The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Fitzgerald
First Name:
Basil
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX8586
Company:
‘A’ Company, No. 5 Platoon
Enlisted:
18.10.1940
Discharged:
11.03.1946
DOB:
30.09.1902
Place of Birth:
Collie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Not Known
Mothers's Name:
Not Known
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Poultry Farmhand and Orchard Worker
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi; Johore Baru; Adam Park; Selarang Barracks Changi
Force:
‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Chungkai, Kanchanaburi, Nikhe‐Nikhe‐Sonkurai area
POW#:
2/12245 and 8776
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HM Hospital Ship Karoa

General Description

Fitzgerald B Gilmour J Woodside

Basil Fitzgerald and J Gilmour, Woodside SA

 

Basil was selected to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion.  This Battalion included a very large number of men from 2/4th.

While a POW in Singapore he was hospitalised a few times with illness 12.11.42 with painful feet.  30.11.42 he had dysentery.

S Battalion departed Singapore Railway Station 14 May 1943 headed for Bampong, Thailand.  They were crowded into small rail wagons and took turns to sit or lie down.  It was stinking hot during the 5 days and freezing cold at nights.

They stayed a day or so at Komna Transit Camp bear Bampong before being trucked to Kanchanaburi where after a short stay they were marched out to Tarsau, which was HQ for S Battalion.  At Tarsau the worked on clearing the way for the laying of the railway. These few weeks were not particularly difficult as the terrain was flat.

They were next moved to Kanyu II which was one of many camps to work on the Hellfire Pass cuttings.   It was here that the POWs lived day to day in hell.  Monsoon rains arrived.
With little or no clothing and mostly no shoes they worked at chipping away at the great rock face injuring their limbs and bodies with flying pieces of rock –  fearing their wounds would not advance into ulcers.  They suffered severe tropical illnesses for which they had no medicines – malaria, dysentery, tropical ulcers and finally cholera – the deadliest of all. They worked long hours, were provided minimal food of no nutritional value and beaten by their guards without provocation.

From Kanyu II  men were sent to one of the Hintok camps or other nearby camps such as Konkoita, and possibly Sonkurai to Nikhe-Nikhe Defence Line from May 1945 as was Briggs to repeat the same days of hell.  It appears Basil was ill and was included in an evacuation of sick to Chungkai.  He was in turn sent to Kanchanaburi.  He was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war and returned onboard ‘Karoa’ Hospital Ship 29 October 1945.  Following disembarkation he was hospitalised.

Camp Locations:

  • Adam Park Camp - Singapore
  • Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Serangoon Road Camp - Singapore
  • Chungkai, 60k - Thailand
  • Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
  • Nikhe Wood Camp, Ni Thea, 131 Kilo, 284k - Thailand
  • Songkurai 294k - Thailand
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