The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Basil Melville
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company, No. 3 Platoon
Place of Birth:
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
William Edward Frost
Mothers's Name:
Isabel Fraser Frost (nee Melville)
Pre-war Occupation:
Changi Gaol Camp Hospital (evacuated with an infected leg August 1944); Transferred to Changi Administration on 28.1.1945; X3 Party
‘A’ Force Burma; Java Party, No. 4, Williams Force
Camps Burma:
Khonkan 55km Camp (evacuated to Tamarkan Hospital) Tanyin, Anakwin, Taunngzun, Mezali, Apalon, Kyondaw, Payanthonzu
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 38
Return Details 1945:
Singapore-Darwin-Sydney, HMT Arawa; Sydney-Melbourne by troop train; Melbourne to Perth by ANA airliner

General Description

Basil enlisted July 1941, was Taken on Strength to Woodside Camp SA on 5 October 1941 where he joined 2/4th’s HQ Coy No. 3 Platoon as a reinforcement.
When sailing from Sydney to Perth onwards to Singapore (the destination was unknown) Basil was one of a large number of 2/4th men who jumped ‘Aquitania’ at Gauge Roads – mostly to see  their families for what well may have been the last time.  Many who were AWOL were able to return before ‘Aquitania’ departed the next day on 16th January 1942.
Basil was send to Java with the other 80-90 2/4th men.

Read about AWOL Fremantle, Blackforce

Basil arrived  with Java Group No. 4  in Singapore after a horrid sea journey on 12 October 1942.  Two days later they sailed out of Singapore with ‘A’ Force to Burma.

Read about Williams Force

We cannot be sure about which camps Basil worked at with Williams Force.  Williams Force generally worked at  Tanyin, Anakwin, Taungzun 57 Km, Apalon 77, Mezali 72 just to name a few.
Following completion of the Railway, POWs who had been working in Burma were evacuated to one of several large camps south to Thailand.  Basil was moved to Tamarkan.
From Tamarkan he was selected to work in Japan and was sent to Phom Penh – Saigon – Phom Penh – Singapore where he arrived in August 1944.  The party was originally to have sailed to Japan from Saigon however the Allied sea blockade had become so affective the Japanese decided to send the Party of POWs back to Singapore from Saigon considering the port of Singapore was safer.  Whilst waiting in Singapore at the River Valley Road Transit Camp Basil developed a severe leg infection and was unable to travel. Read further.
Basil was indeed a lucky man not to sail on ‘Rakuyo’ Maru which sank 12 September 1944 after being hit by torpedoes fired by American submarines.  38 men from 2/4th perished – only a few survived.
He remained behind in Changi and was transferred to Changi Administration 28 January 1945.  He worked with X3 Party.  When the war ended he was recovered from Changi on 4 September 1945.
He sailed from Singapore on ‘Arawa’ to Darwin -Sydney.  Trained to Melbourne and ANA flight to Perth.



Basil’s parents William Frost and Isabel Melville married at Katanning in 1910.  William Frost died in April 1942 and Basil’s mother died in  1952.  His mother’s father, William Grant Melville after whom Basil was named died in April 1936.
1916 the Frost family were residing Broad Arrow Road, Kalgoorlie and William was a miner.
In 1937 the Frost family are residing at  6 Federal Road, Kalgoorlie William is now employed as a Fireman.
In the years 1925 and 1935, William and Isabelle Frost with their family endured two family deaths.  In 1925 their 10 month old son Charles died and in 1935, in tragic circumstances their 5 1/2 year old son Norman was killed.  Basil was about 22 years old when Norman died and about 11 years old when his baby brother died.

In 1946, Basil’s wife Vera gave birth to a stillborn child.



Above Basil’s grandfather, Melville.  Basil was named after his mother’s brother who died at Passendale, WW1.
Below: Basil’s father William died in April 1942.

Basil married Vera Mavis Shadgett  about 1936.



Basil was residing with his parents in Boulder in 1937. His recorded occupation was builder.
Basil and younger brother Don each had broken marriages, the news of which unfortunately was printed in a newspaper which sought scandal.
Vera divorced Basil in 1951 and he remarried to Florence Edna May Skipworth in 1952.
In 1954 and 1958 Basil and Florence were residing in Kalgoorlie and in 1960 the couple sailed to England.  His age was recorded as 44 years and his occupation was painter.  The couple returned to WA in 1961.


Above: Basil Frost.  (Photo kindly provided by Donna Bates, descendant of Florence Edna May Frost, December 2018)

We next find Basil living in 90 William Street, North Perth in 1968 and soon after in West Perth, with his occupation recorded as window cleaner – there is no record of his wife Florence with him. Information provided by Florence’s family confirm she died at the age of 49 years.


Camp Locations:

  • Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
  • Taungzun, 60 Kilo, 358k - Burma
  • Bandoeng - Java ***
  • Tanyin 35 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Anakwin 45 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Mezali 70km Camp - Burma
  • Kyondaw 95 Kilo Camp – Burma