Rolf Walker Newling was born June 1911 and the eldest of the three brothers to join the 2/4th. Second brother Rexford Frank Newling born in April 1913 was in fact the first to enlist on 8th October 1940 with Rolf enlisting a few weeks later on the 25th October 1940.
Oswald Kitchener (known as Kitch) Newling born in June 1915 was the youngest of the brothers. His occupation is recorded as boat repairer. Oswald enlisted 27th October 1941.
On 8th July 1942, Rolf Newling with ‘B’ Force departed Changi (the first of the Newling Brothers to leave Singapore) under the command of Lt-Col A.W. Walsh of 2/10th Field Regiment, AIF. They boarded the ship ‘Ume Maru’ heading for British North Borneo. This force comprised 1,494 Australians of which 145 were officers.
Rolf Newling managed the survive 3 years of hell on the Sandakan-Ranau Death March, before his death of malaria at Ranau on 13th June 1945 aged 33 years. Rolf had left behind a daughter.
Following capitulation Kitch and Rex, both with Headquarters Company were accommodated at Selarang Camp and Barrack before departing for Thailand on 17th March 1943. Trucks moved ‘D’ Force V Battalion from Selarang Barracks to Singapore Railway Station where they entrained through Malaya for four days to Thailand. They arrived at Kinsaiyok Camp on 31st March 1943. Located on the bank of River Kwae Noi the accommodation was described as ‘not too bad’. The first job was to cut a track through the jungle ahead of the rail laying gangs and excavation of a long cutting. Seven men died during the 32-day stay.
Their next camp was Brankassi. It was judged to being worse than Kinsaiyok with mud contributing to the discomfort. Tents were old and threadbare, water would enter during heavy rain and their bamboo slat beds were about 2 feet from the ground. 27 men died at this camp including 5 machine gunners. It was here that a Japanese Engineer Corporal given the name ‘Black Cat’ took great delight in beating and terrorising the POWs.
On 10th July 1943 the men moved to Hindaine where conditions were much the same. Mud, little food and men dying every day without medical supplies. On 10th August 40 of the heavy sick were evacuated. 28 men died at this camp including several machine gunners.
They travelled by barge from Hindaine to Kuii camp on 31st August. Work commenced immediately with every available man and continued through until 17 December 1943. It was here the men were accommodated with 1700 Dutch POWs
A total of 52 men died at Kuii.Included were 16 machine gunners as well as Rex and Kitch Newling. In the appalling conditions and of the original 500 men, 200 had died by December 1943 and another 20 died by the end of March.
Rex & Kith were both selected with ‘D’ Force and travelled to Thailand. The two brothers were with V Battalion and apparently remained together as both died of malaria at Kuii. Rex Newling aged 30 years, was the first to die on 29 September 1943 Kitch aged 28 years died 3 weeks later on 22 October 1943.