The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Claude John
Regimental #:
‘E’ Company, Special Reserve Battalion
Place of Birth:
East Perth, Western Australia
Father's Name:
John Henry Dow
Mothers's Name:
Sussanna Maud Dow (nee Pettit)
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Wine Worker
A. G. H. Roberts Barracks Changi; Adam Park; Sime Road Camp; Selarang Barracks Changi, River Valley Road Transit Camp
‘ D ’ Force Thailand, S Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Tarsau, Kanu II, Hintok Road Camp, Tamarkan, Tamuang
Camps Japan:
Yamane (drill sharpener); Niihama (repair shop)
8771 and 1604
Rashin Maru Party
Return Details 1945:
Wakayama-Okinawa, USS Sanctuary, Okinawa-Manila USS Bingham, Manila-Darwin, PBY Catalina aircraft A24-382, Darwin-Perth B24 Liberator (11/10/1945)

General Description

‘Dow was listed as missing 11.2.1942.  He lost his way following the ambush as South-West Bukit Timah and made his way to the coast where he managed to escape by boat to a nearby island south of Singapore.  He held out there until he contracted beri beri and in his weakened state was handed over to bounty hunters by local Malays who in turn handed him to the Japanese.  Dow was put in gaol for two weeks and questioned by the Japanese.  It is likely he was sent to Kempeitai Headquarters, YMCA Building, Stamford Road Singapore.  Once the Japanese were satisfied that Dow’s story was authentic he was sent to Changi, where he was admitted to AGH at Roberts Barracks.’

Read Claude’s story Gravejumper as he tells it.

Dow was  2/4th reinforcement, having enlisted 10 November 1941 and was taken on strength 30 December 1941.  As with too many reinforcements, Claude had barely undertaken training at Northam!!

Read further

He was listed as ‘Missing’ from 11 February 1942.  He became lost during the ambush at South West Bukit Timah where so many of ‘E’ Coy lost their lives, were wounded and/or scattered in so many directions with some lost/missing.
Claude, with several others found themselves cut off from their unit.    Encountering quite a few Japanese they took cover in the bracken fern where they planned to wait until dusk.  Unfortunately the Japanese discovered and shot at them, instantly killing the other two soldiers.  Laying several feet away Claude was also fired upon, however the bullet went under his belly throwing dirt up over his shirt.  Claude recounted his story in December 1945  from Hollywood Hospital and wrote  “I never moved and they evidently thought I was pushing up daisies as they left after a few minutes.”
He waited awhile and with dusk approaching decided to move.  His decision was accelerated when Allied artillery began firing on the Japanese.  Claude was now behind Japanese lines and right in line with the Allied big guns which were landing shots very close by.  He quickly secured a water bottle and tin of herring from the bags of his now dead mates (soon discovering the fish tin was damaged by a rifle bullet and the contents well and truly spoilt).  His only food throughout the previous day’s fighting was a handful of raisins.  He was hungry.
Alone, Claude managed to make his way to the coast, found a boat escaped to one of the nearby islands.
Following his capture by the Japanese Claude, who had been ‘on the run’ was gaoled and questioned for two weeks before finally being returned AGH Changi  22 June 1942.
He was again admitted to AGH Hospital with dysentery and discharged to unit 4 August 1942.   Also admitted to AGH with dengue fever 10 August 1942.


His POW movements from Selarang Camp are as follows:

Johore Bahru, Adam Park, Sime Road and Changi,

On 14 March 1943 he left Singapore for 4-5 day train journey to Thailand to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion.  This work Force included the largest number of 2/4th men (as did ‘A’ Force Burma Green Force No. 3) so Claude was with many mates and ‘in good company’!!

18 Mar 1943 – arrived Bampong Railway Station, Thailand

19 March 1843 – arrived by truck,  Kanchanaburi

24 March 1943 – arrived by truck at Tarsau – first work Camp.

25 April 1943 – arrived Kanyu II, Hellfire Pass railway cutting

16 July 1943 – arrived Hintok Camp where he remained working until Burma-Thai rail link was completed.
20 February 1944 – arrived Tamarkan Camp which was of the largest Camps as well as being a Hospital.
10 March 1944 – arrived Tamuang Camp – from here those considered ‘fit’ by the Japanese, including Claude were selected to work in Japan.
Following inoculations and ‘health checks’ the men destined for Japan made return trip by train to Singapore – arriving 26 June 1944 at River Valley Road Transit Camp.

Embarked for Japan ‘Byoki Maru’.

Please read further about this voyage.

September 1944 – May 1945 – Yamane, Japan (drill sharpener)

June 1945-August 1945 – Niihama (repair shop)

Claude below having been made free by arrival of Americans August 1945.


Back L-R: Thomas Gibson, Bert Norton, Fred "Cowboy" Matthews, Ralph Hadfield, Front: George Chatfield, Norm Thompson, Claude Dow, Andrew "Mick" Lambie
Back L-R: Thomas Gibson, Bert Norton, Fred “Cowboy” Matthews, Ralph Hadfield,
Front: George Chatfield, Norm Thompson, Claude Dow, Andrew ‘Mick’ Lambie



Above:  1985 Anzac Day reunion.  L- R Greg Burdon, Claude Dow, Len Armstrong, Ron Badock.


40th Anniversary – Heritage on Charles

Claude with Jack Kyros


Above:  Claude on a flight with a organised group to revisit Thailand.
I recall Claude always to be happy, well-dressed, outgoing and a charming gentleman with a twinkle in his eye looking to enjoy or share a  joke or have a laugh.  He would often visit my parents, Marion and Cowboy Matthews in Perth.   (Cheryl Mellor 2019)
He also relayed the shocking story of the death of his 14 month old young son.
In 1952, Claude was driving his truck with his wife and children seated beside him.  The passenger door flew open, and young Raymond fell to his death.
(Remember most vehicles were old and few.  Australia was still recovering from war. Pre-war most families did not own a vehicle, no such thing as seat belts).



Claude passed away aged 84 yrs, July 13 2001, at Bunbury, WA.

Above:  Jim Elliott looking at camera, Don Wall beside him, Claude Dow behind Elliott, Tim Mellor following Dow, Andy Mellor in white shirt (grandsons of ‘Cowboy’ Matthews)


He was born Claude Dau 1917 to parents Johann Heinrich Robert Dau and Sussanna Maud Pettit who married at Guildford 1906.  Claude’s father ‘John’ Dau was born 1880 Merri Creek, Victoria. His father, ie Claude’s grandfather was born in Germany.  Sussanna Pettit was born in York 1887.
Claude was the second eldest of five sons and he had three older and two younger sisters.  The Dau family lived in Sawyers Valley/Mundaring area.
Claude married in 1940.

Claude enlists on 10 November 1941 and joins reinforcements for 2/4th MGB.
Below:  Claude’s older brother Raymond is killed accidentally August 1942.  Raymond also, enlisted was waiting to go overseas.  He had previously worked at the Lands Titles Office.  It is believed he was a pilot.
Claude would not have not have learnt of Raymond’s death until after the war ended.



His wife Joan receives news of Claude being POW.




Below:  Raymond Leslie Dow was 14 months old.



After the war, Claude and Joan had another two sons.  Alan, Raymond and Gregory.
As with most of his mates, returned former POWs, Claude spent time at Hollywood Hospital and faced his share of hurdles adjusting back to life before 1941.
Tragedy hits the young family when in June 1952 their son Raymond (named after Claude’s brother who died in 1942) is also accidentally killed.



Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Sime Road Camp - Singapore
  • Hintok, 154k - Thailand
  • Kanu II, 152.30k - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Tamuang, Tha Muang 39k - Thailand
  • Tarsau, Tha Sao 125k - Thailand
  • Nihama, Hiroshima #2-B- Japan
  • Yamane, Hiroshima #3-D - Japan