Bert Bendall WX17864 & Allan Trigwell – died Sandakan

ALFRED BENDALL WX17864

Bert BENDALL b. Donnybrook 1914. Joined the Donnybrook 25th Light Horse Militia prior to enlisting with AIF 3 Dec 1941.
As reinforcement he joined the 2/4th on board the ‘Aquitania’ which had anchored at Gage Roads off Fremantle for one night, and sailed to Singapore the next day on 16 January 1945.
Bert had barely one month’s training at Northam Army Camp. Japan invaded Singapore 8th February 1945 – 2 months and 5 days after enlisting Bert was fighting for his life and for Australia!
Wounded in action in Singapore on 15 Feb 1942 he was admitted hospital with shrapnel wound to his back and discharged 5 days later.
Bert’s parents William and Alice Bendall married 1908 England before moving to Donnybrook where they developed an apple orchard they named ‘Floral Farm’. They had three children. Bert was the 2nd son and had a younger sister.
He worked at the orchard with his father. The Bendall family were active community members.
Sent with ‘B’ Force to Borneo, Bert died with the First March on 12 Feb 1945 aged 30 years. His body was found by Track Recoveries 4 miles east of Nelapak – just 8 miles from Ranau.
Bert’s mates who also joined the Donnybrook 25th Light Horse Militia & enlisted early Dec 1941 with 2/4th included Harry Cain (KIA Singapore) and Trigwell cousins Allan and Vern.
Vern lost his life when Rakuyo Maru, transporting 1300 POWs to Japan was torpedoed by USS “Sea Lion” in South China Sea. (90 lucky British & Australian POWs survived 3-4 days in the ocean to be picked up by same American submarines, which attacked the convoy and a Japanese vessel).

 

 

WX17882 Allan George TRIGWELL b. 1920 Donnybrook to Tom Frederick and Mary Jane known as ‘Dolly’ Trigwell. Allan was one of four sons and had one sister Marjorie. Allan’s brother Colin WX4110 also enlisted, returned home safely having been POW in Japan
Allan sailed to Borneo with ‘E’ Force 2 Mar 1943 with Bubbles Holme and George Lake of Collie, and 2/4th’s Joe Sevier and George Smith who were massacred 7 June 1945 with Bubbles Holme on S-R Track.
Allan was 24 years old when he died at Sandakan No. 1 Camp on 4 May 1945 – 6 days before Bill Beard and 3 weeks before Charlie Harris.

 

At Sandakan, 29 May 1945.
Those on the 2nd March could hardly be described as fit and able to march to Ranau.  The Japanese ordered the fittest of the sick out of their huts at Sandakan, ordering 536 POWs  to prepare to  march out.  Those unable to  walk un-aided, used makeshift walking sticks.  They were each loaded with rice and ammunition to carry.
The remaining POWs,  288 sick and dying men were also ordered out of their huts (their homes for nearly 3 years) many crawled as they were unable to walk,  unable to take any personal belongings with them they had little clothing –  dressed in rags, most with only a Jap-happy to lie on the ground of a wired off section of Sandakan Camp.  There was little shelter, some had ground sheets and some none.  They would no longer be provided food and had been unable to purchase food from the locals for some time.  Their only food supply was what the POWs had stock-piled prior to January 1945.  They would all perish here – slowly dying of starvation.
The Japanese then set about burning the huts and everything within, records etc.