The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Bertram Alfred
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'A' Company
- Place of Birth:
- Donnybrook, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- William Alfred Bendall
- Mothers's Name:
- Alice Matilda Bendall (nee Arkell)
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 30.
- Selarang Camp Changi
- 'B' Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Cardiac Beri-Beri
- Place of Death:
- Ranau, First Ranau march
- Date of Death:
Bendall was wounded in action at Buona Vista on 15.2.1942 and admitted to 2/13th Australian Hospital with a shrapnel wound to his back. Discharged to unit or 20.2.1942.
It was about 6 weeks between this soldier’s enlistment and 16th January 1942, when the HMT ‘Aquitania’ departed Fremantle for Singapore.
Bert Bendall enlisted on 3 Dec 1941 as did his mates from Donnybrook Vern Trigwell, Harry Cain and Vern’s cousin Allan Trigwell. All had been with 25th Light Horse Militia. Allan Trigwell perished in South China Sea when his ship was torpedoed by American submarines in Sept 1944. Harry Cain was KIA 12 Feb 1942.
‘WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX17864 Private Bertram Alfred Bendall, 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 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. Private Bendall, aged 30, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 12 February 1945. He was the son of William Alfred and Alice Matilda Bendall, of Donnybrook, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 18. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)’
From Selarang, Singapore, Bert was selected with ‘B’ Force to work in what is known today as Sabah, Malaysia, but was then Sandakan, British North Borneo. Please read about Sandakan.
Please view map showing where Bert died on the Sandakan to Ranau Track 4 miles from Nalapak, Borneo on 2 February 1945.
He was 30 years old.
He was with the First March which began departing Sandakan 28 January 1945 in groups of about 50 prisoners with their guards, leaving at intervals so groups was not able to communicate.
Except for 6 escapees, Bert was one of more than 2,000 POWs who perished under the command of brutal Japanese guards. He was one of 70 men from 2/4th who died in Borneo.
The Bendall family were absolutely correct, Bert was ‘Starved to death’ – that was the Japanese plan at Sandakan. They failed to provide any further food to the men after January 1945. POWs were forbidden to trade with the locals. The only food the POWs had was what they had stockpiled before end of 1944.
William Alfred Bendall married Alice Matilda Arkell in 1908 Buckinghamshire, England before moving to Australia and settling at Donnybrook to farm. They had three children. Bert had an older brother William Arthur ‘Bill” born in 1909 and a sister Marjorie ‘Alice’ born in 1912.
The Bendall’s grew vegetables and fruit trees including apples on their farm named ‘Floral Farm’ and Bert probably worked on the farm with his father.
The Bendall’s annually entered Donnybrook Agricultural Show competition with fruit, vegetables, cooking, chooks, etc.
Below: William’s mother, Grandmother to Bert, also came to Western Australia.
Below: Bert’s brother Bill Bendall engaged.
Cricket Match between Brookhampton and Donnybrook 1940.
Bert Bendall playing.
Bert spent 12 months with 25th Machine Gun Brigade (Militia) before enlisting into AIF and 2/4th.
Bert’s father died in 1963 aged 89 years and his mother died in 1969 in Donnybrook. They are buried at Donnybrook Cemetery.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***