The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
‘B’ Company, 9 Platoon
Place of Birth:
Perth, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Not Known
Mothers's Name:
Not Known
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Plot 10, Row L, Grave 13, Age 47.
Selarang Camp Changi, Johore Bahru, Adam Park, Selarang Barracks Changi
‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Tarsau, Kanu II, Nacompaton and other camps where 'S' Battalion were sent. Mergui Road.
4/6722 & 8860
Cause of Death:
Official records state Malaria.
Place of Death:
12 Kilo Camp, Mergui Road.
Date of Death:

General Description














John was prospecting and living at Norseman when he enlisted. He apparently was about 3 years with 10th Light Horse Reserves 1933-1936 before joining 2/4th in October 1940.  His recorded NOK was initially Mr M.J. Coyle, Norseman and then changed to Constance Smith, Friend from Mosman Park.

On 15 June 1940 when enlisting Jack recorded his age as 38 years, born in 4 Aug 1902.

Jack was selected to leave Singapore to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force S Battalion.  They departed Singapore by train on 14th March 1943, arriving Bampong, Thailand after 4 days of hellish, crowded conditions.
S Battalion was first trucked to Tarsau Camp where they worked for a few weeks, then to Kanyu II (Hellfire Pass).  We are not certain where he went after that, men from S Battalion were split into groups and sent either to Kinsaiyok, Hintok or other Hellfire pass cutting camps during “Speedo”.
By 1944 the railway was completed.  He was selected with up 1000 POWs to form a ‘work party supposedly for light duties in Malaya’.
This was a typical Japanese lie. These 1000 POWs were joined by 11 Medical Officers and orderlies and together the 10011 POWs with a large force of Asians began slaving on the construction of Mergui Road Escape route in southern Burma where the region was mountainous and conditions tough for the already undernourished and nearly all ill POWs.   He was one of at least 7 or 8  men from  2/4th who left Thailand with this party.
Read further about Mergui Road Escape.
He died ‘officially’ from malaria at 12 Kilo Camp on Mergui Road  17 July 1945 and buried at 12 Kilo Camp Cemetery in Grave No 63.  He was recorded as being 47 years old – his enlistment details say he was born in 1902 to ensure he passed the age exclusion, however he was believed to be born 1897.
Height 5′ 6″


From above notices we note Jack was good mates with Archie Newell and pre-war with Tom Buscombe.
Archie Newell, Tom Buscombe and Jack W-Smith were in ‘B’ Company No 9 Platoon.


Please read about the boys from Norseman.




Should any family members or anybody be able to assist us, please contact us email:
Plaque at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Plot 10, Row L, Grave 13


Camp Locations:

  • Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
  • Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Kanu II, 152.30k - Thailand
  • Mergui (Myiek) Escape Road - Thailand
  • Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
  • Tarsau, Tha Sao 125k - Thailand