The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Ronald Hamilton
Nick Name:
Sergeant (Promoted on 7.2.1942)
Regimental #:
‘A’ Company, No. 5 Platoon (Section Sgt)
Place of Birth:
Perth, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Berham Hugo Cornish
Mothers's Name:
Eva Grace Cornish
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Selarang Camp Changi, Johore Bahru, Adam Park, Selarang Barracks Changi
‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft, Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Moreton Bay

General Description

Burgess & Cornish

Sgt’s Burgess and Cornish, Noalunga Beach SA. The rock in the background was a machine gun target.

Sgt's Cornish & Burgess Woodside SA
Sgt’s Cornish & Burgess Woodside SA

Ron  Cornish was an amateur wrestler prior to enlistment.


Ron was admitted to AGH in November 1942 with meningitis.
In early 1943 whilst at Singapore Ron was selected with ‘D’ Force S Battalion to work on the Burma-Thai Railway. S Battalion included a very large number of 2/4th men which was a good thing.  There were plenty of mates to look after each other.  They needed it at their first real work camp, Konyu II which was in Hellfire Pass Cutting. Working and living conditions were appalling and really tested the men.
Further reading about ‘D’ Force S Battalion.




Above:  Ron Cornish and Tony Saw, best pals were together in 5 Platoon.


Cornish Ron & Aldwyn
Ron & Aldwyn Cornish

Wedding took place 3 August 1940.


Ron Cornish was recovered from Thailand and embarked ‘Moreton Bay’ 15/10/1945.


Ron Cornish was killed in a work-related accident in 1971, at the age of 55. His death was a huge shock, not only to his family and friends, but also to his 2/4th Battalion mates. Many of them had come through years of captivity with him. Some had worked alongside Ron on the Burma Thailand railroad during their 3 1⁄2 years forced service as prisoners of war.
Three of Ron’s four children living in the West (Bruce and Doug Cornish and Bev Sheard) jumped at the chance to contact Les Cody author of “Ghosts in Khaki” when it was published in 1997.
Ron’s daughter Bev Shead remembers………
“The 4 of us Cornish kids ranged in age from 24 to 15 when our Dad died in 1971. After his death, we became extra aware of developing a deeper connection with his past, especially his war service. So, it was with a sense of quiet excitement that we headed off to visit Les and his wife. Our only regret was that our sister, Margaret Wegner, who lives in Melbourne, wasn’t with us to share the time.
I was keen to ask Les a particular question and my turn came during our memorable time together….
“Les, at the very end of ‘Ghosts in Khaki’, you talk about the men returning to camp in Japanese trucks and seeing the Union Jack flying. How come your wording is so similar to that of Dad’s letter to Mum about the moment he knew the war was over?”
Les smiled widely and replied…..
“Of course they’re the same, I was standing next to your Dad on the back of one of those trucks!”
With Dad gone but Les there before us, the sense of connection took a huge leap forward. Tears of happiness were our thanks to Les for the moment he had given us.”


Cornish letter sent from Thailand 1945
Cornish letter sent from Thailand 1945
The following is a transcription of the above letter:
My Dear Wife,
At last I am able to write a few lines and it seems very strange after such a long period. I hope and pray that you my dear and all home are all well. I am sending a cable today which I hope will get through quickly. It is impossible to express on paper my feelings when the show was over. We were working right up to and a day past the actual declaration of peace. We were working on a aerodrome about 100 miles north east of Bangkok, it was a God forsaken hole and we got no news or rumours of any kind. We received orders one morning quite suddenly to pack and get back to the base camp we had left. When we arrived there our first sight was to see our flags flying, the Australian flag, Union Jack, American and Dutch. We were greeted by the boys in camp (our party only 200, 2500 at base camp) and it was an occasion I’ll never forget, many lumps arose in our throats. The padre held a Thanksgiving service, attendance 100%, in which we thanked God that we that were here had come through alive and prayed for you all back home knowing now that we would see you all again, a position which was never certain before. We have been through Hell and have lost many fine friends, no one will ever be able to realise and we don’t want them to. We have had quite a few interesting thrills these last few days, food supplies, medical equipment, clothing British and American officially have been dropped by planes. All the boys were overjoyed when our planes roared down only a few feet over the camp and dropped supplies by parachute. They dropped wireless transmitting and receiving sets so you may guess what excitement a little news is to us, who have been shut up from the outside world for nearly four years. I could write plenty about the conditions I’ve been through and sickness but paper won’t allow. Anyway I am reasonably fit and fairly well now so that’s all that matters. I hope to be in the pink when I get home. We do not know at present whether we are flying to India or Singapore, some have already flown from here to Rangoon. You all back home must have had and be going through an anxious time as we have not been able to communicate with you as much as you have with us. I have received a few letters from you and Mum but a lot of letters, supplies etc while we have been under these Jap __________ have never reached us. Write all the news dear, in the last four years, and what have you been doing, send snaps, snaps, news and more news. Our release to us is like coming up from an underground tunnel and seeing light for the first time. I have prayed for you my dear never missing a day and I thank the Lord that my prayers have been answered. I have always felt that I would return home but my faith has been badly shaken at times when one’s close friends are dying all around one and there seems no future. Now that is all behind us and we are looking forward with great joy to a reunion which will be never broken and BOY! what a day. I hope you can read this. I’d like to write more but no space. Cheerio sweetheart. As always Love Ron.’
C/- AUSTRALIAN P.W. Reception Group – Bangalore – INDIA COMMAND

Ron’s name is included on the Byford War Memorial.




Camp Locations:

  • Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
  • Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Thanbyuzayat, 415k - Burma