Reptu, Retphaw, 30 Kilo - Burma
Reptu 30 km – Burma
Located near a river this was a work camp from July 1943 to October 1943.
From February 1943 onwards work on the railway became steadily harder with demands of the Japanese Engineers – and so the numbers of sick rose. In January 1943 Thanbyuzayat was recognised as a base hospital camp (there were 1600 patients) it was situated opposite the railway station and workshops.
In early March 1943 Reptu was established as a hospital camp however it closed as a hospital very quickly on the orders of the Japanese and patients transferred back to Thanbyuzayat Hospital Camp.
Followed by Allied bombing raids 12th and 15th June over the railway workshops and marshalling yards, stray bombs killed about 18 Australian patients were killed and many more wounded. The following day Japanese HQ ordered all patients be moved to disused Kendau 4.8k, Wegale 8k and Alepauk 18k Camps. Japanese HQs were set up at 4.8k Kendau Camp which was located within Moulmein rubber plantation.
Eventually all these hospital patients were concentrated back at Reptu 30k Hospital Camp which was re-opened.
Thanbyuzayat Base Hospital became so crowded that the Japanese High Command directed a new hospital be erected at 30 kilo – to be known as Reptu.
The only improvement on other camps was the boarded floors. Reptu Snr. M.O. was Major Fisher and camp commander was Lt. Col. C. Black. It was a blow to have the drunken Lt Naito from Meiloe 75 kilo Camp as the Japanese commander.
23 July 1943 – 120 patients arrived from 40 Kilo with dysentery, oedema, debility and huge ulcers.
The Japanese officer in charge was Naito; who was a drunkard, erratic and out of control. Even the other Japanese guards were afraid of him and finally had him removed on 16th August 1943.
1st August – Speedo commences.
Number of sick men is appalling.
21st October 1943 – Major Krantz and Capt. Richards arrived from 90 Kilo to visit.
Strength down to 350.
22nd October 1943: Reptu to be evacuated. Patients and gear moved to station at 4.30pm and arrived Khon Khan – 55 Kilo at 9.30 pm. Moved into quarters in the dark.
2/4th men known to be at 30 km Camp include
WX8720 Arthur Joseph Baker ‘A’ Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn Lost at Sea, Rakuyo Maru 12/9/1944.
WX7804 Davison, Thomas Medland ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Btn. Evacuated to Khonkan 55km Hospital Camp from Aungganaung 105km on 4/7/1943. Dr. Coates performed 3 leg amputations. Died diarrhoea and malnutrition 25/10/43 Khonkan.
NX73270 Howard, Bernard James ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Btn. Rakuyo Maru lost at sea 12/9/44.
WX10795 Hughes, Ronald Edward Java Party 4, Williams Force. Recorded at Reptu 30 km camp 25/3/1943. Rakuyo Maru 12/9/1944.
WX7662 Minchin Alec Randolph ‘A’ Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn. Rakuyo Maru 15/9/1944.
REPTU 30 KM
Dr Albert Coates from his book
This party arrived from Ye airfield where POWs had been working. They travelled to Thanbyzuyat where Brigadier Varley of ‘A’ Force Burma was established with his staff organising several thousand POWs : Australians, British, Dutch and some Americans.
This arrangement suited Japanese senior Officer in charge of Burma end of the Railway Lt. Col Nagatomo who was left little to do other than organise the shooting of escaped POWs who had been recaptured.
There was one Japanese Medical Officer (MO) for all POWs in Burma. Lt. Higuchi (was said to be a dentist) was the owner of qualifications enabling him to make en masse diagnosis POWs – their treatment according to Coates, was of course occupational therapy of the heaviest kind.
Coates had arrived early April 1943 at 30km Camp as SMO with Lt. Col Black in charge of Administration. Coates was accompanied by Lt. Col Eadie and Kranz.
Reptu was for the treatment of 2,000 light sick POWS, most of whom had malaria and many other illnesses caused by chronic lack of vitamins. Within three weeks General Sasa visited the Camp and inspected the sick. Sasa sent several very sick to Thanbyuzyat and main body out to work on the railway – many of these men died within the next two months.
Coates complained to Higuchi who said the railway had to be built and advised him Reptu 30 Km was closing and he, i.e. Coates was to be sent to 75km – where there was ‘good equipment and plenty of medical help’. Lt Col Eadie and Krantz were sick and returned to Thabyzuyat, leaving Coates the only MO.
The following information has been taken from Albert Coates when in 1946 he gave a presentation.