The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Walter Edward
- Nick Name:
- Billy or Jeep
- Sergeant (Promoted 14.2.1942)
- Regimental #:
- 'B' Company, No. 7 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- Father's Name:
- Alfred Breed
- Mothers's Name:
- Agnes Breed
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Barracks Changi
- 'D' Force Thailand, S Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kanu II, Chungkai, Nacompaton
- 3/6014, 8762
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Perth by aircraft on 9.10.1945
Soldier missing in action from 10/2/1942. Known to have joined up with ‘A’ Company 2/4th MG Battalion and fought with this Company until Surrender on 15/2/1942.
Breed joined ‘B’ Company and was one of three Corporals in No. 7 Platoon with Lt. Penrod Dean as Commanding Officer.
Bill was selected to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand, ‘S’ Battalion.
He remained in Thailand until he was recovered from Nacompaton Hospital Camp. It is believed Bill was evacuated sick to Changkai Hospital Camp from Kanyu 2 Camp.
He was flown from Thailand to Singapore and onto Perth.
Bill was from the Newdegate area -his home-town mates included John Waddell, Don McGlinn, Charlie Roberts and Allen Brooker. The last three men did not return home.
Walter ‘Jeep’ Reed died 1996.
BILL BREED MEMOIRS
25 June 1902 to 11 October 1996
Bill was born in London to Agnes and Alfred Breed. He was one of three children with older brother Bert and sister Agnes. They lived in the Cricklewood area of northeast London. Bill commenced school aged five years. His mother died when he was 13 years old.
His first job was working in the undercarriage section for Deport General aircraft Company that built Sopwith planes for WWI.
At the end of the war in 1919 Bill started work as a fitter’s mate building gas hot water system for Ajax Gyser Company. Money was very scarce. Bill’s older brother had already enlisted so at 19 years of age in January 1921 Bill also enlisted with Yorkshire Regiment.
As children Bill and his brother always dreamt of going to Australia for the warm weather. There was always news about the gold rush. The army was for them the first step in this direction.
Recruit training was at the York Barracks and the end of 1921 saw Bill posted to Ireland to a place called Kinsale, just south of Cork. His job was to guard the Old Head Lighthouse.
The Old Lighthouse is located at the lowest tip of land, and quite isolated in 1920’s. The winter weather would have miserable, and no doubt the Garrison would have little or no heating in the men’s sleeping quarters.
As this photo shows, on a beautiful sunny day, there is a golf course and housing development.
From Kinsale he went back to York enroute for the Rhine, Germany and spent 2½ years in the British, American and French occupation Forces.**
(** Part of Armistice signed 11th November 1918 about which Germany was very unhappy. The details, including zones of occupation, were worked out by French Marshal Foch and the British were allocated the city of Cologne and surrounding area.)
He returned to York and transferred to 2nd Battalion, located in India. Following three years in India Bill was given the opportunity to return to England or immigrate to Australia.
Bill arrived at Fremantle January 1928 and took a job chopping trees and clearing new land for Jim Green at Yealering. He became good friends with Hyram Scott who offered Bill a contract to clear his ‘selected land’ at the Creek in Newdegate. At the end of the contract Bill had money and Hyram had none!
They agreed to become partners and Bill became a farmer.
After several years Bill had enough money to go his own way and took over the abandoned farm of Andersons.
In October 1940 Bill enlisted, claiming he was a farm labourer not an owner. Other Newdegate locals who also enlisted included John Waddell, Alan Brooker and Charlie Roberts.
Harold Bryce took over running Bill’s farm while he was in the army. Bill was taken prisoner of war in Singapore and spent time at Changi and the Burma Railway.
He returned to WA in 1945 and was back farming in 1946. Being a POW of Japan was a very distressing period about which Bill preferred not to talk. He was part of the community and played badminton at the South Newdegate Hall and later took up golf.
Bill developed a reputation for having a good time at the Club, pub or anywhere else. Quite often these good times led to disasters on his way home! Many times Bill had difficulty negotiating the bends on the road near Lake Hills. His last serious motor accident occurred on the bend south of Belman’s gate. This accident slowed Bill down considerably and soon after in 1974, he sold his farm to Vern Hall.
Bill had developed a love of fishing and Hopetoun. In the early 1950’s Bill arranged for Des Cuff’s father to bid at auction in Lake Grace for a block of land at Hopetoun. It cost 25 pounds. Progressively the original shack developed into his last home.
Many a good time was had at Bills playing cards, having a drink or having a chat. As the years went by Bill’s home became the meeting place for what was referred to as ‘elevenes at Bills’.
The writer of the above is unconfirmed however believed to be Mary Saunders and perhaps with a little assistance of the then President of 2/4th MGB ex-Members Assoc. Ted Wallin.
Ted wrote ‘on behalf of the members of 2/4th MGB we wish to extend our thanks to Mary Saunders (daughter of Polly and Tom Finlay) for the care she has given to Bill Breed over many years. A job well done, Mary.’
Borehole Bulletin October 1992
The following letter was addressed to Ted Wallin, (editor of Borehole) written by John Waddell from Newdegate.
‘Just a note to say good’day and some information on Bill ‘Jeep’ Breed’s 90th birthday in June. Hoping all is well with you as it is with Beth and I, we are shifting to Mandurah next month so may get to a few more shows.
Bill is keeping well and has a marvellous spirit for his age. His party, organised by Poll Findlay’s daughter Marg and husband Merve Saunders, was very well done. Plenty of food and drinks all day and plenty of chance to talk.
Around 35 people turned up over the day and included Bill’s friends from Perth and Newdegate, also many cards, etc. a very nice one from Dick Ridgwell which was very much appreciated by Bill. ‘Cowboy’ Matthews rang him but I was the only 2/4th present.
Bill also had a phone call from a doctor who treated him for a few years, from Cocos Island where he is now on holiday and said he’ll be back next year to see Bill.
Everyone enjoyed the party, especially Bill, who was as bright as a button at 10 o’clock at night when we left.”
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Chungkai, 60k - Thailand
- Kanu II, 152.30k - Thailand
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand