THE MEN OF MIDLAND JUNCTION
Midland Railway Workshops Memorial
‘The memorial was originally erected to commemorate the seventy railway workers who enlisted from the workshops and died in service or were killed in action in World War One. The names of more than twenty-five men who died in service or were killed in action in World War Two were added to the monument at a later date.
The Midland Railway Workshop Memorial was erected through voluntary contributions from the staff assisted by the goodwill and co-operation of the Commissioner of Railways and management. The figure on the memorial was sculpted by Pietro Porcelli and the bronze casting was executed in Italy. The memorial was unveiled on the 20th December 1925 by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir William Campion and the stone was dedicated by the Archbishop of Perth.
The Daily News (Perth), 18th December 1925,
Sunday Times (Perth), 27th December 1925
Monument characteristics :
A square section column which at the top has a bronze female figure of Peace standing on a globe of the Earth.’
Men of 2/4th MGB whose names are inscribed on the above Memorial – they did not return home.
WX9109 COLQUHUON, Alexander John ‘Alex’ b. Midland Junction 1906 to Robert and Mary Ann Colquhuon.
Alex, the first born son, firstly enlisted with 10th Light Horse Militia on 21/12/1938 before joining 2/4th on 30 October 1940. He joined ‘C’ Company No. 12 Platoon as did Harry De-Castilla.
He was selected with the first work party to leave Singapore – ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion. In May 1942, 3,000 Australian POWs sailed to south west coast of Burma where they were to first work on repairing and enlarging 3 aerodromes before moving to the northern most point of Burma-Thai Railway link in Burma.
Green Force No. 3 Battalion arrived at the railway to commence work on 1 October 1942 and would remain so until end of 1943.
Alex went with ‘A’Force Burma Green Force No. 3 Battalion to the Burma end of the railway to work. He survived working on the railway, was evacuated with all the POWs in Burma to Thailand where he was selected to work in Japan with what would become ‘Rakuyo’ Maru Party. He survived three days in the water after his ship sank, but succumbed to the ocean on 15 Sept 1944 before he could be rescued. He was 38 years old.
WX9062 GOSSAGE, George John b. Kalgoorlie 1915 to George Victor and Annie Elizabeth Gossage. Enlisted 25 Oct 1940. Joined 2/4th MGB’s Headquarters Company No 1 Platoon as Signaller.
Gossage was KIA 12 Feb 1942.
He received gunshot wound to his stomach during the desperate fighting at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan where so many 2’/4th died.His body was not able to be recovered until 21 Dec 1942 (Major Cough Party) when Japanese finally agreed to 2/4th’s frequent requests to recover bodies. Gossage is buried at Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
George Gossage was 26 years old.
WX8638 HELLMRICH, Leslie ‘Clive’ b, Bunbury 1910 to John Mathieson and Hester Hellmrich.
He enlisted AIF Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Company. Clive departed Singapore with ‘F’ Force to work on Burma Thai Railway He died 22 Dec 1943 of malaria, beri beri and dysentery at Kanchanaburi Hospital Camp aged 33 years following evacuation from working on the railway. On 5 Jan 1943, Clive requested to join his brother Noel Hellmrich who was with 2/16th Field Park Company. Noel survived working on the railway and returned to Australia.
Clive was married with a young son and had a business at Midland Junction.
‘Clive’ Hellmrich was a talented sportsman, in particular Australian Rules Football. He was a left footer and prior to enlisting in October 1940 he played 10 games for Swan Districts Football Club in 1934 and 1935; scoring total of 11 goals and 2 points. Clive shared roving duties with Ron Badock with the 2/4th footy team. Read further about 2/4th Football team.
He played cricket for the Railway Company’s team.
WX17390 MUNDAY, Ernest Montague b. 1916 Guildford to Harry James and Fanny Munday.
Munday enlisted AIF 27 Oct 1941. Was reinforcement to 2/4th MGB, joining ‘E’ Company Special Reserve Battalion. He sailed from Fremantle on ‘Aquitania’ 16 Jan 1941. He was KIA 11 Feb 1942 at South-West Bukit Timah aged 25 years – about 3 1/2 months after enlisting.
He was from a large family of at least 6 or 7 girls and was one of two sons born to parents Harry James Munday and Fanny Grace Bassett. Harry died in 1968 and Fanny in 1955.
Harry’s parents originally came from Ewelme in Oxfordshire and were very early settlers around Guildford. The house his father George built is still standing at 4 Scott Street, Guildford. Fanny’s parents were also from Ewelme but settled in Roebourne where they made a good income from multiple enterprises – hotel, mail contracting, farming, etc.
The kids were all sent along to The Salvation Army in Guildford (probably to give their mother a couple of hours’ peace!) Most generations of the family maintained their links with, or are members or were Dedicated at The Salvation Army (therein lies the link to Wearn and his family, who were also with the Salvation Army).
Ernie’s father, Henry (Harry) took any job available and so for a time was a wood cutter and moved from place to place along what is now the Great Northern Highway. This meant that all the family went along with him living in tents. The children went to a myriad of schools – today are known as the suburbs of Bellevue, Guildford, Middle Swan, Upper Swan etc. Henry settled on a job at the local meatworks in Bellevue, which is where Ernie worked for a time.
The family remained residing at Bellevue.
According to Dr (Mrs) Susette Bakker, the Munday family historian who has provided most of this information –
‘Ernie’s job was considered ‘essential’ and so he was actually exempt from military service, but, according to my mother’s written diary, (she was next in family line) he spent a whole evening discussing it all with his parents and decided to enlist and as he was neither married nor dating, his money would go to his mother to help her.
Well, of course, he was killed so soon after arriving in Singapore, his mother received very little, if any, money.’
We thank Dr Susette Bakker for providing the family background for Ernie Munday. (February 2019)
WX7509 RODDA, Arthur William ‘Billy’ b. 1900 Midland to Henry & Jane Rodda. Enlisted 6 Aug 1940, joined ‘D’ Company No. 14 Platoon. Wounded in action 13 Feb 1942 received shrapnel wound to leg but remained on duty. Rodda was prone to malaria attacks. However volunteered to leave with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion (nobody knew their destination – that they were to work at Hellfire Pass Cutting at Burma-Thai Railway). On 20 Feb 1945, at Nacompaton Hospital Camp, Thailand Rodda succumbed to cerebral malaria aged 44 years. Rodda is buried Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
Bill Rodda had worked 17 years at the Stores Department WA Government Railways, Midland; he played soccer and cricket for Upper Swan and was a keen Swan Districts football follower. He left a widow and family.
RODDA’S name is also included on the Upper Swan Honour Roll, which is to be found in the Baskerville Hall.
In addition we know
WX15614 WALKER, Robert Joseph was born 1905 Bellvue to Alfred Henry and Flora Elizabeth Walker. He married Amelia May Ellen Moss in 1927 and was father to two sons. Bob Walker was written up in the Midland Newspaper.
WX9080 STRIBLEY, Albert William Lance Corporal ‘Bert’ – b. 1911 Midland Junction to Thomas and Emily Stribley.
He enlisted AIF 25 Oct 1940, later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘D’ Company Headquarters as a Driver. He was KIA on 9 Feb 1942 at 2/19th Battalion HQ on the west coast of Singapore, north of Sungei Berih. He was with the newly formed ‘D’ Company’s No. 16 Platoon.
Bert was 30 years old. He was one of eight machine gunners to be KIA between 9th and 12th Feb 1942. (Another three members of 16 Platoon died at Sandakan and at least two perished with sinking of Rakuyo Maru in 1944).
Stribley was married with two young sons. Albert’s brother WX9058 Norman Leslie (Norm) Stribley enlisted the same day and joined same Company. Norm returned home, see below.
WX12008 WEARN, Thomas Clifford ‘Tom’ (Lance Corporal) b. 1909 Boulder to Joseph Henry & Margaret Ann Wearn. Enlisted 29 Apr 1941 & joined ‘A’ Company No. 4 Platoon.(Same as Heffernan) Sailed to Burma with first work of 3,000 Australian POWs to leave Singapore – ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion.
Tom was evacuated from Kendau 4.8km camp, Burma to Thanbyuzayat Hospital on 8 Nov 1942. Sadly he died of dysentery in the Dutch isolated ward aged 33 years. He is buried Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Burma.
The Wearn family were strongly connected to the Salvation Army (as was the Munday family above – no doubt Ern Munday requested to join 2/4th)
Tom Wearn wrote in his diary the following, asking for his diary to be delivered to his family, his wife Edith and daughters May and Shirley and sister May.
‘Not only by the things we do, not only by the deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way, is Christ expressed.
For from your eyes he beckons you, and from your heart his love is shed,
Till I lose sight of you, and see Christ instead.’
WX10012 WORTH, Walter George (Wally) b. 1912 Guildford to De Courcey Cleaver Worth and Olive Ernestine Roach who married 1916. Worth enlisted AIF Dec 1940 later joined 2/4th MGB’s Company Headquarters as a signaller. He was previously employed at Smutterman’s Flour Mill.
Worth left Singapore with ‘F’ Force to work on Burma-Thai Railway. He tragically died of cholera 28 Aug 1943 at Kami Sonkurai Camp aged 31 years.
Wally had two brother who enlisted with AIF – they returned home. During 1941 Wally married Millicent Harriet Dedman.
Other 2/4th men who lived at Midland with their families and Returned to Australia
WX6968 Heffernan John Charles (Jack) b. 1908 Midland Junction to Thomas Edward Heffernan and Maria Vittoria Costa who married 1902 Broken Hill, NSW. Both Heffernan and Costa were from Yackandanah, Victoria.
In 1936 Jack’s younger brother Thomas ‘Tom’ Heffernan married Gladys McGregor – sister to 2/4th’s WX 12835 Jack McGregor. The McGregor family resided 26 Commercial Road, Midland Junction.
Heffernan enlisted AIF Jul 1940 later joining 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Company, No. 4 Platoon (Wearn joined same Platoon).
Jack Heffernan was with Don Force ‘S’ Battalion, initially sent to Tarsau then Konyu II to work at Hellfire Pass Cutting, moved to Kinsaiyok and believed to be hospitalised at Chungkai. He was recovered from Thailand at the end of war.
John Heffernan died 14 April, 1991 aged 84 years. He was buried Karrakatta Cemetery.
WX12835 McGregor John Alexander ‘Jack or Mac’ b. 1903 Guildford to Charles Hutton and Clare Jane Shipton married in Sydney, NSW in 1890. It is not known when the McGregor family moved to WA. They resided at Midland.
McGregor enlisted AIF 15 May 1941 later joining 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Company Headquarters.
McGregor’s parents Charles Hutton and Clare Jane Shipton married in Sydney, NSW in 1890. It is not known when the McGregor family moved to WA. John Alexander was born in 1903 at Guildford and resided at Midland with his family.
In 1926 McGregor married Yetta Dixon. Both McGregor and the Dixon families were from Midland. Yetta died aged 41 years in 1945 just a few months after McGregor returned home.
From Selarang he escaped with WX6067 Lieutenant Penrod Dean. Captured 6/4/1942 at Pontian Keechil in Johore State by Malay Police and handed over to Imperial Japanese Army on 7/4/1942 he was sentenced to two years solitary confinement at H.M. Prison, Outram Road.
He wrote a book about his years in Outram Gaol “Blood on the Rising Sun” describing his experience where most men in solitary confinement drifted into ‘merciful death or were pushed there by the swift sword of the Japanese’. John was one of those to survive his hellish ordeal. His memorable book is a must to read.
McGregor’s eyesight never recovered and had to learn braille.
He remarried in 1948. Annie died 2003 in Western Australia and John McGregor died earlier on 21 September 1981, Sydney, NSW.
You can read a little of Tim Bowden’s interview about his book of Outram Road ‘Stubborn Buggers’
AWM has also a story about Outram Road. Please read
WX9058 Stribley Norman Leslie (Norm) was shell shocked 12 Feb at Ulu Pandan (same area as Albert) and evacuated to AGH 2/13th Hospital.
Returned to his unit 20 Feb 1942.
(There were large numbers of soldiers evacuated due to shell shock). The Australians on the west coast were subjected to the most intense Japanese bombing and firing of arms without a break for more than 48 hours. They were pinned in their shelters unable to move for hour after hour.
Norm went to Burma-Thai railway with ‘D’ Force S Battalion to the Hellfire Pass cutting. He survived and was recovered from Thailand.