The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Norman Lenard
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- ‘D’ Company, No. 13 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Subiaco, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Harry Cyril Dunnell
- Mothers's Name:
- Ruby Beatrice Dunnell
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Carpenter and Apprentice Baker
- Selarang Camp Changi; Selarang Barracks Camp; River Valley Road Transit Camp
- 'D’ Force Thailand, V Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kinsaiyok, Brankassi, Kuii
- Camps Japan:
- Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 17, Omuta
- Aramis Party
- Return Details 1945:
- Nagasaki‐Okinawa, USS Haven; Okinawa-Manila by aircraft; Manila-Morotai-Darwin PBY Catalina aircraft A24-359; Darwin-Perth by aircraft
Enlisted on 10 Nov 1941 and on 28 Nov 1941 identified for 2/32nd Battalion. Training was conducted by 3rd and 4th Training Battalions before pre-embarkation leave was granted on 10 to 16 Dec 1941. On return Bob was transferred to 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Right: Bob’s mate from Kenwick – George Stone who died of illness at Kanchanaburi March 1944 aged 25 years.
Although they enlisted the same day, George joined ‘E’ Company Special Reserve Btn whilst Bob was a reinforcements for ‘D’ Company No. 13 Platoon under command of Lt Wankey.
Bob was one many Reinforcements who had travelled by train from Northam Training Camp to join 2/4th Battalion on 15th January 1942 when ‘Aquitania’ dropped anchor in Gage Roads having sailed from Sydney with reinforcement troops for 8th Division, Singapore. Bob had undergone about 2 months training! In another month, Bob aged 21 years would be facing the invading Japanese Army ‘D’ Company 13 Platoon. No doubt he was one of the very lucky reinforcements to survive the week long battle.
Bob was selected in Singapore to work on Thai-Burma Railway with ‘D’ Force V Battalion. They left Singapore by train 17 March 1943. This Battalion was to endure one of highest death rates of all Australian work parties on the Railway.
He was at Kinsaiyok Main camp 170.2K, Kuii Kui Yae camp 185.6k, and Brankassi Prang Kasi camp 208K in Thailand before Bob, along with many other POWs was sent to labour camps in Japan.
Bob was selected with Aramis Party to work in japan. On arrival at Moji he was sent to Fukuoka Sub camp No. 17-B at Omuta Miike, Japan from where he was eventually repatriated.
He had first been identified as a POW by the Red Cross in Thailand, and until then his wife and family were uncertain if he had survived the battles for Singapore. Norm was granted proficiency Pay on 15 Aug 1945.
Bob’s journey home began in Nagasaki when he embarked on USS Haven (AH-12) for Okinawa. On 22 Sep 1945 he was flown to Manila by US military aircraft, and then on 14 Oct 1945 from Manila to Darwin via Morotai on PBY Catalina A24-359, arriving in Darwin on 18 Oct 1945. The last stage, Darwin to Perth, was again by aircraft, this time PBY Catalina A24-377.
On arrival back in Australia, Norm was admitted to the 110th Australian Base Hospital. He was AWOL from 10:00am on 27 Dec 1945 until 3:00pm on 1 Jan 1946. Declared to still be on Active Service, on 12 Jan 1946 he was fined £3 with the automatic forfeiture of 6 days pay. Two days later further penalty was the loss of his proficiency pay. On 19 Feb 1946 whilst at the 109th Australian Convalescent Depot he was again AWOL, this time from 1:15pm on 19 Feb until 8:15am the next day. This time he was fined 10/- and forfeited a days pay. Finally on 29 Mar 1946 he was discharged.
Bob married in 1947 to Valma Leeuwin Ashworth.
Below is birth announcement of their son Peter.
Bob died 20 June 2013 aged 92 years. During his last year and a half of his his life and following the death of his wife Valmai on 31 Jan 2012 at Rockingham, whom he had nursed during her illness, Bob regularly attended monthly 2/4th Committee Meetings at Anzac House. His happy face and disposition was always a welcome sight and we were very much saddened by his sudden death. His presence was greatly missed.
Anzac House L-R Peter Dimopoulos, Bob Dunnell, Dick Ridgwell, Wally Holding and Ron Badock. Seated is Graham
Edwards AM, then State President WA RSL.
Below: The Dunnell family resided in Narrogin 1920. It is not known when they relocated to Kelmscott.
Bob’s name is included below as well as that of George Stone
- River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Brankassi, Prang Kasi, 208k - Thailand
- Kinsaiyok Main, 170.2k - Thailand
- Kuii, Kui Yae, 185.6k - Thailand
- Omuta Miike, Fukuoka #17-B - Japan