WX8874 FINDLAY, Sandy – POW WW1 & WW2

What would have gone through Sandy Findlay’s mind when the Australians were overrun in Singapore WW2 after one week of fighting and surrendered to Japan 15 February 1945?  

Sandy Findlay was sent to work on the Burma-Thai Railway in 1943.  He died of malaria early 1944 aged 44 years.


As a very young soldier with the 51st Gordon Highlanders, WW1 he had been overrun by German forces and taken POW on 21 March 1918  Fresnoy, France, one of 21,000 British soldiers captured on that day.  He was sent to Giessen, near Frankfurt. (Fortunately Findlay was a POW of Germany for no more than 7 months before WW1 ended).
Please read about POWs of Germany WW1 we acknowledge the Scottish Government for this information.
The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and material resources of USA could be fully deployed.
The attack began with one of the most intense bombardments of the war thus far. More than 6,600 German artillery guns bombarded 46 miles of British front for five hours, firing more than 3.5 million shells.
When the offensive began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, the battlefield was blanketed in thick mist which covered the advance of German soldiers through no-man’s land.


WX8874 FINDLAY, Alexander William (known as Alex, Alec, Sandy) Scottish born Sandy was an orchardist from Kalamunda (undertaking other work from time to time). He enlisted AIF 1940 aged 43 years (he changed his birth year to be under 40 years of age).  Sandy Findlay had married 1929  Perth to Margaret (Peggy) Porter Jaffery who was also born in Scotland .  The young couple had become engaged in Scotland.  Peggy and Sandy had two children.
Sandy was b.1898  to parents George and Elizabeth Findlay at Inverurie Scotland, located just south of Aberdeen.   In 1910, his father had died.
Sandy enlisted underage in WW1 joining Gordon Highlanders, B Company, 5th  Battalion, Service No. 265300.  Sandy was taken POW 21 March 1918 at Fresnoy, France by the  Germans when they undertook an enormous last push against the Allied Armies known as the Spring Offensive.  21,000 British soldiers were taken POW on this day!
The British were heavily outnumbered at first ─ 65 German divisions took part in the initial attacks against just 26 British divisions.
By the end of the war, the Germans often referred to the men of the 51st Divsion as “The Ladies from Hell,” a testament to their aggression and wearing of kilts in battle.

Photo below:  showing POW Camp Giessen, near Frankfurt.

Read about 51st Gordon Highlanders

Read first hand accounts of 21 March 1918 from IWM (We wish to acknowledge the Imperial War Museum for this information)


After the end of WW1 the British government offered to pay fares to Australia of former members of their forces. Sandy took up this offer, becoming engaged to Scottish girl Margaret (Peggy) Porter Jaffery before he sailed to Fremantle.    Sandy and Margaret married Perth 1929, soon after her arrival.



WX8874 Findlay, Alexander William of

2/4th Machine Gun Battalion – Was father to two young children when he enlisted with AIF in 1940, an orchardist from Kalamunda Findlay joined Headquarters Company, No. 3 Platoon and became batman/clerk to CO Captain Phelps.

As a POW in Singapore Findlay left by train  to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand, V Battalion.  This group of POWs endured too many tragic deaths in the most unimaginable conditions.
‘Starvation, disease, Japanese brutality, mud, rain and never-ending misery.  More than 50% of the men in ‘D’ Force V Battalion died working on Burma-Thai Railway 1943.’
It is believed Alex was previously at Kuii Camp before being evacuated to Non Pladuk Hospital Camp, Thailand where he died of malaria January 1944. He had left working on the railway with the last of V Battalion.
Following the end of the war his body was interred and buried at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand where he is one of 91 men from the 2/4th.
Below:  Findlay’s Scottish family included his name on their family headstone, Inverurie, Scotland

Above:  Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.



Below:  British & Scottish POWs WW1 (March-July 1918) From Imperial War Museum