The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Sydney James
- Nick Name:
- Kid or Syd
- Regimental #:
- ‘E’ Company, Special Reserve Battalion
- Place of Birth:
- Epping Green, Essex, England
- Father's Name:
- William Robert Darby
- Mothers's Name:
- Edith Hannah Darby
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Shop Assistant
- Epitaph, Singapore Memorial, Column 136, Age 19.
- Cause of Death:
- Killed in Action. Soldier is thought to have been killed by a Japanese sniper whilst on patrol.
- Place of Death:
- Sungei Kranji-Sungei Jurong Defence Line
- Date of Death:
Sydney Darby is thought to have been killed by a Japanese sniper whilst on patrol on 10th February 1942, the day prior to the Company running into a Japanese Ambush at South West Bukit Timah. There was a terrible loss of life with about 88 of the 200 men surviving.
Wallly Holding said “Syd Darby was only a youngster, but was most popular in the Company. He was known as the ‘Kid’.”
Sydney Darby died aged 19 years. He enlisted AIF 19 Aug 1941 and was later transferred to 2/4th Reinforcements, ‘E’ Company, Special Reserve Battalion. The men were given a few days leave to see their families and return to Northam Tranining Camp. They were entrained to Fremantle boarded ‘Aquitania’ which was anchored only one night, 15th January before sailing for Singapore the following day. With Darby were his Mundijong mates Steve Gleeson, George Leipold and Bill Swann.
The first time they faced fear and the reality of war was after they arrived at Singapore, however on the ship excitement would have taken over! Fighting for Australia!
Syd’s father had served in the British Army in WW1 and been exposed to mustard gas. Because of his health he was advised to seek a warmer climate to live. With his wife and two young sons, the family sailed to Albany in 1924 on “Demosthenes” and firstly joined a Group Settlement at Cowaramup. The family grew to 9 children. Finally after 1934, the Darby family moved to Holyoake near Dwellingup, where most residents were employed in the local timber industry. Please read further about Group Settlement.
By 1934 the Darby family were selling their farm at Cowaramup.
Holyoake is within the Murray Shire, approximately 85 kms to Perth and about half an hour drive to Mundijong.
‘Holyoake No.1 Mill was burnt down 1929 and replaced by a smaller mill which operated until 1959. The townsite was a thriving community until destroyed by fire in 1961.
The Holyoake townsite was supported by a large number of shops with an excellent variety of merchandise.
Creek Bros Store sold almost everything except groceries.
Dawkins Drapery serviced Holyoake from 1930 to 1941. Frank Dawkins was a cricket enthusiast and the source of cricket news in the town. He made up a scoreboard outside his shop and below are the scores from the 4th test between England and Australia in February 1937 in Adelaide!
‘G’ is for Gregory and ‘B’ is for Bradman.’
It is believed Syd worked in the Mundijong area and initially became friends with George Leipold and later met the other mates.
Read about the Five from Mundijong.
Above: Wally Holding standing to left and Syd in front.
Below: Syd’s older brother Roy who also enlisted – 2/28th Battalion is reported having died Palestine, Middle East 1942.
Edith and William Darby came to WA seeking a better life and Tragically lost their two eldest sons to war. Their bodies remained overseas. They were notified of Syd’s death at Singapore in August 1944.
Above the Darbys celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in 1944.
Wally Holding on his return home places a notice in the newspaper for his mates Sid, Ern Munday and Ern Thomsett who were all killed in those terrifying few hours when ‘E’ Battation ran into a Japanese ambush. E Battalion was made up mostly of new recruits with little training. They were up against ‘crack’ Japanese battle seasoned soldiers.