The following are known Old Scotch Collegians who served with the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion 8th Division, WW2
This Western Australian raised Machine Gun Battalion arrived at Singapore on 24 January 1942 to reinforce Australia’s 8th Division and immediately set out to help create Singapore’s non-existent defences. The Japanese invaded the north west coast on the night of 8 Feb where the Australians were sparsely located. Although they fought bravely they were soon overrun by the vastly greater enemy numbers. By15 Feb 1942, the Allies capitulated to Japan. They had fought without air power and tanks and under the leadership of incompetent leadership.
Photo taken by Andrew Mellor, Scotch College 2021.
Men of the 2/4th who did not return include Barrymore, Norm Frazer, Ian Pearson and John Royce.
WX9589 Barrymore, Frederick Markwell
Barrymore enlisted AIF 4 Dec 1940 later joined 2/4th ‘D’ Coy 15 Platoon as a Driver under Commanding Officer Lt Meicklejohn.
He was wounded in action 9 Feb 1942, admitted 2/13th AGH on 10th Feb with shrapnel wounds to his left arm and chest. Barrymore was discharged to unit on 21 Feb 1942.
Selected to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand V Battalion, Barrymore died of Malaria at Kuii Camp 24 Dec 1942 aged 36 years. V Battalion endured a horrific death rate – as high as 50%. Please read about the Battalion and Kuii Camp.
After the war Barrymoore was reburied at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
WX3452 Bunning, Gavin MacRae (Tom)
Enlisted AIF 11 Nov 1940 later joined 2/4th MGB as Commanding Officer of ‘B’ Company Headquarters.
Bunning remained at Singapore throughout the entire war at Selarang and later Changi Gaol. He was senior officer with 2/4th MGB for two years. From May 1942 Bunning became involved with Changi Garden, becoming Control Officer. He was recovered from Changi at the end of the war and returned to WA.
WX8240 Carter, Douglas Newington Hunter b.22 July 1916 Claremont to Rupert and Dorothy Carter.
Carter was employed as a bank clerk at Carnamah when he enlisted 6 Aug 1940, later joining 2/4th’s ‘D’ Coy 13 Platoon under Commanding Officer Lt Wankey. Also in 13 Platoon were his mates from Carnamah – Ken Lally who was working at Eric H. GURR’s General Store in Carnamah from September 1939 until mid 1940. Bill Baillie & Loller (Bruce Rock) were also in same Platoon and were mates or connected.
He was AWOL when ‘Aquitania’ sailed from Fremantle 16 January 1942 and with about 90 machine gunners who sailed a week or so later, but their ship was diverted to Java as Singapore was about to Fall.
He was taken POW of Japan and imprisoned in Java. Later he was sent on a work party to work on Thai-Burma Railway sailing via Singapore to Thailand. He was evacuated to Tarsau 5 Sept 1943 suffering from malaria and enteritis from which he was fortunate to survive. Tarsau Hospital was notorious and known by the men as being a place where one was likely not to survive.
Carter was selected ‘fit’ by the Japanese to work in Japan, and sailed with ‘Rashin’ Maru Party, which first required the men to entrain to Singapore to board their ‘hell’ ship.
Following their 70 day horrific journey to Japan, Carter was sent to work at Omaha Camp where he would work in a coal mine and where where he was recovered more than 12 months later at the end of the war. Carter returned to WA.
WX10366 Fraser, Norman Wilson
Enlisted with AIF 18 Dec 1940 later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘C’ Coy 11 Platoon under Commanding Officer Lt Boyle.
Fraser was WIA at Ulu Pandan on 11 Feb 1942 receiving shrapnel wound to abdominal wall. He was disharged to unit on 21 Feb 1942.
As a POW at Selarang, Fraser was selected with 3,000 Australians to form ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion. This was the first work force to depart Singapore in May 1942. They sailed to the south west coast of Burma to repair and enlarge aerodromes before making their way to the northern most point of Burma-Thai Railway to start work on 1st Oct 1942 at the Burma end of the railway.
Frazer failed to follow/forgot instructions not to drink unboiled water. He died cholera 4/6/1943 Augganuaung 105 Kilo Camp, Burma aged 29 years. He left his wife and two young children.
Fraser had risked his life to take his camera which he used during his captivity. The undeveloped films were buried at the head of his grave – sadly at the end of the war, the War Graves Party recovered the film only to discover they had deteriorated beyond use.
Fraser’s body was exhumed and reburied at Thanbyuzyazt War Cemetery which today is in Myanmar.
Norman Fraser and children.
WX8207 Hewby, Arthur Sydney (Snow)
He enlisted WW1 24th March 1916, leaving Australia with 7th Reinforcements for 44th Battalion. He worked his way through the ranks to 2nd Lieutenant in France. He was wounded in action on 20th October 1917 with a gunshot wound to his left side.
Enlisting WW2 Snow became well known as ‘B’ Coy Sgt. Major, also for his ability as a footballer, especially as a ruckman for Perth Football Club. He was in the 1921 victorious Carnival Team against Victoria and of course he was Manager of the 2/4th Football Team.
Born Gingin 1900. Hewby enlisted AIF Aug 1940, later joining 2/4th’s ‘B’ Coy Headquarters. The 2/4th sailed to Singapore in mid January 1942 on ‘Aquitania’ to reinforce the AIF’s 8th Battalion, which was at that time retreating down the Malay Peninsula.
He was taken POW of Japan when the Allied countries surrendered to Japan 15 Feb 1942 at Singapore having fought a bitter campaign since 8th Feb (7 days). In 1943 Hewby was sent to the Burma-Thai Railway in Thailand with the ill-feted ‘D’ Force Thailand, V Battalion which would endure almost 50% death rate to illness. Please read further about V Battalion.
When the rail was completed towards the end of 1943. the Japanese sent POWs working on the Burma end of the rail and those in Thailand to one of about 4 large camps or in the case of illness, to hospital camps in Thailand. Those considered ‘fit’ by the Japanese were selected and prepared to sail to Japan where they would remain working until the end of war.
Hewby was sent to Chungkai which served as a Hospital Camp for Australians returning from the Railway and when considered fit was sent to Ubon Camp, Thailand to Work.
He was recovered from Ubon at the end of the war (sometime after 15 August 1945) and returned home to WA.
‘Snow’ Hewby died end of 1971.
WX9130 Hunter, Malcolm Ashton (Mac) Corp.
Enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940, later joining 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Coy 9 Platoon under C.O. Lt. Lee.
Hunter was unable to reboard ‘Aquitania’ before she sailed for Singapore on 16 Jan 1942 and was sent with about 90 men a few weeks later to Java where they were taken POWs in early March 1942 and remained there for about 12 months before being sent to work on the Burma-Thai Railway in Thailand with ‘D’ Force Thailand Java Party No. 6, O Battalion.
At Hintok Road Camp Hunter contracted Cholera and was evacuated possibly to Tarsau Hospital Camp. He was a lucky young man to survive!
He was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war and returned to WA.
WX8441 Mellor, John Blain
born 1907 Claremont. He enlisted AIF OCT 1940 later joining ‘A’ Company 5 Platoon under CO’s Lt Walton and Lt Learmonth.
Mellor was WIA at Ulu Pandan on 12 Feb 1942, admitted AGH on 16th Feb with shrapnel wounds and discharged to Unit on 21st Feb 1942.
He was entrained to Thailand from Singapore with ‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion to work at Hellfire Pass region. He was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war.
WX13816 Pearson, Donald David
Don Pearson was selected in Singapore to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘H’ Force. Please read further.
He returned to Singapore towards end of 1943 and was recovered from there at War’s end.
WX8118 Pearson, John Eyres (Ian)
Brother of Don Pearson and known as ‘Ian ‘ he was selected to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion at the Hellfire Pass Cutting. He was evacuated sick to Chungkai Hospital Camp.
Died beri-beri and enteritis 13/2/1944, Chungkai, Thailand aged 43 years
WX9383 Royce, John Douglas Lt.
Born Katanning 1919. Royce enlisted AIF 16 Nov 1940.
Later joining 2/4th MGB’s Headquarters Company No 2 Platoon Anti-Aircraft as Commanding Officer.
Royce died of wounds 12 Feb 1942 at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan aged 22 years during a bayonet charge at the crest. He crawled back to his men who wanted to evacuate him but Royce refused, knowing the Australians were fighting for their lives. His men cut off his webbing, making him more comfortable.
Royce’s body could not be recovered until the end of May 1942. The Japanese refused to allow the Australians the opportunity to recover their dead. Many more bodies were recovered months later towards the end of 1942. Some bodies were never recovered.
Royce has a memorial grave at Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
WX3424 Thomas, Archibald William Capt.
Enlisted AIF Nov 1940 later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Coy HQ. He was appointed CO of ‘A’ Coy at Singapore following Major Saggers taking command of Special Reserve Battalion.
Thomas left Singapore with the first work party – ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Btn. to the Burma end of the railway. He was recovered from Nacompaton Camp, Thailand. From Bangkok he flew to Rangoon sailed to Singapore ‘Highland Brigade’ flying to Darwin.
The following 49th Annual Report of Scotch College was printed in the West Australian Newspaper. (Compiled by Principal P.C. Anderson)
Included in this 1946 Annual Report was mentioned former student Ken Anketell – son of 2/4th Commanding Officer Lt.-Col Michael Joseph Anketell who DOW Singapore 16 Feb 1942 aged 51 years.