The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- William Alexander
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'E' Company, Special Reserve Battalion, No. 3 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- North Fremantle, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Charles Henry McEwen
- Mothers's Name:
- Mary 'Mollie' Catherine McEwen
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Orchard Worker
- Selarang Camp Changi
- 'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Tamarkan, Petchaburi, Linson Wood Camp, Nacompaton
- Camps Burma:
- Reptu 30km (medical orderly 26.3.1943)
- 3070, 12173
- Return Details 1945:
- Thailand-Singapore by aircraft, Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Tamaroa.
Bill enlisted AIF 1 Oct 1941 – he met up with and became mates Laurie Kearney amongst others. They were both ‘swept’ up with large number reinforcements at Northam Army Camp – given a few days leave over Christmas, then sent from Northam by train to Fremantle to join 2/4th MGB on the ‘Aquitania’ 15 January 1942. (Far too many of the reinforcements had little training, some having enlisted up to 4 weeks before selection).
Bill met up with other boys from Northampton – Randall, Cripps, Carlyon, Sutherland, Osborne, Simkim, Cornell.
At Singapore POW McEwen was selected to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Battalion sailing from Singapore May 1942 and heading to the south-west coast of Burma. ‘A’ Force was made up of 3,000 POWs.
Green Force was 1,000 POWs, including a large number of 2/4th men – were first to leave ships at Victoria Point where they would spend several months repairing and enlarging aerodrome before making their way to the northern most point of rail link. They began work on the rail 1st October 1942 at Kendau 4.8km Camp.
The POWs of ‘A’ Force would remain working in Burma until end December 1943 – after which the Japanese began moving all POWs south into Thailand into one of several large camps.
26 March 1943 from Thetkaw Camp, McEwen was sent to Reptu Hospital Camp to be a medical orderly. He was returned to Auggangung. When the railway was completed, the Japanese sent all the POWs working in Burma – south into Thailand. McEwen was evacuated to Tamarkan Camp.
He was sent with a work party to Petchaburi Camp and then to Linson Wood Camp (with Bill Carlyon). He was recovered from Nacompaton Camp, Thailand at the end of the war.
Other Northampton men with Green Force included Simkin (RTA) Randall and Cripps (both perished when Rakuyo Maru sank Sept 1944 in South China Sea) Sutherland (KIA) Eric Osborne (KIA) Cornell (RTA) Simkin (RTA)
In 1946 McEwen married Thelma Nirvana Low at Busselton. Born in England, Thelma was a daughter of William and Elizabeth Low. The best man was Laurie Kearney WX17452, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion who incredibly was one of the very few to survive the sinking of ‘Rakuyo Maru’ in South China Sea in 1944.
Below: Thelma Nirvana Low.
In the 1949 Electoral Roll, Bill and Thelma were residing at Bulimba Road, Nedlands with Bill’s parents. He was working as a labourer.
Sadly, Bill’s father Charles Henry McEwen died January 1950.
Charles Henry McEwen served in WW1.
Bill’s parents Charles Henry McEwan and Mary (Mollie) Catherine Salter married 1917 at Fremantle. Bill was their first born child, followed by Lorna May (Kelly), Ronald Thomas McEwen, James Henry McEwen, Leslie John McEwen and Jean Mary (Drage).
Mollie’s brother died in 1919.
The McEwen family spent many years at Galena, Northampton where Bill’s father worked at the mines – foreman at Grand Junction Mine.
Above: Mollie McEwen’s father Alexander Salter died in 1933 at Northampton.
Below in 1934 Mollie McEwen’s recipe is a winner!
We believe Bill’s health never recovered from his POW experience and was unwell most of his life. William (Bill) McEwen died 30 Nov 1969 at Geraldton aged 50 years and was buried at Northampton.
Thelma McEwen died 2013 aged 92 years. It is believed she was buried in Busselton.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Linson Wood Camp, 202k - Thailand
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
- Petchaburi - Thailand
- Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
- Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma