SANDAKAN MEMORIAL SERVICE, 2023 held at BOYUP BROOK
Members of the Boyup Brook RSL, headed up by President Colin Hayles ensured a smooth running event on Tuesday 12 September at 11.00 am.
Cheryl Mellor was invited to address the service with a short history of our late President, Bernie Dorizzi and his three uncles who lost their lives in North Borneo. Harry Tysoe was invited to say the Sandakan Ode.
ANZAC DAY 2023
Approximately 40 members and friends of our Association marched behind the 2/4th banner in this year’s Anzac Day March. Banner bearers were Chris Farmer (grandson of Ted Elliott WX5064) and Luke Badock (grandson of Ron Badock WX8729). Flag bearers were Gail Pilmoor (daughter of Tom Pilmoor WX17393) and Wally Holding (son of Wally Holding WX17634).
Among those marching were brothers Eric and Michael Preedy, 2 of 3 sons of Eric Preedy WX7416 who died in Thailand on August 7th, 1943. He was 30 years old and is commemorated at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Following the March, the AGM was held at the Duxton Hotel with the executive committee being elected unopposed :
President – Harry Tysoe
Vice-President – Cheryl Mellor
Treasurer – Jim Ridgwell
Secretary – Cheryl Johnson
REMEMBRANCE SERVICE FOR
79th ANNIVERSARY of FALL of SINGAPORE
Sunday 14 February 2021
POW Memorial , Cnr Saw and May Drive, Kings Park
Hosted by 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Ex-Members Assoc
- On a very hot and humid Sunday 14th February 2021 we commemorated the 79th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore with approximately 75 Members and Friends in attendance. Harry Tysoe, grandson of Harry Tysoe WX9226 ‘A Coy’ was the MC. The Roll of Honour for casualties of 2/4th ‘A’ and ‘B’ Company during the battle for Singapore was read by Chris Farmer, Grandson of Edwin Elliott WX5064, ‘C’ Company HQ and Philip Badock, son of Ronald Badock WX8729, ‘B’ Company.
- Tina Kyros, daughter of Jack Kyros WX10715, ‘HQ’ Coy, delivered the ‘Reflection on the History of the Fall of Singapore’ and thank you to Cheryl Mellor for her yet again, many hours of research, in putting together this history. Thank you also to Jackie Kyros, daughter of Jack Kyros WX10715 ‘HQ’ Coy who led us in prayers remembering especially those men whose names we have heard today. Wreaths were laid by President Bernie Dorizzi, Helen Wauchope from Department of Veterans Affairs and students from The Premiers 2020/2021 Anzac Student’s tour who attended with Sam Boswell, Education Officer, Curriculum Support, Department of Education.
2/4th President Bernie Dorizzi, nephew of brothers Herbert WX7997 ‘D’ Coy, Gordon WX9274 ‘A’ Coy and Thomas WX12884, ‘A’ Coy recited ‘The Ode of Remembrance’.
Angus Jacoumis, past student of Carine Senior High School honoured all Men of the 2/4th by playing “The Last Post”. Thank you Angus, the Men would have been very proud of you. You stood there very gallantly for the entire service in the heat of the day. There were many glowing comments of your playing following the service.
Cadets, under the guidance of Captain Ashleigh O’Connor, from 502 Army Cadet Unit, Karrakatta also paid their respects to the 2/4th Men by performing the duty of Catafalque Party and Flag Raisers. Thank you to Captain O’Connor and Cadet Sgt Matthew Stocks, Cadet Sgt Reeve Stocks, Cadet Sgt Gabe Kaye, Cadet LCPL Ollie Pickford, Cadet Francesca Carr, Cadet Xavier Stoelman, Cadet Riley Duncan, Cadet Austin Gartrell. A special thank you to the parents who transported the Cadets to the Service. Without you we cannot add that “special” touch to our service. I must also make mention of the wonderful way the Cadets battled the heat of the day. You did an amazing job against the odds!!
Thank you also to Jim and Denise Ridgwell for supplying and distributing the Rosemary for attendees to lay in memory of their loved ones.
National NAIDOC Week 2020
The National NAIDOC Committee
has announced NAIDOC Week
celebrations will be held from 8-15 November 2020
WX8756 John HILL
The only one of the eight men not to return home to WA. Hill died of illness 11 March 1943 aged 31 years.
President, Boyup Brook RSL Sub Branch (0417 180 720)
Advises on behalf of Boyup Brook Shire and Boyup Brook RSL the Sandakan Memorial Service Boyup Brook will be held
8 September, 2020
WE EXTEND OUR WARMEST CONGRATULATIONS
TO DAVE SCOTT
is RSL 2020 ANZAC of the Year
A Veteran who has sounded The Last Post on his bugle throughout Western Australia and the world has been awarded the prestigious ANZAC of the Year Award.
Retired Army Lance Corporal, David Scott, is one of only five ANZAC of the Year recipients Australia wide to receive the award that recognises outstanding contribution to the organisation, the wider veteran community and to the general public.
Apart from David’s devotion to duty in the playing of the bugle at countless commemorative services and events, he has also been recognised for his tireless community work for the retired and elderly in his community.
Former Governor of Western Australia, The Hon. Kerry Sanderson AC, has formally acknowledged David’s selfless contribution during her time as Governor and in her current role as Warden of the State War Memorial.
David served in the Army Reserve for over 39 years as a Bandsman/Lance Corporal in the Army Band Perth, retiring in September 2017. His playing prowess has seen him play on ANZAC Day at Gallipoli in 1990; at Fromelles in 2016; at Villiers Bretonneau in 2017 and at Last Post ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial.
A Sub Warden of the State War Memorial for the past 13 years, David has attended an average of 35 services each year on a voluntary basis. Added to this was his playing of the bugle at veteran funerals, nursing homes, schools and at AFL ANZAC Day matches.
“There is something incredibly poignant about Last Post, the bugle call that for many of us is indelibly associated with the remembrance ceremonies of Anzac Day and Armistice Day.
“The long bugler silhouetted against a dawn sky is an evocative and enduring image and symbolises the proud sense of honour, duty and self-sacrifice of our servicemen and women.
“So it’s fitting that David Scott, as both a bugler and as a tireless worker on behalf of our Veterans, has been formally recognised as Anzac of the Year – one of only five across Australia,” Minister Peter Tinley AM said.
RSLWA State President, Peter Aspinall AM, said David Scott’s contribution is only matched by his humility and steadfast commitment to honouring the proud history of Australian veterans and the Australian Defence Force.
“This award is so richly deserved and, on behalf of the entire RSL family, I congratulate David for his tireless support,” Mr. Aspinall said.
“This award recognises the efforts and achievements of those who have given their service to their fellow Australians and to the community in a positive, selfless and compassionate manner.”
Above information has been taken from RSLWA
ANZAC DAY 2020
For next year’s Anzac Day and future Services – below is the official protocol ….
SALUTING AND PAYING RESPECTS
(Please do not place your right arm over the heart when laying wreaths)
Serving ADF personnel in uniform are to salute at ceremonial events that include the National Anthem, The Ode and the Last Post. Veterans and others in civilian dress do not salute.
The practice of placing the right arm over the heart when laying wreaths or when the National Anthem, The Ode and/or the Last Post is not an Australian tradition. The correct paying of respects after laying a wreath is to step back two paces, stand fast with hands by the side and head bowed for 3 to 5 seconds before moving off.
12th September 2019 was 75th Anniversary
Sinking of ‘Rakuyo’ Maru transporting POWs from Singapore to work in Japan.
Carrying 1318 British & Australian POWs, ‘Rakuyo’ Maru was hit by torpedoes from American submarines in South China Sea in the early hours of 12 Sept. Although the ship took 12 hours to sink (rubber cargo kept ship afloat) – thereafter began the terrifying experience to jump ship in the dark amidst chaos, grab some sort of floating device, try to find mates, return to ship to find water (possibly some food) because the fleeing Japanese were now long gone, picked up by their own naval ships!
38 men from 2/4th perished during the next four days – we salute these brave your men who lost their lives far from home.
We especially remember their loved ones and families who endured their loss.
Amidst the horror and tragic loss of young lives came the miraculous rescue of 153 survivors late on 4th day after ship sank.
A returning US submarine, ‘Pamanito’ viewed what they first thought to be Japanese survivors on floating craft (unaware POWs were onboard) – on nearer inspection they were shocked and confirmed those survivors had blonde curly hair! So began the courageous task to pick up these men – calling for assistance of other submarines
Today, USS Pampanito is a museum in San Franciso – visited by thousands of visitors every year.
BOYUP BROOK SANDAKAN SERVICE
10 SEPTEMBER 2019
Hosted by Boyup Brook RSL, the 2/4th were invited to provide the address. In particular we were invited to outline the history of the Memorial and the role of 2/4th, which it seemed had been lost. During the last few years the 2/4th had been unrecognised during the service, much to the great disappointment and distress of the last surviving veterans who attended, all of whom had mates who had died at Sandakan (70 men from 2/4th have their names inscribed on the memorial) and all of whom had made personal donations to the Memorial construction.
The address was compiled and given by Cheryl Mellor who provided a clear timeline of events and changes which took place with the current memorial during the years 1991 – 1993 and the contribution by 2/4th.
It wasn’t until late 1980’s the true history of Sandakan was revealed to Australians. The Government in 1945 had signed to silence the men who as POWs had escaped, those who worked with war recoveries or war trials and all press. (The same occurred in Britain). The Australian Government decided Sandakan and the brutal and sadistic deaths of 2,000 young men would not be good for the population of Australia and in particular the families!
Ted O’Loughlin then learned the horrific truth about the death of his best mate – tortured sadistically by the Japanese for 10 days after trying to escape, they then dumped his wasted and barely recognisable body outside the camp in the gutter of a vehicle track where finally the POWs who had heard his screams for days, could reach him. They bathed his filthy battered body; carry him unconscious back to camp where they all held him in their arms until his died not long after.
Ted’s son Joe says his father changed after this. Thus began Ted’s deeply held wish to recognise the men of Sandakan, who had been forgotten by the world who had so bravely held on hoping to be liberated.
Those POWs who were too ill to march and remained Sandakan were provided no further food by the Japanese. They had been removed from the beds in their huts at the end of May, placed on the ground dressed in a few rags, while their ‘homes’ of the last few years were burned down. Those who set out for Ranau carrying heavy loads of ammunition/rice or Japanese luggage died of illness wherever they fell left unburied. Some POWs too ill to continue their march were bashed to death by the ‘Death’ Squad who followed lastly behind the marching parties – each group made up of about 50 POWs marching several hours between each other so there could be possible collusion between groups.
Some of those who succeeded in reaching Ranau were then ordered to march and carry rice to a nearby Japanese outpost. POWs died of illness brought about by starvation. Their guards massacred many.
The World should have been informed about Sandakan in 1945 and about the atrocities carried out by the Japanese. These same Japanese Officers were then being tried at the War Trials by Australia. Certainly the families deserved to be informed instead they received telegrams, which told them nothing
‘we regretfully confirm your loved one died Sandakan on ??????? date, regretfully no other details/information is available’.
Silence followed, the families were never informed of any further information.
Sandakan history belongs to the world.
News from Honour Avenue, Kings Park
Recently the Honour Avenue Group held a Dedication Service for the placement of a dedication plaque for WX7940 Private Walter George Nicholson of the 2/4th.
It is understood there are suggestions the dedicated commemoration plaques for all members of the 2/4th are to be moved together on Marri Drive.
Anyone interested in requesting dedicatiopn of plaques in the future need to contact the Highgate RSL, Honour Avenue Represenative, Mike Harness on 0419091708 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBRANCE SERVICE FOR
77th ANNIVERSARY of FALL of SINGAPORE
Sunday 17 February 2019
POW Memorial , Cnr Saw and May Drive, Kings Park
Hosted by 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Ex-Members Assoc
More than 60 people attended our service with MC Jan Stewart (daughter of Jim Elliott WX8619 and former past president). The service featured a poem recently written by C.J. Taylor telling the story of the Dorizzi Brothers and Reg Ferguson of Toodyay who perished at Sandakan. Please read this Poem
Following the reading by Simone Thomas, granddaughter of Bert Norton WX8493, President Bernie Dorizzi, nephew of the three brothers gave a brief address. Tina Kyros daughter of Jack Kyros WX10715 said the Ode.
We wish to thank Sargeant Riley Sandoval and Leading Cadet Leon Nobles from Australian Air Force Cadets from Carine Senior High School – 704 Squadron, and Bugler Angus Jacoumis.
We especially thank the families and friends who attended our Service.
Following on from the Service, a large number remained to picnic on the grass. We were most fortunate with a cooling breeze!
Gladys Cowie (widow of Harold Cowie WX8641) and her family.
WX 8622 Lance Corporal John Barry Gilmour, OAM
It is with great sadness we announce the death of our last surviving POW. John was unable to recover from a delicate heart operation and died during the evening of 1 August 2018. He was about 9 months short of his 100th birthday.
He advised our last Committee meeting of this operation and with his usual confidence, strength of character, without fear and plain-talking explained his death could be one of the three outcomes! His attitude was ‘well so be it’. We wished him well. Then we all departed Anzac House, walked across the Terrace to have lunch!
We will miss John’s regular presence at Committee meetings, our informal chats over coffee and Reuben sandwiches afterwards, Memorial Services including those of the 2/4th and our luncheons. We will also miss his historical knowledge and input.
When John returned home after the war he spent 11 months or more at Lady Mitchell Convalescent Home, Cottesloe. This home and accommodation was established for soldiers who returned with eye complications. John was one of a number of men from the 2/4th who were here. Due to malnutrition during his captivity John never fully recovered his eyesight.
He did however return to his love of athletics and running with or without perfect eyesight! We are not sure if he was able to keep up his running programme whilst a POW in Japan, but he did at Singapore.
We regularly had visitors attending our Battalion Services who would make a point of meeting John having personally been involved in athletics with him, or had another family member involved.
Sons of the late Peter Dimopulous told of how their Dad ‘made’ them run with John. They said he was a firm taskmaster, and in later years were grateful.
Others said how they would notice John standing on the trackside and away from the action, regularly monitoring their progress.
While John’s wife Alma was confined to her bed with illness John would do his daily running around the patio so he could remain within hearing distance.
John achieved many of his dreams and long-distance running achievements and travelied the world to compete. He proudly confirmed he never smoked or drank alcohol.
We have no idea what the 6 teaspoons of sugar in every cup of tea or coffee did! Nor his love of sweet foods! Probably needed the sugar for running!
John had several books published about his life and achievements. He was like most, a good mate to the 2/4th boys. He told the story how he broke all the rules to take food to his brother Jim who was sick and a POW in another Camp at Singapore. The Japanese never discovered his break-in but an officer did and took away his stripes! John was never too happy about that!
When he was first hospitalized at Changi for problems with his eyes, he met up with Tommy Lewis who just survived having meningitis and initially was left with no memory nor speech. John and others would while away their time teaching Tommy.
At the regular 2/4th picnic days which our parents attended at various venues over the last 50 odd years, John would take up the role of handicapper and starter. In the early years these events would be popular with young families attending and John would also schedule the children’s events.
He and others such as Ron Badock would regularly visit Jack Taylor at Lemnos Hospital who had tragically developed alzheimers.
John was a good bloke, resilient and always maintained a happy slant on life. When he spoke of the not-so-good moments of POW life, he appeared not bitter, just told it how it was and sometimes you could catch that faraway look in his voice and in his eyes. But then they all did.
Have cup of tea with the boys when you see them. Don’t forget to take the sugar with you! Otherwise you will never have enough!
Should we feel an unexpected breeze pass us by, we will know you are running past looking for another record to break.
It was our pleasure and an honour to know you John.
Our condolences to Judith, John and their families.
Simon Beaumont remembered John on his 6PR Afternoon Radio Show.
Eulogy for John Gilmour OAM –
West Chapel, Fremantle Cemetery – 13th August 2018
John’s family arrived from Scotland with the Government Group Settlement farming scheme. It was a terribly harsh life and the scheme an overall failure, so John’s family moved to the city.
As a young man John discovered the thrill of running. His mother, who was also a runner, encouraged him.
As a working teenager John, his brother Jim and several mates joined the Militia that offered a little extra regular income, discipline and the opportunity to wear those nice Cameron Highland skirts, which reminded him of his Scottish heritage.
The Gilmour brothers, and mates Jim Elliott, the McDonald brothers, and John Dore, enlisted with Australian Infantry Forces during October 1940.
Whilst brother Jim and his mates had been taken to Northam Army Camp and drafted into the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, John had been dangerously ill from the injections provided by the Army.
John recovered and was discharged from Lemnos, then a Military Hospital. Having learnt the 2/4th Battalions’ Officer in-Charge Lt-Col Anketell was a man with a passion for sports and fitness, John knocked on Anketell’s door, told him he was recognized as one of Western Australia’s best distance runners and suggested he would be an excellent candidate for the 2/4th Battalion’s sporting events. The following day the Colonel sent a truck to take John to the training camp where he joined the 2/4th and was happily reunited with his brother Jim and mates.
John fulfilled the Colonel’s expectations by winning the Army, Navy and Air Force 3 mile cross country championships.
In July 1941 the Battalion was sent to Woodside, South Australia and and Darwin for training. On 30 December 1941 the 2/4th left Darwin to sail to Sydney, then Fremantle to Singapore.
Arriving in Singapore, the Battalion was transferred by truck to their new barracks. As they drove through the city any chatter was suddenly replaced by silence as these newly arrived soldiers witnessed the realities of war. Death and destruction.
The battalion saw action against the Japanese for the first time on 8th February 1942. During the week’s intense fighting and chaos the machine gunners suffered heavy losses before capitulation on the 15th of February 1942.
It was to be a life as a POW for the next 3½ years for survivors and the wounded. Initially the men were stunned, felt humiliation and even anger.
One didn’t require training to be a POW. It occurred naturally.
John and the men lost their freedom, their rights and their choice of food. They had to settle for rice, rice and more rice!
Food would be the first, second and last thought on John and every POW’s mind – every day of their captivity.
John was firstly accommodated at Selarang Barracks. To maintain morale and discipline and avoid boredom, sporting events, theatre productions and education classes were introduced. John was always up for a running competition and played in the soccer team.
Later the POWs were split up into work parties and accommodated at other camps such as Thomson Road, Adam Park, Sime Road, Jahore Bahru, etc. Armed Japanese guards prepared to carry out punishments for misdemeaners accompanied these work parties.
The Aussies soon learned the art of theft and trading. In fact they excelled! It became a way of life. Acquiring stolen booty, which could be used either for currency or to trade for food and sometimes medicines. The Aussies were cheerful and proud larrikins. John was one of them.
Whilst in Singapore, John heard his brother Jim was sick. Jim was at another Camp and John broke in to deliver his brother a food parcel. An Australian officer discovered him. His punishment was 2 months in the cookhouse. However worse was to follow. John lost his stripes. He was real sore about that.
In Singapore John was admitted to hospital at Changi. Malnutrition had affected his eyesight. After the war he became one of 18 men from the 2/4th, who were patients at Lady Mitchell Convalescent Home, Cottesloe. John was a patient for 11 months and tragically never completely recovered his eyesight.
While recuperating at Changi John learnt how to cut hair enabling him to earn a little extra for food. He also cut the hair of Japanese guards.
On 3 May 1943 John spent the first of several birthdays in gaol. He was 23 years old.
John, going directly from Singapore to Japan, did not work on the railways as did many of his close mates.
John told me on one occasion when we talked of the Railway that he never knew and was terribly shocked to read and learn how Officers of all nationalities, not always, but often, failed their men in Thailand.
Once leaving Singapore the POWS were subjected to frequent bashings and brutality whether guilty or not. Over the next few years’ John and his mates looked back realizing their very early days at Changi and Selarang were a picnic.
During early 1943 large numbers of POWS left Singapore in various work parties to Burma and Thailand to construct the railway. John’s brother Jim and most of John’s mates had been included in these work parties. John felt this separation. The men always tried to stay in groups with mates. Mateship was an essential lifeline and John quickly developed new bonds with other Aussies.
British soldiers have recorded how uplifting it was to hear a working party of Aussies arriving at their camp. They found comfort listening to the banter, the loudness and sometimes singing.
John was one of 300 Australians selected for ‘J’ Force to work in Japan. They were mostly POWs who had been recuperating from hospital. ‘J’ Force included 600 British. The Japanese told them they were going to a place to recuperate and there would be much food!
I don’t think the men believed this.
On 15 May 1943 ‘J’ Force boarded a rusty old ship known as ‘Wales Maru’ originally destined for scrap. Any previous excitement about being a tourist to Japan disappeared when the men were crammed into 3 of the 4 ship’s holds. They were unable to stand, there was barely room to lie down and were allowed on deck once daily for 20 minutes. Drinking water was minimal and food was rice and cabbage soup twice a day. They were allowed use of a simple toilet on deck.
On the morning of 5 June 1943 American submarines attacked their convoy. The men were immediately locked down in the holds, a terrifying experience to sit and wait in the darkness.
There was relief when they finally reached Moji, Japan 23 days later. Their relief was mixed with despair knowing there was no hope of escape in Japan. John was a long way from Australia.
The 300 Australians were split into 2 groups. John was one of 18 men from 2/4th included in the 250 sent to Kobe. Another two men from the Battalion were included in the other group.
John missed his brother and mates, although Jim Dore was included in ‘J’ Force and went to Kobe with him.
At Kobe House with Americans arriving first and the British in larger numbers the Australian POW’s got the worst jobs. Luckily the Aussies were best at pilfering and scrounging. They soon established a successful black-market for all to purchase from.
The 2¼ years spent at Kobe was the longest time John spent at one location during his 5-year military career. Stories later retold, confirmed that during this time, despite his slight build, John often stepped up. He was not afraid to challenge and negotiate with others in the camp, to advocate for equality and safety amongst POW’s. John’s ethical approach took courage and showed his strong belief in doing what is right.
Whilst working as a POW at the wharfs, John survived a spiteful Japanese operator who attempted to kill him with a crane. He survived a severe earthquake, daily Allied bombing raids, the burning down of Kobe House and finally, he never knew of the the atomic Bombs. At the end of the war, John narrowly avoided boarding a plane that crashed on the way home to Australia, sadly with one of his best friends onboard.
On the upside John learned a little Japanese language, improved his scrounging and stealing skills and would have put Oliver Twist’s mate Fagan to shame with his deftness. He experienced the excitement of seeing snow for the first time. He understood and never forgot the value of mates.
At Kobe the POWs had to firstly and quickly learn the basics of counting in Japanese, simple repetitious commands, their new POW numbers and of course the camp rules including bowing to Japanese.
Every Japanese guard carried a wooden swordstick which they used with or without provocation. The beatings were often severe.
John’s first job at Kobe was working at a Graphite Factory, SHOWA DENKI. It was a filthy dirty and dusty job.
John wrote Showa Denki looked like a scene out of Dickens! The production methods were primitive. John and a mate called Jack came up with a few suggestions to improve their working conditions, impressing the Japanese. They were nominated as two best workers – received a BROWN ring beside their POW number to identify them and received preferential treatment. Their guard was acknowledged and with his chest pumped up treated John and Jack far better.
The POWs were shocked to see civilians, including women being severely bashed by Japanese military guards for unknowingly walking close to the POWs – as if the civilians should know the POWS were working for Japan’s war effort!
Working on Kobe Wharf was a Dickenson paradise! Ships with cargoes included foods, sugar, cigarettes, fish as well as other non-useful things.
At one point, Mitsubishi had 200 damaged bags of sugar! The POWs planned in detail how they could execute the theft of this WHITE GOLD.
John was to learn SUGAR IS BETTER THAN GOLD! A sweet habit he maintained his whole life! 3 TEASPOONS at least IN EVERY CUP OF TEA/COFFEE!
Tactics included taking patterns of the storage door lock and a team of lookouts. The safest procedure to carry sugar past the guards at Kobe was in water proof bags (if possible) placed inside their Jap Happies or strapped high on the inside of their thighs to avoid the booty being discovered by searching guards. 6’ 3” Wally Hutchinson from 2/4th simply placed his small bag of sugar on his head beneath his hat. The guards never looked there.
John turned his hand to hand-sewing small pouches to store sugar and other stolen goods. These were cut from the waterproof material of the gas cape provided by the Japanese. At night he would ask his mates who slept either side of him to thread his needles. He modified a cumberbund to hide contraband and sewed other bags he tied to his upper ankles. He also sewed padding into his clothes for extra warmth.
Back at Kobe, the sugar would be finely ground to add to the tasteless rice.
If guards knew the Australians were working on a ship with food supplies – they would always be searched! Many stolen foods had to be immediately consumed.
In other thefts Wally Hutchinson’s long arms were a perfect asset. John was able to distract a Japanese Ship’s cook practicing his newly learned Japanese while Hutchinson’s arms swiftly reached around a corner snatching up several pieces of deliciously prepared fried fish. John and Wal would quickly disappear to eat their marvellous find.
The Allied bombing raids were terrifying. On 6 June 1945 just after breakfast, incendiary bombs hit Kobe house. The POWs were initially locked in the burning building so they would not escape! The Japanese soon realized Kobe House was burning down and released them.
A few Australians were injured and some British on the floor above suffered terrible burns. Several Japanese died.
Following the destruction of Kobe House, the POWs were firstly accommodated at Maruyama then Wakinohama arriving on 21 June 1945.
With food scarce throughout Japan and further reduced food rations the POWs were losing more weight. Their nerves and tempers were frayed with the continual bombing raids and sleepless nights with fleas. But for the first time the POWs felt there was a chance they may not die from a massacre by the Japanese.
August 15th 1945 arrived and they were alive!!
They couldn’t believe it! John and his mates were going home.
After the war John worked as a gardener at Hollywood hospital for 30 years enabling him visit his mates and an opportunity to cement new bonds with those he did not previously know so well.
Every Anzac Day March John was out front with the Gold and Black Flag proudly leading the battalion.
John Gilmour was the 2/4th Battalion’s last surviving veteran.
John, we will miss your presence, humbleness and engaging smile.
Our sincere condolences to Judith, John and families.
73rd Anniversary of Victory over Japan
And the Liberation of Japanese POWs
Service held at POW Memorial
Kings Park, Sunday 12 August 2018
2/4th Machine Gun Battalion ex-Members Assoc.
More than 70 people attended our service this year including several families for the first time. Jan Stewart was our MC and we thank her and Sylvia Norton, our Secretary for their efforts for this fine service, and our first without representation from Veterans of the Battalion. Our last remaining veteran John Gilmour had sadly passed away on 1st August aged 99 years.
Our Vice-President Bernie Dorizzi, nephew of Gordon, Thomas and Herbert Dorizzi who lost their lives at Sandakan gave a reading about the end of the WW2 on 15th August 1945 from Les Cody’s book “Ghosts in Khaki”.
Richard Brazier, nephew of Arthur Brazier WX1422 read the poem ‘Mates’ as quoted in ‘Colour Patch’ by Murray Ewen. Prayers were said by Doug Cornish, son of Ronald Hamilton Cornish WX9035.
The first wreath to be laid was the 2/4th and was placed by the family of the late John Gilmour OAM.
Our very fine Service bugler was student Angus Jacoumis who was a year 12 student at Carine Senior High School in 2017.
Brigadier Duncan Warren AM RFD (Retired) said the Ode.
Jan Stewart is daughter of WX8619 James ‘Jim’ Elliott a former President of the Association.
Sylvia Norton is daughter of WX8493 Albert ‘Bert’ Norton.
Both Elliott and Norton worked in Thailand on the Railway with ‘D’ Force S Battalion and later both sailed on ‘Rashin Maru’ to Japan. The men were working at Niihama Copper Mine and Refinery when the Atomic Bombs were dropped on Japan. Both returned to Australia.
WX14226 Arthur Brazier died in March 1943 at Thanbyzauyat of bacillary dysentery whilst working on the Burma end of the railway. He was selected whilst in Singapore with ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Battalion to work in Burma on Burma-Thai Railway. ‘A’ Force sailed from Singapore to Burma on 14 May 1943. The first sailed to Victoria Point, on the south west coast of Burma where Green Force No. 3 Battalion worked to repair and enlarge the existing aerodrome and roads. Arthur was a farmer from Kirup.
WX9035 Ronald ‘Ron’ Cornish served in the same Force on the Burma-
Thai Railway as Elliott and Norton. At the end of the war, Ron Cornish was recovered from Thailand. He was tragically killed in a work related accident in 1971, at the age of 55 years.
WX8622 John Gilmour OAM was selected to work in Japan and remained at Kobe for more than 2 years.
Family members laying rosemary in memory of their loved ones.
The Service was followed by our Annual Lunch held at the Kings Park Tennis Club which 37 people attended.
We thank Samantha Boswell who gave a talk about the Premier’s Anzac Student Tours, about student participation and the wonderful benefits.
Our thanks to Tina Kyros and Sylvia Norton for their organisation of this most pleasant luncheon.
Number of users Website between April 1 – June 30, 2018
76TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF SINGAPORE SERVICE
The service for the 76th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore was held on Sunday 11th February 2018. Our Service was well attended by 50+ family members and friends with some new attendees. John Gilmour’s daughter Judith was visiting from country NSW and we also had a visitor from the UK whose husband served with the British Army and KIA during the Fall of Singapore. This lady read the notice in the Can You Help section of the West Australian and came to pay her respects to her husband and the men of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Jan Stewart led the Service and Ian Saggers, son of Major Albert Ernest Saggers WX3454, reflected on the history and significance of Singapore Sunday to 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion families of the men of the Battalion. In his closing words he said “The soldiers of the 2/4th were the best of the best, that the men had a certain “something”, a bond, an unshakeable bond, which cannot be described; an indefinable “something” that was always there. Perhaps it was the best example of Australian Mateship”.
Joanne Williams, Granddaughter of Jack Ewen, WX9101, paid tribute to the men with the reading of “At the going down of the sun……”
We were once again privileged to have L/Cpl Dave Scott play the “Last Post” and our own veteran, John Gilmour recited “The Ode of Remembrance”. Our Vice President, Bernie Dorizzi led us in Reflection with the reading “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer.
A very special THANK YOU to all those who participated in the Service, particularly Jan Stewart who put the Service together in a very professional manner once again. Thank you also to Barbara Elliott for her wonderful compiling of the Service Booklet. We all appreciate the work you put into the Booklet.
Anzac Day 2018 was a crisp but sunny morning when approximately 55 Members, Friends and relatives assembled to march in honour of the Men of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. The contingent was led once again by our 98-year-old Veteran John Gilmour OAM who did a magnificent job of finishing the march at Langley Park. (John turned 99 the following week). Thank you to our Members, Carol Farmer (daughter of Edwin Elliott WX5064) and Joanne Williams (granddaughter of Jack Clifford Ewen WX9101) who carried the 2/4th banner also thank you to Ryan Allomes and Chris Meecham who again carried the Australian and Western Australian flags. This year we welcomed some new family members who joined us in the march. Following the march the RSLWA Service was held at the Concert Hall which was well attended by members of the public.
Our AGM was held at the Pan Pacific Perth this year with 44 Members and friends in attendance. By all accounts the luncheon which followed the meeting was very successful, both the fellowship, food and the new venue.
RICHARD WILLIAM RIDGWELL
25 JAN 1918 – 29 NOV 2017
Today, 29th November 2017 we sadly advise members and families of 2/4th of the death of Dick Ridgwell aged 99 years. One of three surviving Battalion veterans Dick was to celebrate his 100th birthday on 25th January.
To Jim, Harvey and families we extend our sincere condolences. In particular to Jim who has been beside Dick most of the past 12 months or so during his final battle.
The Committee will miss Dick’s contribution and company during meetings and events. He brought with him his unique humour and words of wisdom for which we thank him.
When Dick reaches the pearly gates he will have to nonchalantly admit he has left at home his glasses and hearing aid! He will say in his ‘subtle’ loud voice so all can hear, “Who are you?”
You will be once again with your beloved wife Alma.
We have all loved you. You will be greatly missed.
We bid you farewell Dick, and salute a brave 2/4th man. The Boys will be pleased to see you!
INDIGENOUS VETERANS COMMEMORATION SERVICE
held WA State War Memorial, Kings Park,
Wednesday 31 May 2017
Master of Ceremonies was Aunty Di Ryder, President of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association (WA) which is celebrating a 100 years.
A very large number of persons attended this wonderful service to recognise the contribution by men and women from indigenous communities across Australia and Torres Straits who served in the two World Wars, Boer War, Korea and recent conflicts.
Mr Ron Bradfield was guest speaker. Ron has served the last 10 years in the Australian Forces, both in the Army and more recently the Navy.
There were many schools in attendance and those who participated in the Service included Mount Lawley Senior High School Junior Concert Band and Chamber Choir, Bagpipes and Drum from Trinity College and Huntingdale Primary School.
Traditional dancers from Whadjak Northside Balga SHS Dance Group.
Those marching included 2/4th Veteran John Gilmour who with Sylvia Norton placed a wreath during the service.
ANZAC DA7 2017
The weather in Perth was a typical glorious day in April.
61 family members marched behind the 2/4th MG flag this year.
With veteran John Gilmour heading up the Battalion, he was followed by flag bearers Troy Ridgwell (grandson of veteran Dick Ridgwell WX19417) and Stuart Badock (grandson of the late Ron Badock WX8729). John Gilmour WX8622 kept up a cracking pace. John will celebrate his 98th birthday 3rd May 2017.
Following the Anzac March and Service, members gathered at the Wentworth Hotel for our AGM. This was followed by our Anzac luncheon.
Within two weeks the Wentworth Hotel will finally close, the property due to be demolished. We are very sad as 2/4th has enjoyed a long and traditional relationship, holding annual AGMs and Anzac day lunches for more than 20 years. Initially the Wentworth was the gathering place for ‘The Boys’ get-together holding their AGM beforehand. It was no women at that time. (I can remember collecting my father from the Wentworth many years ago)
In later years, as the numbers of veterans diminished, the late Mavis Elliott, wife of then President Jim Elliott, organised ‘Ladies Anzac Day Luncheon” at the Wentworth. This luncheon soon became the main social event!
We express our thanks to the staff at the Wentworth, some of whom have been looking after us for as long as 18 years. We wish them well in the future. Our thanks to the Brockwell family who have generously provided their rooms without charge throughout these years.
Website Dedication and Launch – March 18th 2017
Our thanks to the many people, standing room only, who attended the very successful launch of our ‘virtual memorial’, the 2/4th website. There were over 170 replies by people who were to attend and many more wishing the 2/4th all the very best.
Led by Jan Stewart, daughter of Jim Elliot WX8619 the scene was set for the ceremony with a quote from Les Cody’s book Ghosts in Khaki written in 1990.
‘It was a late spring day as they gathered in the forecourt of the Concert Hall.
Each carried the mark of time, the weathered face, the thinning hair turned grey…
This was their special day – a day to remember
The first bars of a familiar march, a ‘by your left’ and they swung onto the Terrace.
Shoulders straightened, heads high… They were young again, fit and bronzed and as they marched, their ranks were swelled by the silent presence of those ‘Ghosts in Khaki”, their companions of so many other marches.
No longer 100 aged veterans in the evening of their lives marching to a memorial service, but a thousand young men going off to war.’
‘To the ever present memory of those who did not return and those gone since’ – those Ghosts in Khaki who in spirit are with us today.’
Bernie Dorizzi, nephew of Tom WX12884, Gordon WX9274 and Bert Dorizzi WX7997, then talked of the background of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Ex Members Association and then introduced invited guest Hon Graham Edwards AM to officially launch the site.
A more fitting speech or person could not be asked for. Graham spoke of his journey to both Sandakan and Thailand where he had reflected on the grief and tragedy of the past but more importantly on the mateship and love that had been shown and was continuing to be shown by all of the audience in attendance. Many thanks Graham for a very befitting address.
Harry Tysoe, grandson of Harry Tysoe WX9226 demonstrated the website showing the audience a brief sample of what can be found on it.
The dedication was made by Father Braden Short, grandson of William (Bill) Short WX8693, who once again we thank for his continued support of the 2/4th family.
Volunteers of the Fremantle War Museum, resplendent in their period uniforms, some with colours of the 2/4th Presented Arms , whilst bugler L/Cpl David Smith played the Last Post and Rouse. John Gilmour WX8622 , without need of microphone, said The Ode.
Congratulations to all who have been involved, a job well done.
Website Committee being acknowledged
Murray Ewen , 2nd left, with the Pilmoor family.
An Order of Service can be read here.
Sunday 12th February 2017 – POW Memorial, Kings Park. More than 60 family and friends attend the 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Attendees included veteran Dick Ridgwell WX14197 aged 99 years. The service was presided over by Father Braden Short, grandson of William (Bill) Short WX8693 who, as usual, ensured the service was not rained upon!
We were delighted to have Caitlyn and Coby, two students from the Premier’s Anzac Student Tour, soon to visit Singapore. Coby laid a wreath on behalf of the group. They were accompanied by Samantha Boswell, Education Officer and tour leader for the group and Coby’s parents.
Above – Veteran Dick Ridgwell lays the wreath on behalf of the 2/4th. With him is L-R son Jim Ridgwell & Vice-President Bernie Dorizzi.
Above: Bugler Dave Scott & Father Braden Short (grandson of Bll Short WX8693.
Below: Son of Hector John Bishop WX8650 lays wreath in memory of his father who died of wounds 75 years ago on the 12th February 1942 during the battle for Singapore. The late Hector (Blue) Bishop was 29 years old. He never met his son Dennis.
Vale Ron Badock WX8729 who passed away Dec 1 2016