The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Malcolm Ashton
- Nick Name:
- Corporal (Promoted on 1.3.1942)
- Regimental #:
- 'B' Company, 9 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Northam, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Ashton Hunter
- Mothers's Name:
- Ruby Stella Hunter
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Bicycle Camp
- 'D' Force Thailand, Java Party No. 6, O Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kanu III, Hintok Road Camp (evacuated 2.9.1943, cholera), Tarsau Hospital Camp, Nakhon Nayok.
- Camps Java:
- 'Blackforce', attached to 'C' Company 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
- Return Details 1945:
- Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Moreton Bay arriving 5 Oct 1945.
Hunter lived his youth in Cottesloe and Northam – his father was manager of the Flour Mills. He was mates with other Scotch student Doug Carter.
His twin sister Elizabeth Ashton married 14 Nov 1945 to WX3434 Capt. Jack Harris (John) Hill. Sadly Elizabeth would soon find herself widowed. At 1600 hours on 24.1.1946 John was travelling in an army truck along Allora Road, Toowoomba, Queensland. Due to the tropical rains the road was flooded and John leant out over the back of the truck to place his map case over the truck’s exhaust. The vehicle suddenly lunged and John was thrown from the vehicle and under one of its wheels, where upon his skull was crushed. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that this officer had endured so much heartache and hardship as a Prisoner of War (he was with ‘D’ Force Thailand V Battalion which suffered particularly high number of deaths on Burma-Thai Railway)
Hunter enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940 later joining 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Coy 9 platoon under Commanding Officer Lt. Lee.
Mac was one of about 90 2/4th men who missed the Aquitania’s departure from Fremantle on 16th January 1942 having jumped ship the previous day with mates including Carter. The group thereafter sailed into Java initially to be transhipped to Singapore. At this time Singapore was about to fall and these men were off-loaded at Java. They then remained to defend Java with the Allied forces. Read further about ‘Blackforce’.
Mac was withdrawn from 2/3 MG Btn and placed into composite Battalion and saw no action on Java and became POW of Japanese with the surrender.
Mac was selected with ‘D’ Force Java Party No. 6. 25 (O) Battalion.
Known as Dunlop Force, they arrived in Singapore on 7th January1943 from the port of Tan Priok after 3-day hellish journey on Usu Maru. They were accommodated in the British area to north of Selarang Barracks.
Dunlop’s Party departed by train from Singapore on 19th January 1943 and arrived at Pladuk in Thailand on 24th January and trucked to Tarsau via Tardin and then north to Kanu III. Dunlop Force was the first Australian Group to work on the southern end of the railway in Thailand.
Mac was one of 10 men from 2/4th placed into ‘O’ Battalion. Another 10 men from 2/4th were in ‘P’ Battalion and these two Battalions often worked together at camps or nearby.
Their first Camp was the construction of Kanu III which was up steep inclines.
On 17th March they returned up the mountain track to Hintock Road Camp (one of 3 Hintok camps within this area) where they were immediately assigned to work on the railway. One difficulty was this camp was 7 km from nearest barge landing and the POWs manhandled supplies over very steep and slippery terrain usually after a day working on railway. They constructed the Seven Metre Embankment immediately prior to the Three Tier Bridge.
250 POWs from ‘O’ and ‘P’ battalions were suffering illness, hospitalised and unable to work on the railway.
‘D’ Force ‘S’ Battalion arrived from Singapore 25th April 1943 to start work on Kanu II. 200 of these men were sent to Hintok Road Camp to increase the working number of men. ‘S’ Battalion had largest number of 2/4th men of any working Force.
We hope Mac was able to catch up with some 2/4th blokes before before being evacuated from Hintok Road Camp with cholera on 2 September 1943 to Tarsao – records show his Father residing Katanning, WA. He was discharged on 15 September 1943. Hunter’s movements after this time are not absolutely certain. He may have returned the Hintok area (there were several camps) or remained at Tarsao until the hospital camp was closed and patients relocated to Tamarkan. His family are of the opinion Mac contracted cholera at Hintok and was evacuated. It is not certain where and when he was ill with cholera. He was a very lucky man to survive.
Mac was recovered from Nakon Nayok, Thailand at the end of the war on 16th August 1945. He had arrived there in mid 1945.
He returned to Australia via Singapore and arrived Fremantle on SS Moreton Bay on 5th October 1945.
After the war Hunter took up farming at Konnogorring.
Malcolm Hunter died South Perth 1 January 1979 aged 61 years.
- Hintok, 154k - Thailand
- Kanu 1 151.00k - Thailand
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
- Tarsau, Tha Sao 125k - Thailand
- Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***