Adam Park Camp - Singapore
On 4th April 1942 2800 men of the AIF moved out of Selarang Barracks Changi to Bukit Timah area a vicinity of the MacRitchie Reservoir. The 2/4th had been ordered to supply 300 men for the occasion, under the command of Major Alf Cough. There were five sub-camps in this area being Adam Park, Sime Road, Thompson Road (Caldecot Hill Estate, Mount Pleasant Estate and Lornie Road. Three of the camps were former housing estates and the other two were atap style native hutted camps.
2,000 Australians were first of the Shrine workforce to arrive at Adam Park on 3rd April 1942. They were ordered to make best use of the bombed out buildings for their accommodation. What they found was an appalling mess. The houses had been left to rot. The roofs and walls were perforated by the fall of mortars and shells and the rooms infested with mosquitoes. Bodies of soldiers and civilians lay unburied around the grounds. The drainage and sanitation were smashed up and the electricity had been cut. The houses had been looted and left devoid of usable furniture. For many of the POWs the first night was spent on the concrete floors of the outhouses with little more than what they carried to provide succour.
In the morning the roll call was taken and the first of the daily work parties was marched out onto the SICC Golf Course to start the process of building access roads to the new shrine and a small bridge over part of MacRitchie Reservoir. The project included granite steps leading up to the shrine and construction of the hill top Shinto shrine.
By October 1942 the shrine had been finished and the men were not required to work as hard.
Briefing Room | Adam Park Project. (2021). Retrieved 11 October 2021, from http://www.adamparkproject.com/briefing-room/
It was at Adam Park Camp that Australian Commanding Officer Lt. Col Oakes reported 5 Australians to the Japanese – they were sentenced to three years at Outram Road Gaol.
30 May 1942 there was trouble when 60 men were caught outside the wire. The men were given seven days detention and fed only one meal per day of plain rice. Most of them had been out shopping on the black market however, three 2/4th men had out searching for bodies at Hill 200.
Joe Swartz, Joe Meredith and Lawrance Nybo were unsuccessful in locating the unburied corpses of Len Helliwell, Allan Brown, Keith ‘Bully’ Hayes, Frank Curnow, Doug Royce and Ossie McEwen.
Finally on 21 Dec 1942, 10 months after surrender and after months and months of requests and negotiations Major Cough with Capt John Hill was permitted to take out a burial party of 20 2/4th men from Sime Road Camp. They located and identified 27 bodies of men from ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘D’ and HQ Companies and were able to provide a decent burial for them.
It became horribly evident to the POWs that In the process of burying their dead, the Japanese had to work around the corpses of their enemy – they would have had to step over them and around them and the Japanese even buried their own amongst the Commonwealth troop’s bodies. It would not have been too demanding to push the bodies into the nearby slit trenches and cover them over. The men could not fathom how the Japanese could care for their own dead and leave the unburied corpses of their enemies to the elements and marauding pigs. This was beyond their belief and proved distressing.