There were three 2/4th boys relocated from Java to Sumatra by Japanese during 1944 (to work on Railway) Harold Booth, Noel Banks Java Party 22 & Robert McAskil – Java Party 20 (Booth & McAskil died illness during 1945)
They joined 2/4th POWs Richard Annear, Arthur Magill, Quinn & Squance in Singapore to sail to Sumatra’s Railway Project. These four men had survived sinking of their POW Transport Ship SS Harujkiku. Another three 2/4th remained in Singapore either from injuries received or illness: Burgess, Semple & Harold Smith.
Ted Hopson died 26 April 1944, was buried 200 yards south of 28 kilo peg on Blangkejeren-Tekencong Road.
Five 2/4th men were rescued from Sumatran Railway at war’s end.
Booth, Banks and McAskil were part of the 90 2/4th men who were AWOL from ‘Aquitania’ at Fremantle on 16 January 1942, and later landed in Java and not Singapore. (Please note these men were not necessarily AWOL by choice – remember MPs at Fremantle did not release the men from imprisonment to allow them to reboard ‘Aquitania’ before she sailed 16 Jan 1942) Please read story
Nearly all of the Australian POWs on Java were shipped out beginning 1942 to work on the Burma-Thai Railway in various work parties. Those left behind were ill and excluded. We know Banks suffered severely, and almost constantly with malaria.
McAskil departed Java with Java Party No. 20 arriving in Singapore on 21 May 1944.
Booth and Banks were transported to from Bicycle Camp Batavia with Java Party No. 22 arriving Singapore 1 July 1944.
On his arrival in Singapore McAskil was taken to River Valley Road Transit Camp. It was here assessment was made of the men’s their health before being forwarded to Japan. McAskil was removed from the draft of 777 men. The ship carrying this draft of men was sunk off Nagasaki by a US submarine on 24 June 1944.
Booth, McAskil, and Banks sailed from Singapore (with Annear ) were sent to Pakan Baroe when they arrived at Sumatra.
Booth WX8766 died 15 April 1945 of beri beri.
McAskil died of cardiac beri beri aged 44 years at Kampoeng 106km near Kota Baroe, Sumatra. After the war his body was taken to Djakarta War Cemetery. (As was that of Harold Vernon Booth).
Banks was the only survivor of these three 2/4th men who were AWOL at Fremantle and sailed to Java instead of Singapore.
Banks was seriously ill as were so many men, when war ended. He was one of the men flown out of Sumatra to Singapore AGH and flown home soon after to WA with the Duke of Gloucester plane, which had been made available to airlift the dangerously ill former POWs.
Banks suffered almost continuously with malaria and the reason he was NOT selected with work parties leaving from Java to the Burma-Thai Railway.
Below: Booth and Banks.