The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Bernard Patrick
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company, No. 3 Platoon
Place of Birth:
Geraldton, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Patrick Doolan
Mothers's Name:
Ellen 'Nellie' Hilda Doolan (nee Heenan)
Roman Catholic
Pre-war Occupation:
Truck Driver
Selarang Camp Changi
‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Tamarkan, Chungkai, Non Pladuk, Kachu Mountain Camp, Petchaburi, Nacompaton, Nakom Nayok.
Camps Burma:
aVictoria Point, Tavoy, Moulmein, Thanbyzuat, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75m, Aungganaung 105ikm
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft, Singapore-Fremantle HMT Circassia

General Description

  • Doolan’s service record documentation has him enlisting for 3 years for Militia Forces 10 Nov 1936 in Geraldton. Re-engaged for additional 2 years 10/11/1939.
  • Enlistment for war service (mobilization attestment form) was completed along with initial medial 30/7/1940 at the Drill Hall Bazaar Tce Perth. Enlistment in 2/4th was Nov 1940 at Claremont. (medical performed 16/11/1940) Oath sworn 21/11/1940. Residence at time of enlistment was Fremantle.
    Barney was 5′ 9″ tall with fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair.
  • He joined 2/4th MGB’s Headquarters Company No. 3 Platoon as Pioneer Sergeant under Capt. Phelps and Lt. O’Sullivan.
Les Cody author of ‘Ghosts in Khaki’ wrote of Doolan.
30th January 1942
‘We got our ear plugs today! Not officially:
For efficient official administrative staff work – substitute opportunism and Barney Doolan.  Nobody in the Battalion had a greater capacity for reorganising an opportunity and exploiting it to the full than Barney, our legendary Pioneer Sergeant.
..….Sitting outside the camp gates in the early evening with Viv Keay, passing the time of day with locals, they got into a conversation with a couple of British civilians employed at the Naval Base.  As they were trying to digest another bully beef meal, it was inevitable that the conversation centred around food and resulted in an invitation to a meal at the naval Base the next eveningWhen the civilian let drop that the stores he was controlling included ordnance spares, Barney zeroed in ………… ‘clearing plugs for machine guns?’

‘Yes, plenty replied the civvy’

…………An appointment for the next morning was arranged.  By Lunch time Barney had been, seen and appropriated enough clearing plugs for the Battalion, plus a load of other hard to get equipment.  The Battalion was now ready for action, whatever form it would take.’

Tragically Viv Keay died at Sandakan in 1945.

Another tale of Barney’s opportunity taken is again from Les Cody:-
There were other nocturnal activities going on that didn’t get a mention in routine orders, usually carried out by ‘Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves’ … Barney Doolan and his Pioneer Platoon.
Barney’s unorthodox methods created many a headache for the camp administration – anything that wasn’t nailed down was fair game. The Padre was anxious to have some extra shelves erected in his hut and approached Barney. No messing about – how badly do you want them Padre?… Well they are important…. right, meet me at the back of the Q store at midnight. 
A bit puzzled and apprehensive (but you didn’t argue with Barney) The padre arrived on time. Barney and the Platoon were assembled … follow me! and NO noise. In single file with the padre in the middle, they skirted the main camp and headed out to the back of 2RTD where Barney’s spies had identified some recently arrived pine flooring. Loading up, there was one problem, the timber came in 12 foot lengths and being springy, clattered as they walked. No trouble to the rest of the platoon, experts in the silent getaway, but the padre, by now having visions of facing a court-martial at the Bishops Castle, or wherever they tried Padres, was walking on eggshells. Whether by divine intervention, or ‘Ali Babas’ skill the exercise was successfully concluded and the padre got his shelves. To salve his conscience, Barney told him that ‘all is fair in love and war…we love our job, and there’s a war on!
Barney is mentioned several times in Les Cody’s book:
page 9 as one of original NCOs,
page 21 nocturnal scrounger activities and his platoon being called ‘Ali baba and his forty thieves’ and assisting the padre with shelves
page 100 (surname typo as Dooland) and
page 283 about 1944 air raid on camp and recovery of missing people/corpses.


Back row L-R E. Preedy, J. Heffernan, J. Holt, Bluey Smith, Lin Powell, R Kelt, 2nd row - Tom Firns, H. Elkins,Scotty McEwan, Front row - Darkie Rennie, Unknown, R Newling, J. Quinn, Barney Doolan

Back row L-R E. Preedy, J. Heffernan, J. Holt, Bluey Smith, Lin Powell, R Kelt, 2nd row – Tom Firns, H. Elkins,Scotty McEwan, Front row – Darkie Rennie, Unknown, R Newling, J. Quinn, Barney Doolan
Selected with ‘A’ Force  Burma Green Force No. 3  to work on the Burma end of the Railway, Bernie Doolan worked at  the following Camps:
Victoria Point
Non Pladuk
Nakom Nayok
He was recovered from Kachu Mountain Camp at war’s end.
Please read Flanigan’s War Affidavit
It was at Kachu Mountain Camp in 1945, that Doolan was savagely beaten by Japanese guard ‘The Gobbler’ for supposedly handing out incorrect tools to POWs before starting out to work.  The attack lasted several minutes, he was beaten about the head and face by Gobbler’s fist then with his stick leaving Doolan with severe lacerations to his head and face.

(recorded in Flanigan’s War Trial Affadavit)

P.283 ‘Ghosts in Khaki’ – Air Attacks at Thanbuzyat  (I believe date should be 1943 and not 1944 as printed)
It was at Tenko, POWs were suddenly alerted to a formation in the air coming their way – not the usual reconnaissance  planes.  POWs scattered, many indecisive.  The bombs hit enveloping 100s of POWs crouching in drains and spread out across the parade ground. Two hospital huts were hit leaving huge craters within feet of the parade ground. The formation turned and came back – most POWs headed for the banana grove – relieved the airplanes were leaving the location.
Efforts to rescue POWs in the blasted huts was held up by Japanese demanding tenko!  Finally the Japanese released a working party to attend the wounded and the frantic job of digging out victims.  At least 60 wounded men were treated and the next day 17 corpses were dug up.  ‘Barney Doolan was a tower of strength in the frantic rescue attempt as was Ray Wilson.  Claude Anderson worked tirelessly in the hospital assisting Chief Surgeon Major Hobbs.’
‘Barney like his little assistant Jimmy Quinn didn’t have a great deal of time for Dutch Officers.  Just after the bombing, while getting the rescue attempt under way, Barney spotted a line of wooden clogs at the front of the parade ground where ten minutes before there had been Dutch officers.
Just what you’d expect from them bludgers, all at the position of ‘onder platz reste’ and not as bloody Dutchman in sight.”


Radiance and the children resided in Northam and Fremantle while Barney was a POW.
He was discharged on 18 Feb 1946.


Bernard Patrick (Barney) was born in Geraldton on 7 May 1910 to Patrick Doolan and Ellen Hilda (nee Heenan)
He was the 6th of 9 children of which 7 survived (2 died as infants in 1901 and 1903 respectively).
  • He was a bit of a sportsman participating in  boxing and playing soccer.
  • Boxing: Aug 1928 Welterweight championship of Victoria District, preliminary fight Barney Doolan v Kid Mifflin.
  • Soccer: 1938 District Premiership Competition – Towns
  • Barney married Radiance Pearson 1931 in Geraldton. (his brother Maurice “Paddy” married Radiance’s sister Mary Hope) they had three boys; Michael b 1932, George b 1933 and Robert Bernard b 1940.
  • Radiance was unwell with Cancer for a considerable period of time (from late 50s) and passed away 19 July 1978.
  • Barney’s recovered POW documentation describes him as  5′ 9″ tall,  fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair.
Barney moved to live in Perth in the 1950s.  Electoral Rolls show he had changed occupation – cabinet making, and in 1972 was a carpenter employed at Bentley Institute of Technology prior to moving to Carlisle.





The Geraldton Guardian Saturday December 16 1939

Above: Barney’s father Patrick Doolan died in 1951.


  • Barney passed away 13 July 1999.  Known to his family as Pop, he resided Carlisle.  He died at Hollywood Hospital. Barney had a stroke, lost his ability to swallow and never really recovered.   He always said he ‘would never starve or be short of food again!’
At that time he was survived by his three sons, 6 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.  (There have been further family additions since 1999).
Today, Robert Bernard is the only living son.  (Dec 2022).  We acknowledge and thank Robert’s wife Bernadette Doolan for forwarding much of the above information.


Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Chungkai, 60k - Thailand
  • Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
  • Nakom Nayok, Nakhon Nayok - Thailand
  • Non Pladuk, 0k - Thailand
  • Petchaburi - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Tavoy (Dawei) - river port - Burma
  • Thanbyuzayat, 415k - Burma
  • Kachau Mountain Camp - Thailand
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Kawasaki 14D - Shibaura