Malay Hamlet 153.00 km, Thailand

Malay Hamlet or Malayan Hamlet 153.00 km Thailand

Malayan Hamlet

May to September 1943 – ‘H’ Force Group 3

Japanese Officer in Charge:  Capt Muriana

Whilst Kanyu II , Kanyu 1 and Kanyu III Camps were located on the east side of the road  (in that order coming from the south) Malay Hamlet was another independent  camp located on the river and railway side of the road.
Please note this information varies slightly from that contained in “Colour Patch” by Murray Ewen.  With time and further research, camp locations have been revealed and updated whilst other camp locations sometimes remain unknown, in particular staging camps. 
This information is from Thai-Burma Railway Centre, in particular from Mr Rod Beattie OAM, NBE, OON, (Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau – NL) Death Railway Historian, Researcher and Explorer of more than 20 years and Creator of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre (and Mueseum) Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
This campsite was on uncleared, slightly sloping ground and located roughly 450 yards east of Hellfire Pass Cutting and to the north of ‘S’ Force S Battalion’s Camp, Kanu II, believed to be 1.42 kilometres away.
Anzac Portal gives a very attractive description suitable for a tourism poster:
The site of the camp was on a beautiful sloping hill with a stream running and gurgling some 20 yards away.  It was surrounded by dense bamboo thickets while behind it towered sheer and majestic huge rugged, jungle covered limestone cliffs.  A sight that even when things were at their worst always pleased me ….. the air when arrived was thick with the nauseating smell of burning bodies the day’s batch of burning cholera victims.
[written by Stuart Lloyd, The Missing Years: A POW’s Story from Changi to Hellfire Pass 1942–45, Dural, NSW, Rosenberg Publishing, 2009, 162.)
A small area about the size of a lawn bowls green was cleared on afternoon of ‘H’ Force’s arrival on 21 May 1943 and 20 tents were pitched. During the following two days the camp area was enlarged and bamboo floors laid inside tents. Water was drawn from small stream and boiled prior to use as a precautionary practice. The stream was just south of the campsite and was crossed by a bridge on the Kanu to Hintok access road. There was another stream running south of Kanu II ‘D’ Force Camp which was also crossed by a bridge on the same road.
‘H’ Force Group 3 departed Singapore 8 May 1943 arrived at Non Pladuk four days later moving to nearby Konma transit camp. The following day 13 May 1943, this group marched out of Konma transit camp at 2300 hours, arriving at their first rest camp at 1000 hours the next day. ‘H’ Force followed in the steps of ‘F’ Force to Kanchanaburi heading for Malayan Hamlet/Kanu II.
‘H” Force was initially an all-Australian force under the command of Lt-Col R.F. Oakes. Major Bert Saggers from 2/4th was his second in command and in charge of the group’s pay and records.
At Kanchanaburi ‘H’ Force camped in an open paddock. During the night local Thais crept amongst the tired and sleeping men, stealing whatever they could escape with. This would have been maddening for the men. They rested during the day and marched out at night to Temple transit Camp which ‘F’ Force had earlier passed through.
During their journey they hired 20 oxen and carts to carry their gear forward to Tardan Bridge Camp as had ‘F’ Force.
Their routine was to march by night about 15 miles and rest during the day until they covered the total distance of 90 miles. They reached Kanu III Camp at 0400 hours on 21 May. The last 4 miles to Malayan Camp took 3 hours to complete.
By the time they reached Malayan Camp the Force had increased in number to include 114 British and POWs ex-Java. On 30 May a further 98 additional stragglers marched in. Total numbers now included approximately 500 Australians, 200 British and some Americans. 111 Australians and 106 British POWs would die at Malayan Hamlet.
Japanese engineers called for the first work party on 24 May, 3 days after ‘H’ Force arrived. Officers had difficulty firming up numbers.
The workforce was split into 4 shifts from A to D with each shift numbering 100 men. Two shifts worked during daylight and the other two during darkness.
Within weeks the weather began closing in for monsoon season and the Camp anticipating a possible cholera outbreak had pitched two tents in the jungle about 165 yards from the main camp.   The first case was diagnosed at 1000 hours on 16 June. The POW’s death soon followed at 1630 hours.
By this time cholera had already appeared at Kanu II and Hintok Road Camps which had used a separate water supply.
Following the cholera outbreak at Malayan Camp on 18 June 1943, 59 British were brought from Kanu III to set up a new camp called Kanu IIIa (Tampie North) or KIIIr (Tampie South) Advance Camp.
On 25 August 1943, 83 Australians from Groups H3 and H6 joined ‘H’ Force No. 1 Sub-Section and travelled by train to Konkoita in a last minute dash to complete the railway in that sector.
On 8 September 1943 the first Australian party from ‘H’ Force consisting of stretcher cases was evacuated to Kanchanaburi. During the following few days a further 4 parties were evacuated totalling about 500 men. This left a workforce of about 25 men to remain behind and clean up the campsite.
On 16 September the rear party who had been at Tonchan Spring Camp moved forward to Kanu IIIa (Tampie North Camp) to join the other Australians before this last group also moved south to Kanchanaburi.
The evacuation of sick to Kanchanaburi had commenced prematurely on 29 July 1943 before ‘F’ and ‘H’ Force Hospital had been completed. For the next month the sick were accommodated at ‘D’ Force Base Hospital Camp No. 1 until their own hospital was completed on 27 August and able to accept them.
As soon as the sick were classified fit, they were transferred to a ‘Fit Camp’ located two miles away in a jungle clearing. On 19 November 1943 the first party of 500 fit men left under the command of Lt-Col T.H. Newey as an advance party back to Singapore. Newey had come into Kanchanaburi from Konkoita with ‘H’ Force No. 1 Sub-Section, arriving between 8th-12th November 1943.
Between 20 November and 10 December 1943, ‘H’ Force returned to Singapore en-masse by train with the exception of some seriously ill men who would not return until May 1944.   Singapore would learn of the appalling conditions experienced at the construction camps on the Burma-Thai Rail link.



5 July 1943 – Japanese advised new worked hours to be 12 hour shifts. Fall in 0800 hrs & return to camp about 2030 hrs or when they complete a set task.  One group of 4 men have to move (illegible) cubic Metres of earth per day,  5 party of 2 carry 250 loads of earth.  Work is in railway cutting.  Light duty men working around new Jap camp.  15 of these in Jap cookhouse.  from Capt. Benjamin Barnett Diary, Australian 8th Division Signals F Force

12 July 1943  Barnett wrote Cholera not abating.

25 July 1943 Muriana advises at 1700 hours – 70 sick POWs to be evacuated to WYNYEA (railhead near TARSO) leaving at 0900 hrs 26 JUL.  Personnel selected by Capt Mills included 11 Signals – L/Cpl Brennan, Sigmn Reilly, Robinson, Smith J.L., Tapping, Clapham, Flack, Johnson R.M., Bryer & Cpl Matthews & Lieut Stewart.  All party again tested for cholera (glass rod).  Time of departure later altered to 0800 hrs and then 0730 hrs.  Fit men building staging at new area.  Then moved after mess.
The weather was constantly wet, incessant rain.
26 July 1943 –  0630 Reveille.  0745  Party of 3 officers & 67 other ranks moved off.  Creek still over road bridge.  All who could had to cross by railway bridge.  Others, including 4 stretcher cases, taken across by boat.
                          Further (illegible) of all “unfit” men.  Officers built double decker staging in “fit” area & shifted after mess.  Signals cholera cases still progressing satisfactorily. 2 further cholera deaths (1 Bde H.Q. & 1 2/29).  “Unfit” area only on 2 meals today.
27 July 1943 – 2 Officers and 54 other ranks fit for work.  Capt MARUYAMA ordered 10 offrs & 150 men out.  All fit & light duties from “unfit” area (including suspected cholera cases in isolation) and 17 ‘no duty’ from “fit” area ordered out.  Just enough.  “Unfit” area, including workers & hospital orderlies, still on 2 meals only.  Capt MARUYAMA would NOT listen to protest.
2 August 1943 – Men employed on railway about 2 kilos from camp.  Very wet morning & night.  Roads very muddy & slippery.  River again in flood – above previous high level.  Men had to cross precarious railway bridge on way to & from work.  Men NOT knocked off until after dark.  Coming home, Sigmn TUZER fell off bridge about 15 feet.  Fortunately not seriously injured.  Further canteen supplies obtained.  NX1073 L/Cpl Jones J.A. to cholera ward.
3 August 1943 – Again very wet.  Capt Maruyama annoyed at there being only 3 offrs & 90 o/rs fit for work on railway.  He ordered 200 men be sent out tomorrow.  This information conveyed also by I.J.A. guard sgt, Sgt AOKI.  He said too that work was now “hurry hurry” as railway would be here in a week (Aug 10).  Then we will move to NICKAYE, leaving Capt MARUYAMA here, and then to Changi – I wonder !!!
4  August 1943 –  Men at work 7 offrs 189 o/rs including about 70 heavy sick.  Depressing seeing men moving out.  Information received that NX51375 Sigmn MORRISON L. died at TARRARUMPET on (blank space) following a long drawn out cholera illness.  Capt Mills obtained permission from I.J.A. doctor here to send two men – Lieut Dobbie and Pte Rydiard– to English camp 1½ kilos away for operations.  Capt MARUYAMA approved.  He also approved Capt Barnett taking parties to this camp to collect canteen stores.   He also wants same number of men for work tomorrow.  Last men finished work in the dark at 2145 hrs.  They had hazardous journey back to camp along frightfully muddy route.  River near “unfit” camp still rising.  Offrs had to move their tent.  Further canteen supplies obtained from Harry Lord.  Two more deaths from cholera today, both 2/29.
5 August 1943 – 6 offrs & 166 men to work (including Camp Duties).  Capt MARUYAMA complained of small number & in afternoon asked for 50 more men. Twenty supplied including a party of 12 men who were standing by as a stretcher party.  Capt Barnett & Capt Mills saw Capt MARUYAMA at 1515 hrs regarding his authority to move 2 sick men to English camp.  Capt Mills also pointed out our position regarding unfit men.  Capt Mills then visited English camp to “set up” movement of patients.  Pay for men at TARURUMPET (?) and $50.00 from canteen fund sent up by I.J.A. carrier.
26 Sept 1943 – 150 men to work.  0900 hrs.  Two men left for KONKOIDA to bring back yaks.  Returned at 2000 hrs with 15 beasts.  Another fine day.
1830 hrs.  Church Parade held in hospital.  Hot wash available to workers (2 Coy’s fortnight) on arrival home.  Two parties (about 100 men) working until 2300 hrs.
 2200 hrs.  Capt M. informed Capt Barnett (i) all I.J.A. officers must be saluted by ALL ranks – if working, only i/c party salutes (ii) no noise between lights out (2300 hrs) & reveille (0730 hrs).
27 Sept 1943 – 140 men to work.  Another fine day.  Sgt AOKI arrived back from NIEKE & stated definitely we shall be returning to CHANGI as soon as railway is finished.
Last two of three working parties in by 2200 hrs.  Eight pneumonia cases in hospital now – NO Signals.
28 Sept 1943 – 132 men to work today.  Still fine.  1500 hrs.  Pte Nicholls (2/29) died from pneumoniary (pulmonary?) malaria & dysentery.  One yak killed today – we receive frame only for 292 men.  Men in from work by 2200 hrs.  “Back to Changi” very definite, according to our guards, about middle of October.
29 Sept 1943 – 125 men to work.  Capt MILLS (Medical Officer) beaten up by Sgt AOKI.  Weather fine.  I.J.A. started to dig slit trenches.
30 Sept 1943 – 156 men to work.  Improvement due to fine weather and yak.  Some canteen supplies (3 tins gula malacca – palm sugar) obtained from local kampong.  Guards generous – eggs (illegible) from HARADA.  All workers in by 2130 hrs.

1 Dec 1943 –  Sorting out.

2 Dec 1943 – Lt. Col. Kappe & 500 o/rs marched out – destination Singapore – about 1200 hrs approx..  (Blank space) Sig personnel in party.  Also Capt Hardacre and Lieut May.  Information that NX29700 Sigmn SMITH M.D. and NX56912 Sigmn HUNTER R.M. had died at KAMBURIE HOSPITAL.
3 Dec 1943 –  0815 hrs.  Capt Barnett informed that I.J.A. had ordered he was to remain at KAMBURIE until rear party marched out.  Capt Stahl appointed Registrar of Hospital.

(NOTE:  Captain Fred Stahl’s memoirs are available as a PDF file)

4 Dec 1943 – 1430 rs.  Capt Stahl & Capt Barnett marched out to Hospital as Registrar & Q.M. respectively.   At Hospital there are about 30 Signals from ‘F’ Force‘& ‘H’ Force.  Officers there at the moment are Lieuts Stewart, Anderson, Henderson & Gawley.  Lieuts Conway, Harrison & Mansfield recently went south.
5 Dec 1943 –  Sigmn Gorey & Sigmn O’Donoghue  on dangerously ill list.  Food here good particularly when supplemented by canteen supplies (eggs 10 for $1.00, sugar, peanut- coffee, potatoes, etc.)
6 Dec 1943 – VX53638 Sigmn GOREY T.I. died at KAMBURIE HOSPITAL following long illness.
7 Dec 1943 –  1800 hrs.  H Force personnel warned they would all be moving within next 3 days.  Lieut Gawley and 16 o/rs of Signals effected.
14 Dec 1943 –  ‘F’ Force will be moving due next few days.  Capt Stahl & Capt Barnett remaining at KAMBURIE.  Sigmn O’DONOHUE dangerously ill.  Weather – fine days, cool nights.
15 Dec 1943 – VX68733 Sigmn O’DONOHUE P.C. died of dysentery , ulcers.
‘F’ Force personnel started to move to Singapore.
18 Dec 1943 – Move to Singapore completed.  Move of (Kamburie) Hospital to old fit camp started.  Padre Vellacott dangerously ill.  Total Signals left in Hospital 2 offrs (Stahl & Barnett) and 26 o/rs.

19 Dec 1943 – Padre Vellacott died.

2/4th MGB Deaths 
1 Jul 1943 WX7628 Howard Edgar Joseph (known as Tim) 
Died OF cholera aged 31 years Grave No. 22 Malayan Hamlet (not cremated).
On 7 Aug 1941 Howad was appointed Acting Lance Sergeant in 6 Platoon, ‘A’ Company. On 1 Oct 1941 the unit entrained for Darwin arriving 20 Oct 1941. Promoted to Acting Sergeant on 31 Oct 1941.
‘Tim’ Howard married Elsie Beryl Pickersgill in 1932.  They had two children.  The youngest, son Peter John Howard born in 1939 tragically died in 1944 aged 5 years.




17 Jul 1943 WX8747 Hall William Harrison (Nobby)


Nobby enlisted AIF 23 Oct 1940 later joining ‘B’ Coy, 8 Platoon under CO Lt. MacKinnon as Section Orderly.
Born in Wales 1901, Nobby migrated to WA as a 22 year old.
He was father to several children.
27 Jul 1943 WX9052 McDonough Henry Elvin (Harry)
Harry obviously followed in his father’s footsteps, and was a talented athlete. Harry’s father was at one time regarded as the best professional runner in the State.
Harry’s athletic talents were broad-based and included cycling,  tennis and baseball and was a member of the Mt. Hawthorn Athletic Club where he excelled at javelin.
He had spent his formative years living at Bassendean.
Died cholera aged 28 years, buried unmarked cemetery approx 300 yds North of Kanu IIa (Tampie North) on Kanu-Hintok  Road, Grave No 18.



7 Sep 1943 WX7623 Shelton George Tom


The Shelton family arrived from London on ‘Demethenis’ at Albany 4 June 1924.  George (snr) Shelton and Avis Hilda Carvey married 1919 Barnsbury, England.  Nettie was first born daughter, followed by George Tom (Jnr) and then Avis.
It appears Tom Shelton was really born in 1920 and not 1918.
George and Avis with their 3 children settled on Group 124 Forrest, Sussex as we found  them recorded in 1925 Electoral Roll.
By 1936, the family had moved to Busselton.
Tom Shelton died post pneumonia and beri-beri aged 24 years.  Buried Grave No. 80 Malayan Hamlet.




24 Oct 1943 WX7250 Kidd George 

George arrived in WA as a young boy with his family in 1912.
Born 1904 Newcastle, England Kidd formerly of Boulder, enlisted AIF 1 Aug 1940 later joining 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Coy 9 Platoon under CO Lt Don Lee.
Ded cardiac beri-beri Kanchanaburi where he was evacuated to from Burma-Thai Railway.  H was aged 37 years.    Buried Grave No. 214 Kanchanaburi.
24 Jan 1944 WX9293 Langdon Ronald Guy 
Died cadiac beri-beri at Sime Road Camp, Singapore aged 32 years having earlier been evacuated to Kanchanaburi from Malayan Hamlet, then Sime Road Camp, Singapore with cholera and beri-beri.
21 May 1944 WX10370 Hall Douglas Charles John
Hall returned from Burma-Thai Railway at the end of 1943.
He died septic thrombosis AGH Roberts Barracks Changi, Singapore aged 25 years.  Buried AIF Cemetery, Changi,  Grave No. 134. (it is not known whether he returned ill or became ill in Singapore)

Location of Malay Hamlet 153.00 km, Thailand