The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Roberts
First Name:
William Charles
Nick Name:
Charlie
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX9358
Company:
‘C’ Company No. 11 Platoon
Enlisted:
30.10.1940
DOB:
20.10.1907
Place of Birth:
Ravensthorpe, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Hugh Roberts
Mothers's Name:
Mary Lee Roberts (nee Aldous)
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Farmer
Memorial:
Thanhyuzayat War Cemetery, Plot A5, Row C, Grave 5, Age 35.
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi
Force:
‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw, Khonkan, Augganaung, Khonkan
POW#:
1477
Cause of Death:
Cardiac Failure following Bacillary Dysentery
Place of Death:
Khonkan 55km Camp Burma
Date of Death:
16.08.1943
Buried:
Grave No. 60, Khonkan

General Description

William Charles ‘Charlie’ Roberts was eldest of three children born to Hugh and Mary Roberts.  Hugh Roberts married Marry Lee ‘May’ Aldous at Philips River, WA in 1906.  May Aldous was born in Victoria and Hugh was born SA. Earlier in 1903 Hugh Roberts was employed as a miner at the Goldfields, however the family settle at Ravensthorpe where Hugh was employed as an engine driver.

When Charlie enlisted, his home address was ‘Mt. Madden’ Williams however he was previously residing at Ravensthorpe with his family.  On 17th February 1940 Charlie Roberts announced his engagement to Frances Temple Leonard.  He enlisted at the end of October 1940.  The couple did not marry prior to Charlie sailing from Fremantle for Singapore in January 1941.

 

 

After the war and upon learning of Charlie’s death Frances  chose to further her nursing training and travelled to England in 1949.  She never married.  Returning to WA she was matron at several hospitals including Mt Barker and Albany.  In 1958 Frances was a nurse at Thursday Island. She later moved to Canberra and died in 1976 whilst in Victoria.

Charlie’s sister also enlisted.

Ellen Roberts known as ‘Bobbie’ married in Melbourne 1944 to Frank Fenner.

Frank John FennerACCMGMBEFRSFAA (21 December 1914 – 22 November 2010) was an Australian scientist with a distinguished career in the field of virology. His two greatest achievements are cited as overseeing the eradication of smallpox, and the control of Australia’s rabbit plague through the introduction of Myxoma virus.

The Australian Academy of Science awards annually the prestigious Fenner Medal for distinguished research in biology by a scientist under 40 years of age.

Charlie’s mother died in 1959.

Back Row L-R: W Roberets WX9358 died 16/8/1943 Khonkan 55km Camp, Burma, Unknown, Unknown. Front L-R: A Brooker KIA. W. Breed, John Waddell, 12th Platoon,
Back Row L-R: W Roberts (11th Platoon) WX9358 died 16/8/1943 Khonkan 55km Camp, Burma, Unknown, Unknown.
Front L-R: A Brooker KIA. (6 Platoon)  W. Breed (7 Platoon) John Waddell (11th Platoon)

 

Charlie Roberts was one of many Australian POWs at Selarang Camp, Singapore  when he was selected with ‘A’ Force Burma Green Force No. 3 Battalion to work on the Burma end of Thai-Burma Railway.  ‘A’ Force Burma was made up of about 3,000 POWs and sailed from Singapore on-board three ships to the south West coast of Burma where Green Force was deposited at Victoria Point to primarily work on repairing and enlarging the aerodrome.  After several months, the POWs were transported/and sometimes marched to the start of the railway in Burma, their first work camp was Kendau 4.8km where they began work on 1 October 1942 until 1 Dec 1942.  The following work camps included
Thetkaw 14km 1 Dec 1942 to 28 March 1943.  They arrived  Meiloe 75km on 28 March 1943 and remained until 11 May 1943.  The POWs arrived at Aungganang 105km on 11 May 1943.  It was here Charlie became very ill and was evacuated early August to Khonkan 55km Camp.

Khonkan had been established as a Hospital Camp by the Japanese and appointed Dr. Albert Coates as the senior medical officer.  There were no medical facilities or supplies. Coates and his men worked very hard and long hours to keep their patients alive if possible or at least comfortable. Chrlie succumbed to cardiac failure following  bacillary dysentery for which they had no medicines.

He had been evacuated from Aungganaung 105km Camp on 1.6.1943 to Khonkan 55km Camp where he died on 16th August 1943 aged 35 years.

Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
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