Northam – Boys of 2/4th who came
from this area.
There are three men who enlisted from Northam and joined 2/4th MGB. Tragically they did not survive to return home to their families.
WX7947 Private Allan Roy Brown – born 1908 to parents Henry Robert and Annie Jane Brown. Driver with HQ Coy No. 3 Platoon. Known as Roy, he spent much of his formative years growing up in Northam.
‘Roy Brown was ordered to stay near his truck during action at Ulu Pandan, Singapore, on account of his small stature of 5 foot and one half inch. He was reported KIA in bayonet charge at Ulu Pandan.’
His body was discovered several months after surrender by several men from 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion who went under the wire from Adam Park Camp on the night of 28/29 May I942 and was buried by that party. Please read further
WX9283 BROWNING, John Henry known b. Northam 1920 to parents James Leonard Browning and Elenor Florence McBride. Johnny enlisted AIF Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th’s ‘D’ Company 13 Platoon under Commanding Officer Lt Wankey.
His platoon was under intense fire prior the Japanese army invading Singapore on the north west coast where the machine gunners were dug in. Many did not survive, some were left behind Japanese lines and just a few escaped. Read about 13 Platoon.
As a POW in Singapore Browning was selected with ‘B’ Force Borneo to sail to Sandakan where the men would work for several years constructing air fields for the Japanese army. Initially conditions were not too unbearable, but soon deteriorated under brutal leadership.
In 1945 the Japanese made a decision to dispose of all the POWs and throughout the next 6-8 months marched the healthiest POWs to Ranau carrying supplies of ammunition & other goods on the backs. Those who remained behind in Sandakan camp included Johnny – too ill and unable to march, they were all herded out of their camps at the end of May left outside without shelter and here they died of starvation and illness. All food supplies to the POWs had ceased in January. The POWs were also forbidden to purchase food from the locals.
71 boys from 2/4th were part of the 2,000 Australians who died in North Borneo.
WX9318 LALLY, Ken was born Northam 1915 to parents Thomas Henry and Jessie Lally.
Lally enlisted same time as Johnny Browning on 30 Oct 1940 and they joined the same Platoon. No 13 under Commanding Officer Lt. Wankey.
Lally left Singapore in 1943 with ‘D’ Force Thailand V Battalion to work on Burma-Thai Railway. This workforce had a torrid time and endured heavy loss of life due to lack of food, medical supplies and sadistic guards.
Unlike Sandakan when most POWs died during 1945 – the men working on the Railway soon found lack of food and simple medical supplies resulted in early deaths. Particulary during ‘Speedo’ when the Japanese drove the POWs and workforce to complete the railway – working through nights and long shifts.
Lally survived, and then was selected by the Japanese to work in Japan. When the Rail link was completed about the end of 1943 – the Japanese sent all the POWs working on the Burma end and throughout Thailand to one of 6 large camps or hospitals in Thailand. Their plan was to fatten up their workforce for Japan.
Lally was selected with ‘Aramis’ Party. On arrival in Japan Lally and the 2/4th men were sent to work at Omuta Camp and coalmine. Omuta was a terrible camp. More so than the large numbers of camps and underground mines – precarious conditions for POWs because the Japanese removed much of the wooden structures for their war effort.
Omuta was ‘home’ to a large number of US POWs who had been there several years and were well entrenched. Almost lawless the camp operated under ‘Mafia’ style leadership. Please read about Omuta
Ken Lally was working underground when he was crushed between two coal trucks and died. He was 30 years old.
WX10389 L/Sgt Cecil Allen PHILLIPS b. Northam 1918 to parents Cecil William and Rosalind Martha Phillips.
He enlisted AIF Dec 1940, later joining 2/4th’s HQ Company No. 2 Platoon Anti-Aircraft. His commanding officer was Lt. Royce who was KIA at Hill 200 Ulu Pandan, as was the other Platoon Sergeant Bill Innes.
L/Sgt Phiilips was KIA 12 Feb 1942 at Ulu Pandan, Reformatory Road, Singapore aged 23 years.