The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Herbert Alfred Thomas
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'D' Company, No 14 Platoon.
- Place of Birth:
- Sutton, England
- Father's Name:
- Alfred Chilvers
- Mothers's Name:
- Eleanor Maria Chilvers (nee Lawrence)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 33.
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi
- 'E' Force Borneo
- 4/5990 & 1634
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No. 1 Camp
- Date of Death:
- No. 2 Cemetery, Sandakan.
Herbert Chilvers was employed as a driver at Big Bell prior to his enlistment.
He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW’s were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Private Chilvers, aged 33, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 31 March 1945.
West Australian Newspapers 1945
CHILVERS, Private, HERBERT ALFRED THOMAS, WX8123, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 31 March 1945. Age 33. Son of Alfred and Eleanor Maria Chilvers; husband of Doris Kathleen Chilvers, of Byford, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Pay Book Photo for Bert Chilvers
Herbert’s parents Alfred Chilvers and Eleanor Maria Lawrence married in 1903 Surrey, England. The couple had one daughter Eleanor ‘Grace’ and two sons Herbert and Leslie ‘Eric’. The family came to Australia before 1914 and were residing at Barricup, near Nannup. (this spelling was used). Alfred enlisted for WW1 on 9 November 1914 at Blackboy Hill. He joined 4th Field Ambulance. He received GSW to left thorax (lung) and left arm at Dardenelles in May 1915. He was first hospitalised at Harefield, Middlesex and then Manchester before being invalided home to WA 14 December 1915. His WW1 file shows he was granted a pension from 27 May 1916 which cancelled 7 June 1917. (Pensions were mercilessly cancelled in those days!)
The marriage between Eleanor and Alfred broke down about this time. Eleanor was living in a de facto relationship with John Frederick Smith (they eventually married in 1944 – possibly because Alfred died in 1944).
The children were young and with Alfred away at war, we assume they were with their mother and remained living with her.
The 1937 Electoral Roll has Herbert Chilvers residing at Youanmi Mine. Herbert Chilvers married Doris Kathleen Elliott in 1937. It is believed the couple were residing at Big Bell when Herbert enlisted however Doris returned to live near her parents at Byford once Herbert was with AIF.
Herbert’s father Alfred Chilvers attempted to enlist for WW2 with RAAF – unsuccessfully – below is his requested history from WW1.
Prior to sailing to Australia, Alfred had served with the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment, which according to his record, he left due to illness.
Alfred Chilvers died in 1944.
Above: Herbert’s younger brother Leslie ‘Eric’ who was a merchant seaman, died during a bombing raid of Bermondsey, London, England in July 1944.
Within 12 months, Eric’s brother Herbert died of malaria at Sandakan No. 1 Camp, Borneo in March 1945.
Herbert’s mother Eleanor died in 1969.
Doris Chilvers remarried about 1951 to Frederick John Dorrington, WX9557 of 2/4th.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak