Heal, Baker, Rayner & Gordon Dorizzi farewell Toodyay 1940


On 3 September 1939 Australia’s Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War.
At Toodyay Jack Baker, Les Raynor, Bert Heal and Gordon Dorizzi are farewelled 1 Nov 1940, heading by train to Claremont to enlist in AIF.
These young men would have been full of energy and excitement.  At this moment in their lives they are looking at a journey to the unknown!  Who was to know what lay ahead?  Certainly they all thought they would be fighting the Germans and their allies.
Only one man would return from war.

Above:  Newcastle Hotel, Toodyay.

Below:  Newcastle Hotel as originally built early 1900s.

At Toodyay Emily and Henry Rayner  ran the Newcastle Hotel, for many years.
Emily was widely known as ‘Ma’ – she ran a very ‘well behaved’ hotel – a resilient and very experienced hotelier having previously ran the Marble Bar Hotel for some years she was well respected and the men of the town knew ‘never to play up’ in her pub!  ‘Ma’ was a legend.
WX9357 Leslie Robert (Les) RAYNER was second of three sons of Emily and Henry Rayner.  His brothers Harry enlisted with AIF and brother George enlisted with RAAF.    He also had two step-sisters Flo and Doris.
Les was farming at Nabawah prior to enlisting.  He had also announced his engagement to Doris Ash of Dindiloa, Chapman Valley, near Geraldton.
After the war Doris Ash married 2/4th’s Ron Simkin of Northampton.  Please read further

Henry was Hotel Manager at Marble Bar from at least 1912 through to 1922.  Les would have spent his early years growing up here.
Les was wounded in action on the last day of war, 15.2.1942 at Buona Vista. Admitted to 2/13th Australian General Hospital with shrapnel wounds to both legs, he had one leg amputated.  He died 27 February 1942 aged 24 years.
A number of ‘A’ Coy men were KIA at Buona Vista.
WX9320 Herbert William HEAL (Bertie/Bert) had been working as a yardman in Toodyay prior to enlisting with AIF.
As a POW in Singapore Heal was selected to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘F’ Force Thailand.
The majority of POWs who made up ‘F’ Force had been former patients and/or older soldiers.  It is probable Bertie had been hospitalised prior to this selection and many POWs had been ill, hospitalised or recently released to their Units.
Bert was evacuated from the railway line to Tanbaya Hospital Camp in Burma where he died of beri beri and dysentery on 22 Dec 1944 aged 33 years.
Bert had interests in yachting and side-car racing at Claremont Oval.



WX9367 John ‘Jack’ Robert BAKER would later join 2/4th ‘s ‘A’ Coy 6 Platoon under CO Lt Johnny Morrison.  The 2/4th were firstly sent to train in Woodville, South Australia and then Darwin, N.T.
Born in Perth, Jack married Toodyay girl Sylvia ‘Joyce’ Smith.  He was employed as a Linesman with WAGR at Toodyay.  Jack lived much of life around Toodyay.  He was best mates with Tom Dorizzi.  Tom’s wife Ellen and Jack’s wife Joyce were sisters and talented sporting women, in particular hockey.

John ‘Jack’ Baker missed boarding ‘Aquitania’ 16 Feb 1942  before she sailed for Singapore.  Baker was one of about 90 men from 2/4th to be left behind.
Baker arrived in Java some weeks later, joined forces with other Australians.  He was assigned to ‘Blackforce’.   The Dutch capitulated to the Japanese without a fight!  They were taken POWs of Japan about 8 March 1942.
It is estimated there were about 3,500 Australian POWs in Java.  Most of these men were sent to work on the Burma-Thai Railway. In early Oct 1942, Jack was sent with A’ Force Burma Java Party No. 4 under CO  Lt. Col J.M. Williams to sail to Singapore first, then sail to northern Burma to Rangoon, up the Salaween River to Moulmein, then either train or truck to Burma end of the Railway – Thanybyuzyat.  ‘Williams’ Force as it became known had the hard task of maintaining or repairing problems on the rail. Most of the POWs were engineers with 2/2nd Battalion. They were constantly on the move.
There were 43 men from 2/4th in Williams Force of which about 10 men died.


Jack was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war to return home to Toodyay.
Jack died 17 November 1962 in Perth aged 55 years.


WX9274 Gordon DORIZZI  also known as ‘Punch’ is one of three Dorizzi brothers who enlisted AIF and joined 2/4th MGB.  His parents Tom and Mary Ann Dorzzi had five sons  tand resided in the old Gaol at Toodyay, with each son having his own cell as his bedroom.
Bert Dorizzi had enlisted a short time earlier and Tom enlisted May 1941.  Tom and Gordon were with ‘A’ Coy and Bert with ‘D’ Coy. Both Bert and Tom received wounds during the fighting at Singapore.
Tom and Bert left Singapore with ‘B’ Force Borneo and Tom left short time later with ‘E’ Force Borneo.  The three brothers were all working on the aerodromes at Sandakan.  The camp was run by a ruthless Japanese officer and the POWs lived a tough time.   But it wasn’t until 1945 that things really turned nasty at Sandakan. More than 2,000 POWs would die during the months of Jan-Aug 1945 – of which 71 men were from 2/4th.  They died of starvation first complicated by tropical illnesses.  Gordon was 28 years old when he died 11 Feb 1945 at Sandakan.  Bert died aged 26 years also died on 11 Feb 1945 and Tom Dorizzi was 31 years old when he died 11 Mar 1945 at Ranau Camp, North Borneo.
Please read about Sandakan
Dorizzi Brothers