Alepauk 18km Camp, Burma aka Rabao
Anderson Force commenced work on the railway on 5 October 1942. Based out of Thanbyuzayat they began building an embankment. The Force of 710 men moved by day march on 10 October 1942 from Thanbyuzayat to Alepauk.
There were great shortages of food and medicine at all the camps and reports of extreme brutality by the guards.
On 27 December 1943 Sergeant O’Donnell sought permission to go into the jungle to relieve himself. He was found to be missing at early morning role call. A search found his body. He had been shot at close range in the head and chest.
An investigation revealed a Korean guard called Dillinger claimed O’Donnell had attempted escape and he, Dillinger had shot at the victim. Tempers flared. The POWs were outraged.
It was feared the POWs would take retaliatory action – Lt-Col Anderson’s coolness prevented a serious event occurring. Dillinger was moved to Thanbuyuzat by Nagatomo.
(The men subsequently learnt a number of Japanese engineers took it upon themselves to make Dillinger pay penalty and he was severely bashed to near death.)
When the war was nearing the end and the Koreans feared for their lives, Dillinger tried to ingratiate himself with the POWs claiming it was his twin-brother who was guilty of killing O’Donnell!
This information from Leslie Hall’s ‘Blue Haze’.
Anderson Force had an influx of British, Australian and American POWs from Java Group 5, to be known as No. 3 Thai POW Branch who had arrived at Thanbyuzayat on 26 December 1943 and immediately set out to march to Alepauk. The Australians were under the command of Major Robertson who was never afraid to stand up for his men with the Japanese.
Brigadier Varley briefed the Group’s commanders on the work and conditions they were to face. Brigadier Varley had earlier warned Nagatomo at Thabyuzuyat that mixing the recent arrivals would create problems and hinder the railway project.
Very soon after the numbers of sick escalated resulting in 1 man in 3 being fit to work. Brigadier Varley had visited all the camps and found Alepauk’s sick to be mainly abdominal troubles and/or leg ulcers. He considered 18 km Camp the worst with huts so weather worn they had lost parts of their roofs. Green Force’s 4.8 km was the best.
Anderson Force vacated this camp by motor transport on about 3 January 1943 and joined Williams Force at Tanyin 35 km Camp.
For those at 18km, the Japanese increased the work load and their food decreased with the weather resulting in increased sickness and less men working. Their MO was Captain Hugh Lumpkin who worked tirelessly without medicines.
The Japanese and Koreans believed the Australians capable of more work and able to stand longer working hours than other nationalities. Captain Robertson was forced to intervene so often he became the focus of the guard’s fury and suffered many bashings.
With the increased starvation and cruelty by guards the hospital wards became more overcrowded and the camp filled with gloom.
In late June Nagatomo evacuated some of the severely sick from Thabuyuzat to 18km Camp, while the remaining men of the 3,000 sick had been evacuated to 4km, Reptu, etc.
In July cholera struck and there were several deaths. The overworked and very popular and caring Dr. Lumpkin fell ill and died on 2 August 1943. He had saved many lives and the Camp felt his loss.
Group 5 considered 18 km camp a bad one, however it was to prove to be nothing compared to their next move to 85 km Camp.
WX7618 Les Holtzman was recorded being at Alepauk 18km Camp – as he was with Green Force No. 3 Battalion it is very likely he was here at the hospital (and at Reptu 30km hospital on 2 occassions)