‘My Grand-Pop was a Hero’ by Amanda Van Hall (granddaughter of Wally Winter WX10373

The following was included in the ‘Borehole Bulletin’ January 1997




by Amanda Van Hall (Grand-daughter of Wally Winter WX10373)

Extracted from the Riverton RSL Newsletter


My Pop was a Prisoner of War to the Japanese. To the Japanese he was nothing more than the enemy …… but to me ‘He was a Hero’.

He was a spirited 20-year-old when he was shipped to Singapore a month before its fall. The day the Japanese struck it was early, they captured 8000 prisoners. They were taken to the Burma and Thailand jungles where they were put to work on the infamous Burma Railway, also known as the notorious ‘Railway of Death.’

Pop didn’t talk about the treatment he and his mates endured. The unspoken horrors of the railway left scars so deep in Pop’s mind that all his life he never spoke of the war.

From hell in the jungles, to hell at sea ……… recruited for forced labour, Pop was jammed into the holds of a convoy sailing to Japan. The conditions on the ship were terrible …… sickness and disease raged.

One week later an American submarine torpedoed the ship. The POWs jumped overboard out of the ‘frying pan’ into the ‘fire’ literally as the ocean was covered in burning oil. The American submarine USS ‘Pampanito’ picked Pop up after six cruel days in the water.

After four long painful years of war – Pop was a free man.

I can’t say that I will ever begin to understand what he and the many others endured during the time ……… but I do know I have amazing respect and admiration for my Pop and those who went through the war.

Although I never knew my Pop as a young man, I can imagine what he would have been like and I know we will meet again ‘in our next life’.