The Soldier's Details

First Name:
John Campbell
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
Attached 2/4th Reinforcement Officer (Taken on Strength at Darwin) 'A' Company, CO with Lt Branson
Place of Birth:
Guildford, Western Australia
Father's Name:
James deBurgh Morrison
Mothers's Name:
Hilda Rebecca Morrison (nee Spurling)
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Clerk, Perth Tourist Bureau
Selarang Camp Changi; Johore Baru; Adam Park
‘B’ Force Borneo
Return Details 1945:
Kuching-Morotai-Sydney, 2/2 H.M.Australian Hospital Ship Wanganella; Sydney-Melbourne-Perth by troop train.

General Description

Morrison enlisted AIF Nov 1940 and later joined 2/4th’s ‘A’ Company.  He had previously a member of 28th Battalion Militia.
Lt Johnny Morrison was Commanding Officer of 6 Platoon. Evacuated to 2/13th Australian General Hospital on 11/12/1942 with a high temperature,  was diagnosed as dengue fever. Discharged to unit on 21/2/1942. Replaced by Lieutenant G. Branson during his absence and the fighting in battle of Singapore.
Johnny Morrison was selected in Singapore to work in North British Borneo (Sabah) with ‘B’ Force Burma.
The Officers were removed from Sandakan prior to end of 1945 and sent to Lintang.  They all survived whilst their men died in their hundreds.
Richard Braithwaite wrote in his book ‘Fighting Monsters’ – An Intimate history of the Sandakan Tragedy – printed 2016 – based on his father’s life.  His father was one of the six Sandakan survivors.
Braithwaite  wrote some of the most admired men were those who could quickly find humuor in all situations – Johnny Morrison was one of those.  Along with Johnny Holland, Hugh Waring and Bunny Glover. (P.121)
He also wrote that with the relatively easier conditions for Australian Officers at Kutching, some like Johnny Morrison did not recover well.  Others  such as Russ Ewin Tony White, Bunny  Glover and Bully Young may have taken up to 30 years to do so, but they managed to work through their trauma.  Reading and thinking and throwing themselves into their work helped longevity.  (P468)
After 1981 the RSL was keen to get further tours to North Borneo.  The RSL engage June Healey to do this on their behalf.  June was neice to Johnny Morrison.  Others to take up tours included Lynette Silver,  Kevin Smith and Ryan Rowland. (P 432)
At the end of the war, Morrison was recovered from Lintang Officer’s Camp, Kuching – where all the officers had been sent before beginning of 1945, a Japanese plan to remove leadership from the men at Sandakan.
You can read further about ‘B’ Force
And see photographs of all West Australians who perished at Sandakan.
Appointment Terminated 4/2/1946.















Above:  From Beattie Collection.  John Morrison and Joe Beattie were members of 28th Militia in 1938 and both joined 2/4th.


John was second son with 3 sisters, born to parents Hilda Rebecca Spurling and James de Burgh Morrison who married 1901 Guildford.  His older brother Eric Reginald also enlisted in WW2 and came home safely.  His sisters were Clara born 1906, Hilda born 1910 and Adelaide born 1911.


John’s father volunteered to fight Boer War, South Africa, having earlier spent 3-4 months with Guildford Rifles.









James Morrison was an Auctioneer.


Johnny’s grandfather died in 1927.  His grandmother was Clara de Burgh of Caversham, Guildford.  They married 28 March 1870 at Guildford.



Below:  A happy family wedding when John’s sister Clara was married in 1927.  John was best man.



Below:  Engagement announcement of John and Elsie Shenstone in 1934.  The couple married in 1935 and had their first child, a daughter in 1936.



Johnny played lacrosse and was a dedicated member of Como Team as were several members of the Shenstone family.  Above he has roll of Hon. Secretary.




Below:  Johnny and Elsie are guests at Mavis Hayward’s 21st birthday party.  She is daughter of Seybert Hayward above, with whom Johnny enjoyed a very close relationship.
Johnny wrote a letter from Morotai 20 Sep 1945 to Mr and Mrs Hayward.   Below are some of excerpts from this letter.
He writes he has spoken with Elsie on telephone and so thankful and excited to be free  – “it is like a dream come true, I am at last really writing to two people I love and  two people who I feel sure love me.  Two people who have treated me as though I had been a son.”
“Say Boss!  Elsie writes to say you have been retired owing to ill-health.  I hope you are fully recovered.  I only received (?7) letters from Australia since 1941, so am behind with the news.”
“Have done a lot of lecturing as a POW and S.J.H. is pretty well a household word.  WA could reap a harvest out of ex-POWs on leave.  They will have plenty of money and I’ve done my best to swing some of it  West.  Who runs our old Bureau now?”
“Wanganella was hospital ship which brought us from here (Morotai) from Kuching.
After we left Sandakan in Oct 1943, I was in an Officer’s Camp of 150 odd AIF from all parts of Australia.  I’ve had some arguments too-but I’ve still plenty of friends.  There are five ‘Sandgropers’ in the Team . –
Major Fred Lewis (PWD), Capt. Jack Throssell (Dentist) Lieut. Clive Boundy (Mines – oreman) Lieut. Brian Walton (Solicitor, Narrogin) and little me.  Lewis, Boundy and Walton know of you well.  If you didn’t know of Boundy  – then he knows of you now as we got stuck with him!”
Johnny writes many words about food! Lastly he mentions he met Keith Moore at Sandakan – who was also at Kuching.  It seems Keith Moore and his wife knew of the Hayward family and had visited their hone many times.  Johnny couldn’t believe they hadn’t met previously.  Johnny knew his wife Jean.
(We have not been able to identify Keith Moore and which battalion he served with).



John married 1935 to Elsie May Shenstone.  They had three daughters Janet, Judith and Kay.




John’s mother died Inglewood in 1949.   His father died 1958 at East Perth.  Both are buried Guildford Cemetery.
In 1958 Morrison was awarded The Australian Efficiency Award – The Efficiency Medal was instituted in 1930 and awarded to warrant officers, non commissioned officers and men of the Citizens Military Forces for 12 years efficient service. Clasps were added for each additional 6 years service.


Johnny Morrison died in 1 June 1985 aged 75 years.  He was cremated Karrakatta Cemetery.  Elsie Morrison died 19 Dec 2011 aged 98 years at Subiaco.  She was also cremated Karrakatta.

Camp Locations:

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  • Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak