The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Harold Bernard
- Nick Name:
- Tiny or Bernie
- Regimental #:
- ‘A’ Company, No. 4 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Midland Junction, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Alfred Frederick Lear
- Mothers's Name:
- Maud Isabel Lear (nee Appleyard)
- None Stated
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 25.
- Selarang Camp Changi, A.G.H. Roberts Barracks Changi, Selarang Barracks Changi
- ‘E’ Force Borneo
- 3/8493 & 1785
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No 1 Camp
- Date of Death:
Soldier wounded in action at Buona Vista on 15.2.1942. Admitted to 2/13th Australian General Hospital with a shrapnel wound to his right leg. Discharged to unit 25.3.1942.
WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX7043 Private Harold Bernard Lear, 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 E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW’s were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Private Lear, aged 25, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 17 March 1945. He was the son of Alfred Frederick and Maud Isabel Lear, and the husband of Veronica Mae Lear, of Bassendean, 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.)
As a POW Singapore Tiny was accidentally injured whilst on a work party on 25 July 1942 which left him with a crushed left ankle which was later sprained unloading logs on 28 August 1942. He also received abrasions to his right leg above ankle as well as severe bruising. Comment is ‘Soldier not to blame’.
Lear left Singapore with E Force Borneo to sail to Borneo and onto Sandakan where the POWs were placed in a separate camp from the earlier arriving B Force. The Japanese forbid the two forces communicating and were punished if found guilty. They were finally combined at the end of 1944 when the Sandakan Airfield was no longer able to be repaired following Allied Air Raids.
‘LEAR, Private, HAROLD BERNARD, WX7043, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 17 March 1945. Age 25. Son of Alfred Frederick and Maud Isabel Lear; husband of Veronica Mae Lear, of Bassendean, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia’
Bernie’s father enlisted with 16th Battalion WW1 in September 1914 at Helena Valley. Albert was born about 1893 at Warrnambool, Victoria. It is not known when his family came to WA. Albert’s father Cecil Augustus Lear died in 1903.
The 16th suffered heavy loss of life injuries at the ‘Bloody Angle’ at Gallipoli in May. Alfred Lear suffered a GSW to his left foot, was returned to Australia and discharged in August 1916. He was awarded a fortnightly pension and 13 June 1917. He commenced working for WAGR in 1917 and retired in 1958.
Bernie was one of two sons born to Alfred Frederick Lear and Maud Isabel Appleyard who was also born in Victoria, married 1917 at Subiaco. Bernie’s older brother Albert Thomas Lear also enlisted during WW2 WX33078.
Maud’s father and Tiny’s Grandfather Appleyard died 1925.
Below: Rose Lear’s (nee Bowtell) mother died in Melbourne 1930.
Rose Lear (nee Bowtell) grandmother to Tiny died 1935.
Below: Tiny’s Grandmother Appleyard died in 1939.
Bernie married Veronica Mae Roberts about 1941. She moved to the USA after 1947, married and remained living there.
Alfred Frederick died in 1959. Tiny’s mother Maud died about 1983.
This memorial is to be found Kings Park Honour Drive.
‘Tiny’ Lear died at Sandakan No.1 Camp of malaria 17 March 1945 aged 25 years. His body was recovered from a grave at Sandakan No. 1 after the war.
The First Sandakan March departed Sandakan for Ranau commencing 28 January 1945.
The 2nd March began on 23 May 1945.
- Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***
- Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak