The Soldier's Details

First Name:
John Henry
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
'D' Company
Place of Birth:
Nonham, Western Australia
Father's Name:
James Leonard Browning
Mothers's Name:
Ellenor Florence Browning
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 25.
Selarang Camp Changi
'B' Force Burma
Cause of Death:
Beaten to death
Place of Death:
Sandakan No 2 Camp
Date of Death:

General Description

Johny and Thelma (Bennie) Browning with son Robert
Johnny Browning  and Thelma Benise (Bennie) Leeder  with son Robert John



Browning was wounded in action Lim Chu Kang Road at 0930 hours on 9.2.1942. Admitted to 2/9th Field Ambulance on 9.2.1942 with a gunshot wound to calf muscle of his right leg. Transferred to 2/13th Australian General Hospital on l6.2.1942. Transferred to 2/9th Field Ambulance on 7.3.1942. Discharged to unit on 21/3/1942.
Uncle of Neville Browning, Editor, 2/4th Machine Gun Newsletter “Borehole” and author of several Military History books.
Further reading, read D Company.
From West Australian Newspapers August 1945
Browning Johnnie
Browning,John Henry
Browning J


Private John Henry Browning known as Johnny, was a Northam boy.  He enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th’s ‘D’ Company 13 Platoon under Commanding Officer Lt Wankey.
Please read the story of 13 Platoon to learn about the Japanese invasion of Singapore 8 Feb 1942.  This Platoon was right front of the Japanese invasion.



He was the son of James Henry Browning and Eleanor Florence McBride who married 1912. When he left Fremantle on ‘Aquitania’ Johnny Browning left behind his wife Thelma Bernice Browning (nee Leeder) and son Robert John who were then residing in East Northam.
Johnny had three older sisters and we believe two brothers.  His maternal grandfather Daniel McBride died in 1915.  His maternal grandmother Emily McBride (nee Crampton) died in 1930.

Johnny married in 1940 to Thelma Benise (known as Bennie) Leeder. Their son Robert John was born prior to Johnny departing for Singapore.



POW Johnny Browning was transported from Singapore on troop ship Ubi Maru from Changi on 7th July 1942 to Borneo. He was one of 1494 POWs who made up B Force and arrived in Sandakan Harbour on 18th July 1942.
At 25 years of age, John Browning died as a POW on 16th July 1945. We believe he was one of 23 POWs murdered at Sandakan – their bodies recovered from slit trenches at the airfield. (This information from ‘Sandakan Conspiracy’ Lynette Ramsay Silver)
We salute an extraordinarily brave young man who tried desperately to survive the absolute horrors of Borneo and Japanese depravity to return home to his loved ones.
BROWNING, Private, JOHN HENRY, WX9283, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 16 July 1945. Age 25. Son of James Henry and Eleanor Florence Browning; husband of Thelma Bernice Browning, of East Northam, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Further reading about ‘B’ Force and ‘E’ Force
Also please see map of Sandakan Borneo, photos of all West Australians who perished there.
WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX9283 Private John Henry Browning, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of B Force. The 1494 POW’s that made up B Force, were transported from Changi on 7 July 1942 on board the tramp ship Ubi Maru, arriving in Sandakan Harbour on 18 July 1942. Private Browning, aged 25, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 16 July 1945. He was the son of James Henry and Eleanor Florence Browning, and the husband of Thelma Bernice Browning, of East Northam, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 18. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)

Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore