The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Edwin Leslie
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
‘C’ Company
Place of Birth:
Durham, England
Father's Name:
William Nolan
Mothers's Name:
Grace Isabel Nolan (nee Scott)
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 19, Age 34.
Selarang Camp Changi, River Valley Road Transit Camp before departing Singapore for Japan.
‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km transferred to Reptu Hospital Camp 30km.
Rakuyo Mara Party, Kumi No. 37
Cause of Death:
Lost at Sea
Place of Death:
South China Sea
Date of Death:

General Description

Les Nolan was youngest of three sons born to
William Nolan and Grace Isobel Scott who married in 1905 England.  The couple also had a daughter who sadly died very young.

Will Nolan died in 1921.

In July 1928 Les departed London on ‘Esperance Bay’ for Australia.  He was 19 years of age and his occupation was recorded as farm labourer.  The following year in 1929 his brother Maurice also moved to Western Australia.  (Maurice was declared unfit when he tried enlisting 1942.)

In the 1936 Electoral Roll Les was living at Yilgarn, probably working in the mines.

Les Nolan married about 1941 to Eileen Fry (nee Douglas).  Eileen Nolan lived until 2007, aged 95 years.

Les Nolan was recorded farming at Bodallin when he enlisted.  (Bodallin is halfway between Merredin and Southern Cross).


Sadly Norm Fraser died of  illness at Aungganaung 105km Camp on 4.6.1943 after drinking contaminated water


Nolan West Australian (Perth, WA _ 1879 - 1954), Thursday 12 September 1946, page 1





Les was selected as a POW in Singapore to work on the Burma end of the railway with ‘A’ Force Burma Green Force No. 3 Battalion.  Please read further about this work Force.

By December 1943 the railway was completed, Les with all POWs working in the Burma section of Thai- Burma Railway, were sent south to one of 4 large camps.  Many were ill, some died on their journey and those who were too ill to be moved remained behind with caring hospital (POW) staff until they died.

Les would have been either at Tamarkan and probably Non Pladuk where the fittest men were selected by the Japanese to travel to Japan via Saigon, French Indo-China.

The Pows arrived in Saigon began working while several attempts were made to ship the POWs out of port to Japan.  The American submarines had successfully blockaded their harbour.  The Japanese then shipped the POWs by train back to Singapore via Bangkok.  Here in Singapore they remained at River Valley Road Transit Camp while they worked and waited for a  boat to take them.

Tragically and of course they did not have choice, many men including Les, boarded the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ which was hit by American torpedoes fired from USS ‘Sea Lion’ about 4-5 days after leaving Singapore.  Although some men were fortunate to survive until being picked up by the Americans, most perished in the South China Sea.  A large number were from the 2/4th.

Please read further about ‘Rakuyo Maru’.

You may like to read about the American Submarine wolf pack which attacked the convoy

Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Tavoy (Dawei) - river port - Burma
  • Bangkok - Thailand
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma