The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Alexander Meora
- Nick Name:
- Sandy, Alec
- Regimental #:
- Batman/Runner (transferred to Special Reserve Bn. Headquarters on 7.2.1942) Batmann to Major Saggers
- 'A' Company, No 4 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Bridgetown, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- William Wilton Meora Steven Hack
- Mothers's Name:
- Charlotte Scott Hack (nee Murray)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 38.
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘B’ Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Beri‐Beri and Heart Failure
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan‐Ranau track, 1st Ranau march
- Date of Death:
Hack originally joined ‘A’ Company however in January 1941 he was to become batman/runner to Special Reserve Battalion, ‘E’ Company, and in particular to the Commanding Officer, Major Bert Saggers. ‘E’ Company was made up of mostly reinforcements, most of whom had undergone very little training.
‘E’ Coy tragically ran into a Japanese ambush about 12 February 1942. Nearly all Officers (transferred from other Companies as was Hack) were killed along with a very large number of inexperienced and very young reinforcements.
Now a POW Hack was interred at Selarang following capitulation. He was selected with ‘B’ Force Borneo to sail from Singapore on 8 July 1942. The beginning of a terrible few years working as a POW in Borneo, where there would be no survivors – only 6 men escaped successfully. Thankfully Alex was in the company of many 2/4th mates, and Australians.
Pte Alex Hack died on 4th February 1945 First March Sandakan-Ranau Track. They had departed in groups of about 50 prisoners with guards from 28 January 1945.
Hack was one of 455 POWs considered by Japanese to be most fit to carry rice supplies, munitions and sometimes personal baggage of accompanying Japanese who were relocating to the west coast. All suffering illnesses and/or malnourishment, the POWs were only provided sufficient food for four days, when the planned route was known to take about 9 days.
A torturous march across a most uninhabitable virgin tropical land, up to their knees in muddy swamp lands, climbing and descending steep hills, carrying excessive loads for Japanese, being beaten whilst ill and starving.
We, today, cannot begin to imagine how these POWs survived even the shortest time of 1945.
The Japanese recorded Hack died of beri beri – by 1945 the Japanese records always records POWs the result of malaria, beri beri, dysentery.
After war’s end, Hack who died 4 Feb 1945 of cerebral beri beri aged 38 years was recovered about 60 miles from Sandakan, one mile from Mandorin, a tributary of Labuk River. Located nearby were bodies of at least 3 other POWs from Western Australia – they were not together and Hack died Feb whilst the others all died 9 June 1945.
WX11731 Trevor Ainsworth, 1 Coy AASC from 2/4 Reserve Motor Transport Coy, died 9 June 1945 malaria aged 24 years 2nd Death March – on Sandakan to Ranau Track
WX7133 Arthur George Grigson, 2/6 Field Park Coy also died 9 June 1945 malaria aged 28 years, on Sandakan-Ranau Track near Mandorin 2nd Death March
WX10523 Alexander McConnell, 4 Reserve Motor Transport Coy, died 9 June 1945 malaria aged 42 years 2nd March 103 miles from Sandakan east of Borto.
Below: Labuk River
HACK, Private, ALEXANDER MEORA, WX8003, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 4 February 1945. Age 38. Son of William Wilton Meora Stephen Hack and Charlotte Scott Hack, of Boyup Brook, Western Australia. Panel 18
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia
There is a headstone for Alec Hack at the Cemetery of Boyup Brook with the inscription:
“POW Sandakan, Borneo,
Died February 1945 Aged 38 Years.
Resting Place Unknown
Son of Charlotte and William”
His name and number are also included on the Sandakan Memorial, near the Shire Council of Boyup Brook.
Hack’s parents Charlotte Scott Murray born SA and William Hack married in 1902 West Perth. Alexander was the eldest of six children followed by Bill, Douglas, sister Helen who enlisted with nursing, Bernard and youngest brother Ron also enlisted with AIF and survived the war. His father William died in 1941 and his mother in 1958.
Alex was 34 years old when he enlisted in 1940. As was the way with most farming families, he would have left home at a youngish age probably around 1930, to make his way in the world (and often to reduce the number of mouths to feed- although not necessarily the Hack family). These were the tough years of the Depression.
In 1931 Hack was working as a blacksmith at Princess Royal Mine, Southern Cross. In 1943 he was recorded as farmer Keninup, Bridgetown – this being his last known address and his family’s home. His enlistment details record his occupation as a shearer.
Boyup Brook WW2 Memorial – also inscribed is F Lee-Steere, which we believe may be Forrest Lee-Steere WX7640.
Below: Alex Hack has his name inscribed on Bridgetown WW2 Memorial.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***