SAWYER COUSINS – CLARRIE & THOMAS KEITH (Tom or Barney)  enlisted AIF and joined 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, 8th Division WW2


Clarrie’s father Joseph Archibald & Keith’s father Thomas are brothers, who lived Menzies and sons of


WX7939 SAWYER, Clarence John ‘Clarrie’ or Barney b. Mt Helena 1907 to John Archibald Sawyer and Mary McArthur enlisted AIF 13 Aug 1940 later joining 2/4th MGB’s Battalion Headquarters.  Lt-Col Michael Anketell was Commanding Officer of 2/4th MGB (he DOW 13 Feb 1942 having been severely wounded during action at Ulu Pandan on 12 Feb 1942)

Clarrie Sawyer was AWL from ‘Aquitania’ anchored at Fremantle 15th Jan 1942.   He was one of 88 machine gunners from 2/4th who missed reboarding and were taken to Java several weeks later where they were taken POWs of Japan 9th March 42.  Imprisoned Bandeong, Java Sawyer became ill. Within three weeks he died of dysentery at No. 1 Allied Hospital, Bandeong on 1st April 1942 aged 34 years.
Clarrie had left ‘Aquitania’ desperate to see his wife Elsie and baby daughter Margaret – knowing it was the last time before leaving for war, to where?  They did not know it was Singapore.
Clarrie Sawyer married in 1933 Perth to Elsie Ada Dargie.  In the 1936 and 1937 Electoral Rolls, Clarrie and Elsie were recorded living at Kwelkan, east of Nungarin, share farming.  They had one daughter Margaret.  It is thought Clarrie’s brother William Archibald was also living at Nungarin possibly share farming together.    (William was recorded marrying whilst he was at Nungarin.)
In August 1940, Clarrie enlisted in AIF.   It is highly likely the cropping venture was not financially viable.  There were many families walking away from farms at that time and the AIF provided a regular income.




WX7256 SAWYER, KEITH SAWYER (known as Keith, Barney & ‘Tom Sawyer’ to 2/4th) b. 1909 Menzies to Thomas Sawyer and Mary Collins.   Enlisted AIF 1 Aug 1940 from Menzies.

He later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon under C.O. Lt Wilson.
As POW in Singapore, Sawyer left the island with the first work Force A’ Company Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion sailing to the south west coast of Burma to work on repairing aerodromes before moving to work on the Burma end of the Burma-Thai Railway.
Towards end of 1943, when the railway was completed the Japanese brought all POWs in Burma south to one of 4 or so large Camps or hospitals.  Barney arrived at Tamarkan Camp, Thailand which indicates he was in need of hospital care.  He was thereafter sent to Nakom Nayok another large POW hospital Camp from where he was recovered at the end of the war.

His mother died in 1944 while he was a POW of Japan in Thailand

Please read about the Menzies Enlistments


Below:  Menzies Pioneers WILLIAM & SUSANNAH SAWYER (nee MCLAREN) – died & buried Menzies.


Returning from war, Keith married 1949 to Elvina P Bamess.
He died 1999.



I wish to acknowledge Menzies Shire Newsletter of April 2020 (C. Mellor)