained youths, as he was listed amongst a large number single, young males destined for South Australia.

It is not known when Robert Rennie moved to Western Australia, however he married Rita Arbuckle in Perth about 1935.

Rita and Robert had a family of five children – Pam, Shirley, Dawn, Dianne and Kevin.  Rita and children were residing in South Perth when Robert left for Singapore.

 

Back row L-R E. Preedy, J. Heffernan, J. Holt, Bluey Smith, Lin Powell, R Kelt, 2nd row - Tom Firns, H. Elkins,Scotty McEwan, Front row - Darkie Rennie, Unknown, R Newling, J. Quinn, Barney Doolan
Back row L-R E. Preedy, J. Heffernan, J. Holt, Bluey Smith, Lin Powell, R Kelt, 2nd row – Tom Firns, H. Elkins,Scotty McEwan, Front row – Darkie Rennie, Unknown, R Newling, J. Quinn, Barney Doolan

 

 

Rennie Robert Georgen Staunton WX20074
Rennie Robert Georgen Staunton WX7493
 Rennie WX7493 .
Rennie WX7493 .

 

 

 

Kanchanburi War Cemetery, Photographed 2018 C. Mellor

 

Please read further about ‘D’ Force Thailand, Java Party No. 6.

 

Rita’s father died in 1951.

 

Camp Locations:

  • Hintok River Camp, 158k - Thailand
  • Hintok Valley Camp, 154k - Thailand
  • Kanu 1 151.00k - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Makasura - Java
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