The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Henry Patrick
- Nick Name:
- Bull, Pat
- Regimental #:
- Battalion Headquarters
- Place of Birth:
- Albany, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Albert Ernest Bennett
- Mothers's Name:
- Margaret Cicely Bennett (nee Jordan)
- Roman Catholic
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Tractor Driver
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 30.
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi
- 'E' Force Borneo
- 4/5916 & 1585
- Cause of Death:
- Heart Paralysis - Cardiac Beri-Beri
- Place of Death:
- First March Sandakan to Ranau, east of Tampias
- Date of Death:
Above: Newspaper November 1940.
Below: Published in local newspaper 15 February 1941
Pat Bennett was the second of 5 sons and one daughter born to Albert Bennett and Margaret (Madge) Jordan who married in Katanning in 1912. The Bennett family resided in Gnowangerup.
Above: The death of Pat’s brother ‘Snow’ aged 15 years in 1932.
Below: In 1934, the Bennett family endured the death of another child, 8 year old son Billy.
Pat Bennett was the second eldest of 8 children born to Ernie and Madge Bennett.
He attended Gnowangerup School and later became a motor mechanic.
As a POW at Selarang, Singapore Pat would have worked with several work parties on projects around Singapore Island for the Japanese. He was selected with ‘E’ Force which sailed to Borneo leaving Changi 28 March 1943. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, boarded S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943.
At Sandakan they worked constructing an airfield. The conditions became worse and worse, less food, longer working hours and appalling conditions and their Japanese guards were brutal. Pat Bennett was selected by the Japanese as being fit for the First Sandakan to Ranau March.
Tragically Pat died 15 February 1945 aged 30 years at Maringan (Murikan) east of Tampias (Tampias was about 124 miles from Sandakan and 31 miles to Ranau,) of cardiac beri beri. (his body was located and verified by Track Recoveries after the end of war).
455 POWs set out from Sandakan in groups of about 50 with guards. The groups departed at intervals so there is no communication.
The Bennett family would have been notified of Pat’s death by Telegram, stating the date of his death and very little else. Families had no idea why their sons/husbands were in North Borneo let alone any details about this former British Colony. It was not until the late 1980’s that Australians began to learn the truth about Sandakan.
BENNETT, Private, HENRY PATRICK, WX9340, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 15 February 1945. Age 30. Son of Albert Ernest and Margaret Cicely Bennett, of Gnowangerup, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Above: WA Paybook Photograph which was taken at enlistment.
Kings Park Avenue of Honour
Dedicated by his Family on 17 May 2014
Biography presented during plaque dedication:
‘Private Henry Patrick Bennett, or Pat as he was known, was born at Albany in July 1914. He was one of five sons and a daughter of Albert and Margaret Bennett of Gnowangerup.
Pat attended school at Gnowangerup and after leaving worked as a motor mechanic.
He enlisted at Claremont in October 1940 and was posted to 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion.
This battalion was formed with men from across the state and they all came together at Northam Military Camp where they carried out their initial training.
In July 1941, the battalion moved to Adelaide and then to Darwin and left there in late October, bound for Singapore via Port Moresby.
Due to enemy action, the convoy turned around and sailed to Sydney, then Fremantle, and finally reached Singapore at the end of January 1942.
They were soon in action, Malaya had fallen and Singapore was being attacked.
Following the surrender in February, Pat became a prisoner of war and was sent to Sandakan as part of E Force to build an air strip. There, they were starved, beaten and brutally treated. He, with others, were was sent on infamous death marches.
Private Henry Patrick Bennett, service number WX9340 of 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion died on the Sandakan-Ranau track on 1 February 1945. He was 33 years of age.’
Albert Ernst died in 1961 at Albany aged 97 years. He was buried at Gnowangerup.
Pat was their third son to die.
Pat died 15 Feb 1945 aged 30 years on First March of heart paralysis (cardiac beri beri) east of Tampias – his body was found and removed by Track Recoveries Party soon after the war ended.
You can clearly see Tampias on the below map.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak