WX9418 HORN, Douglas Radcliffe known as ‘Trader Horn’ or Doug b. 1916 Perth, enlisted Dec 1940 joined ‘D’ Coy.
We naively imagined Doug Horn earned his nickname from his skills and feats trading on the black market – particularly in Singapore!
But this is not so.
Research has turned up ‘Trader Horn: A Young Man’s Astounding Adventures in 19th-Century Equatorial Africa’ was the first Hollywood movie filmed in Africa. Today this film would be judged politically incorrect.
There was a remake of ‘Trader Horn’ in the early 1970s, in which Australian actor Rod Taylor starred.
Born England 1861, Alfred Aloysius Smith, ‘Trader Horn’ was expelled from his Catholic boarding school at 17 and sailed for Africa. In his later life and down on his luck, ‘Trader Horn’ wrote of his exciting earlier life working for a British Company as an ivory/rubber trader in central Africa. Especially gripping were his encounters into deepest/darkest jungles teaming with wild animals such as man-eating leopards, buffalos, gorillas and even ‘savages’. He supposedly met up with men such as Livingstone and Stanley and saved Cecil Rhodes from the jaws of a crocodile!
Doug ‘Trader’ Horn was selected as POW Singapore to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force S Battalion departing by rail March 1943 in over-crowded rail trucks on 4-day train journey to Bampong, Thailand. ‘Trader’ worked on the Hellfire Pass Cutting – at Konyu II. Survived and selected by Japanese at Tamuang as fit to work in Japan. Sailed on ‘Rashin’ Maru known to POWs as ‘Byoki’ Maru – sick ship. POWs were pushed into the hull, squeezed into narrow spaces, fed minimal food and water. Their journey became 70 days from Singapore to Moji, Japan – many of those days were filled with absolute terror as their very old, war damaged and slow sailing ship which should have been scrap iron decades ago, and now fuelled by coal, left the safety of its convoy to survive a typhoon and eventually make its way to Manila.
At Manila ‘Rashin’ Maru was unable to sail for Japan on several attempts because US submarines were successfully blockading the port.
Trader Horn survived working as POW in Japan firstly at Yamine copper mine and then Niihama where his job was furnace attendant and No. 4 Party on the wharves.
He returned to Sydney, Australia on HMS Speaker.
‘Trader Horn’ visited Australia in 1929.
Below information obtained from Trove.
Below: scene from original silent movie filmed in Kenya.
Above: Australia 1929. ‘Trader Horn’ died 1931 and was buried Kent, England.