The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Thorns
First Name:
Arthur Stanley
Nick Name:
Codge
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX10289
Classification:
Driver
Company:
‘B’ Company, No 7 Platoon
Enlisted:
18.12.1940
DOB:
18.11.1917
Place of Birth:
Trafalgar, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Albert Wilfred Thorns
Mothers's Name:
Amy Matilda Thorns
Religion:
Methodist
Pre-war Occupation:
Pipe Fitter
Memorial:
Epitaph, Labuan memorial, Panel 19, Age 27.
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi, Johore Bahru, Adam Park, Selarang Barracks Changi
Force:
‘E’ Force Borneo
POW#:
4/6721 & 1936
Cause of Death:
Beaten to Death
Place of Death:
Ranau No. 2 Camp
Date of Death:
1.08.1945

General Description

Arthur Thorns soldier was amongst the last group at Ranau to be massacred.  During the War Trials of Sandakan the final conclusion regarding the POWs at Ranau was  on 1st August a senior Japanese soldier gave the order to the guards to kill all remaining prisoners estimated to include 42 Australians and 7 British POWs.  Locals however, reported the men’s deaths to be later.  It is known ‘Codge’ Thorns was amongst the last surviving Australians and the only 2/4th soldier alive at this time, most of whom were extremely ill.   Codge was named by Lieutenant W H Sticpewich who had earlier escaped and was one of the only six survivors of Sandakan.
Information from ‘Sandakan – The Untold Story of the Sandakan Death Marches’ by Paul Ham.
Height 5′ 9″
Read the story of Sandakan, B and E Forces

Please read list of relics found Sandakan.

See photos of all West Australians who perished at Sandakan

Below:  Good news received in Sep1943 for Codge’s family and Ron Badock.

 

Ron Badock always referred to Codge as ‘Codgee’ – in fact he was probably known as Codgee in the 2/4th.

 

Thorns A.S.
Thorns A.S.

 

 

 

 

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He was the son of Albert ‘Bert’ Wilfred Thorns and Amy Matilda (nee Paterson) who married 1917, Boulder.   Codge was last recorded residing with them at 23 President Street, Kalgoorlie.  Bert Thorns and his brothers were born in Gympie and moved to the WA Goldfields with their parents Emma and Albert Thorns – grandparents to Codge.
We believe Bert and Amy named their first born son Arthur Stanley after Bert’s two brothers Arthur John Vivian Thorns who died WW1 France 29 Jul 1916 and A. H. ‘Stanley’ Thorns who died in 1918 with 51st Battalion.  We believe both Arthur and Stanley had served with Militia prior to enlisting.
Arthur Thorns enlisted 22 Jul 1915 into 28th Battalion.
Alfred Henry Stanley Thorns enlisted 5 Sep 1914 into 11th Battalion  He was later transferred to 51st Battalion.  He was awarded a MM and had been wounded on at least three occasions.  Stanley fought at Gallipoli with 11th Battalion, later transferring to 51st.
Third brother George Albert (Leslie) Thorns enlisted 18 Oct 1917 into 48th Battalion.  Les  had his left foot severely damaged by a shell and was finally discharged 16 Mar 1918. Les was married.
All were born in Gympie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1932, Albert Thorns died – grandfather to ‘Codge’ and father of Stanley and Arthur John Thorns who lost their lives in WW1.

 

Below:  Codge’s Grandmother Emma died in 1948.

 

 

 

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Arthur or ‘Codge’ as he was known, enlisted AIF 18 Dec 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Company No. 7 Platoon as a Driver.  & Platoon was under Commanding Officer Lt Penrod Dean.
He sailed from Singapore 2 March 1943 for North Borneo with ‘E’ Force Borneo.  E Force were accommodated at No. 3 Sandakan Compound (B Force was at No. 1 and the British at No. 2) – the Japanese forbid the compounds to communicate with each other.
Eventually B and E Force were amalgamated.
The First Death March from Sandakan to Ranau began departing in groups of approx. 50 POWs with their guards at the end of January 1945.  The Japanese no longer distributed rice and POWs were forbidden to trade with locals – the repercussions were a terrible death.  Codge left Sandakan with No. 2 March from Sandakan, beginning end of May 1945.  Once again they departed in groups of about 50 POWs with their guards. It was at this time, the Japanese ordered all POWs out of their huts – they were the very sick unable to march. Some hobbled, others crawled and  some were carried by mates to lie out in the open of the compound many without shelter, some had their ground sheets and all dressed in a few rags.    All the POW huts were then set on fire by the Japanese and who also began burning all documents.  
Codge miraculously made it to Ranau – when so many died on the track.

  • WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX10289 Private Arthur Stanley Thorns, 2/​4th Machine Gun Battalion, Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW’s were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Private Thorns, aged 27, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 8 August 1945. He was the son of Albert Wilfred and Amy Matilda Thorns, of Kalgoorlie, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 19. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)

Camp Locations:

  • Adam Park Camp - Singapore
  • Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Ranau - Borneo
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