The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Regimental #:
- Battalion Headquarters, Special Reserve Battalion
- Place of Birth:
- Bathgate, Scotland
- Father's Name:
- Ernest James Wilkes
- Mothers's Name:
- Eliza Kisia Wilkes (nee McLean)
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Plumber and Radiator Specialist
- Selarang Camp Changi, Johore Bahru, Adam Park, Selarang Barracks Changi
- ‘D’ Force Thailand, V Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kinsaiyok, Hindaine, Brankassi, Kuii, Non Pladuk
- Camps Japan:
- Fukuoka sub‐Camp, No. 17, Omuta
- 4/6809 & 596
- Aramis Party
- Return Details 1945:
- Nagasaki-Manila, USS Lunga Point, Manila-Morotai-Darwin, PBY Catalina aircraft A24‐354, Darwin-Perth, B24 Liberator aircraft.
Wilkes was an original member of 2/4th Battalion (No. 6 Platoon) enlisting 30 Oct 1940, but was Taken off Strength when he injured his knee at Northam Camp and was sent down to 110(P)MH. He rejoined 2/4th at Fremantle in January 1942 as a reinforcement, meeting up with mate Tommy Gough.
Wilkes was born 1920 Lothian, Scotland to parents Ernie & Eliza Wilkes who migrated to Western Australia Oct 1927 on ‘Balranald’. They had a family of four children. Their fifth child was born in Perth. Ernie was a foundry worker.
The family were known to Tommy Gough’s widowed mother – the Wilkes family provided a home to Tommy for most of his formative years (His father died when he was two years old. Gough’s mother remarried in 1937).
Tommy and Sonny remained firm friends throughout the war and after.
Sonny married prior to leaving for overseas. The marriage did not survive very long after he returned. He gained custody of his two sons and remarried to Gladys Evelyn Smith about 1950.
His father Ernie Wilkes died in May 1949. He remained close to Tommy and Sonny.
Ernie Wilkes had volunteered and fought in the Boer war with 3rd Btn, West Kents, Militia), and later enlisted in the 2nd Btn, Royal Scots approximately 1903-1920. fought in France in WW1. In Perth he was a member of the Old Contemptibles’ Association
A plaque commemorates the officers and men of the British Army who served in France during World War One from 5th August to 22 November 1914 who became known as the “Old Contemptibles.”
The Old Contemptibles Association banner was laid up in the Scots Church, Collins & Russell Streets, Melbourne in 1978.
The name ‘Old Contemptibles’ arose from an Order of the Day issued by the Kaiser during World War One, which mentioned ‘Sir John French’s contemptible little army’. All ranks of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who served in France and Flanders within range of the enemy artillery during the 5th Aug – 22nd Nov 1914 were entitled to call themselves ‘Old Contemptibles’. The Old Contemptibles Association was founded by Capt JP Danny, RA on June 25th 1925. The Association had 178 branches in the United Kingdom & 14 overseas branches. It produced its own magazine The Old Contemptible and all members were known as “chums”.
The Assoc. donated money to worthwhile causes and met socially. They also participated in Remembrance marches.
It was a means of maintaining contact with old friends.
Gladys died 4 June 2005 at Kewdale aged 83 years and Hugh ‘Sonny’ died 15 May 2011 aged 89 years at Redcliffe.
Both are memorialised in the Lance Howard Memorial Gardens (for ex-service members) at Karakatta.
Sonny is on right in both photographs.
Read below the Affidavit of Hugh re his treatment in Japanese POW Camp, Omuta.
The mates Wilkes, Wilkins Flarty and Gough remained together going to work on Burma-Thai Railway with V Battalion and then to Japan to the dreadful Omuta Mines.
Flarty would have missed selection for Japan – the Japanese did not to include anybody with freckles, dark skin. They wanted to show off the white skinned European POWs to the Japanese population.
‘E’ Company SRB ran into a Japanese ambush on 11 February 1942 at south west Bukit Timah. The Coy lost nearly half their number of men, KIA or wounded. The men scattered in all directions, later seeking out other 2/4th companies. Some made their way back to Singapore.
Those who initially survived the ambushed were shot or bayoneted by the Japanese.
Also about ‘D’ Company V Battalion who lost nearly half its men to starvation, illness and Japanese brutality.
We wish to acknowledge and thank Thomas ‘Tom’ van Grootel, grandson of Sonny’s younger brother named Ernest (after Ernest Snr) for forwarding to us his knowledge of the lifelong friendship between Sonny and Tom Gough.
- Adam Park Camp - Singapore
- Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Brankassi, Prang Kasi, 208k - Thailand
- Hindaine, Kui Mang 200k - Thailand
- Kinsaiyok Main, 170.2k - Thailand
- Kuii, Kui Yae, 185.6k - Thailand
- Non Pladuk, 0k - Thailand
- Omuta Miike, Fukuoka #17-B - Japan