Nakom Chassi - Thailand

Several 2/4th boys were part of a group of 100 Australians that arrived at Nakom Chassi Camp on 20th May 1945 to reinforce the 300 Dutch already in residence. They remained at this camp until the end of the war.
The Camp was located to the west of Bangkok (about 40 km) approximately half way between Bangkok and Nacompaton.  The work here was similar to that at Ratburi and Petchaburi.
A suspension bridge that crossed the north-south flowing Nakom Chassi River had been destroyed (by Allied bombing) and to enable freight to cross the river was ferried by boat and loaded onto another train. The Australians were split into two working parties of about 50 men each. Working alongside their fellow Dutch Prisoners of War, the Australians dug and maintained canals. Early in July some of the prisoners were also put to digging air raid shelters alongside the line near the canal.  These had to be built above ground due to the amount of water laying about.  Anti-Aircraft weapon pits were excavated for the Japanese.
Below is Affidavit by WX5425 Corporal Tom Fitzgerald concerning the brutality of a guard Kiyoto Yuan known as ‘Scarface’ or sometimes referred to as the ‘Scarface Terror’ – in May 1945 Scarface had burnt his face with an oxy torch. He was sent away to hospital during June and returned in July with his scarred face.
In July 1945, Fitzgerald who on this particular day was in charge of work party No. 8 building air-raid shelters alongside the rail and the river as instructed by the Japanese engineers.  He was approached by an enraged Scarface who accused Fitzgerald of not following instructions and in his temper proceeded to use his rifle butt bashing Fitzgerald about his legs about six times (violently as the Japanese did)  causing abrasions, bleeding and bruising.
A week or so later Fitzgerald witnessed about six men of No. 8 work party including Private Stribling being ordered by ‘Scarface’  to pick up about 75 yards of 1 1/2 ” steel cable.  The men were unable to barely lift the heavy cable.  Suddenly an enraged ‘Scarface’ or Kiyoto Yuan attacked Stribling whilst he was straining with the cable, and with  closed fists, began hitting him hard around the face and in the stomach.

Below:  Stribling

Stribling immediately began vomiting and was laid up for days and unable to work.  Fitzgerald said Stribling nor any of the POWs had done anything to warrant the attack.  It subsequently took 16 men to move the cable.
Towards the end of July the POWs including Gilbert Japp were sitting on the embankment eating lunch when a native woman passed by in a canoe.  She threw a pomelo towards them which Japp picked up from the ground and began to break it up to share with the men. Kiyoto Yuan witnessed the event.  Enraged he attacked Japp hitting him with his rifle butt around his body 8 or 9 times, knocking Japp to the ground whereupon  ‘Scarface’ began using his boots to kick Japp about his body 4 or 5 times.
Upon examination by the camp doctor, it was found Japp had several broken ribs.  He was unable to undertake any further hard work.  Fitzgerald once again confirmed there had been no provocation by the POWs.
About a week before war’s end, three American bombers flew low over the area.  Fitzgerald was one of about 30 POWs working near the river crossing quite near a newly established anti-aircraft machine gun emplacement. The air-raid alarms had sounded, and although there was plenty of time Kiyoto Yuan would not allow the POWs to seek shelter.  He threatened to shoot anybody who ran elsewhere but beneath a small tree which screened about 6 men.  60 yards away abundant scrub would have screened all the men. Kiyoto Yuan made it clear he hoped the POWs would be bombed by the Americans.
Fitzgerald wrote in his Affidavit Kiyoto Yuan had an ungovernable temper and an openly declared hatred of the British race.  Rarely did a day pass when ‘Scarface’ did not slap the face of a POW or lash out with a kick.  When Japanese officers were not present ‘Scarface’ would delight in making the POWs work an extra one or two hours.
Remember the health of the POWs was at it lowest.  They had been incarcerated, worked as slaves, starved, overcome illnesses or were sick and been beaten for 3 1/2 years.











Right:  Tom Fitzgerald

Below:  Gilbert Japp


2/4th men who worked at Nakom Chassi included:

WX5425  Corp. Thomas Martin FITZGERALD

WX53335 Pte. William Marcus GIDDENS

WX15247 Corp. Keith George GRIFFITH

WX8702 Pte. Gilbert JAPP

WX7784 L/CPL John Wilfred SMITH

WX13552 Pte. Roy SMITH

WX9827 Pte. Reginald Harold STRIBLING

Please read Fitzgerald’s Statement of ill treatment at Nakom Chassi




Location of Nakom Chassi - Thailand