Ridgwell, Bill Reeves Fly from Singapore to West Australia 1945

20 July 2023 – this story presently under construction

At war’s end Dick was amongst POWs from Nakom Nayok Camp transported by truck to Bangkok. From here he was flown to Singapore.

Another 2/4th machine gunner waiting at Bangkok was Billy Breed WX9229. Billy had been at Nacompaton Camp and he and Ridgwell were originally with ‘B’ Coy and been with ‘D’ Force S Btn at Kanu II.   Their first Camp was the dreadful Kanu II after which they separated to different work parties and camps.  We are now telling tales out of school – Billy like everybody else had never flown in an airplane.

Both Ridgwell and Reeves were on the next flight out of Singapore on what turned out to be a five- day flying trip instead of the quick flight home they initially believed it would be.

First stop was Manila overnight – where the Americans tried so hard to overfeed the POWs, in particular with ice-cream!
Second night was New Guinea.
Third night was an unscheduled stopover again in New Guinea because their American pilot misjudged the plane width.   The incurring collision at the hanger removed a good deal of one wing!
Day Four – Ridgwell, Reeves and POWs were again airborne (not same plane nor pilot thank goodness) on a Dakota, now headed to Townsville, Queensland.

Alighting from the aircraft and after stepping onto Australian soil for the first time in 3 ½ years – Dick fell to his knees and kissed his homeland soil. Grateful to be safe and home again.

We are not sure what Bill Reeves did, not doubt he was phoning his wife asking if she was at the farm waiting for him!

The two men trained from Townsville to Perth. It must have been at least another 4-5 days travelling – changing trains at Sydney, Melbourne, probably Adelaide.

Perhaps the sea voyage would have been a faster option after all!

(This story told to Cheryl Mellor by Dick Ridgwell 17 October 2017)