Digger’s remains found at last – 2001 story of Rolf Newling

 

Newling Rolf W

ROLF WALKER NEWLING WX8865

Died Ranau 13/6/1945 of malaria, aged 33 years.

The West Australian Newspaper, 13 February 2001 

Report by Rod Moran 

The Battle for Singapore ended 59 years ago on 15th February 1942 when Allied troops surrended to Japan. The remains of a WA soldier who died as a POW were only found recently.

Private Rolf Newling, 29 years old of Leederville was among 15,000 Australian 8th Division troops captured. He was a member of the all WA 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.

His daughter Joan Dalwood of Leeming, who was a child when he father went to war, was shocked to learn her father’s remains had been found.

“It was never spoken about” she said. “I didn’t realize he didn’t have a headstone. My grandmother always thought he was coming home”.

Like many of his mates, Private Newling was sent to the Sandakan camp in British North Borneo where he died on the notorious Death Marches ordered in mid 1945. Of about 2500 men at the camp before the marches, on six survived. They escaped.

Pte Newling’s remains seemed condemned to eternal anonymity somewhere in the fetid jungles of Borneo.   But archival research by Sydney historian Lynette Silver, based on information from one of the escapees, Keith Botterill, has located them at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery on Labuan Island, off Sarawak.

Pte Newling had been interred as an unknown soldier.

Newling, Rolf daughter Joan Dalwood
Newling, Rolf daughter Joan Dalwood.