The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Neville Ernest
- Regimental #:
- Fitter and Technical Storeman
- Attached 2/4th, 88 Light Aid Detachment
- Place of Birth:
- Perth, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Paul Bert Bailey
- Mothers's Name:
- Eliza Bailey (nee Taylor)
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 29, Age 24.
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘B’ Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No. 2 Camp
- Date of Death:
Taken on Strength from 2/4th Field Workshops on 20.2.1941. Transferred to 88 L.A.D. on 27.12.1941.
‘1942 Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX10920 Craftsman Neville Ernest Bailey, 88th Light Aid Detachment, Australian Army Ordnance Corps. 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 B Force. The 1494 POW’s that made up B Force, were transported from Changi on 7 July 1942 on board the tramp ship Ubi Maru, arriving in Sandakan Harbour on 18 July 1942. Craftsman Bailey, aged 24, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 10 June 1945. He was the son of Paul Bert and Eliza Bailey, of Inglewood, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 29. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)’
When Neville first enlisted he joined 88th Light Aid Detachment as Fitter & Technical Storeman. He was one of 18 men from 88th LAD under Command of Capt A H R Odlum, attached to 2/4th MGB.
As a POW in Singapore, Bailey was selected with ‘B’ Force to sail to Borneo from Singapore on 8 July 1942 to Sandakan, British North Borneo as it was then known (Sabah). It was here POWS worked on constructing an airfield with necessary roads for the Japanese.
Tragically Neville died of malaria (according to Japanese records) Sandakan on 10 June 1945 aged 24 years – he was one of two thousand POWs who did not survive the hellish Sandakan.
The Commonwealth Burial Party recovered his body at slit trenches No. 2 Sandakan Compound – a communal burial ground for the men who died after 29 May 1945.
The Second March’ departed from Sandakan 29 May onwards in parties of about 50 men. Before they left the Japanese had ordered all POWs out of their huts – their homes since they arrived at Borneo – and proceeded to burn all the constructions.
Neville was one 288 POWs too sick to march, moved to the open grounds of the compound where they created their own shelter. They were being supplied no food by the Japanese and had been forbidden to trade with locals since January. The men had been living on their own stockpiled rice.
Neville was one of five sons and four daughters born to Paul and Eliza Bailey. Paul Bailey and Eliza Taylor married in Fremantle in 1901. The family initially resided at Inglewood.
Neville loved water sports and was passionate about cars. He was the proud owner of a 1928 Chrysler. He worked at Sydney Atkinson Motors as a storeman prior to enlisting.
This is all the information the Australian Government allowed Sandakan POWs families be informed. Absolutely nothing, just that their son had died Sandakan.
The Government decided the history of Sandakan was too terrible for the Australian population (As did the British Government) and ensured there were no press reports printed in Australia – several journalists had been to Borneo soon after the end of the war and during the recovery of bodies and during War Trials. Everybody was sworn to secrecy.
The families of these brave young men were deeply traumatised by lack of information and the ongoing silence about this place called Sandakan in Borneo. A place they had not ever known of.
Their grief was endless and probably intensified with time. In particular, we know of fathers of these young men who went to their own graves far too early – grief and pain had destroyed their very souls.
Relatives were outraged and rallied in Sydney – they were desperate for information The 8th Division also approached the Australian government, to no avail.
Could this situation be repeated in future Australia?
Below: Neville’s Grandfather died.
His father known as Skipper Bailey died in 1955 aged 78 years and his mother died in 1956 aged 75 years.
Plaque at King Park.
Dedicated by Family on 18 December 2004
Biography presented during plaque dedication:
‘Craftsman Neville Ernest Bailey of the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, was one of five sons and four daughters of Paul and Eliza Bailey of Inglewood.
Neville was a typical youth, with a liking for water sports and cars. He was the proud owner of a 1928 Chrysler.
Prior to his enlistment he was employed at Sydney Atkinson’s in the spare parts division.
He died as a POW on 10 June 1945 at Sandakan, aged 24, and is remembered at the Labuan Memorial Cemetery.’
We salute you Neville Bailey and acknowledge your incredible bravery.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***