The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Baker
First Name:
Eric Reginald
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX8981
Classification:
Driver & Stretcher Bearer
Company:
Battalion Headquarters (transferred from 'B' Company)
Enlisted:
25.10.1940
Discharged:
18.01.1946
DOB:
9.03.1912
Place of Birth:
Portsmouth, England
Father's Name:
Arthur Edward Baker
Mothers's Name:
Blanche Roe Baker
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Builder’s Labourer
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi
Force:
'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion.
Camps Thailand:
Tamarkan, Nacompaton
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Kendau 4,8km, Thetkaw14 km, Meiloe 75 km, Aungganaung 105 km, Khonkan
POW#:
2813
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft, Singapore-Sydney, HMT Highland Chieftan.

General Description

Soldier was detached from R.M.O. to No. 8 and 9 Platoon area to keep casualty records.  Soldier was wounded in action 7/2/1942 and admitted to Field Ambulance on 9/2/1942 with a shrapnel wound to his back.  Transferred to 2/13th Australian General Hospital on 13/2/1942.  Discharged to unit on 20/2/1942.
Eric left with the first work party out of Singapore – ‘A’ Force Burma Green Force No. 3 Battalion
On 14 May 1942 three ships transported 3,000 Australian POWs to south west coast Burma where the men worked on repairing and enlarging 3 airfields.
By 1 Oct 1942 they arrived at their ultimate destination – the Burma end of the Burma-Thai Railway where they would spend more than 12 months working.

Read about Eric Baker.

Below:  From Dr. Claude Anderson, 2/4th

“A few words about tropical ulcers and Col. Coates. He realised that they were all progressive, and as we did not have any effective treatment, all would lead to death. He thought lower third thigh amputations might be useful. A Dutch chemist, Capt. Van Boxtel from Java, had a bottle of iodine and a large number of cocaine tablets. He was able to make up a solution which worked as a spinal anaesthetic. Amazingly, Col Coates had a needle for spinal injections. When I arrived at the hospital they were ready to start the amputations and Col. Coates asked me to assist him. In the next six weeks, before I went back to my job on the railway line, he amputated about 60 legs. The scheme worked fairly well” (although many still died). “Occasionally the Japs killed a yak for the POW. Col Coates arranged to be notified of the yak killings, and he removed strips from the outer surface of intestines. These strips, about the diameter of a thin piece of knotting wool, were then washed and placed in a bottle of iodine, where after 7 days they were thought suitable for use as catgut. I thought this was a brilliant project”.
Claude had a number of men who assisted him as medical orderlies. They included Bob Ritchie (Kojonup), Danny Bevis (Merredin) and Eric Baker all from 2/4th MGBn. Ritchie was awarded the BEM.
Once the railway was completed in October 1943, the surviving troops were moved south into Thailand in the vicinity of Kanchanaburi and Tamakan. This was an area where there was a large concentration of troops and with two other Medical Officers, Claude had 3 hospital huts (each full of patients). Claude was present at Tamakan when allied bombing, aimed at destroying the nearby railway bridge(now known as the Bridge over the River Kwai) fell into the hospital camp area. Unfortunately about 39 allied prisoners were killed in the bombing.

Eric died 1992.

 

Eric married Greta Wedgwood in Perth 1941.

 

 

Erca Daphne Baker was their only child.

Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
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