The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Arthur Ernest
Regimental #:
‘A’ Company, No. 6 Platoon.
Place of Birth:
Bermondsey, England
Father's Name:
Septimus William Farmer
Mothers's Name:
Martha Farmer ((nee King)
Pre-war Occupation:
Railway Employee
River Valley Transit Camp
‘ A’ Force Burma, Java Party No. 4, Williams Force
Camps Thailand:
Camps Burma:
Moulmein, Tanyin 35km, Anakwin 45 km, Taungzan 57km, Mezali 72 km, Apalon 77km, Kyondaw-Payathonzu 85km, 108, Aungganguang 105
Camps Java:
Bicycle Camp
Return Details 1945:
Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Tamaroa

General Description

Farmer enlisted AIF Oct 1940 as which time he was father to five children.  He later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Coy 6 Platoon.  Commanding Officer was Lt. Johnny Morrison.
Arthur Farmer was amongst the 90 or so men from  2/4th unable to reboard ‘Aquitania’ before their ship left for Singapore on the morning of 16th January 1942.  There is no doubt Arthur was anxious to see his wife before he went to fight the Japanese!  He was probably one of many 2/4th who were arrested by MPs and imprisoned.  The soldiers were unable to be freed in time to board their ship.  A blow to the 2/4th – to have nearly 90 well trained machine gunners left behind.
Read further about this group of men
This group departed Fremantle some weeks later, however by the time their small convoy had reached Indonesian waters, it was realised Singapore would soon fall to the Japanese Imperial Army and therefore the men would be left at Java – as reinforcements to the Allied Forces already on Java and further Australian Battalions who would arrived about the same time.  They became POWs of Japan about a month later and were incarcerated on the island, probably for Farmer it was Bicycle Camp.
He was selected to work on the Burma end of  Thai-Burma Railway with ‘A’ Force Burma No. 4 Group. They arrived from Java in Singapore on 12 October 1942 – next sailing to northern Burma 1942.
Please read further about A Force Burma, No 4 Group who would become Williams Force. 
And further reading.
The men of Williams Force endured a terrible time, slaving on the rail link extraordinary long hours under appalling conditions and moving camps frequently whilst enduring the endless monsoonal rains.
Arthur was rather fortunate to be included in the Cattle Party on 1 May 1943 – this task took them away from working daily on the railway.     He was returned to Tamarkan, Thailand from Augganaung 105 km Camp in Burma towards end of 1943 when the Japanese began sending all their POWs working in Burma south to one of several large POW Camps or Hospitals.  The same procedure occurred with the POWs working on the rail in Thailand.
He was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war.
Whilst the POW Camps recorded are roughly those Williams Force worked at, we cannot be sure precisely where Arthur was.  There are no records.


It is quite possible Arthur was born earlier than 1904 as he stated on his enlistment form.  Possibly 1903 to Septimus William Farmer and Martha King Bermondsey, England.
In 1923 Arthur 20 years, sailed from London to Melbourne on the ‘Jervois Bay’ with his brother Albert who was 24 years.
It is unknown when Arthur moved to WA.
Arthur married 1932 at Pemberton to Alexandrina Anne Jane Macdonald who was born 1916 Inverness, Scotland.  She was daughter to John Gordon MacDonald and Anne  Margaret Robertson who married 1915 Inverness, Scotland.  They had a family of six children.  We are unsure when the MacDonald family moved to WA, however their fourth child was born in 1920 at Gnowangerup.
Arthur and Alexandrina had  a family of seven children including  son John William Macdonald Farmer born Pemberton 1932.  John Farmer died in 1997.  John’s son and Arthur’s grandson Raymond Edward Farmer, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 1968 aged 7 years.
Arthur’s brother Albert Cecil Farmer died in Victoria in 1968 and another brother Septimus William Farmer died in Albany in 1968.  The remaining family members appear to have remained in England.
Arthur suffered from leg ulcers until his death in 8 April 1977 at Hollywood Hospital aged 73 years.    He last known address was South Coogee. Both Arthur and Alexandrina were cremated at Karrakatta.   Alexandrina died 1967 aged 51 years.


Below:  It is staggering Arthur Farmer’s POW war service was not taken in to account and the whole reason his health was precarious and the reason he was unable to work.  Hopefully somebody from 2/4th Assoc. stepped up to assist the farmer family.


Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Apalon, Apalaine, 80 Kilo, 337k - Burma
  • Taungzun, 60 Kilo, 358k - Burma
  • Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***
  • Tanyin 35 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Anakwin 45 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Mezali 70km Camp - Burma
  • Kyondaw 95 Kilo Camp – Burma