The Soldier's Details

First Name:
William Denis
Regimental #:
Battalion Headquarters
Place of Birth:
Birmingham, England
Father's Name:
George Ernest Harris
Mothers's Name:
Not Known
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
'Blackforce', attached to 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion
‘ A’ Force Burma, Java Party No. 4 Williams Force
Camps Thailand:
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Circassia

General Description

Harris enlisted AIF 23 Oct 1940, later joining 2/4th Headquarters Battalion.  It was here Harris and Fred Kuhl became mates, amongst others.  Fred Kuhl was married with several children and Harris was a single man from England.
English born Walter Stafford Watkins WX8356 enlisted AIF 29 Aug 1940 later joined 2/4th’s Battalion Headquarters and was AWOL from Aquitania and sailed to Java.  He also joined Java Party No. 4 to Burma.

We know Kuhl and Harris took a day’s leave to Adelaide.

They both missed re-boarding ‘Aquitania’ and sailed to Java as did other HQ men George Glass, Allpike and Clarrie Sawyer (who died Bandeong Hospital Camp 1 Apr 1942).    They were in same work party to sail to Burma end of Burma-Thai Railway with ‘A’ Force Java Party No. 4 Williams Force.
William Harris was AWOL at Fremantle when ‘Aquitania’ when sailing from Fremantle on 16 January 1942.
He was one of 98 2/4th men who soon after sailed to Java.  He was TOS 2/2nd Pioneers.

Please read about those who were AWOL

Harris was with No. 4 Party to leave Changi 14th October 1942 having transferred from Java on 12th October 1942.
He was with Williams Force.
Was hospital camp beri beri (probably Thanbyuzayat)
Evacuated from Burma to No. 3 Camp Kanchanaburi 25.3.1944
He was recovered from Thailand at war’s end.  Arrived ‘Circassia’ 18th October 1945.



We believe Harris enlisted for Short Term Service 22 May 1919 aged 18 years and 21 days with Royal Regiment of Artillery, Birmingham.

The above document is an overview by Ancestry. As much as there are many many mistakes with Ancestry information,  I have read the originals and believe this document was an easier overview to read. (C. Mellor July 2020). I have also read a Census in which the family recorded relates to the above. The father of  William Harris is George Ernest Harris whose occupation was a brass bed maker.
In the 1963 Electoral Roll, Bill Harris is recording residing at 37 Attfield Street, Fremantle working as Ironworker.
Harris arrived Fremantle from London on ‘SS Borda’ on 12 October 1926 aged 24, his occupation provided as Labourer.
He enlisted AIF 23 Oct 1940 later joined 2/4th Battalion HQ where he became mates with Fred Kuhl, amongst others.
We know the two men went on day leave together in Adelaide.
They were both AWOL when Aquitania sailed 16 Jan 1942, sent to Java where they became POWs of Japan.  Kuhl and Harris remained together leaving Java to work on Burma end of Burma-Thai Railroad with A Force Burma, Java Party No. 4 Wiilliams Force.
Williams Force because it included qualified and experienced engineers in 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion who had just served in Middle East, worked up and down the railway line moving all the time (to trouble spots) with little or no rest.  Their’s was a challenging work Force.
The following are Electoral Roll information I have recovered.
1943 Coolgardie, Miner.
1949 Port Samson (near Roebourne) Labourer.
At this time, we believe Bill Harris returned to England for a visit. 1953 We find him in records returning to Fremantle, recording his address as 39 Avenue Road, Maylands.
1954 Kwinana, residing at a Boarding House, Labourer.
1963 14 South Terrace, South Fremantle, Ironworker.
1966 8 Collie Street, Fremantle, Labourer.

1972  37 Attfield Tce, Fremantle, Labourer

1977 37 Attfield Tce, Fremantle, Labourer

Bill Harris appears not to have married.  He died Fremantle 21 July 1977 aged 74 years.  He was cremated at Karrakatta Cemetery.
Unfortunately we have no knowledge of whether Bill Harris maintained contact with 2/4th and his mates.