The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Eric Reginald
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- Driver & Stretcher Bearer
- Battalion Headquarters (transferred from 'B' Company)
- Place of Birth:
- Portsmouth, England
- Father's Name:
- Arthur Edward Baker
- Mothers's Name:
- Sarah Ann Baker (nee Midgett)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Builder’s Labourer
- Selarang Camp Changi
- '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
- Return Details 1945:
- Thailand-Singapore by aircraft, Singapore-Sydney, HMT Highland Chieftan.
Eric Baker enlisted AIF 25 Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th’s ‘B’ Company, No. 3 Platoon – later transferred to Headquarters as a stretcher bearer.
Baker was detached from R.M.O. to No. 8 and 9 Platoon area to keep casualty records. There were many injured and he was recognised for his good work. He 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.
He contracted cholera was evacuated to 105 km Camp 25 May 1943, miraculously survived and was discharged 30 July 1943 returning to work force on rail link.
With all the POWs in Burma he was evacuated south to one of the large camps in Thailand. Eric arrived Tamarkan 1 Jan 1944.
He was recovered from Nacompaton Camp, Thailand at the end of the war, taken to Bangkok and flown to Singapore.
Baker succeeds in sending news in 1943 from Moulmein, Burma to his family confirming he is alive. He also mentions Doc Anderson. POWs always mentioned names of others who either came from their hometown, or perhaps the parents were known to each other. Mail could never be guaranteed. Most never arrived in Australia and vice versa to the POWs.
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 married Greta Wedgwood in Perth 1941.
We believe Greta may have lived her formative years at York prior to moving to the city.
Eric’s parents married in England about 1913. Eric and his father arrived Fremantle November 1923 from England on ‘Ormonde’. Eric was 11 years and his father Arthur was 37. Sarah Ann Baker (nee Midgett) was on the same ship, however accommodated in the women’s quarters with her two daughters Iris and Queenie aged 10 and 5 years.
Eric’s father Arthur Edward Baker Service No. 78990 served WW1 as a gunner with 68 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, formed Dover 9 Oct 1915 and served on the Western Front including Somme and Passchendaele. The battery left UK 31 March 1916, landed at Le Havre on 1 April to join British Expeditionary Force.
Sarah Baker remarried and became Sarah Rowe (as shown in the wedding description above.
His sister Queenie Louvain Surman (nee Baker) died Oct 1962 aged 45 years. She was buried at Fremantle Cemetery.
We are unfortunately unable to confirm Sarah (Rowe) Baker’s death nor that of Eric’s father Arthur Edward.
Erica Daphne Baker was their only child was born 23 Oct 1941. She married Terrence Patrick O’Connor and they resided Nollamara. He died Dec 1976. Erica died Dec 2007.
In 1972 Eric and Greta were residing Wilson and he was working as a carpenter.
Eric died 3 December 1992 aged 80 years. He was buried at Fremantle. His wife Greta died 16 March 2011.
- 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