The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- Headquarters Company, No. 3 Platoon Administrative.
- Place of Birth:
- Kunanalling, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- John Westby Dwyer
- Mothers's Name:
- Georgina Alexandra Dwyer (nee Rutherford)
- Roman Catholic
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Labuan War Cemetery, Plot H, Row D, Grave 15, Age 38.
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi
- 'D' Force Thailand, V Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Brankassi, Hindaine, Chungkai, Tamuang, Non Pladuk
- Camps Japan:
- Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 17 Omuta, Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 1
- Aramis Party
- Cause of Death:
- Acute Colitis
- Place of Death:
- Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 1. Soldier's ashes are believed to have been carried from Japan to Labuan by an unknown serviceman.
- Date of Death:
William Dwyer was one of two William Dwyers in the 2/4th.
Both were from the goldfields and both lost their lives. The other William Andrew Dwyer WX10390 died Brankassi 22 August 1943 aged 24 years. Both men were at Brankassi Camp, Thailand with ‘D’ Force V Battalion.
Bill Dwyer’s ashes are believed to have been carried from Japan to Labuan by Australian POW from Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 1 – probably to Manila, then taken to Labuan.
Dwyer enlisted AIF 24 Sept 1941 and joined 2/4th as reinforcement 27 Dec 1941 – joined Headquarters Company No. 3 Platoon.
He was selected with ‘D’ Force V Battalion to work on Burma-Thai Railway at Hellfire Pass Cutting. This Battalion was to endure terrible conditions and had a horrific death rate.
Read about ‘D’ Force V Battalion
It is believed Bill either remained with Cough or was evacuated out from Kuii or Hindaine camps to reach Non Pladuk where he was selected to work in Japan with ‘Aramis’ Party. There were 19 men from 2/4th in this party – all from ‘D’ Force V Battalion.
Arriving at Moji, Japan this group were sent to their camp at Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 17 Omuta. Please read further about Omuta Camp, Japan.
On 5th November 1944 WX4924 Joe Swartz and WX20076 Bill Dwyer were sent to Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 1 which was the Western Army District Intendance (Accounts) Department. Joe remained here until 5 May 1945 when he was again moved to Moji No. 4 Camp where he worked on the wharves until the end of the war.
WX20076 Bill Dwyer succumbed to acute colitis on 5 May 1945. He was 38 years old.
The following is taken from an Affadavit from Geoffrey Thomas UNDERWOOD of Evandale, HUGHENDEN in the State of QUEENSLAND, and formerly QX11013 Gnr UNDERWOOD, G.T., 2/10 Fld. Regt., now discharged, being duly sworn, make oath and state as follows: (former POW of Fukuoka sub-Camp No. 1- there were a very small number of Australians, and were without an officer)
“Medical supplies were practically nil. The only medicines I recall having seen was a small quantity of aspirin. Many Prisoners of War were suffering from diarrhoea, dysentery, beri beri and malnutritional diseases but no medicines were available for their treatment. VX36824 Gnr L CHALKER, 4 A/Tank Regt; WX20076 Pte W. DWYER, 2/4 M.G. Bn; and S/Sgt SIMS were all suffering badly from malnutrition and diarrhoea.
Despite many pleadings on their behalf to the Camp Commander commonly known to Prisoners as “THE OLD MAN” nothing was done for them.
S/Sgt SIMS eventually collapsed and was admitted to the crude camp Hospital where he died a few days after his admittance. Shortly after his death approximately fifty American Officers were brought into the camp in an exhausted condition. They had been wrecked at sea and apparently had gone through a terrific ordeal. They were admitted to hospital and apparently the Japanese considered that the hospital was full. CHALKER and DWYER became very ill and, at times, were unable to move about but were still forced to work. Eventually CHALKER collapsed and was admitted to the hospital where he lay almost unattended for three days before he died. DWYER also collapsed and died within a few days of his admittance.”
(This above information will hopefully not be too distressing nor offensive to family members who may read this – information was discovered after extensive searching. http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/fukuoka/fuk_01_fukuoka/fukuoka_01/Page02.htm -sadly this is a rare opportunity to learn the appalling conditions at No. 1 Fukuoka.
C. Mellor, Historian, 2/4th MGB Jul 2020)
His body was cremated by the Japanese however instead of being enshrined in Japan, Bill’s ashes were taken to Labuan War Cemetery, initially thought to have been carried by an Australian POW from Japan to Manila then onto Labuan.
Below: Bill’s name recorded with other 2/4th from Goldfields who lost their lives.
Kunanalling is today an abandoned town north of Coolgardie.It was always a town with a small population. Gold was discovered there in 1895 and called 25 Mile which is how far the townsite was from Coolgardie.
Prior to his enlistment, Pte Dwyer was residing at Kunnanalling working as a miner.
His parents John Westby Dwyer and Georgina Alexandra Rutherford were born Victoria, married Kalgoorlie in 1902. Bill’s father had invested in and worked several mines.
Known as Westby, Dwyer’s business interests were in gold mining.
Bill was the second eldest of seven children of whom 3 were boys. Bill’s mother died at Kalgoorlie in April 1946 aged 77 years and his father died in 1955. Both are buried at Kalgoorlie Cemetery.
All that remains of Premier Hotel, Kunanulling.
Kunanulling is 40 km north of Coolgardie.
One of first hotels in Goldfields to have electricity; provided by a nearby mine, the Premier Hotel opened in 1901, it had ten bedrooms, a large parlour and a billiards room. The town was an important and bustling town during the height of gold mining.
Above notice was following the death of Bill’s mother and sister in 1946. Georgina Dwyer (nee Rutherford) was 77 years old and buried Kalgoorlie. Bill’s sister Mary (Clarice) Bowron was 40 years old when she died in Kalgoorlie – just a few weeks prior to her mother’s death.
Bill’s father died in 1955.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Brankassi, Prang Kasi, 208k - Thailand
- Hindaine, Kui Mang 200k - Thailand
- Non Pladuk, 0k - Thailand
- Tamuang, Tha Muang 39k - Thailand
- Fukuoka, Fukuoka #1-B- Japan
- Omuta Miike, Fukuoka #17-B - Japan