Captain David Clive Critchley HINDER NX76302 2/19th Battalion – Medical Officer Thailand & Japan

HINDER, DR. DAVID NX76302 2/19th Battalion, Medical Officer Thailand  & Niihama, Japan.

Hinder was born 4 August 1910 Summer Hill, Sydney.  His secondary education was at Shore Grammar School 1926-1928.  He left school at 16 years intending to go on the land.  Some years later he decided to study medicine.  He graduated Medical School in 1939.

Hinder was a big-framed man and a good tennis player.

In November 1940 after a year of residency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital he enlisted into AIF and was allocated to Australian Army Medical Corps.  In Sept 1941 Hinder moved to Singapore with 2/12th AGH and later was attached to 2/19th Battalion.  He was with 2/19th when capitulation took place Singapore 15 February 1942.

The following information is from Peter Winstanley’s ‘Articles about POWs of the Japanese Including Burma Thailand Railway 1941-1945’

In March 1943 Capt. Hinder was one of six Australian Medical Officers who were sent to Thailand with ‘D’ Force.   (Dr. Phil Millard was one of the six –  highly regarded by  2/4th POWs who worked at Konyu II.)

‘D’ Force totalled 5,000 POWS – 2,800 British and 2,300 Australians.

Hinder was allocated to U Battalion commanded by Capt. (Roaring Reg) Newton. The low mortality rate of U battalion was attributed to the strong leadership of Newton and medical care provided by Hinder.

Jim Elliott 2/4th POW in Japan recalled ‘David Hinder managed to convince a Jap medical officer that I had pneumonia – he told him ‘this man will die if his chest is not drained’. Two days later I was taken to a civilian hospital where a tube was inserted into my back by a Japanese surgeon. Dr. Hinder stood at the head of the operating table and comforted me. There was no anesthetic. Back at camp, he visited me every day and examined my wound. He was on the same ship as me on the way home after the war and went out of his way to look me up and see if I had recovered.

Charles Edward 2/19th Btn was a POW with ‘D’ Force U Battalion in Thailand wrote Hinder was a very good doctor. Everybody admired him and attributed to low death rate of U Battalion to the Newton/Hinder team. He further wrote:

‘The Jap in charge of their detail was Hiromatsu Sojo known as ‘Tiger’ by the POWs. Doc had displeased Tiger over a trivial incident so Tiger demoted Doc to Sergeant, banishing him to work in the camp kitchen and promoted medical Sergeant Frank Baker to Captain medical officer. This went on for about a week, when Tiger went to the Doc for a bit of minor surgery. Doc Hinder told him sergeants were not permitted to operate, and told him to go and see Captain Baker. The ranks were immediately reversed.”

David Hinder quoted

 “I am a fourth generation Australian and I have never been so proud of being one, before and since, as I was when a POW of the Japanese, for as you know, our boys were on their own”.


The following information is from Peter Winstanley’s ‘Articles about POWs of the Japanese Including Burma Thailand Railway 1941-1945’

In Ray Denny’s book “The Long Way Home’ he mentions Captains
David Hinder and Dick Parker were on Byoki Maru for its dreadful 70-day journey to Japan. He wrote, “Doc Hinder with whom I had worked, was so thin he could hardly get around the ship”. Denny also wrote that while at Niihama he worked with Hinder and Bert Adams (captured Timor February 1942 – who was in civilian life, a train driver on the Sydney to Melbourne line). At war’s end supplies were parachuted into the camp. Included was a bottle labeled ‘Penicillin Sodium’ – unfamiliar and completely new to us. Doc Hinder decided top give it to a very sick patient. He soon improved.”

After the war Hinder resumed general practice then went into ophthalmology. He maintained his work with POWs and had filing cabinets at home filled with correspondence with Veteran Affairs.

Hinder died 2 January 1989 aged 78 years.

The following extract is from Hinder’s eulogy:

“His absolute disregard for his personal welfare, comfort and physical safety; his unbelievable patience, his evenness of balance, perseverance and capacity for clear thought, logic, reasoning and self sacrifice made him a by-word of never being at a loss nor becoming flustered despite beatings and bashings.  An entertainer and mimic went to War but a quieter, more reflective and private man came home”.


Dr. David Hinder wrote a letter in 1981 about the Atom Bomb. Following is most of what he wrote (excluding only his personal references to family and birthdays!)

Dear Sir,

When the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima 36 years ago, I was in a POW Camp at Niihama on the island of Shikoku.

August 6th – was a calm sunny day. Across the Inland Sea the mainland was peaceful and quiet and it was difficult to believe that the country was at war for there was neither sight nor sound of American planes overhead nor the distant thump, thump of exploding bombs and their rumbling echoes through the hills.

In my cubicle my back was to the window, which faced the mainland. There was a flicker of light like sunlight reflected from the windscreen of a passing car, but no cars went past our camp. Minutes passed.

A thunderclap seemed to split the very heavens with a tearing sound as though a huge sheet was being torn apart. The window rattled, the mud walls shook and little flakes of dirt fell to the ground. A rumbling echo faded into the distance. Silence and stillness prevailed as before.

I went outside and looked across the Inland Sea to the mainland; the scene was unchanged, no fires, no smoke, calm and peaceful as before. I knew something dramatic had happened but I had no idea what it was.

In the distance there was a curious, toadstool shaped cloud.

There were no more deaths in our camp.

The Japanese dug foxholes around their guardhouse and office. Whenever a Flying Fortress flew over, very high, with its long vapour trails betraying it, they waited in their foxholes until it had gone, morosely staring at us as we walked about the camp wondering what made them so jittery.

At that time, we were at the end of the road through starvation, untreated diseases, and overwork and very few would have survived the approaching winter. We hoped for an American invasion and expected it, but we knew that such an invasion would provoke the Japanese into fury, fear and hatred and we could expect a violent death. For us there was no way out.

A month after the end of the war a small party of Americans arrived in camp. They had all been in the tropics for some time and on the anti-malarial drug Atebrin, which stains the skin yellow and they were far yellower than any Japanese we ever saw.

They told us about the bomb and in Manila some weeks later I saw photographs, which confirmed my suspicious about the mighty bang and the unusual cloud formation of 6 August.

The atom bomb saved our lives and it saved the lives of hundreds thousands of other POWs. It saved the lives of thousands of Americans and the lives of more Japanese than it took, for if the Americans had invaded Japan and the Emperor had gone on the air and told his people that they were to die defending their homes, every man, woman and child would have done so, without questions and without exception.

The Japanese (at that time)

had One religion – Japan

One faith – the Japanese people

One God – the Emperor

The atom bomb has kept the peace between the major powers, the longest period of world peace this century, and it may well be an illustration of Emerson’s statement “the first lesson of history is the good in evil.”

Pacifists demonstrating against uranium and nuclear bombs may be preparing the world to accept a non-nuclear war as a lesser evil, when either would be disastrous.

Professor Toynbee writes ‘the divine irony of human affairs; the most tremendous of all the lessons of history.’

“The atom bomb has done more to keep world peace between major powers than all the pacifists demonstrations combined.”


David Hinder


Arnold Joseph Toynbee, CH, FBA was a British historian, philosopher of historyauthor of numerous books and research professor of international history at the London School of Economics and King’s College in the University of London. Toynbee in the 1918–1950 period was a leading specialist on international affairs. … …Examining the rise and fall of 26 civilizations. 

We wish to acknowledge and thank Peter Winstanley for access to his research.


The Borehole Bulletin October 1991

Dr David Hinder another POW Medico.  Following is an extract from his letter.

“To me it has always been surprising NOT that so many died but that so many survived.Very few in our camp would have lived through another winter and we were undoubtedly saved by the Atomic Bomb.
If this period of our lives did us no harm, it seems that we are wasting a lot of time and money on our Health Service.  If this is right, surely we could do away with drugs, close the  hospitals and treat the sick and starving with work and perhaps the survivors will suffer no ill effects.”
He went on to say that in 1963 hew had a coronary occlusion and that he had had an undiagnosed one earlier.  He described his experience for a Disability Pension and this is attached as Annexure ‘D’.
Dr Hinder also had an article printed in  Medical Journal of Australia, May 1981 – describing conditions particularly in Japan, including particulars of diet, working conditions.
“To me the treatment of ex-prisoners of war of the Japanese is a scandal and disgrace.”