WX14836 JACK KENNETH RAMSBOTTOM DIARY

WX14836 JACK KENNETH RAMSBOTTOM – DIARY – JAPAN

 

Tuesday 25th January 1944.
Yoshihara party reduced to 25 today-the remainder of the men working at Sam paku on [illegible] . Quite a lot of this has been coming in lately but the boys say that it is just about [owari] now. We arrive back from work to hear that canteen supplies are expected tonight and possibly Red Cross Parcels.
Wednesday 26th January 1944.
Anniversary day-the aircraft carrier that the Aussies were working on left today, probably to be armed and equipped. We were disappointed to find the canteen supplies consisted only of toothpowder and brushes. Cigarettes and sanitary paper. To make matters worse the food ration has worsened and is likely to remain so for a while. Charlie the [Q] said today that the war would be over in a month. Consequently he would make our life as unpleasant as possible while he had the opportunity. What was left of the [sand] shoes were issued tonight and it is possible that fruit may be obtained. New hats also came for those that needed them.
Thursday 27th January 1944.
Everyone has their nose in the papers this morning following on the news that we have invaded Burma and the yanks have landed on the [Dalmatian] coast. There is a general air of pessimism amongst the Nips. Issued tonight one apple and 3 oranges and expected to continue for about 10 days with a total cost of approx. 2 yen.
Friday 28th January 1944.
Very severe frost and ice remained on water most of day. The fruit is rapidly going bad, oranges on the first day 1 to7 on the second day were 2 to 10. Apples or whats left of them will be issued after the oranges are finished. The canteen committee have tried to get the fruit sorted but the Nips are not having any. We get the encouraging news tonight that the Nips have severed diplomatic relations with Germany. It certainly looks as though they are trying to crawl out of it.
Saturday 29th January 1944.
The first thing that we heard today was the Nips saying “Sempaku” (Work no good). Flags have been conspicuous by their absence the last week or two. We hear the happy news that 30,000 Jap prisoners were taken at [illegible] The Nips may not be as eager at slinging off at us now.
Sunday 30th January 1944.
‘Yasme day’ – and quite the best were had for some time . Inspection of recently issued shoes and caps. Hot baths still going and much appreciated.
Monday 31st January 1944.
The last day of a good month was spoilt by the contradiction of Fridays news concerning the severance of Jap – German relations. It has been amended as follows. Under pressure from Washington the Argentine consulate has broken off relations with the axis and the Swedish consul is [illegible] their interests. Jack Oakie has returned after a short visit to Tokyo. Horse face put on a good show whilst searching tonight- [illegible] and passing on.
Tuesday 1st February 1944.
We have gradually shifted (or rather moved) our way back to the earlier method of boarding the train. The month has started off with good news, especially that about the American-Jap talks at Geneva concerning P.O.W’s.
Wednesday 2nd February 1944.
The coldest day this winter minimum temperature 2 degrees. The tenko officers are doing a bit of changing about -I don’t know whether intentionally or otherwise. Some of them are considered “safe”.
Thursday 3rd February 1944.
The rumours that we were getting a bath today and hence- forth twice weekly was shattered , although preparations had already started today but the Nips stopped them. A very cold wind blew all day and quite a bit of snow on the hills. Plenty of air coming in and finding a [steady pace?]. A lot of fellows are suffering from itchy skin and are appreciating the qualities of oil. The latest issue of Mine Camp is out and is a big improvement over the last one. It includes a poem by ‘Molasses’ called “The Penalty”.
Friday 4th February 1944. An uneventful day with plenty of rain.
Saturday 5th February 1944
Saturday 5th Feb. “Yasme day”. The usual morning street parade with inspections of pillow cases. Charlie says “were using them for loot bags”. The Englishmen put on a concert and it was quite a good effort. The last of the oranges were issued today, The new guard seem to be ok. Last weeks guard sergeant caught a man smoking on the beds and politely took him an ashtray. On the other hand the S. M. gave one man a weeks guard duties for the same.
Monday 7th-Tuesday 8th-Wednesday 9th February 1944.
There seems to be a very lascadasical atmosphere about the camp just lately. Good weather reports -progress in Burma and Pacific gratifying statements in Nip papers to the effect that the yanks are using numbers of planes much to their “consternation” and The Allies are “fighting like beasts” in Burma. A great deal of excitement was created today when there was a bread cheat. The S.M. went through several parties and bashed offenders but when he came to [Manaka Showa] and asked for all men with the correct amount of bread to fall out, not a man moved, to the amusement of everyone he just laughed and gave it up. Nevertheless things will be a bit hot for the next for days. Some of the boys got stuck into the beer on the wharf job and two of them had to be carted back- unconscious with Malaria. I believe they had to be held down. An issue of fundoshi tonight-the boys say they will make good loot bags.
Thursday 10th February 1944.
A typical example of the rackets that are worked is the case of a perfectly fit man being kept in from work and has to do some knitting for the M.O. – while really sick men are told to work until they drop. Les Kelly was fined £3 for refusing to address an officer “Sir”.
Friday 11h February 1944.
A very important day for the Nips, they commemorate their decension from the sun. Consequently we have our “Yasme day”. The usual inspections by Jack Oakie and Charlie had a look at pillow cases on parade. This time it was to see if they were correctly sewn. During the week, flour found its way on the camp and there was a fair amount of cooking done today, such items as, pancakes and apple fritters turned out to be quite successful. The last of the apples were issued today . A further issue is being asked for. J.O. Says that owing to the war there are restrictions on everything. This answer was given when new brooms and mattresses were issued and as these things are made of straw it look as if Japan is suffering from a straw shortage which will be fatal for them as two [illegible] of their articles are made from straw. Altogether a good rest day.
Saturday 12th February 1944.
Large scale A.R.P. drill today, aircraft participated and civilians had to leave all vehicle trams etc and take cover when planes were overhead. Every house has its red flag flying when a raid is on.
Sunday 13th, Monday 14th February 1944.
The days are very noticeably getting longer and milder. Cigarette issues are getting far and far between but we have just received 4 packets to last indefinitely . A few English [illegible] papers were swiped today from the station but there was not much news in them. All places and details charging Burma were called X. Very encouraging us the news that U.S. naval forces bombarded [Kuril] islands. Reports of AIF casualties [illegible] obtained and were as follows;
66,930 A.I.F. casualties 16,480 killed
36,600 Japs
4, 500 killed
7,500 Wounded 19,900 P.O.W 4,700 Missing
Tuesday 15th February 1944.
Our two years of P.O.W. Life is up today. I had expected the Nips to put on a big show for our benefit, but they showed very little enthusiasm, there was supposed to be a big inspection on today but it didn’t come off. No one seems to know who is coming but all clothing issues have been suspended until the show is over Ga Ga brought us back to camp tonight and was well in the rush to obtain a seat. That man has surprising energy for his age and is a born comedian.
Wednesday 16th February 1944.
After repeated requests by the officers to be allowed to work they are now allowed to go to “Showa”. There must be a minimum of ten and the pay is 1 yen per day. 21 went today under the escort of the S.M. and Henry and from all accounts fared very well. They travelled in a civvies train and received appropriate treatment and at the job – which is shovelling coal into a kiln at the rate of 3 shovelfuls per quarter of an hour. They messed in a separate room and bathed in a separate bath. Hoblett the interpreter is permitted to go out once a week.
Thursday 17th February 1944.
A very cold morning with ice in abundance but turned very nice when the sun came up. We were treated very nicely this a.m. when a cart passed us with big wooden buckets of sanitation – the usual honey cart is a big [illegible] in affair.
Friday 18th February 1944.
A very cold day with snow falling shortly after lunch and continuing for the remainder of the day. The ground being warm in comparison the snow melted as it fell and succeeded only in making a mess. Rugby league played on the oval this P.M. and a very fast game it was too. Still no signs of the inspection and a clothing change will take place tomorrow.
Saturday 19th February 1944.
Things getting rather warm at Yoshihara, the last few days men have been caught with water bottles and 4 gallon cans of oil and the “shadow” says there will be a search every day prior to Yasme day. Another bag of peanut powder was brought round to the mess hut today (the second in a week).

Sunday 20th February 1944.

Yasme day. The usual example of Nip organisation. This time it is blankets and every man ended up by having 1 [illegible] and 4 [illegible] blankets . This took 1 and 1/2 hours. (some people had 2 of their own and others none). Norman Colley and his boys Put on another “show “today and it certainly shows a great spirit that prevails amongst those Britishers. News pretty scarce lately. good P.M. rest.

Monday 21st-Saturday 26th February 1944.

[illegible] lovely wintery days with substantial falls of snow on two of them but only one wet day. Work [cont] times the same as usual – the coal gang with 30 loads finishes at 1100 and 2400 hrs. and gives us plenty of time to load up. Still no sign of peanuts. The Nips have stated that they will fight to the bitter end and recent trend of things certainly indicates that way. All steam [illegible] pipes and in fact most of all the [illegible] and steel on [illegible] and departmental buildings have been removed . Even some of the less important railway crossings have been removed Sem Paku struck it lucky the last couple of days on that cases of Australian beef  M+V. and margarine [illegible] pineapple and [illegible] were discovered on a coal ship. Consequently there were no searches and both “convoys” arrived in safety. I made a steam pudding for tomorrow which contained 2 bowls flour, 1 tin pineapple and a Cup of orange [illegible] tea. After a week of silence news comes in of a major naval battle near Truck Island about 500 miles from the P.I. full details not yet available although the wireless reports to that Nips retreated in utter confusion. 4 officers were taken to Osaka for a Day to instrument Jap [illegible] on how to interrogate P.O.W.’s .
Sunday 27th February 1944.
Owing to the fact that tomorrow is a non working day for the wharfies, the men on wharf jobs will work today and have their Yasme tomorrow. Factory jobs vice-versa. The long awaited inspection is due tomorrow and it will be done by Col. Murata (chief of Osaka P.O.W.Camps) consequently we spent most of this morning cleaning up. True to their form the Nips issued American Underclothing and socks to most of us [both in both] items there were not enough to go round. Typical of Charlie’s distribution is the way in which he gave the socks out . No. 1 group were about 60 pairs short while No 2 group were only minis 1 pair. These clothes are to be worn on the day of the inspection. Cigarettes were again on issue (canteen bought) Rising suns being 45 Sen and Cherrys being 70 Sen. Tea was also bought. It was learnt from the officers visit to Osaka that there are 26,000 letters there and that they have been there a long time. A couple have been passed on with as recent a date as Nov. 43, from England. Jack Oakie made an inspection at 1130 but the rest of the day they left us alone.
Monday 28th February 1944.
Factories work today while Col. Murata makes his inspection (thank goodness). We arrive home to find things have not gone off too favourable. The first thing we heard that John Mason has to spend 48 hrs. in boob and write an apology for smiling at the Col. A few other incidents were as follows; while inspecting the officers quarters the Col. asked to see a certain officer’s box. The box pointed to happened to contain an electric heater so with much presence of mind the officer grabbed the next box and said this, this is my box, On examination it was found to contain 6 rolls of bread . Fortunately they were able to satisfy the Japs that it belonged to the officers at work. On opening another box in the [Tocehama] section it was found to contain sugar , sardines and salmon to everyones surprise “Charlie” the QM. came to the rescue by explaining “Ah! Red Cross , American Red Cross!”. Amongst the 20 officer’s that accompanied Murata was an interpreter and several times he tried to trick the boys by asking for a pencil, a knife to sharpen it with and a match. We are not allowed to have any of these things. fortunately the boys said no. After tenko Hoblett informed us that the inspection was only fairly good. A warning was also given to not to laugh or snigger when anyone made a mistake. The boys inside had a very poor Yasme having to wait until 1:30 p.m.for the inspection in very cold weather. There was also a fire drill rehearsal, but only the actual fire fighters participated.
Tuesday 29th February 1944.
A very nice morning with the sun shining long before work parade – a sure sign of Springs approach. Charlie made a surprise raid on the yanks quarters and hauled in half a pillow slip of sugar and a few tins of Fish. In a very happy mood he stated “Americano presenteo – Nakamura”. He duly reported the outcome of the raid to the S.M. and tonight there is a conference as to who the loot belonged to – case proceeding. An Englishman received a letter today. There is very little in the gardens nowadays but fortunately it doesn’t reflect too severely on our rations. We have been told repeatedly that this camp is definitely the most favourable one in the Osaka district. To confirm this stories flit now to the effect that in Osaka camp if any one is caught looting they receive 7 days solitary confinement and as a result of this punishment one man died two day after his release . Canned goods, when brought in command the extortionate price of 30 yen for half lb of salmon and 7 yen for a bowl of sugar. The current price for those commodities in this camp is 80 cigarettes or (3 rolls) and 40 cigs or (1 and half rolls) respectively. These prices vary according to the fluctuation of the cigarette supply. Results of Naval Battle – Nip losses 2 battleships 3 cruises 4 des. 30 transports and 260 planes 6,800 casualties in Pacific.
Wednesday 1st March 1944.
A glorious day, almost spring weather but we are a bit sceptical, probably Just a flash in the pan. Unfortunately it has trapped some fellows with an outbreak of flu as a result.
Thursday 2nd March 1944.
Another beautiful day which necessitated the removal of my shirt for a short while while working.
Friday 3rd March, Saturday 4th March 1944.
A repetition of former weather getting quite cold at night. A new treatment has been given diarrhoea cases The victim is burned on both the stomach and the back leaving black scars. Probably some heathen custom. Another consignment of American under clothes arrived which proved sufficient to clothe all those who missed out the other day.
Sunday 5th March 1944.
“Yasme Day”, a very stormy day which came in very nicely to do away with the inspection outside. However there was a boot check inside which lasted for only a few minutes . The concert party again put on another show which was equally successful to previous shows. A great improvement was the Choir. News has been obtained through English printed papers which is altogether quite [illegible] refreshing to the recent events in the Pacific. The Nips besides admitting huge losses and a strong enemy are attacking the home front. They are trying out for a bigger [illegible] [tradition] and all out effort. All [illegible] and [illegible] theatres Gassha house been forbidden to continue and actors and other people who were employed on these jobs will get appropriate work. They are helping the people the plain facts and point out the dangers that threaten them.

Monday 6th March 1944.

No work for Yoshihara went to Sem Paku, and worked on the Noto Maru and copra rubber probably from Malaya. Coolies admit “American ships coming”. Owing to the recent removal of level crossings a truck was smashed by a train today which made the boys late.
Tuesday 7th March 1944.
Rather boisterous weather. I saw result of the accident and the truck was carried at least 100 yards. Leaving first the engine then the body and finally [illegible] the guard said that 3 persons were killed.
Wednesday 8th, Thursday 9th and Friday 10th March 1944.
Three very wintery days with some rain. Further evidence of the Japs position is the fact that they are pulling down the statue of [Babe Ruth] at [koshien], presumably for the steel. Graphite have an additional half mile to walk to and from work. They are not allowed Passed the recently completed air field. Col. Murata has announced that there is a good will mission between prisoners and relatives who are living in Java and Hong Kong. Photographs will be exchanged. We have to keep our loot out of the way now as the Nips frequently searched boxes.
Saturday 11th March 1944.
A very cold day with a heavy fall of snow, which later turned to sleet. The North wind still blowing strongly. The flag at the German Consulate has been flying for some days now, it has been [neglected] that they are airing it while they have time. Sem Paku boys make a very cramped train journey, there are upwards of 100 men nearly everyday (including theirs). Two men visited this camp from Osaka to attend a conference concerning this good-will mission. Although no one was allowed to speak with them someone did manage to get a word with them on the Benjo, information obtained was the following; There are plenty of letters and Red Cross supplies at Osaka (they received a Parcel Last week). Yanks are supposed to have landed at [illegible]. Takahamas bringing in tinned oysters and eggs and milk. I have joined the choir and at present there are about 20 members.
Sunday 12th March 1944.
The hills looked very Picturesque with the sun shining on their snow [coveredness]. Fresh evidence of threatening danger in that every few yards along the street pavements they were digging shelters and they are even digging their [illegible] ways down one street even to show that the Nips are living much poorer than they were this time last year. Then they were getting good rice packets with plenty of good fish and vegs. Now they get rice packet which is mostly corn and only seaweed and daikon. You could also buy coffee and cakes this time last year, but not now.

Monday 13th-Tuesday 14th March 1944.

Everyone is frantically digging shelters which proves that they have got a fair idea what to expect. Quite a lot of men are suffering with sore throats and there is a can of [condy’s] supplied for them. An improvement in the weather. In demolishing the statue the workmen have knocked Babe Ruth’s head off. We passed two German girls in the street and didn’t they tease us. (good naturally).
Wednesday 15th March 1944.
Yasme day owing to the rain, there was no parade in the street and most of the day was had to ourselves. The choir rendered a few songs during the afternoon, a more lengthy programme was made up by solos and trios. Trench digging still in progress.
Thursday 16th-Monday 20th March 1944.
A considerable lengthening of the days and a definite feeling of spring. Preparations for planting the rice crop, on the 18th. Morimoto held a parade on the street on our return from work. It was to the effect that as from the 26th we would work up till 5 O’clock “Yasme” days will be on the 1st and 3rd Sundays in the month. As 21st was to have been a holiday it shows surprising [illegible] on their part. Searches are still persistent. One man was found with sardines in his box and spent 5 days in the boob. Another man was caught with 3 notebooks on his possession – one contained an account of the Lisbon Maru, he is also to spend 5 days in the boob.
Wednesday 22nd To 29th March 1944 and 29th March to April 1st
Walleye searched Yoshihara and after catching 3 of us seemed satisfied. George Munro was found with coconut butter, Joe Mouat had butter, soap, peanut Powder and a pair of shoes that had been resoled with crepe and I had powder and butter (the butter I got away with). We were paraded before Jack Oakie that night and told to spend a few days in the boob with half rations. We had the company of 2 [Dinishinko] men who were caught with sugar. One man already in the boob made a total of six the first night, as we were only moderately clad and no blankets we spent a very cold night. Henry the misinterpreter interrogated us and after a lot of messing about finally wrote down an account of our misdeeds, name, time reason etc. On the following morning we were again paraded before Jack Oakie and had to write and sign a confession to the effect that we would never do such a thing again. That night three of us slept outside the guard house with 1 blanket, but the boys brought extra clothes down to the benjo which we were able to put on. On the 24th Darby and I were put in the boob. Joe and a Pom spent the day and night outside from then on we spent alternate days in and out. On the day outside we worked on the air raid shelters . At 5pm on the 29th we were paraded before Jack O. again and were told that our sentence was finished and not to do it again. Joe Mouat got the rest of the day off but the rest of us had to work on the shelters. During the week American Red Cross relief supplies for civilians arrived. On the 31st I went to Yoshi as usual also on 1st of April.

Sunday 2nd April 1944.

Yasme Day. Reveille at 7:00 inspection of working clothes and boots at 9:00. Red Cross supplies issued last night. [illegible], cigarettes, tobacco, razors, [illegible] [pipes], shaving cream, tooth brushes and powder, Combs, toilet paper, housewives, boot Polish, new boots (300) issued. and there was not enough for one apiece everything had to be raffled. I drew housewife, boot polish and tobaccos. Overcoats are not to be worn from now on. A concert was held in the afternoon and the choir sang in the hospital.
Monday 3rd April 1944.
No work Yoshihara, I work Takihama on sugar, hard work but partly compensated by tinned fish, sugar and pineapple. Thorough search on job. Choir practice every night, have just completed ‘trees ‘ are now on ‘Home’.
Tuesday 4th April 1944.
Work on Sempaku on cow cake, corn and [illegible], Russians reported to be in Odessa. Mass bombings on the continent by 17,000 planes for 1 month. Japs stopped in India.
Wednesday 5th April 1944.
Work on [hagashimada] easy work , good feed. Darky, Charlie, [Hoppy] and Horse face left for [baraka] we get flour from there. The boys had a bad day on Sempaku working on lime.
Thursday 6th April 1944.
A ship from P.I. arrived with sugar, banana, fig, candy, canned tomatoes and cordials. Half of the party struck it lucky. I work again on [Hagashimada] this is a [siding] on the main track. A very frequent and fast railway service to Osaka both steam and electric.
Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April 1944.
Sugar boat still in and a fair amount brought back. Letters arrived recently are being issued daily. There are rumours of more to come. Mostly British mail but a few Australians received some. Dated July 1943, good Friday, rain all day.
Sunday 9th April 1944.
Easter Sunday but we have to work as usual. Sugar boat still going. I work on [Toyo] and have a holiday. I have noticed a new type of fighter plane just lately and it is a fair job, single engined, slim bodied.
Monday 10th April 1944.
Another day on Toyo which means practically a holiday. Several of the furnaces are out of order altogether a poor output. Rice ration has been cut by [illegible] kilo’s and it makes a big difference at the same time the bean ration has doubled.
Tuesday 11th April 1944.
Am taking a sick Mans place at [Hagashimada]. An easy day. Very little coal coming in as compared with a few months ago. Blankets are being aired in the park by sections. M.D. visited the hospital. Spring is in evidence everywhere. Cherry blossoms eat. Although this bloom has been much over advertised. I [illegible] the [illegible] flower in Adelaide is much better.

Wednesday 12th-Saturday 15th April 1944.

Typical spring weather with few showers which has made everything very green. Vegetables not yet ready consequently we get mainly tops in the stews. Mickey Rooney and Wingy have left us and their successors don’t seem too bad. One recent arrival has been named George Formby . Mac’s birthday on the 14th didn’t realise it until the day after. A big parade of school children in the park. apparently concerning the [expected] air raids.

Sunday I6th April 1944.

Wally [Bird’s] birthday, about the only favourable thing is that it is a Yasme day. Reveille 0700 hrs. inspection at 9 outside fine and sunny. Display of boots and raincoats? Jack Oakie calls all officers and section leaders to tell them that there is to be no buying or selling both inside and outside of camp. Choir recital at the hospital after lunch and again at No 2 group after tea. Bread for lunch.
Monday 17th April 1944.
No work at Yoshihara. I work down the docks, every where there is machinery in crates and iron lying about going rusty. A French ship in harbour 2 [illegible] square funnels. The weather indicates an imminent storm.
Tuesday 18th April 1944.
No work for Sempaku. It turned quite cold with drizzle in the afternoon.
Wednesday 19th-Tuesday 25th April 1944.
A week of spring weather with quite a bit of rain. A general cigarette shortage which naturally brings the prices down. [wrigglers] going for 20 cigs a quart 16. Ga-Ga of Yoshi came [and found] our secret looting place in front of the sentry and canned much comment from the boys. The fact that on blowing his Farewell whistle, no cheers followed caused him much distress, for on the next day he said it was Ok for us to load in the legs, as long as he got his cut of the stuff we swop. Choir progressing-practices every night 7-8 pm except on Wednesdays and Sundays. Sing Song on Sunday night with everyone in the best of spirits. Am sneaking a few games of crib in the evening with Mac, Darby and Braddock. A service was held in the evening on Anzac Day, otherwise we had to work as usual. The Emperors Birthday will be on the 29th and probably means a holiday. We were hoping for Red Cross Parcels but it doesn’t seem probable now.
Wednesday 26th April 1944
150 men for Sempaku today. I worked on seeds and finished at 2 pm. The boys have started showering and although cold is very exhilarating.
Thursday 27th-28th April 1944.
There is a general slacking off of discipline some of the boys play cards and [illegible] is prevalent after lights out. Cigarette shortage relived by a canteen supply of Cherrys and Rising suns and an issue of [kishers] altogether 4 and half packets. Also on issue is [pepper], toothbrushes and toilet paper. It is permissible to go to the benjo without dressing now. Wally has been a bit off the last few days but is well again and eating like a horse. (a good sign). The filming of something or other at the German Consulate caused a great deal of excitement among the Jap guards. A special palm was planted in the garden for the occasion.

Saturday 29th April 1944.

Yasme Day. Reveille at 0700 hrs. Clean up and inspection at 10:30. Overcoats although not to be worn are inspected. Jack Oakie looks smart in a Red cap and gives his usual soap box lecture. This time it is to the effect that all hats will be given back to AIF men to wear. There will be an issue of oranges (2 very bitter ones each) and the firms presento will be also given out. Baths before and after inspection and bread for dinner. Salmon and oil come in handy. Concert in the afternoon featuring the Kobe [sixtet]. A good effort. Choir sang at the hospital at the concert and again after tea at the sing song in N°5 Section some results of handy men are the presence of costumes and the making of two flutes out of bamboo. One fellow gave quite a credible performance swinging it. Quite a lot of the Camp staff were present at the concert and the S.M. came up to the sing song after tea. Asked to sing a song, he got going and was hard to stop. A good day but was glad to get to bed.
Sunday 30th April 1944.
It is a very pleasing sight indeed to see all the boys wearing their hats after careful cleaning and shaping, it certainly gives a greater sense of bearing and feeling. There is a general run of sickness throughout the section mostly fever. Mac has a very high temp. but will not go in hospital. Some of the jobs are changing eg. Mitsubishi with Graphite ect. Soap is in big demand and fetching a good price [illegible] powder for sale, the last for 12 months.
Monday 1st May 1944.
The Nips are told that we have a holiday for Mayday. It is in their papers and despite my attempts to prove otherwise they believe it.

Tuesday 2nd-Wednesday 3rd May 1944.

Plenty of work at Sempaku mostly pig iron and some bean cakes and sugar. Peanuts have started at Yoshi also at several other jobs. J. O. held a conference between the 2 MO.’s and discussed general health matters and mentioned the war situation and positions in general. 2 reserve water tanks have been constructed on ground floor in our block which will hold several thousand of gallons . The park has been given over for anti [tank posts] with the result that there are entrenchments everywhere.
Thursday 4th May 1944.
Ga-Ga panicked yesterday when several No 1’s appeared while he was searching and he uploaded 2 bars of soap off me. I’ve just about had it at Yoshi’s so today I arranged for a change to (Kamagume]. Reported to be the heaviest job going.
Friday 5th May 1944.
My first day on [kamagume] and handled bean cake in circular blacks and lumping bagged seeds, tinned copra and peanuts . Any amount of nuts available. Plenty of rice and beans for lunch. 4 cigs per day. Ride to and from work with (Sumitomo] Party. A little sore after 1st days work.
Saturday 6th May 1944.
Another day of lumping. mostly peanuts, 80 kilos and felt pretty sore after it. Chinless has been hauled over the coals by the Medial  Serg. and the Serg. Maj. for stealing the rations and hitting the men. T -A-B – inoculations and vaccinations tonight in the street.
Sunday 7th May 1944.
Owing to yesterday’s treatment today is to be a complete rest with no parades and for once they have complied to their orders. It has been a good rest day. I have been one heap of aches all day with a rotten headache this afternoon -however hope to sleep it off.
Monday 8th-Thursday 11th May 1944.
Very close weather to start with culminating in the last 2 days of rain which has cleared the atmosphere a bit. Getting used to the lumping now but have developed a stiff neck. A [illegible] came in with the aft bomb shattered and a [illegible] had machine gun marks splattered above the bridge. There is a general stomach complaint in the camp just lately and bread and rice have been blamed. Wally has had a touch of diarrhoea but is a little better now. We had 200 cigs pinched out of Mac’s kitbag today.
Friday 12th-Saturday 13th May 1944.
Working on copra and peanuts, quite calm after the recent rains. My neck much better. Mac still suffering from diarrhoea but is now under Capt. Boyce’s supervision. There is talk of musical instruments coming into the camp, if this is so it will certainly liven things up a lot . About a thousand letters have arrived at last, the rates being according to the numbers of troops AIF and English 2101. Starting from today. J.O. has provided some fruit juice which is being issued as a drink after tea. The rice has been of a very poor quality for some days and is likely to continue so for some weeks. Came home a round [illegible] way tonight through Kobe proper, past the large cinema. Another T.A-B. needle tonight. Showers available only twice a week.
Sunday 14th – Monday 15th. May 1944.
Two warm days and able to work with shirts off. Most fellows feeling off colour after inoculations. including myself. Service of Sunday remembering Mother’s day and also the first anniversary of our departure from Singapore. Today we commenced travelling to work in the [tram], quite a round about way which takes about half an hour. A loudspeaker system has been installed throughout the 2 blocks. All orders and music comes through it.
Tuesday 16th May 1944.
Col. Murata and several other officers visited the camp today and held a conference. Henry Ross died today, Englishman.
Wednesday 17th May 1944.
As a result of the Conference bread has been [with] out also, oil, sugar and fish reduced to 3 times a month In place of bread , rice and beans will be weighed and taken out to work and cooked there.
Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20h May 1944.
Warmer weather and am working without shirts, I am getting tanned. Days much longer – the sun is up before us and sets about 6:45, things are very quiet and are getting enough to eat. Another batch of 1,100 letters arrived and it is hoped that they will be issued shortly.
Sunday 21st May 1944.
Yasme Day but the usual parade in the a.m. we hand in our greatcoats and letters issued in the p.m. (that is the first lot) a few numbers at at a time announced over the mike and then reporting to the guard house. A very slow and unnecessary process but just typical of Henrys work. The choir sang over the air after tea for 1hr. and then we held a sing song. Most fellows in good spirits , but a few were not who are still waiting for letters. The S.M. butted in on the sing-song again and came out with several of his songs. Mac gets [9] letters from Home. We still play crib.
Monday 22nd May 1944.
J.O. payed us a visit out at work and had his usual broad smile. A speed up in the issue of the remainder of the letters and all are given out tonight. I get one from K.F.F.S. Wal gets none. Two come for Mick by mistake and we are keeping them with the rest of his correspondence.

Tuesday 22nd May 1944.

A perfect day with everyone in the best of spirits. There were several balloons up today which gives us a fair indication of what they expect. Work the same as usual, a barge gang [illegible] gang of [4], and winch man, two stackers and the rest lumping. The latest craze is to see if you can knock the man in front of you off the plank. Weighing is on again. Mac has lost another 4 kilo’s.
Wednesday 24th, Thursday 25th and Friday 26th May 1944.
[illegible] of work until today 26th [illegible] and we knocked off at 2:30, caught the tram at 4:00 and was first home. We see several German people nearly every night [illegible] and beautiful blonde sort. Several breaks in the wires of the tramways which causes some disturbances as it is the only means of transport. More letters are in camp but have not been issued yet. We are allowed to write another letter home of 100 words to be completed by the 28th May. I am writing to Auntie Gladys in Adelaide. Cucumbers are coming in although small are getting larger.
Saturday 27th, Sunday 28th May 1944.
The last batch of letters issued. Mac gets three. Henry speaks over the Mike and tells us to keep in good health and keep our chins up because it won’t be long before peace comes. We are getting beans 3 times a day and it is playing up on our stomachs. A good stew tonight with beans, meat and vegetables. Fried fish last night.
Monday 29th May1944.
We are warned to prepare our winter kit for exchange on the 1st of June. We have been having [illegible] occasionally out at work. Another good stew tonight.
Tuesday 30th May and Wednesday 31st May 1944.
A general change of clothes, 2 blankets handed on, that leaves us with 3. A. I. F. not issued with summer work kit but have recieved underclothes and yasme suits. Winter work clothes, underclothes and [yasme suits] to be handed in. Henry speako over the mike and tells us that on the 10th of June he is going to Osaka for more mail and a few [illegible] we will go home in the future. 3 [illegible] came in. 3 finished jobs very old. Usual monthly change of inside staff , several cooks changed. A good sergeant cook in charge. food plentiful – mostly beans. On last day of the month we heard that the storm has burst over the other side which has fucked us up considerably.
June 1st-2nd-3rd 1944.
Very quiet days with everyone getting their old clothes washed for the exchange. Once again the good news is contradicted so we are settling down for a further [illegible] period. More musical instruments have arrived including several mouth organs, a violin, a xylophone. We had the first of 3 anti dysentery needles. There were a few cases after effects. 2nd. Six months have passed since Mick passed away.

June 4th-1944.

Yasme Day. A change in the weather and it rained virtually the whole day. Reveille is now at 05:00 but still at 07:00 on yasme days. Inspection inside of boots and raincoats. There has been a change in the group leaders, we now have this pay Serg. in place of the Med. Serg. (very favourably). A concert was held in the afternoon at No 5 section which turned out to be the best show yet held. The highlight being the orchestra with Jeff Jeffries an English Band Sergeant in the lead, Included in the audience was Henry, Serg.M. – Pay Serg, Med Serg. and Elan Darky. A musical show [illegible] the band, choir and instrumental items was put over the air after tea. J-O. popped his head inside but did not interfere.
Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th June 1944.
Fine again. No Sempaku a work. A change in catching the tram, we walk to meet the line a shorter way. Another breakdown in the electricity and also in broken wires. Mac goes to hospital on 5th after a freak injury to his rupture.
Wednesday 7th June 1944.
A big day for us Johnny Gilmore was giving me a haircut when we heard the long expected news of the second front . No more details at this time, everyone is in very high spirits which is shown in the way they conduct themselves while outside the camp. Everyone stares as we sing in the tram.
Thursday 8th June 1944.
There is no doubt now as to the authenticity of the news . It is hard to realise this is the big thing. The thing we have been waiting for since our capture. Strawberries for tea also cucumbers.
Friday 9th and Saturday 10th June 1944.
More strawberries and good weather (both days). Mac is feeling much better. Nearly every day there is a breakdown of the tram service. No Sempaku.
Sunday 11th and Monday 12th June 1944.
Mac returns from hospital but is still suffering from dysentery. Our second anti dysentery needle on 10th. Went for a swim but still a little cold. Letters received on 12th. Mac gets 2 from home and I get one from Mrs Reed dated 3/3/43. Our letters for home were collected last week.

Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th June1944.

Sempaku rides again with 200 men. Cargo’s of pig iron, rubber, beans, coal and cotton. All A. I. F. are issued with working coats. 2 barge loads of Peanuts came in to our job and we finished them by 2:15 p.m. (1800 bags.).
Thursday 15th and Friday 16th June 1944.
Col. Murata visits the camp Surprisingly and confers for some time with J. O. On the following morning Jack speaks to all J. officers and sentries that they are not to be as friendly towards prisoners. There is something on the wind [illegible] an alarm siren sounded last night A. R.P. wardens have been continuously at ports with equipment and crowds have gathered around news sheets. In Kobe house at night shutters have to be closed and lights shaded until lights out and then shutters can be opened.
Saturday 17th June.
Apparently one of the [cities] was raided the other day which caused the alarm to sound throughout most of Japan proper. Japs say that out of 20 raiders 10 were shot down.
Sunday 18th June 1944.
Yasme day, Reveille 06:30 with parade of pillow cases and sand shoes outside at 10:00 hrs. The choir and band gave a programme over the air at 14:30 hrs. and the usual sing sing was held after tea. Church service held as usual.
Monday 19th June 1944
Today quite unexpectedly hoblitt the interpreter was taken to Tokyo it means a great loss to us. Boyack another Englishman is taking his place. The S.M. took him away and both he and Jack Oakie bid him a cordial farewell calling the guard to [illegible] [present him?].
Tuesday 20th June 1944.
Sempaku still taking 200 men. Work consisting of pig Iron , rubber, hemp and coal. One [Spanish] ship the ” [Lap Varella] went out and another [illegible] ship the[Aramio] came in.
Wednesday 21st June 1944
Mid summers day but has not been really hot yet. We received a surprise upon returning from work when Jack O. called everyone on parade and bade us all goodbye. He is [illegible] for Osaka. Our only hope is that our new commander will be equal to him.
Thursday 22nd June 1944.
A very warm day and although we are not permitted to swim some of us go in just the same. Some kind of seed which the nips call [Guana] has been coming in, apparently they use it for eating [illegible] because several kids and others have been hanging around in the hoping of getting some. small flat [illegible] 3 basket veg weighing 64 kilos.
Friday 23rd June 1944.
Another hot day and we get another consignment of copra, dusty stuff. We have received some cakes at work for the first few days. brown colour and an eggy flavour.
Saturday 24th June 1944.
A scorching day and went for a swim. Sempaku took 300 men, consequently all other Jobs were drastically reduced. We had 15 men and had a fairly easy day working in the barges of Copra and cow cake. A suggestion concerning the increase in shipping is that Moji has suffered damage and that it is in [illegible] zone. Les Kelly N°713 left today for a [illegible] camp [illegible] has suffered [illegible] from Berri-Berri.
Sunday 25th and Monday 26th June 1944.
A lull in Sempaku but plenty of work at our Job. The first consignment of 20,000 bags of beans came in besides plenty of cow cake.

Tuesday 27th June 1944

Stormy weather and rained heavily until 8:00 work was abandoned and the day declared a holiday, no parades. Concert held in the afternoon, several of camp staff attended. Good show.
Wednesday 28th June 1944.
More letters arrived and issued today. Mack got 2 from his mother. Tonight the boys were caught playing Mahjong and there was a lot of trouble over it. The Nips knew there were several sets on camp and Weren’t satisfied until they had collected [9 sets, they broadcast] repeatedly after lights out. No punishment was given for immediate action but if any more are found all amenities and musical instruments will be confiscated, besides severely punished. Another heavy day on beans (about 2200) Sempaku 200 today. Mack is lectured by Henry. One man from each group is allowed to send a cable home.
Friday 30th June 1944.
The last day of the half year and it has gone remarkably quickly. Summing up the present position there is quite a good chance of peace this year or early in the next one. Our friends attitude seems to be a resolute one and he has organised everything that is possible for him to withstand aerial warfare, plenty continuous practice and there all out efforts their equipment is totally inadequate and pitifully hopeless to compete against modern warfare. Since the commencement of the war they have been building small ships popularly known as 90 day wonders which sneak to and from the China coast and are usually heavily overloaded. Since everything on them is Japanese the winches (which are oil) often break down and this is gladly welcomed by the Horyos while working on them. The recently completed aerodrome near Showa appears to be essentially an assembly place for fighter aircraft and there are a considerable number of planes found there. Today there was an issue of [illegible] and also another issue of cucumbers.
Saturday 1st July 1944.
A very hot day made almost unbearable by constant carrying. I went for a swim and it was very clear and fresh. Work finished early so as to enable to return in time for an anti cholera needle. A few men were caught at Sempaku stealing material and the Honcho’s rat them in, Consequently the S.M. bashed them and ordered them to stand in front of the guard house all night. fortunately the Pay Serg. was on tenko and he got them released about midnight. This fellow is the best chap we have had yet and is all for the prisoners
.
Sunday 2nd July 1944
Work as usual today. Sempaku were lectured about bringing so much loot in. A drizzly day but did not prevent work on our Job. No ill effects from the needle yesterday.
Monday 3rd of July 1944
Another day on beans and we did 2,300 today. Everyone paraded outside tonight to receive the new Commandant. His name is Takenaka and he gave the customary policy speech. A canteen supply of Cherry and Rising Sun cigarettes. My opinion of the [weather] is that there is something happening behind the front lines. Mac gets in a spot of bother with the camp office and Henry.
Tuesday 4th July 1944
Today being A.I.D. We went to work with [a sceptical] air and we were not disappointed for at 9:00 the siren went. Shortly afterwards we were sent to the hut but resumed work at 11:00.  The warning was maintained throughout the day and it was learnt that Moji and Tokyo hat been bombed in the morning and Yokohama and Nagasaki at night. We were given strict orders to have no lights. The Camp No 1 met the returning party from work, consequently we were searched. After a lot of messing about by Henry and the new fellow. 8 fellows were caught mostly from Takahama. Their punishment was standing to attention till tenko 1 week guard and 2 issues of cigs stopped besides a few hits thrown in.
American independence day
Wednesday 5th July 1944
The air warning continued right through out the day until 6 O’clock tonight when Henry said “the air raid practice is cleaned up” . One of our chaps was caught at the job with oil and George Formby bashed him there and he reported him to the S.M. whereupon he got another bashing back here.
Thursday 6th July 1944
1 barge of peanuts first thing this morning, remainder of day on beans. Camp Comm. visited the job and did a lot of talking and making alterations. The searches at night are continuing, a Greek was caught today.
Friday 7th July 1944
A scorching day. We are warned not to bring in loot for about 10 days as the searches are going to be intensified. A Roman Catholic Priest is expected to arrive in camp this month. Several of the camp staff are going to the new convalescent Depo for the day, presumably to get things on order, they include R-A-P men [illegible], tailors and a bootmaker. On their return we heard that there were four buildings (unoccupied) and 2 swimming pools
Saturday 8th July 1944
At 12:50 this a.m. sirens went but there was very little A. R. P. movement. Balloons (numbering about 5) were put up every night and taken down in the morning. Finished work early and caught the tram at 4:00 p.m. Another cholera injection. Band practice at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday 9th July 1944
Yasme day, our first for the new C-C. Parade in the street at 0.900 hrs inspection of undershirts and boots simultaneously with inspection of barracks. He seems to be all out to stop looting, as he searched the barracks thoroughly, one A.I.F. man was found with oil and he is to spend 24 hrs in boob. We had a game of bridge in the afternoon and after tea the band and choir gave a concert in A. Block, 2 new guards came here today and our [Q] [illegible] has gone to Kawasaki.
Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th July 1944.
A very hot spell with beans still coming in they have now changed their colour to yellow. On the job we get an abundance of [illegible] which is very handy. Swimming , although not officially allowed, is enjoyed. Nights are very   hot and a covering has to be worn. Mac received a cable from his mother on the 12th. Pay Serg. has left us.
Thursday 13th and Friday 14th July 1944.
A continuance of the hot weather and still on beans. No Sempaku. The searches have eased up a bit. We are being made to sleep with a blanket wrapped around our middle, another of the Nips ideas. A rat has caused quite a bit of annoyance and some amusement the last few nights on the beds and last night we turned the lights on and chased it right along the wall. On the 14th Pte. MacPhillips of the 2/30th Bn. died. The 1st AIF death this year. A memorial service was held last night.
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th July 1944.
We continue on beans, Sempaku start work on the latter day. I have commenced studying Mechanical Eng. Most of the offices and banks close down for Sundays and the streets are very bare. It is very close in the evenings and nights. swimming continues . Another cholera needle on Sat.
Monday 17th July 1944
A further change of camp staff, Darky and Horseface returned.  Henry left and another civilian interpreter arrived in his place. A number of [fans] have found there is away into camp and they come in very handy and [illegible] Darky put on a search for most party’s but caught no one. An improvement has been made in the entertainments line and the microphone is available every night. Besides the band and choir and singular items, different persons are called upon to answer questions that are put to them concerning their past life.
Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th July 1944.
Still hot but finished the beans from barges. A few left in [Soko] A barge of pig iron in but coolies working on it. Nips still fussing about being covered up at night. Still more breakdowns in the tram service.
Thursday 20th and Friday 21st July 1944.
A cool change with scattered showers. An increase in the number of guards noticeable since air raids started. All unbarred windows barred with wood. Back gate extra guarded. Potatoes and beans have to be mashed with the rice and hot water issues have ceased owing to lack of coal allowed. 6 deworming pills given to every man to take (?). Jap concoction ). A corporal chap (illegible) to be an officer cadet makes a nuisance of himself trying to maintain strict discipline amongst other things he inspects the sentries rifles every morning.
Saturday 22nd July 1944
Owing to the arrival of a Japanese R.C. Priest Yasme was today with reveille at 6:45 and tenko at 7:00 and church at 9:00. A general clean up of barracks and then we were left alone for the remainder of day. Mack and I spent some time tuning up a Ukulele and then had a game of crib. A concert was held in the afternoon featuring the band, harmony three, the mad gang and other usual artists. New numbers including ‘the Stevedore’s swing’, ‘Do it all over again’, That was the start of all the trouble. [illegible] issue of cucumbers and tomatoes for tea. A cool evening.
Sunday 23rd July 1944
A report has to be made on the impressions of yesterdays service. The camp Comm. insists that all R.C.’s write a note of appreciation. There was a meeting of all work honcho’s before Col. Murata yesterday. For some unknown reason all A Block had to fall in on the first floor for tenko, then we were all equalled up, the S.M. came up and gave up the idea.
Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th July 1944.
Slightly cooler weather and much cooler nights. The C.C. after a tour of jobs has allowed only 1 leader per job. Sick men (those in possession of light work shirts) have to fall in separate and then are detailed to all Jobs. Previously , Sempaku were getting most of the sick men. The lap Varella is back again with sugar and the boys were on her. The S.M. put on a search and 3 men were caught , punishment, standing at attention in front of guard room until tenko, except one man who had been caught before. He stood there all night until work’s parade. The interpreter is interviewing different chaps about their jobs (the forms being filled in at [Singapore]. Mac and Johnny Gilmore have been before him. More elaborate slit trenches are being made now, timbered and concrete. Another break in the tram wires which caused quite a bit of disturbance.
Wednesday 26th July 1944.
Eatan Darkie left today which means quite a loss for us, Being canteen manager he issued everything that was there, including 2 packets of cigs, 1 bar of toilet soap and half bar of wash soap per man, he was also the sponsor of the microphone broadcasts. The band practice every night but the choir not so often. Another programme over the air tonight featuring Jimmy Austerberry (a waiter).
Thursday 27th and Friday28th July 1944.
The firm issued us a fan each and it is Just a fan, it appears that another raid scare is on although no sirens have gone. Our guard has been doubled and the balloons went up. The C.C. told Houghton that our conduct has been excellent compared to other camps.
Saturday 29th July 1944
Starting from today work parade is at 6:50am consequently work commences earlier but is offset by a longer break at lunch time. At 4:30 pm we had an earth tremor which shook the building about a bit but did no damage. Coming home in the tram we broke a wire which caused some delay. After a hot day it came up quite black at it rained about 5:30pm.
Sunday 30th and Monday 31st July 1944.
Two similar days very hot and cooling down in the evening. With 7 months gone the boys are in excellent spirits with high hopes of something happening soon. A change of [illegible] as regards work jobs, only one leader and one sick man per job, although most firms Carry their own sick men. Benjos are becoming a serious trouble two of them are seeping up through the floor into the canteen and ration store. The previous contract has fallen through so they cant get anyone to empty them yet.
Tuesday 1st, Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd August 1944.
A very favourable start-weather up to late and very encouraging. Coolies on most jobs have very little interest in work and don’t seem concerned about affairs. The new work system seems efficient – we get away about 7:10, but most jobs get a longer break at lunchtime.
Friday 4th August 1944
All work leaders invited to conference and tea with Camp Com. after tea consisting of rice, soup and peaches and bean milk with [illegible] – conference took place. Items brought up included working clothes to be provided on dirty jobs – boots, washing facilities and soup were also asked for. Only works honcho’s allowed to search [illegible] men to remain in mess huts. Yasme Days inspection to be over as soon as possible so as to ensure a good days rest . Outside medical operations were asked for when necessary. Questions regarding air raid discipline had just commenced when the sirens sounded the alert so meeting was immediately broken up.
Saturday 5th August 1944
A quiet day, a barge load of copper came in at our job I squandered my day on cowcake. The alert still on and all women wear slacks with tight bottoms presumable to be less nuisance than skirts in the event of five fighting. The Camp Com. inspected jobs during the week and found Sumitomo honchos asleep, consequently they were penalised by having no men for two days. Received 13 cigs from firm.
Sunday 6th August 1944
Yasme Day, Reveille at O:600 and Tenko 0:615. Clothing inspection at 0.800 boots and raincoats. Next yasme day will be [illegible] inspection. Cig issue and a good rest day. Allowed Concert recital over the air tonight but microphone is fuzzy and we are not getting anything. 2 more new camp staff on the role. A very windy day but very little rain.
Monday 7th August 1944
Gale blowing all night but easy towards dawn. Immediately wind ceased, rain commenced and continued all day. As a result there was no work in the a.m. billets had to be cleaned up and there was an inspection at 10 O’clock. There is a possibility of missing the next yasme day on account of today. I was in bed all day with the fever.
Tuesday 8th August 1944
I have my first day in from illness since arriving here. A quiet day- feeling much better. Flags flying everywhere including the German consulates swastika.
Wednesday 9th August 1944
I went to work with a light work chit. Rained on and off all day. Very little work done. The “Kempies” caught two of our boys pinching sugar from Sumitomo’s godown and after whacking them up reported them to Kobe House. Tonight when we broke off they were standing outside the guard room.
Thursday 10th August 1944
Feeling a bit off colour but went to work. The two men who were caught yesterday slept the in the passage way. They are to spend one more night in the boob. Lumped bags all day and running a temp. Kempies caught a man smoking on the quayside and made a fuss about it. fortunately Kobe House weren’t notified. Went on sick parade tonight and told to report condition in the morning.
Friday 11th August 1944
I am to remain inside today.During the night air raid sirens which were thought to be practice turned out to be the real thing. All lights were extinguished and cooks had to go back to bed. It was rumoured later that Moji was bombed with 27 planes, 4 of which were shot down. The two men in the boob were sent back to their billets and all major doors were locked with sentries posted outside them. All our previous drill of going to the oval appears to have gone with the wind and that they don’t intend us to get out of the building.
Saturday 12th August 1944.
Another sober Saturday to make up for it I am still inside but feeling better. The Jap interpreter interrogated 2 men concerning news. It seems they know we are getting it and are trying to find our method. A recent order is to the effect that all our non Japanese kit is to be handed on by the [14th]. Australians allowed to keep 1 Shirt and 1 pair trousers.
Sunday 13th, Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th August 1944.
I was in the first day, but went out with a light work chit the other two days. The C. Com. took tenko and arranged us in two ranks. The front rank sitting. for the street tenko groups formed in four ranks, the front rank only numbering. This way is much quicker. Canteen supply of Worcester sauce, Curry, cigs, tea and cordial. Bean milk will be available when beans come in. Last issue of fish kept from stew and boiled (much better this way). The weather is getting extremely interesting and think we are Just about up to date. Another programme over the air. In [town] tonight gave us Arthur Draper telling us about the life of a sheep station “Outback”.
Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th August 1944.
Commenced work on the 17th apart from feeling a bit weak in the legs am feeling quite fit. Mitsui and Sumitomo jobs have been given permission to bring in beans, which will go to the hospital. Shirts are now allowed to be worn on tenko.
Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August 1944.
A bad day lumping “kamasu “bags of [illegible]. These straw bags are notorious for the number of knots which are a menace when carrying. One cheerful fellow chalked the words “Agony walk” and “Misery lane” on the planks we were lumping up. Yasme Day on Sunday. Reveille at 0:600 and inspection at 0:900, this week the billets were inspected and everyone remained inside. Remainder of the day to ourselves, the Concert Party visited the new Hospital and brought back a list of the boys in [illegible]. A very good place but a bit short of food and cigs. The fellows in [illegible] are [7] [illegible]. About 4:30 p.m. the sirens went and about a quarter hour later the short blasts went indicating planes approaching [visually] . However no planes appeared and the all clear went about 7:00pm. At midnight the sirens sounded again.
Sunday 27th, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th August 1944.
Having a warm spell. Some of the mail has been passed by the interpreter and given out, they are all English. Monday night Capt. Houghton was interviewed as the man in town tonight. He was an Entertainments officer in the last war.
Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st August 1944.
The second round of the [yins] competition saw a few more sections eliminated.The A. I. F. still have 1 + 4 sections in. Owing to the change in the nights there has to be a double guard, the odd man to see that all men are covered up. This means that [illegible] comes round every 4 or 5 nights. The rest of the letters have been given out, Mac got 4 plus a photograph of his sister. Another party of prisoners were torpedoed on the way to Japan. Some of the injured who were on their way to the new hospital received an evening meal from our cookhouse, facts are hazy, the nationality of the men are not known. It is said that the Japs saved as many as possible. Another story says that 16 British pow’s died on the way from Moji to Kobe. There was a row at Sumitomo’s, the boys got themselves in a sabotage charge after [handling some hooks]. We have been warned about quarrelling with the Nips and any incident has to be reported. No doubt the outcome of the unrest lately as the way the situation is going.
Friday 1st September 1944.
Five years ago today the Huns marched into Poland, today they are nearly out of it again. Some fellows seem to think this month will see the downfall of the Hun, but i give him to the end of October. A few more instruments were purchased today including a piccolo, a cornet and violin.
Saturday 2nd September 1944.
A few barges of rapeseed in for a change-still a [certain] shortage of railway trucks and god owns are full. The last few nights we have had to wait over half an hour for the evening train. We are told that “our” tram runs in the schedule (which is supposed to be at 5p.m.). This illustrates perfectly the true Japanese position. A few colds have been developed lately but apart from that the standard of health is pretty good. The new hospital has improved matters and anyone ill or injured is sent there, where they have a fair amount of equipment. X ray. Musical programme tonight featured, the band, violin solo nocturne Chopin, mouth organ and Ukulele duet, clarinet solo and a couple of songs.
Sunday 3rd September 1944.
The 5th anniversary of the British declaration of war on Germany. We have our fortnightly Yasme- reveille at 0.630 with parade and pillow inspection at 0.900 hrs. During his tour of the barracks the S.M. found sugar, a bag of [illegible] pieces, some goo flour and a few other harmless things. The offenders were duly punished. A very noticeable thing lately is the increased discipline shown for us by the Nips both at work and Kobe House. A swing [illegible] is being [formed] with the 2 clarinets, the cornet a guitar and the drums. The players were doing some practice today.
Monday 4th September 1944.
Tonight we heard the 2nd episode of the thriller, apart from a slight technical hitch it went off quite well. [Orphelia] has been taken by [Kashnerahaka] to an island retreat by plane. Greasy releases [Simon] the sloop, Harry, O (Big space on line entry) from the electric oven and follows them by another plane by means of a detector “Bee”, they follow them and land on the adjoining mainland. As they walk through the tunnel that connects the island to the mainland. [Kashnerahaka] is warned of their progress by red lights and prepares to lock them in a big chamber and release water shrines. In searching for the tunnel, Greasy gets left behind, we are left with the remainder of the party then deep in water with no escape.
Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th September 1944.
Since the double picket started, the turns come round very quickly and it certainly leaves you dopey for the next days work. The final of the quiz was held tonight, slightly harder than the previous ones. we hear that there are [illegible] on the border and a European told us that 2 months would see it out.
Thursday 7th, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th September 1944.
The days are getting noticeably shorter and the nights and early mornings have developed a nippy air. [illegible] day (8th) saw the place alive with the “fried egg”, i think that everyones pay goes to the war effort on this day. I wonder how many more Hay days they will have, certainly not many. On Sat. night l laid back in my bed space and listened to the band concert. The recently acquired instruments have made a vast improvement .
Sunday 10th September 1944
A musical programme was held tonight. The main feature being the newly formed swing band. Vocal numbers and solos comprised the remaining program.
Monday 11th and Tuesday, 12th September 1944.
More [illegible] arrived on and is very good working. A change in the weather, rain came in pretty heavy leaving the air much cleaner. The ” Kempies” are active down our way again, doing their upmost to get a [lift].
Wednesday 13th September 1944
Morning stormy but cleared early and turned out a fine day. No lumping today, all on cow cake and coconut oil. Issue of sauce, cordial, cigs, [toilet gear] from tonight. The additional night Piquet is cancelled provided the men kept themselves covered op. Capt. Houghton, Doc Wilson with the interpreter and guards visited the working jobs down our way. Inter group quiz commenced.
Thursday 14th, Friday 15th and Saturday 16th September 1944.
A change in the weather, very heavy rains accompanied by a cool wind. Had a day at Mitsubishi with Mac on the 14th and succeeded in getting some sugar and enough leather to make 2 [apron] straps and a few of laces. The S.M. Caught a picket smoking and merely Said “You- Guard-Smoke NO!”.
Yasme day has been put back to Monday. Commencing from next month Yasme day will fall on every 2nd and 4th Sundays-which means that after Monday we will have to go 3 weeks before our next yasme. Minatagowa handled 680 Red cross boxes [illegible] to Kobe Distributing Centre.
Sunday 17th September 1944.
My turn to go to Showa Denki, worked on carrying ” [kamasu]” graphite, after doing 220 bags we finished in time for dinner. After lunch had a bath and sleep. A gale blowing reached quite a considerable force in the evening and which whipped the sea up and caused the water to flood the docks, some barges were sunk.
Monday 18th September 1944
“Yasme Day”. For Some unexplainable reason Reveille at 5:00 with inspection at 9:00 but finished up at 10:30. We all went out on the oval in glorious sunshine and lolled about for about a quarter of an hour and then had “tenko” and returned inside. Letters we are writing home to be in by tomorrow morning of 100 words. I wrote to Mrs [Reid]. Concert party visited Kobe P. O. W. hospital, also gave a show in the hospital at [illegible]. An issue of bean milk was very nice with sugar. 2 men were caught with salt they had brought in the previous day by the S.M. and he made them stand to attention from about 4:00 pm. until tenko at 8pm.
Tuesday 19th September 1944.
All serene again after Sundays gale a fair amount of damage down to planes on [illegible] by graphite and was under water. A few ships were on manoeuvres outside the harbour and one destroyer was laying a smoke screen. The conference between the Camp Commandant and work honcho’s yesterday apparently had something to do with increased work. Although we still get started early the lunch time has been cut to 1 hour and honcho’s have been more concerned today. On the way back from the tram a German airforce officer stood on a street corner smiling whilst we passed and was heard to Say “Hello boys, how are you”.
Wednesday 20th, Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September 1944.
Much cooler weather with fine days after the heavy storms. There seems to be quite a different atmosphere since the conference the other day. It appears that any act of stealing or bad working is to be taken as sabotage. The interpreter is a former member of the Japanese intelligent department and is quite concerned over the high moral shown by the boys- consequently he has called quite a few up for questioning. Of one yank he asked who he would vote for [Presidency]. As we are not supposed to have heard news since last year an answer [nominating] someone would have been dangerous. Luckily it turned out alright. A story from an Englishman in the Kobe Hospital says that out of a convoy of [six] ships which left the China coast, only 1 arrived in Japan.
Saturday 23rd September 1944.
There is an acute shortage of cigarettes in the camp with no issue for some days. A rumour goes that an issue tomorrow will be the last and then we will have to rely on Red Cross issues which are reported will come once a month. A drizzly day and not much work done. 3 men caught with sugar and slapped up by the S.M. with 2 Slippers. Started putting beans in Sumitomo’s G. Godown.
Sunday 24th, Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th September 1944.
Mostly Onions and daikons with crushed beans on the rice [Chow]. Cigarettes have came to light at last and we get 2 packets. After having got away with  nearly a bag of sugar from [G, Soko] the boys were caught bringing it up to the house. Another swing session over the air by the orchestra. This is the most popular entertainment at present although the quiz is well attended.
Wednesday 27th September 1944.
The final of the quiz held tonight between 1 and 5 groups. A strict search tonight resulted in the finding of 2 men. They were slapped with the shoe and then stood to attention for a few hours. An Aussie saved a woman who fell in the sea off a barge and was officially thanked. finished work in [G.Soka].
Thursday 28th, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September 1944.
Well and truly in the rainy season. Onions have disappeared from stew and greens have taken its place. A large number of improved air raid shelters are being built in large numbers everywhere. A few colds getting about but health in general is very good. A few cases of yellow jaundice and many cuts grow infectious quickly. Had a day at “Mitsubishi Dai Ichi” got a bit of sugar. [neckoing] all day. September ends in a very favourable position for us and the nips in a very [nasty] humour. Friction growing daily as position worsens for them. An Aussie at Dai Ichi was bashed by George Formby, who demonstrated the incident to a crowd of girls. A report has been put in but favourable results are not expected. The nips would not allow the orchestra the use of the microphone tonight so they came up to 3 group floor and gave a concert.
Sunday 1st, Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd October 1944.
Following the case of the Aussie- On arriving back at camp, George Formby got his story in first consequently the damage had been done. Therefore we could not get our report in. He was taken into the Nip quarters and received another bashing, being knocked out twice. His “record?” was then looked into and having had previous trouble (obviously framed) he was sentenced to spend each night in the boob until his conduct should improve This sentence was suspended however after serious protests had been made by [M.O] The latest effort by the Nips to assist in an all out half hearted war effort is taking up all the tram stop conveyances which consists of a couple of [iron standards]. On the 2nd the Englishmen held a memorial service for those who perished on the Lisbon Maru catastrophe. The interpreter has informed us that he was very disappointed with the letters we wrote. Particularly the Australian mail-such things as existing on rice and beans and that we are working like niggers on the docks were definitely wrong. Some letters, he said, would arrive with only the address [intact].
Wednesday 4th October 1944.
Not much to report-mostly rumours concerning tomorrows celebration. Contrary to expectations, a thorough search was held back at camp, although no one was caught. However 1 man was caught leaving a godown at takahama with 32 tins of fish in a bag. It was duly reported to Kobe House and the offender (an Englishman ) is standing to attention outside the guard house, tied in such a manner that he can lean forward and doze. I had a slight attack of fever and managed to get a quinine tablet.
Thursday 5th October 1944.
Today being the 2nd anniversary of the opening of Kobe House, our Yasme was held today instead of Sunday. Reveille at 6:30, on parade at 0.900 hrs. On this parade all camp staff turned out wearing decorations and Takanaka Chui, took the stand. In a short opening address he said that celebrations for the 2nd anniversary would commence from now. In the next breath he said that the Kobe camp would keep quiet [illegible] the Lisbon Man tragedy. This didn’t stop the Nips left in getting thoroughly. drunk. Then followed a presentation to the most [consistent] worker from each job They were after found to contain 2 bottles of turtle soup (like Salt water) 2 tins of sentimental ointment (German stuff) 3 bars of banana candy and a small bottle of pills. Then an Aussie was mentioned for saving a drowning woman on the docks. He was presented with 250 cigarettes and a book on Japanese methods of life saving. An Englishman was also [illegible] by 300 cigarettes for stopping a runaway horse in a cart. Before this we all had to face in the direction of the Emperors Palace, take off our hats and bow. Takanaka, then read his speech which was afterwards read in English by the interpreter (special copy). Remainder of day spent quietly. Soup and steamed bread for lunch. After tea a light variety programme was broadcast including the orchestra individual songs and the 3rd instalment of the thriller. Greasy gets the others out of the cell and make for [kashnerahaka’s] house. He is trying to win [Ophelia] but is interrupted by the others knocking on the door. He refuses to open up so [Simon] the sloop shoots the lock.
Friday 6th October 1944.
large queues noticeable in the evenings for cigarette ration. We have been notified that cig issues will be far and few between as the government has lost the monopoly of this item.
Saturday 7th October 1944.
A very dull and rainy morning. After a meeting of Honcho’s “No work” was declared. However the Nips Put on an inspection at O:900 hrs. which turned out to be a search. Unfortunately a diary was found in the officers quarters which contained weather reports. As this is what the interpreter is endeavouring to find out about, it has caused quite a bit of consternation. The remainder of the day was spent trouble free and most of us took the opportunity of having a good sleep. It was certainly good sleeping weather-strong gales and rain. The band put on a show in A block which was well attended. Lice are making their appearance again. A very hungry day.

Sunday 8th October 1944.

Another flag day although not a very inspiring sight. Still overcast but clearing up as day progresses. Cigarette queues still in force. Plenty and strong evidence of the force of yesterdays gale. Fences down, tiles off, trees blown over and electric system disordered. Tram service alone available this morning, residential lighting [disorganised]. For some unaccountable reason vegetables have been considerably reduced-consequently the stews are very watery and have also diminished in quality.
Monday 9th October 1944.
Commenced work on” [Kamasu] rice” today and took every opportunity of getting a supply in. It is [chosen] white rice. A major breakdown in the tram system caused thousands of workers to be late for work, they having to walk to their destinations. Takanaka visited our area today and nearly caught us pinching rice. Tram punctual tonight for a change (5 O’clock). A much calmer day. A very limited issue of sentum ” ointment and sugar coated pearls of raw garlic” – an all round beneficiary. (Japanese concoction).
Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th and Friday 13th October 1944.
Nights getting very much odder and additional blankets are coming in handy. Canteen supply of 1 pkt. Cherry cigs make the 2nd supply in the last week. [Ghandi] transferred to 5 section as a result of frequent quarrels with the league of nations. Managed to get a fair amount of [illegible] sugar from G. Soko, besides 242 [kamasu’s] of rice.
Saturday 14th October 1944.
A certain amount of consternation caused when we are informed at work that we are to arrive back early. On arriving back all Australians were fallen out and certain numbers separated. Most of the men “concerned” are either old or suffering from illness, Although no official news is known it is rumoured that Capt. Boyce, Lt. Godard and 60 men are to expect a shift. Recently British and American Red Cross officials visited the new hospital and had an hours uninterrupted talk with the officers. They stated that Red Cross supplies of clothing, boots and food would be available shortly.
Sunday 15th, Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th October 1944.
It is now practically certain that the men leaving shortly will be for “Showa”. The four M.G.s going are Alf Jones, Nobby Harry, Ted Proctor and Arthur Draper. Blankets and other clothing have already been sent. Another storm with not so much wind.
Wednesday 18th October to Saturday 21st October 1944.
Showa party still standing by. Day of departure still [illegible], a new camp order prohibits all sick men and light duty men to smoke, read or any amusements what so ever.
Saturday 28th October 1944.
One blanket has been taken from us leaving us with four. Great coats have been issued to make up for the loss of the blanket. Canteen issue of ten mandarins, soap 1/2 and an issue of 25 cigarettes per
man, bedding straw and covers being changed. Showa party still standing by. Tobacco queues still goes on. The S.M. broke in on the poker schools in 5 Section making culprits stand all night outside the guard room.
November 1944.
November commenced with a new job for inside staff. This consists of salvaging paper from [Mitsuis] warehouse and bringing it back inside. Then all the “biokis” who are able, make envelopes out of it-so that only the really sick men are out of work. The alert sounded on the [5th]. winter clothes issued on the 6th. Weather getting rather nippy. An international ship (originally Jap ship called the Hakusan Maru) docked at the [Yoshi_._] wharf on the 11th with a cargo of Red Cross supplies and a party of eighty men worked on her for 4 days unloading British, American, South African and Canadian, good Parcels, medical kit, books and clothing. Strict supervision by the Nips the whole time and all care was taken in unloading. Working 2,600 bags of beans, we estimated 18 Carriers each to have have carried 12 tons of beans for the day at the same time run 3 miles 110 yards with 85 kilos on your back and then walking the same distance [illegible] 4 nothing. An alert siren sounded on the morning of the 13th. Cigarette issue (1pkt.) on the 14th. This is a very serious problem for smokers, civvies get only 6 per day. Red Cross parcels (mostly American) arrived in camp on the 18th to be soon followed by boots and clothing. The 23rd being a Japanese national holiday (their second harvest gathering) coincided with our Yasme day A non [illegible) was allowed to visit the camp and give a sermon The priest turned out to be a very highly educated Japanese who had spent a lot of time in America. His English was excellent and he spoke for about 3/4 of an hour. This also was the first sign of sympathy shown towards us by a Japanese. 1 A good rest day with soup and [illegible) for lunch. An alarm sounded at noon on the 28th. Red Cross parcels will be issued when [rest of sentence illegible]. November closes and once again the Showa party has been postponed (indefinitely). Rations were brought back to this camp. The last few days there has been a row over some white heelless army socks stolen from Mitsubishi. One of the boys was seen on the stack, which started an investigation. Half a case was found missing and so the party was searched thoroughly, but none was found on the boys. However the “Kempies” searched the barracks and found a few pairs. Someone had given my No. by mistake as working on Mitsubishi. Previously i had a pair, gives me and the kempies found them. I was in an awkward position when questioned me but i said l found them in the shower room. Luckily i had proof that i did not work at Mitsubishi so i was let off. Had i been guilty i would have been sent to a military prison.
December 1944.
After a great deal of persevering we were given a parcel between two men on the 1st, five minutes later orders came from Osaka that no Red Cross Parcels to be issued before Christmas, but it was too late-the Parcels had already been opened so we were allowed to keep them on condition that nothing is to be taken outside. It so happened that Col. Murata was visiting the camp on the 2nd so all the parcels were recalled for the inspection. Fortunately everything turned out alright and we got ours back the following night. On the 4th we were issued a pair of white socks, a cake of soap and some British and Australian Greatcoats (every 3rd man). Mac and i still retain our Nip Greatcoats. About 2:15 pm. on the 7th we had a tremor lasting [illegible] 2 minutes knocking down stacks in a number of godowns and causing the collapse of a chimney near Yoshihara. On the 5th the sirens sounded about 10:10 am. but no short blasts, so we carried on work as usual. “Yasme”? day on the 10th but we were so [illegible] about that we were glad when it was over. For the inspection at 0.900 everything had to be laid out on our beds while we paraded in the street. After a thorough search a large variety of “stuff” was found including socks, goo, razors, [knifes]. During dinner the sirens sounded about 1:30 pm so the Nips thought they would give us a bit of practice. Before we finished lunch the order was given for everyone to fall in on the [recreation ground] except those men previously detailed for fire fighting code. After retiring inside we were told that the Nips could not [guarantee] our lives if we took such a long time to assemble in the park, so we had to repeat the show all over again. It was finally about 3:00 pm before we started our Yasme. There was a band concert after tea. On the following day 11th there was a stink about the stuff found especially in 2 group with the result that 2 group is to be collectively punished by confiscating our rest canteen issue. As this will probably be useless crookery we are not really worried. About 7:30pm on the 12th we had a slight tremor lasting only a few seconds. on the 14th went to Showa and the sins sounded at 11:30 am. There was another warning on the 15th about 9:45 am. Cigarette issue on the 16th-35 per man. N. C. O.’s 50. Fried fish tonight, this was cut out some time ago but has come back lately. Another slight tremor about 2:30am on the 17th. Sirens sounded on the 18th – -the first alarm at 10:00 am. followed by the all clear. They were again sounded at 12:30 pm followed by the local alarm 30 minutes later. We were then hounded into a Godown but 1 yank plane was seen and heard overhead. Rumours say that Kyoto was raided by 70 planes, 10 of which were claimed to have been shot down. With only a few days to Christmas every one is endeavouring to make cakes. Several ships in the harbour, presumably from the P. I. as there is a considerable amount of sugar. The siren sounded about 12:30 pm on the 22nd lasting until 3:30. The short blasts went again the following midday and although ack-ack fired at a plane overhead the all clear went shortly afterwards.
Sunday 24th December 1944.
On the 24th made a barley cake consisting of the bulk barley some sugar, nutmeg, curry powder, salt and oil baked in an Aldershot oven. Resulting smell very much like ginger cakes, plan to eat it tomorrow. A consignment of 600 tons of pig iron arrived at [kamagista] as an Xmas present. The No. I wished us all a happy xmas, and presented us with 2 razor blades and I pkt. Cigs. On arriving back inside there was an issue of 1 American Red Cross parcel and various other comforts, Small quantities of soap, sharing cream, sewing kits, toothbrushes and powder, boot polish and laces.The scissors were taken out of the sewing hits, but razor blades were issued. Tenko at 8:30 pm. Lights out a half hour later.
Monday 25th December 1944
Christmas Day Programme. Reveille at O:630 and tenko at 0:700 hrs. Mac and I had a hot drink of coffee before reveille, for breakfast we had barley cake spread with butter and jam with a chocolate drink. At 10:00 hrs. we had another drink of coffee and i made a concoction of goo flour, milk, sugar with chocolate flavour. For lunch we had two steamed rolls with butter and cheese, a bottle of beer and the blancmange. In the afternoon we had a sleep, then an early tea of meat stew. Immediately following tea there was a pantomime on the 3rd floor [(sampau)] entitled “Charlie’s Ring” the show opens with a scene at bedtime in Kobe House. 2 Horyos – (Charlie and Shorty) are preparing for bed discussing their days work. Shorty worked at Showa and Charlie, Sempaku. Charlie brings back a ring he finds on a ship and whilst cleaning it a strange transformation takes place and they find 2 genies waiting to grant them any wish they choose to make. Being Christmas Eve, they naturally think of beer, food and smokes.
After having satisfied their most urgent cravings they are informed that Charlie has only to rub the ring and his wish will be granted. So they decided to visit New York. The preceding scene is a night club scene in New York- where various stars are to be seen. These include a “Western” trio, a professor of a violin, a famous dancing couple and a popular orchestra. Another scene takes Charlie and Shorty back to schoolboy days during which they get into plenty of troubles. A most amusing episode is when “Rosy Jefford” (another member of the class) comes in late, but gains the school masters favour by presenting him with a daigon. From there the boys wish to go to Bagdad so the stage is set for a harem scene, with the sultan (richly decorated with earrings, rings and expensive robes) seated with the crescent moon and stars as a background. On both sides of him lie his favourite belles scantily clad in silks and ornaments and veils. The boys do the snake act much to the amusement of the audience (but not to the sultan who keeps a straight face all the time) but the climax comes when Des-Demona danced the seven veils accompanied by appropriate by eastern music. Somehow or another, the wives of Charlie and Shorty get to know of their whereabouts and break in on them, causing them both to wish they were back in Kobe House and gave the ring to the Genies so that their wives found it impossible to reach them. And so the pantomime ends with the boys back in bed at Kobe House, unable to make any further wish having given back the ring. Reveille Sounds-the boys recall recall their dreams which they find to be identical and find the Genies have left them a Red Cross Parcel. Although the night was very raw the place was so packed that I was bathed in perspiration. Capt. now Major Houghton read messages of goodwill from Australian, Canadian and Indian Red Cross organisations and governments. Remarking on the absence of a message from Britain, he Said that Churchill was much too busy with other affairs, much more important than Pow’s. This satisfied the Englishmen. Both the Camp Comm. and the interpreter wished us good will and stressed the hope that we be returned to our loved ones in the near future. After the concert Mac had the supper ready of the remainder of the Barley cake spread with butter and jam and a drink of hot milk. These things may seem very common made at home but to us who had not tasted any fats or meats for twelve months, it was a long awaited issue which was appreciated more than words can tell. It serves to show that nothing (underlined) is really appreciated more than the return of something from which you have been deprived for a long time. It is only the fellows who have been Pow’s that can really appreciate and get the best out of life when they find themselves free. People at home may think us mad if they could see us now and indeed strange are some of the things done in an endeavour to keep sane. A fine example of morale and determination was shown by the chaps who made the Christmas show. Every night for weeks prior to the show they gathered in their repair attic discussing and rehearsing and making clothes for their final 3 hour show. The amount of material brought in from the jobs was enormous, considering everything had to come through one and even sometimes two searches. Such things as expensive silks of every colour, Iadys garments, leather (made into coats) gold tie pins, earrings, brackets and finger rings, besides quantities of clothes made from cloth material-all came in. Sheets were borrowed from those Australians who had them and sewn together to make a curtain- these and blankets formed the dressing room and stage effects. Even a spot light was rigged up and manned by an engineer. The orchestra too had been practicing ceaselessly for several weeks and are continuing to do so, as from time to time they give us a musical programme. Tram service dislocated a few days prior to Xmas, alighted and dismounted twice.
26th December 1944
Boxing day and we [illegible] at work [illegible] the pig iron we had taken out of the barge on Christmas eve, back in the barge again, just another mistake! Quite a bit of shipping in the harbour over the xmas-four small ships tied up along “our” quay-mostly cow cake from [Manchu]. An alert siren sounded in the morning but nothing further developed. The following day we spent on cow- cake (a circular slab of compressed beans about 18″ across and 3″ thick, weighing between 50 and 60 lbs). One of the English boys was unlucky enough to have one of these drop on his toes from a height of 2ft-6 ins. resulting in one toe being amputated and the others badly bruised and lacerated. On the 29th I made a cake which turned out a complete success. Using 1 1/2 bowls of self crushed wheat flour, 1 bowl of refined flour, 3/4 bowl of sugar, 1 coffee tin raisins. I tin butter, 3 3/4 ozs, 3 spoons milk, 1 nutmeg, 1 spoon curry powder (substitute for ginger), 1/2 coffee tin egg powder, Salt and bicarbonate soda, the whole baked in an Aldershot oven, 50 minutes, brought back in my apron tucked under the arm. Both barley [illegible] cakes are being made every day and very much enjoyed, the main pleasure being able to get your teeth into something solid for a change. One of our fellows returned from a long stay at the new hospital, where he says that you are very welcome if they think you are going to live but a place to shun if you are dangerously ill. The reason being that as it is the only one of its kind in Japan they use it as a boast and proof of the efficiency of their medical services. The hospital was a prewar American school consisting of a number of buildings at the foot of the hills. Now, they have a fairly well equipped operating room and conditions are reasonably good. They still get the one and a half rolls for midday meal.
DAIGON is a vegetable the same shape and [illegible] a radish but growing up to 18″ long and containing about 99% water, this is the only thing that keeps Japan going. It is strung up all over Kobe House like Christmas decorations. It is everywhere in the market places growing and in our W. C. The remaining few days of this year have been raid free.
January 1945
The new year begins with a change of numbers for the whole camp. The new arrangement is alphabe8cally star8ng from the yanks then the Englishmen, Australians, Greeks, Irish free State and Canadians. It is a strange coincidence that out of the 600 odd men in the camp, I s8ll retain my original number. Mac is now 672. fortunately we have not been shiHed around. Reveille on New Years day was at 0.600 hrs. Tenko at 0.700 hrs. then a resLul day. As a New Year treat the Nips pinched half our rice ra8on and with the other half made a so called pastry which put elas8c in the shade. Mac and i finished off the remainder of the cake and made a coffee flavoured milk goo. The sirens sounded on the 3rd-followed by the local at 2.00pm and ack-ack was heard. Later rumours state that of 90 planes, 42 were shot down. Although the nights and mornings are very cold the days are very fine. Current rumours report that within two or three months kobe House will be evacuated and we will shiH to another camp. Dockyard work is also reported to soon be finishing. I made a plain barley bread which went very well with buWer and jam or cheese. The 6th and 7th has turned out fine but with a biWer cold wind blowing. On the night of the 7th Mac fell down a whole flight of stairs with 4 bowls, 2 mugs and spoons and and empty spam 8n. It is customary for everyone to cheer when anyone breaks a bowl, so imagine the row raised when this lot crashed down stairs. Result-3 bowls broken and the spam 8n missing and Mac shaken and bruised. A percentage of the men who have not received any mail from home were allowed to a ten word cables. General alarms were sounding early in the mornings-no locals so far. Slight tremor on the Morning of the 10th (0:345 am.). A number of minor Shakes have occurred over the last few nights. The general alarm sirens almost every night, sometimes twice. Kobe had its first bombing on the 19th. A number of planes came over-ack ack opened fire but could not reach them. Four lots of bombs were dropped 2-3 pm. On the morning of the 7th a single plane was over. No sirens sounded so it seems as if they have adapted this plan. The first we knew of it was the ack ack fire. (9:20-10-30 am). Yasme day on the 28th Jan. Owing to the outbreak of influenza and a large No. of men are lying down for Tenko Parade in the street at 0.800 hrs, a speech by Takanaka to the effect that as the air raids are coming more frequent it is advisable for us to be very discreet in our future acts and doings. He said that in a moment of anger the Nipponese people, with the exception of the camp staff, would want to kill us. We are guaranteed our lives inside Kobe House. All jobs will make themselves slit trenches at work. This came about from complaints lodged that on some jobs men were locked in railway trucks during an air raid. As though to strike a gentler tone he finished by saying that in another two months spring would be here, the flowers would come out and all would be well. The rest of the day we had to ourselves. The flu epidemic is at its height. Major Houghton has used the situation in an attempt to secure a Yasme once a week, saying that the health of the men has been reduced over the last three years. Dr. Boyce has also endeavoured to get Red Cross parcels issued. Nothing has come of either of these two things yet. Takanaka was present one night when an Englishman was caught with four 8 tins of Sardines. He immediately beat this man with a thick stick hitting him over the head and kicking him in the stomach. A few nights later Les Cook was caught with two water bottles full of oil and was hit by the SM. I wrote a letter of 100 words home on the 14th and a cable of the same length on the 21st. My last day at Showa.
February
Feb 4th Kobe had its first big raid of incendiary bombs. Single plane raids continue sometimes 3 and 4 at night. On the 7th we had the heaviest fall of snow since we arrived 2 and 3inch and remained for 4 days. On the 11th “yasme day” the outside reached Zero C the first 8me for 2 months. A good yasme day. A 168 odd parcels was issued collectively- The milk, butter and jam going to the hospital and the meat and coffee going to the cookhouse. Takanaka took the cigarettes. A play of a farce was shown by the concert party in the evening and finished just before the first of the air raids started. Early on the 12th a small party of fatigues and cooks went from this camp to the new camp nearby to prepare it for the party of prisoners that is arriving there. Showa party were brought in early Some even not finishing there dinner and it has been officially announced that no more men From this camp will go there. We have received orders that in the event of the short blasts going in the nighhme , we are to get dressed, put our boots on and lie down again to wait. The Shorts do not sound for single plane raids. The 15th was the third anniversary of being Pow’s and was recalled by a regretful incident. 20 Aussies left for Showa, unexpectedly. 4 MGS left at the same time that Showa finished. The other factories ceased work also but recommenced on the 16th.
The last time the Pay Sergeant searched, he made us take off our overcoats and boots. Only one man was caught. This started a search mania and for the last few nights most par8es have been strip searched before leaving leaving their jobs. A new doctor arrived on the 16th and information received so far is that of the total number of men in Burma and Formosa, 58% have died from illness. His name is Longbottom, Capt.
March
Lt. Fuller had to stand in front of the guard house all day on the 13th for having oil in his possession and not telling who he got it from. Osaka raided on March 13-14th 11pm to 4am with 91 big bombers (incendiary) kobe was raided on Sat. 17th from 2am [illegible] large fires were started all along the docks. We evacuated the building at 4:30 but returned about 8:30am. No work from the 17th until further notice. All communications disrupted, electricity non existent. Water supply still ok. Commencing from the 19th we are to get 2 meals a day, one at 8am and the other at 4:30pm until work commences. About 0800 hrs on the 19th Kobe docks were raided by dive bombers causing damage. On the 20th Yoshihara, Toyo and Dai [illegible] took men. The same applied for the following day, with the addition of [illegible] party. Sumito’s [illegible] recommenced work on the 22nd of March and Utsumigume and Kobe go started on the 23rd. It is rumoured that the other jobs being further away cannot have their men until they can guarantee [illegible] for an immediate return in the event of the short blasts sounding. This goes to show that at last we prisoners are receiving some consideration. Last Saturday, being the first large scale [illegible] on Kobe, it is interesting to note the attitude of both the Japanese guards who have been acquainted with us for some time and the civilians who although know us as “Horyo’s” do not understand the full meaning of the state we find ourselves in. Contrary to popular belief the nips behaved very calmly while large fires raged throughout Kobe. The civilians also showed no increased malice towards us, in fact they wore an arm of complete indifference towards the whole affair. The Pay Sergeant, however the possible feeling that lies under the surface when he caught one of our boys looking out of the window on the 19th and gave him a terrific beating with a stick with a threat to kill the next offender. Takanaka voiced his satisfaction in the way the evacuation was carried out the other [illegible] and also advised us to give the guards and workplace no cause to hit us or do any serious damage to us.
Electricity restored to Kobe House on the 26th. An issue of 1 Red Cross Parcel per man on the 27th. Maj. Houghton forced the point that in case of Kobe getting hit it would be wise for the men to carry a reserve ration with them as other foods might be difficult to procure. Everyone in the state of [illegible] packed and ready to evacuate the place immediately. Experienced fire fighting groups formed and [illegible] they [illegible]. The officers (with exception of Capt. Boyce) left early on the 31st March after less than 24hrs notice. Destination.
April
Several single plane raids some dropping bombs along the docks. 29 April (Emperor’s Birthday) Reveille 0430hrs with 1 and a half hours work shifting goods from demolished houses before breakfast. Concert at night. Pay Sergeant stopped concert during scene showing Japanese hancho involved in stealing sugar. Men were badly beaten up and 2 put to hospital. The remainder to work each day but spend the night in boob. 929th we bow to the east). 30th April single plane dropped bombs during lunch hour. 1 landed [illegible] feet from mess hut. 1 man lying [illegible] from crater, no serious casualties. Railway hit.

May

1 May. Particulars of wounds caused by the bomb taken by the nips and several of us had to write our impressions of the raid. On night of the 3rd shorts blew which caused us to prepare to evacuate the building. Later mines were dropped in OS bay. 9 naval launch exploded, two outside the harbour. On the 6th 2 fell on the [illegible] but did no damage. On the evening of the 5th all Australians were called outside for a cursory examination to select a party of 50 men (mostly sick) to leave within the next few days. On the 6th the boys did their 4th job bringing the total [illegible] throughout. The trees are bringing back a bit of colour amongst the blackness and rusted ruins of the city of Kobe. Chewing gum is not permitted outside the camp, consequently violations of this order get “done over”. On the 8th 50 of our boys left for [Kawasaki] in exchange 50 of their fittest men coming here. This camp apparently is one of the best in the Kobe-Osaka area district. One B29 claimed to have been shot down on the night of the 8th and 9th over O.
The new chaps (compromising of Australians, English and Dutch troops) were put to work at Takahama, Dai Ichi, Mitsubishi and Mitsui firms and though it was christmas. Most of them are under 60 kilos in weight. Previous work was at the [Kawasaki] shipping yards. With the German consultatory flying their flag at half mast and persistent rumours of an armistice, we come to the conclusion that the war in Europe is over. In the last few days a number of mines have been dropped in the channel resulting in the loss of a few ships. Deep vibrating explosions are to be heard from 8me to 8me. About 1000hrs on the 11th 74 planes in 5 forma8ons raided just east of Kobe, dropping H.E. The only damage we could es8mate was to the railway service was disorganised throughout the next day. Very little work on some of the jobs. Summer clothes issued on the 12th, also another batch of cables sent home. Yasme day on the 13th Sunday which is mothers day. Yoshihara and Toya finished working on the 10th the day before the raid. On afternoon of Sat. 19th 31 Aussies left this camp. The same day 22 Americans from the steel camp arrived here. They say the party that left this camp marched into their camp but proceeding on the morrow.
New arrivals look very sick and weak.
Sunday 20th a party of 54 Aussies left this camp (including Jim McCormack) rumours say that their destination is a mine in the mountains. The same day 41 Dutchmen came to this camp from [illegible] (80 kilos distance). Commercial [illegible] today first job [illegible]. A [illegible] in the weather and the rainy season is here. An American in hospital developed tetanus as a result of an amputated toe. He is living on milk.
June
1st June shorts sounded about 0900 and wave after wave passed overhead and bombed Osaka an estimate of 400 planes took part. 2 or 3 were seen to be shot down. On the 5th June Kobe received 2nd big raid, incendiary. Kobe House was hit heavily but everyone managed to get outside alright. All the rations were salvaged but most of the clothing was lost. Approx 350 planes participated. That night we marched 5 miles to Kawasaki camp in the hill. The next day Kobe hospital arrived in intervals. A party of men from our camp went down down in the night while it was pissing it down with rain and brought the stretcher cases up. Three men were burnt to death and one man died 2 days later as a result of burns. 7 others were badly burnt and a number of others received minor burns. The American who contracted tetanus suffered also from shock as a result of the air raids but eventually pulled round, will probably live. Kawasaki camp very short of water and found necessary for 100 men to cart water from a well below the camp. Encircled by hills, consequently named Maruyama. The dock jobs soon commenced work. Kamagumi being the first, Minata Gowa (railway yards) took their first party since the March raid. Camp infested with fleas. Dry buildings but made of mud and bamboo. March to work 5 miles each way every day. About the 17th June party of 30 yanks arrived in the camp but appear to be moving on. This was confirmed by our camp being paraded and all sick men and others who thought they could not march three or four miles to fall out. This combined party leH on the 19th June, it is [illegible] to the big camp in the mountain lake district. All the remainder of the men shiHed down to Kobe (Wakinohama camp) situated near the big foundary, on the 21st. The first night the shorts went, which put us on edge. The next day the general alarm sounded 3 times and the shorts once in the am and 2 generals in the pm. Am now working permanent on Dai Ichi [Mitsubishi?]. Food stuffs appear to be coming in from the lesser godowns to the more substantial structures, as such commodities as beans and flour have been coming in wagons, also canned foodstuffs from Takahama. Nothing in from ships. On the 22nd a batch of letters were distributed, none for me. On the 23rd a number of men had to write their impressions on the following things. 1. Food situation. 2. Treatment by staff. 3. War outlook for the future. 4. Feeling during air raid. Suggestions regarding mail ect. Reason?
The same day Takanaka informed Challis that he could use his discretion during a raid to evacuate us to the foothills (about a mile distant). A fire fighting party is then to be formed to return if necessary. This news has placed us in a happier frame of mind. On the 24th heavy rain so no work. We take the opportunity to get a good sleep. We are constantly in a state of preparedness as we may have to march days if the situation warrants it, for that reason only the fiWest of us remained behind. Weighed today, dropped 2 kilo’s to 72. Was very fit in April when Red Cross food was about. I weighed 75.5. The camp staff are living on what Red Cross parcels were saved from the fire.
Our rations have improved for the reason that onions and cabbages are in season.
29th June 2:30am shorts sounded and everyone with the exception of the cooks were taken to the foothills (near the old Horyo’s hospital). The bombing was some 40 or 50 miles away. We returned about 5:0 O’Clock.
July
12:30am on the 3rd of July shorts again sounded but we did not evacuate. Night bombing is prevalent at this time. On the night of 6-7th the shorts again sounded but as these raids were incendiary we do not evacuate the area. 20 of us were posted on the 3rd floor as fire fighters and had a good view of the raid which was about 15-20 miles away. These night raids have a very demoralising effect, even upon us, mainly the loss of sleep. The wail of the fire engines is a source of annoyance to our shattered nerves. Ever since we came to this camp there has been a considerable amount of unrest and sickness amongst the men. Firstly the position is right alongside factories and gas works although partly burnt will necessitate a H.E. raid. Secondly, food has worsened by the presence of burnt (in the fire) rice and [illegible]. This food has given a large percentage of the men diarrhoea and a general depression throughout the camp is prevalent. A lot of cigs have been found recently about which theres some intrigue. Instead of being searched before the firm hancho’s we were being dismissed and herded inside the camp and searched. The unlucky people who were caught were hit over the face with a rubber shoe severely and spent about 3hrs in front of the guard room. The next day Takanaka upon seeing their swollen faces asked the reason why and failing to get a satisfactory answer asked the SM and interpreter. Shortly afterwards the Sm and Int. went and asked the culprits what Takanaka had said and seemed to be very concerned. Deductions to be drawn are that cig case was kept from Comm and spoils divided amongst guards and camp staff. Two nights later 3 men were caught with same cigs and again the incident was kept from Takanaka. They spent several hours kneeling in Challis’s office. 1 bomb dropped in the factory. July 24th the [illegible] of [illegible] [raids] and task force opera8ons. shortly aHer reveille the sirens sounded and [several raids] [illegible] throughout the day [illegible] planes operated firstly later followed by by single [illegible] with a total of over 2,000 for the day. 2 [illegible] the am we were evacuated to the hills where we had a good view of the 29’s as they passed to Osaka. This was expected to be a H.E. Raid but resulted in a huge fire. Again on the 29th the task force approached the mainland and we heard shelling on the night of the 28th-29th and all throughout the day, planes were in the vicinity. The [proceeding] days were comparatively calm until the night of…….

August 5th-6th

A large incendiary raid was carried out against [illegible] district-east of Kobe. Although the nearest bombs fell half a mile away they sounded uncomfortably close. [Tinfoil] was used. Cigarette situation at Dai Itchi very embarrassing. Two complete cases (contents 40,000) cigs went off because Navy were taking them away. Discovery was inevitable and with the loss of so many cigarettes the job was cancelled for a few days while the Nips [searched] for them. I had 20,000 on the 4th floor which they succeeded in finding but they could do nothing about it as we had not been caught in the act of stealing. Some of the other fellows were thinking they had theirs on the 3rd floor which remained undiscovered. However when the job recommenced every Nip had his eyes on us and it was impossible to get at the cigs or the tinned foods so we had a pretty lean time of it. The Horyo’s delivery service continues effectively [illegible] and Kobe-Go being the go betweens for the remainder of the jobs. Kami Gumi does good trade with Mitsui [illegible] exchanging fat and mango’s for sugar and egg powder. The Hancho’s at [illegible] buy, take a good deal of stuff of the boys using the bowl as standard measurement. Excitement at Joe’s entry into the war which will most probably have a great effect on these people. We had another midnight [illegible] to the elevated railway when [illegible] (just west of Osaka) dropped a H.E. raid. The explosions sounded much worse as it echoed and re-echoed along the hills. Events are very keenly
followed as we hear of the declara8on put to these people by the 2 powers and we are disappointed at the rejec8on. However now that Russia is with us our hopes soar again. We are very concerned about this “atom bomb” the Yanks are using. At Hiroshima a single bomb [wrecked] the whole urban district, killing or wounding all the inhabitants. The terrific thermal content causes intense heat which caused many burns. On the 13th single planes dropped leaflets in Kobe and civilians enlisted to pick them up. Soldiers and Police went round seeing that none were leH about. One leaflet seen by us contained Japanese wri8ng on both sides which conveyed nothing to us. Leaflets dropped a few months ago showed a picture of Hitler suspended by a rope over a cliff, the end 8ed to a Japanese precariously suppor8ng his house and possessions on his back. On the 14th we saw 29’s flying over the bay towards Osaka and were thankful they weren’t coming here. As there is only the dock area leH to bomb in Kobe. The nearby factory is partly burnt out but in my opinion is of very minor importance. At midday on the 15th at the conclusion of a new type of siren ———— every single Jap gathered around the wireless with hats removed and bowed heads. Soldiers with rifles presented arms and others saluted. An address followed and as this procedure was repeated we came to the conclusion that the Emperor was addressing the people. We could tell by the effect on the people that there was something in the wind [illegible] isolation quietness and tear filled eyes told us that something important had happened. It was not until the jobs returned and everyone had the same tale to tell that we know that at last the Japanese nation had accepted the terms. Various Hancho’s with tear filled eyes shook hands with some of the boys as they told them that the war was over. The immensity of the situation was terrific. This was what we had been waiting for, for three and a half years and there is no wonder that doubt [illegible] still in our minds even after S.M. Challis told us to put our minds at rest that the war was over. The interpreter told the hospital the same thing so by teatime the majority of us were convinced. On Tenko that evening we were given the order to “AWen8on” and Right Dress! Which sounded so very strange after such a long time. We still numbered in Nippon [go] as the Jap guards still have the responsibility of protecting us until relief comes. Sleep was almost impossible as everyone was up talking things over, congratulating each other, discussing past hardships and speculating on the future. And so reviewing the whole situation we find ourselves free men on the 15th August 1945 exactly 3 and a half years after the capitulation of Singapore. To us the 15th is a singular date. Apart from the above facts the 15th May 1943 was the day we “J Force” left Changi, we started work on Japan on the 15th of June and a party of Australians left for Showadenki on the 15th Feb 1945.
On the 16th at the morning Tenko, Takanaka spoke to us saying that as from today there would be no more work but we would receive the normal food ration and wages. He said the gods had favoured us and that his instructions were to continue with the camp until the arrival of officials. As he is responsible for us, the guards are still here and we are not to leave camp. S.M. Challis has taken the opportunity to improve conditions in the camp by interviewing the interpreter. Every second board of the boarded windows can be removed, letting more light and fresh air in the rooms. Most of the camp staff are still about but keep well to themselves. A few of them like ‘The Angel’, Hongo and a Little Corporal still get around, smiling to the boys. They are giving us everything including all the Red Cross medical supplies, tea from the Swiss consultatory and 2 cases of mandarins of their own. Just recently we had a tea issue of 1 complete case to 44 men. We spent a quiet day carrying on as we had done in the past. Looking back over the last couple of weeks the attitude of Takanakas seems to have been leading up to the present time. Quite recently he gave us a speech in which he said that the future was bright for us but that the danger from the civilian populance is greater now than it ever has been. In all his speeches he has greatly emphasised this point and has told us to be very careful in our contact with the Nips, not to make any rash comments or acts. Strangely enough we have found the attitude of the people quite contrary to the one that Takanaka paints for us, even up until the last. Even now he will not allow us to go to the Swiss consultatory in order to collect books as he considers the risk to be too great. The interpreter commencing on his [illegible] last speech told Challis that Takanaka held a diplomatic position in China after 4 years in Tokyo university and consequently he is a brainy man. This recent line of talk may prove favourably towards him in the general round up. The night of the 16th we dispensed with night [illegible] and just [illegible] all over the upper part of the building which was formally barricaded off. After tea a concert was held on the 3rd floor which is a large auditorium but burnt by the fire, fortunately the stage is still in tact. That night we were able to sleep on the roof, which was wonderful especially after the stuffy rooms about 2:30am we were awakened and startled by the sirens blowing. A plane had been flying around for some time previous and had been caught in two searchlights. It was showing lights and  flying fairly low. Apparently there was some misunderstanding because the staff were quite unperturbed and the all clear sounded shortly afterwards. Needless to say this experience gave us a nasty scare because all lights were extinguished and the radio gave out its usual buzzing noise which it has always done in the past.
I awoke on the morning of the 17th immensely refreshed and had a cold shower at dawn. We went to Roll Call stripped to the waist and afterwards had 10 mins P.T. to while away the weary days of [waiting] a sporting committee is being formed to provide amusement for the camp. There is nothing much to do except sunbathe on the roof and watch the traffic on the Kobe-Osaka highway. During the day a few chaps went out the back gate to [Mitsui Soko] and brought back about two thirds a sack of sugar. That night of 17-18th several parties of men went out of camp to various places and brought back 29 cases of milk (24 to a case) 8 cases of tinned mandarins (45 to a case) a number of salmon, beer and tobacco. Two men were caught by the guard commander but he gave them back their “loot” and let them go. Later on two more chaps came back decidedly under the weather and made a lot of noise. The guard picked them up and took their tea and biscuits off them and put them in the boob for the remainder of the night.
Next morning they were released but all of the Nip staff knew of the nights happenings and later in the morning of the 18th all section leaders were called to the office. There followed an account of the previous nights affair and S.M. Challis put forward the suggestion that the guards be picketed by our own NCO’s and that anyone failing to obey their orders be put into the boob until the arrival of the relief force. This was agreed upon and then suggestions were put to Takanaka for improvements in our food which the men knew was available in the dock areas. Tobacco, sugars, salmon, flour and other foodstuffs from the market all available. Mail was also asked for and promised. Also a R.C. and protestant padre were asked for. We were told that it would be possibly two weeks to a month before any officials arrived. During the day we heard gunfire over Osaka which we thought sounded like ack- ack, however no one seemed perturbed over the matter. The day passed on without further incident. Two more cases of American Red Cross medical supplies were brought up to the hospital tonight. The roof is packed out tonight, for we really appreciate a good clean sleep.
On the 19th Sunday the Nips took a quantity of flour to a bakery to be made into bread and other parades went out in an attempt to get other supplies but were not successful. Throughout the day there has been wholesale planning to raid the docks for foodstuffs and immediately after tenko these were put into operation. Inside a hour there were 150 men outside the camp. Some of them went direct to [Mitsui Soko] and obtained cases of milk, oranges and peas. A large party of men were trying to get into [illegible] but were finding it difficult as a group of Nips were sitting in the road close to the entrance. Eventually we got inside the Soko by creeping close to the wall and went up to the 4th and 5th floors where the goods were. Just as we were coming out of the 5th floor with tobacco a Nip had come up the stairs, switched on the lights and was [lehng?] the 4th floor doors down. He apparently knew nothing of our presence because we were able to get over the roof and down the other side where we found the door to another compartment where there was sugar. After getting over a sack of sugar we prepared to move out of the area. Just as we dumped the spoils over the high wall and was on our way again someone gave a ‘Kura”, we thought it was a Kempie but we kept going and we heard nothing more from him. We then passed out the main customs gate where there [were] a few people sitting in the road but we were not questioned. Whilst passing through the [marshalling] yards the railway men called out to us and for a while were very persistent but we kept going again. A few hundred yards further on a number of civilians met us, some carrying sacks and all of them asking for presents. We could not afford to stop as there were too many of them, so we put them off as best we could. There was the possibility of a dangerous situation developing when luckily for us a party of of our own boys came along which made the Nips clear off. We reached camp without further incident and clambered safely over the wall. Each one of us came out with 2 and a half cartons of tobacco and about 20lbs of sugar and there were 10 of us. During the night a lot of stuff came in including salmon, [sausages], butter, margarine, eggs, tobacco, milk, oranges and sugar. Two mystery cases turned out to be gramophone records and wooden ornaments. An English printed newspaper was brought in (the first official news since the 15th) and we learnt that 4,000 planes, each carrying an atom bomb were on the way to this country. This fact caused the emperor to immediately make a truce with the Allied powers and the planes were recalled. Japanese officials will leave for Manila on the 19th and by 9am on the 20th the surrender is expected to be signed. The American fleet is expected to be in Kobe by the 25th. An official party tried to get a radio but were unsuccessful. Two men from Maruyama camp came down during the night trying to get food for the patients in the hospital as they were still existing on Kibi. Later on they took quite a bit of stuff back. We evidently caused quite a stir in the place because Naval men and Kempies and Civil Police were out in force and a few chaps had narrow escapes from them. The camp guard could do nothing about it except to look up the chaps after they arrived back and get their cut.
At Roll Call the next morning 20th there were still 10 men missing. One man had been caught by the Kempie, a revolver thrust in his mouth and asked if he wanted that or the sword, however they brought him back to camp alive. Later in the day S.M. Challis interviewed the Jap officer for Kobe defence and told him to remove all his troops from the area of the hills so that we could walk about these without fear of incidents. Canned food and bread is being got officially so there is no need to loot it. As soon as the news of the missing men came through we were given permission to walk out as long as we were back in camp for Roll Call in the morning and night. That evening Jim Dore, Johnny Gilmore, Jim Donnelly and myself went for a stroll and met a white Russian and Turkish family. They were as overjoyed as we were about the finish and are anxious to get out of the country as they had been living on a much reduced diet. We helped them out with what we had. They in their turn entertained us with a gramophone and we had dancing, singing, talking up 8ll about midnight. All the boys are out visiting European and American internees from Guam. These [illegible] obtained a short wave radio and from station K.E.G.I. get regular news. This new atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and killed 173,000 and wounded 250,000 more. White clothing probed a ????? Tuesday 21st August the signing is supposed to be today and then follows mine sweeping. We hope to see something by the 25th. We had a walk this am and met some Danish people who were very nice to us. They told us inscriptions on bomb tail fins read “To Tojo with love from Bill, Philadelphia” and one in Osaka said ‘See you in Kobe on Friday”. Wednesday 22nd three of us decided to try and locate some of the boys who left Kobe House for the Lake District. At 9am we caught the electric train for Kyoto where we arrived at 10:40am, a distance of 60 miles. As I could speak a little Nippon  we were able to enquire [and] find our way to Lake Biwako where our boys are supposed to be working, reclaiming land. At midday we reached our destination and enquired where the pow camp was. As we could get no satisfaction we left a message to several of the boys in charge of the Civil Police, who promised to do their best to deliver it. It was my opinion that they did not want us to visit the the camp as it might invite the boys to break out, as we have done. They put up excuses that therewere several camps scattered over a large area and that as transport facilities were very poor it would take sometime to locate our particular friends. Although somewhat disappointed we had the satisfaction of seeing some picturesque country through the hills. I arrived back absolutely worn out and went straight to bed. The other two went visiting friends. That night, some of our officers were brought to us at our request and will get things in order to be prepared to march out.
Wednesday 23rd the latest news tells us that the victory air pageant will be held over this country on the 25th, the following day Admiral Chester Nimitz’s fleet will sail into Tokyo bay and 20,000 American troops will occupy a strip of country 50 miles deep and 100 miles long around Tokyo. All available foodstuffs have been [acquired] also tobacco and cigs. Capt. Man the senior man now in camp interviewed Takanaka and informed him that from now on, he (Capt. Man) was in complete command of the pows. Every possible item of food, clothing and toilet gear was released and Japanese workers are to be brought in to take care of the Benjo’s. We are being allowed to continue much the same as during the last week. We must be in camp for Roll Call at 0700 hrs and after a short parade at 0900hrs we will be free to do as we please. At 1030 hrs several British single engine planes flew around Kobe harbour and smaller ships which possibly were mine sweepers were seen on the horizon. At 1045 hrs, probably the first Union Jack to be flown in Japan since the outbreak of war was hoisted above our building, with ceremony. Later on in the day at 5:30 the Yanks found their flag which they hoisted. That night the four of us visited the Danish people and had a very pleasant time. Now is the time we really appreciate a little comfort.
Friday 24th August at 0900 hrs the official hoisting of the flags ceremony took place. Men were paraded by units — R.A.- R.N.- Middlesex – Royal Scots- AIF- American and Dutch paraded on the main Kobe-Osaka highway. All traffic was held up by the [illegible] Jap staff [illegible] the ceremony. As a gesture the Stars and Stripes was hoisted first followed by the Union Jack. The anthems of both countries were played immediately after the hoistng by a Clarinet, that being the only instrument available. Later on in the day the Dutch and Chinese flags were hoisted.
Sat 25th reveille at 0430hrs in preparation for the big display. Groups of men posted in the vicinity of camp to collect parcels dropped by the planes. Stormy weather working up and by midday it was raining hard. At that time we heard that the whole thing was cancelled for 24hrs, owing to the rough areas.
Sunday 26th
Priests visited this camp and held a R.C. service. Rations include beef sausages, sardines, pilchards and 2 rolls of bread per meal.
Monday 27th the camp is gradually improving and discipline is being enforced. At our disposal now there is a team of [illegible] washer women, sanitary squad. All men leaving camp must dress as near [uniformally] as possible, no civilian clothes to be worn. Went to the theatre this am where a rehearsal was held for the show which will be held tonight. Pandemonium broke loose about 1:45pm when American carriers [illegible] [illegible] with sawn off wings appeared. After several minutes the airmen discovered our position by the PW mask on the roof and also by the numbers of men waving and signalling with a search light. Once they knew of our whereabouts they came right down to just above the mast head on our building and [illegible] past. Time and time again the pilots [banked] their machines round the camp and waved to us. One machine, No.4 dropped a message attached to a cloth container weighted with sand. One one side read “It won’t be long now” and on the other side was written the names of the crew. Written on a photo [wrapper].
That evening at 6:00pm the concert by the Allied forces in Kobe was due to commence. All the civilians of foreign countries were invited and with the numbers of this camp made a very big house. This theatre is one of two left standing. After the show we went to our Danish friends place where we had a very enjoyable dinner.
Early on the morning of the 28th the planes again [illegible] over the camp and one pilot dropped a packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes. About 1:00pm the first of 4 [motorised] transport planes flew over and dropped supplies, some of the chutes failed to open and quite a few of the drums were badly smashed in. Books and news was dropped from off the aircraft carrier Randolf. Some of the supplies fell quite a distance away but the Civil Police collected it in trucks and brought it to this camp.
The following day 29th August Randolf planes dropped hundreds of copies of new sheets and magazines. Messages were written on [illegible] tops reading “See you in New York”, “Texas is proud of you” and “Never a dull moment”. Clothing issued today and some of the foodstuffs. A short wave radio has been fixed up in the camp.
30th August some of the former Kobe House chaps came here from the lake area reclaiming land. They had a bad [illegible] and are looking very thin. The war ended just in time for these chaps. More supplies dropped.

Diary ends at this point.

 

A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO RON BADOCK by his son PHIL BADOCK

A Personal Tribute to WX8279 Ronald Badock
By his son Phil Badock

 

At our regular Friday afternoon whisky appreciation sessions, conversation would invariably include recollections of my father’s wartime experiences. I was blessed that my father lived well into his 98th year and he was mentally acute to the end. I asked many questions but I now wish I had asked many more. One question I asked was “What did you do when you were a Prisoner of War (POW)? His response, “Anything and everything”.
The following are some of his recollections and it is my honour and privilege to share these before they are gone forever.
Ron Badock, born on 31 January 1919, enlisted in the army from Norseman WA in 1940. He started out on the troop train that commenced its journey from Esperance picking up prospective soldiers along the way at Salmon Gums, Norseman, Widgiemooltha, Coolgardie, Southern Cross and wheatbelt towns along the train line down to Perth.
“Never saw so much beer drunk as on that train” he said, including seeing Ted Keating (WX8818) carrying a 5 gallon keg on his shoulder running to catch up to the train as it slowly departed from Coolgardie station. Ted Keating later was a POW with ‘E’ Force in Borneo and died on 11/2/1944 at Kuching.

Below:  Ted Keating

 

Pte Robert Leighton ‘Bloocher’ Smith (WX8736)
Ron was 21 when he enlisted with family friend “Bloocher’ Smith. Ten years older than Ron, Bloocher told Ron’s mother Effie that he would look after young Ronnie and see that he safely returned. Ron and Bloocher were assigned to 8 Platoon B Company of the newly formed wholly Western Australian raised 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Bloocher was killed in action on 11 February 1942 at Mandai in the eight day Battle for Singapore. According to Ron, Bloocher was taking cover and poked his head around the corner of a village hut and was shot between the eyes by a sniper. Death was instant. While obviously tragic for Bloocher, Ron said that he would never have survived being a POW as befell the 2/4th and the thousands of other Allied personnel from February 1942 to August 1945. Bloocher was a big man and was not one to easily take orders.
Bloocher Smith was one of three brothers who did not return after the war. The 2/4th also had the three Dorrizzi brothers and the three Newling brothers who did not survive. What a terrible sacrifice these families endured.

 

Sgt Richard Henry ‘Dick’ Sandilands (WX8809) and Pte Raymond Francis ‘Bones’ Carruthers (WX7325)

Dick Sandilands was the 8 Platoon Sergeant and was highly regarded by all the men. At Mandai on 11/2/1942 he was shot in the back and paralysed from the waist down. Without any chance of survival or retreat he faced the enemy with his revolver to a certain death.

 

Raymond ‘Bones’ Carruthers, of slight build, he was one of the younger members of 8 Platoon and the 2/4th. Aged just 22 he met his end also at Mandai on 11/2/1942. Shellshocked and disoriented, Bones was last seen standing frozen on a rocky outcrop.

 

 

Pte Leo Patrick ‘Squasher’ Walsh (WX8776)
Ron was selected as a No. 1 gunner in 8 Platoon and Leo “Squasher” Walsh was his No. 2. The No.1 gunner was the one who fired the Vickers Machine Gun and the No.2 fed the ammunition into the gun. During their training, on the signal the No.1 gunner would roll aside and the No. 2 would take the place of the No. 1. Thinking this was just an exercise drill it was sometime later in their training that they realised why the No.1 had to roll aside and the No. 2 had to take over. This was because in the course of a battle if the No.1 was killed the No. 2 would replace him and the No. 3 would become the new No.2. No.1 gunner’s role was to carry the 42lb (20 kg) tripod on which the gun sat. No. 2’s job was to carry the gun and mount it to the tripod.
The Vickers Machine Gun was used in World War 1 and it was said that the gun could fire continuously for a period of 24 hours if the ammunition was kept being fed and the water cooling condenser system remained efficient as it did on occasions on the Western Front.
Prior to the war Leo was a locksmith for the Chubb Safe Company and his locksmith skills would become important in the heat of battle.
On one occasion during action Ron, carrying the tripod and Leo the gun, were running across a field and encountered a wide ditch. With fear and adrenalin pulsing they both leapt across the ditch with their equipment. “Amazing what adrenalin does to your body when you have to”, explained Ron.
8 Platoon was attached to 2/30 Battalion and they were involved in a number of actions. With the Japanese being able to cross the Strait of Jahore the Platoon fell back from their original position just west of the Causeway linking Singapore with mainland Malaya. They then established position around Mandai Rd, were again forced to fall back but were ordered to move forward again to provide covering fire for the retreating troops of D Coy 2/30 Btn.
In one of these actions the Vickers became a ‘runaway swinging traverse’ meaning that Ron had no control over the weapon. While under the pressure of being fired upon, Leo Walsh was able to disengage, repair the mechanism and re-engage the gun so it could once again be controlled.
Almost encircled, the Platoon finally retreated to their truck where they all had their belongings in their army kitbags. Lt Graham ‘Speed’ MacKinnon (WX3707) the Officer Commanding 8 Platoon attempted to destroy the truck and its contents by firing a bullet from his revolver into the petrol tank The bullet merely bounced off the heavy metal and plopped to the ground.
With time of the essence, the truck, the Vickers machine guns, remaining ammo, provisions and soldier’s belongings were abandoned and the men hastily made their exit across country to safety. Thus, the men had nothing but the clothes on their back and a rifle for some. They then made their way on foot and in small groups following the water pipeline back to the Singapore Golf Course where they reformed.
‘Speed’ MacKinnon was later recommended for the Military Cross for his outstanding leadership under extreme conditions which successfully held the enemy for two hours while all the men of D Coy 2/30 Btn could successfully withdraw without any casualties. Unfortunately the medal was never awarded.
‘Speed’ MacKinnon earned his nickname when on his return from Officer Training School he strode to his men with all the pomp and official paraphernalia worn by an officer. One wag said he looked like Speed Gordon, a popular cartoon character of the day, and the name stuck. But in the heat of battle the men of 8 Platoon were grateful for the leadership displayed by ‘Speed’ MacKinnon.
In later years Graham Mackinnon became a Member of Parliament and Minister in the WA Government. He was also a former president of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Ex Members Association.
Leo and all Allied personnel became Prisoners of War upon the surrender on 15 February 1942. He was part of ‘A’ Force that went to Burma in 1943 to help build the Burma Thailand Railway. Ron was part of ‘D’ Force which was sent to Thailand for the same purpose. On the railway’s completion Leo was returned to Singapore and was one of the contingent of 718 Australian POWs including 52 men from the 2/4th who boarded the cargo ship Rakuyo Maru bound for Japan.
In the early hours of 12 September 1944 the Rakuyo Maru, and other ships in its convoy, were attacked by American submarines in the South China Sea. Not knowing the Rakuyo Maru was transporting Allied POWs the USS Sealion fired the torpedoes which hit the Japanese ship. Leo abandoned ship like all the POWs and made his way to a makeshift raft where a number of other men were clinging. At some point it was decided there were too many men attached to this and Leo volunteered to swim to another raft which had less men holding onto it. Leo had been a strong swimmer who in his early adulthood swam in the annual Swim Through Perth a three mile event on the Swan River. Leo was now a 36 year old and had been a POW for two and a half years. Leo set off but was never seen again.
He was one of 38 men from the 2/4th to perish in the open ocean over the days and nights of 12 – 16 September, and possibly later. No food, no water and no hope, each man quietly coming to terms with his own impending demise. Having all lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s, surviving the Battle for Singapore and persevering through the trauma of the Burma Thailand Railway there was no shortage of will to live on their part. Their names are remembered overleaf on the coming 80th Anniversary of this wartime event and of their supreme sacrifice.
Miraculously 14 men from the 2/4th did survive the sinking of the Rakuyo Maru. Eleven were picked up by the US submarines Pampanito, Sealion, Queenfish and Barb from the afternoon of 15 September to the evening of 17 September Their war and POW days were now over! Altogether 155 Allied POWS were saved by the crews of the 4 US submarines.
And three 2/4th were picked up by a Japanese vessel. These men eventually landed in Japan and continued life as POWs but one was later killed in a US bombing raid.

 

Sgt John William ‘Jack’ Sanderson (WX8777)

Jack Sanderson was a family friend from Kalgoorlie. He was a commercial traveller for Sandovers and his patch ran from Wiluna in the north to Esperance in the south and all points in between. On fit-out for his army uniform there was not one big enough as Jack was a large tall man and his uniform had to be specially made.
Jack was originally in 7 Platoon B Company but was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to 9 Platoon. He lost his life at Tarsau, a POW camp situated along the River Kwai in Thailand, and was skeletal at time of death. Ron was present with Jack when he died on 18/7/1943. Ron had a theory formulated through bitter observation, that small to medium sized men could just survive on the meagre 500 calories per day but large sized men like Jack Sanderson could not sustain life on that ration. Thus, the ultimate example of natural selection.
Pte Arthur Stanley ‘Codgee’ Thorns (WX10289)

Codgee as he was known from childhood was a schoolmate of Ron Badock at Kalgoorlie Central. He was in 7 Platoon B Company and as a POW was in ‘E’ Force which was sent to Borneo. He was in the second or last infamous death march from Sandakan to Ranau in May/June 1945. He was one of the few who survived that ordeal but at Ranau on 8th August 1945 he was beaten to death by the Japanese in the hope they would erase all evidence of atrocities committed by them. Note the date of death, just one week before the Japanese Government surrendered.
John Philip ‘Jack’ De Gracie
Jack De Gracie was an Able Seaman aboard HMAS Sydney when it was sunk with all 645 personnel lost on 19 November 1941. Because of his tall and imposing frame
Captain Collins personally selected Jack to join the crew of the light cruiser. Jack joined the Sydney and on his maiden voyage lost his life in the battle with German raider MV Kormoran. As an aside, in the meantime Collins had been replaced by Captain Burnett. Such are the vagaries and fates of war. Collins was not on board at the sinking but Burnett was.
Jack De Gracie played football with and against Ron Badock in Norseman. He was a ruckman and Ron a rover. Ron won the Association Best and Fairest Player Award in 1939 and Jack was the runner-up. As Ron would say, “a win for the short arse over the big bloke”.
Ronald Collett Badock died on 1 December 2016 two months before his 98th birthday. Another win he would probably say, given he and his returning mates of the 2/4th were told by Army Medical Officers they would not live to see the age of 60 given their privations as Prisoners of War.
Ron Badock, just one of approx 1000 men in the 2/4th, was an ordinary soldier who survived extraordinary times. Through fortitude and luck he was able to return to tell his story and lead a long and fruitful life. All other members of the 2/4th had their own story, for some, however brief. Through mateship and adversity their bond was unbreakable until the last.

 

 

To the men of the 2/4th, and others, your names liveth on.

At the going down of the sun,

and in the morning,

we will remember them.

Lest we forget.

 

Below:  Phil Badock standing with Dick Ridgwell on his left and his father Ron on his right.

 

 

 

 

 

2/4th Cake Recipe

2/4th Cake Recipe

Today 15 April 2024, Tom Baynes, the great nephew of Tom Davidson WX7909 who died 1943 of illness at Kuii POW Camp, Thailand contacted us.
Did we know of the recipe for the 2/4th Cake?
Or had we known about it?
Was this recipe shared with the 2/4th mothers/wives & family social group who met regularly throughout the war?
Kim Baynes recalls his grandmother/ Tom’s mother Jennie and his mother Mary cooking this light fruit cake in a baking pan – large enough to provide a family with three children for a week.
This light fruit cake was spicy with cinnamon and had brown sugar sprinkled on top.
Can anybody recall the cake or the recipe?
It sounds like the cake cooked in numerous boarding houses and schools.
Below:  Tom Davidson WX7909 died of illness  Kuii POW Camp, Thailand aged 33 years.  Tom was one of the many Collie boys who joined the 2/4th.

Please read about ‘D’ Force V Battalion

 

Below:  Notice of meetings for 2/4th MGB Social circle.

 

 

Below:  Bassendean group of 2/4th Social Circle

 

2024 PREMIER’S ANZAC STUDENT TOUR – JIM RIDGWELL

Jim Ridgwell, younger son of Dick & Alma Ridgwell is the Treasurer and Committee Member of 2/4th MGB ex-Members Assoc.  During the past years Jim has given time to the Premier’s School Student Anzac Tour Group.

 

 

‘The 2024 Premier’s Anzac Student Tour will travel to Singapore in April to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of the fall of Singapore. 

 

The successful student ambassadors for the 2024 Premier’s Anzac Student Tour are:
  • Caitlyn Willis, Guildford Grammar School
  • Avery Flint, Applecross Senior High School
  • Milla Lobik, Applecross Senior High School
  • Mazlyn Membry, Manjimup Senior High School
  • Tahlia Watson, Geraldton Senior High School
  • Aja Kondo-Morcom, Mount Lawley Senior High School
  • Keona Latiff, Canning Vale College
  • Freya Hicks, Christmas Island District High School
  • Tim Kania, Aquinas College
  • William Temby, Margaret River Senior High School
The Premier’s Anzac Student Tour is an annual competition open to all Western Australian students in Years 8 to 11.’

 

The following is Jim’s address to the Student Body for 2024:
My father was Dick Ridgwell, WX14197

He was born in 1918
To put that in perspective;
Aeroplane flight had only recently become a reality
WWI ended in 1918
The world’s first three-color traffic lights are introduced in New York City.
Nelson Mandella was born in 1918.
Dad joined the army on 11th June 1941 and became a member of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
This unit was to comprise of 965 men who bar a couple were all from Western Australia. There were only 450 000 people in WA at the time, the 2/4th were a considerable proportion from this population. There is a very strong possibility that some of you had relatives in the unit.
The 2/4th landed at Singapore on Dad’s 24th birthday and they were all thrust into war and a future they never could foresee.
I was exposed to National Conscription into the Australian Army when I turned 20 in 1970. There are many accounts of 16-17-year old’s enlisting in WW1 and WW11. The youngest record I could find was a boy of 12 years old who fought in WW1 at the Somme in France. (take a moment to think how that would affect you, and your family if you were in their place.)
 Australia and Britain capitulated about a week after Dad landed in Singapore and they were all taken Prisoners of War for the next 3 ½ years.
Today, I want to talk to you about some qualities which helped these men survive and in fact are uniquely Australian.
Those qualities are;
Resilience
Mate ship
Determination
Passive resistance
And I will give you examples by way of short stories and anecdotes of men displaying these qualities under extreme hardship and violence.
One might think all nations have these qualities, but there is much evidence where these qualities have been lacking in adverse situations and men have suffered as a result. Australians display these qualities regularly and naturally.
Some of the vernacular used in these stories is from the men themselves and may not be appropriate by today standards. So, I apologize for that in advance.
The first of these qualities would come under the heading of RESILIENCE, DETERMINATION and perhaps MATESHIP
DICK RIDGWELL’S ENCOUNTER WITH THE SIKH
Soon after the 2/4th were taken prisoner in Singapore the Japs didn’t know what to do with us so we were accommodated in private houses taken from their owners. Where a house would have accommodated a family of perhaps 4, there were about 50 of us in each of these houses. The houses were almost bare of furnishings and possessions, having been looted before we got there. The few items, such as fans etc., left we sold to locals to buy food. There were 4 houses, and about 100 yards from the houses was the jungle.
During the days we were split into working parties. My lot were forced to build a shrine for the Japs to their Emperor. At night we were pretty much left to our own devices.
One day 3 of us, I, Roy Nybo and Shorty Jefferies crept out and found a coconut plantation, which prior to the outbreak of war, was owned by a Chinese family. They were allowed to stay and work the plantation for the Japanese army. We planned to steal coconuts and take them back to our accommodation. Roy went up the coconut palm and threw down coconuts while Shorty and I collected them.
The Japs had assigned Sikh prisoners the responsibility of guarding various installations and armed them with golf clubs.
One of the Sikhs spotted us in the plantation and came over to stop us. We refused and an argument ensued. Eventually he attacked us with his golf stick. He struck Nybo over the head leaving the golf stick the shape of Nybo’s head and shoulders. The Sikh and I fought and during this he grabbed my dog tags and tore them off me. To try and get them back I made a grab for them but grabbed his comb and string he wore in his hair. Thinking I had been successful I headed for home. The other 2 had already headed off with the coconuts.
When I got back and realised what I had in my hand. I was worried sick the Sikh would turn my dog tags into the Japs. This could have resulted in a beating at the least or death at worst.
I went to Capt Smith-­Ryan and told him of the events. I asked him if he could vouch that I was in the camp at that time but he said “Serves you right. You have been looking for trouble” and refused to help. Lt Don Lee followed me out and said he would cover for me.
I hadn’t had a shave or haircut since being taken prisoner weeks ago so I was looking pretty scruffy. I went to Len Armstrong, our barber, and got him to give me a half shave and haircut to hopefully change my appearance.
Surprisingly there were no repercussions from our little venture that day.
Months later I got a message that the Chinaman from the coconut plantation wanted to see me. I crept out and made my way to his house undetected. As it turned out, the Sikh had turned my dog tags into him and he just wanted to return them to me. I still have them to this day.
A lucky escape indeed!
THE next story demonstrates PASSIVE RESISTANCE.
A large contingent of 2/4th POWs were sent to construct a shrine for the Emperor of Japan. As this was being constructed, out of wood, Dad and others used to catch ants before they headed out in the morning and release them within the wooden structure in the hope the ants would destroy the shrine in time. Now we all know how futile that would have been but it’s a good example of “passive resistance”
The 3rd and last story I want to share with you is a good example of MATESHIP.
Some years ago, my wife and I, accompanied by my father, did a tour of the “Burma Railway.” There was approximately 40 people on that tour, and we were fortunate to have 5 ex POW’s accompany us. One of them of course was Dad. Each of these men told us stories and some funny anecdotes from that time.
One story I vividly remember was told on the side of the road at an old POW camp site. Bill Haskell, was an amazing orator, He told us the story of the old camp we were sitting in. He explained where the men slept, where the sick were attended to, location of the latrines and where the cholera camp was. Most camps had an isolated area for these men so cholera didn’t infect others.
Bill explained how all but the critically ill were sent out on work parties. Only the sickest remained, and it was from those sick men one was assigned as camp cook for the day.
He described how the work party, at the time, was working over 2 mountains away and walked there and back over an 12-15-hour days. Many of these “Fit” men had dysentery, malaria, tropical ulcers, and suffered from severe malnutrition.
The camp cook was aware these men had no water for the day and if they didn’t have access to water they would perish. So, this man, and remember he was one of the sickest in camp, carried 2 large glass demijohns of water over the 2 mountains twice, and sometimes 3 times a day just so his mates didn’t perish of dehydration.
So, let’s review those qualities I mentioned earlier.
Resilience
Mate ship
Determination
Passive resistance
Can I suggest all of you have demonstrated these qualities by struggling and studying to become part of this group of young Australians representing our country. This experience will stay with you all your lives now.
You are a credit to your schools and a credit to Australia.
Congratulations to you all!
Now, as I understand it one of the aims of this tour “is to ensure the ongoing legacy and recognition of Anzac Day as an important National Day of Commemoration”
In my view, the greatest legacy which has been left to us is the freedom and democracy our soldiers, men, and women, from all the conflicts we have been involved in, have left us. There is turmoil in other countries around the world we are involved in even now, but our Australia remains stoic. We must remember, freedom and democracy are not free and we must never take them for granted. That is what I consider Anzac day is about.
We will remember them!
Finally, Dad’s advice to longevity was to live healthily, don’t hold a grudge and love your family.
He passed away 7 weeks before his 100th birthday.
References:
https://2nd4thmgb.com.au/
https://www.historyextra.com/period/first-world-war/britains-youngest-ww1-soldier-was-a-boy-aged-12/
https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/conscription

WX16236 Albert Victor King survived WW2 – I950 he re-enlisted to fight in Korea

Former 2/4th soldier enlists with ‘K’ Force to fight in Korea 1950 – 1953.

Over 17,000 Australians served during the Korean War, of which 340 were killed, over 1,216 wounded and 30 captured as POWs of North Korea – 24 men from the army and six from RAAF. Of the thirty Australians, only one, Private H. W. Madden, died in captivity of starvation.
Madden was posthumously awarded the George Cross. The citation reads:
Testimonials have been provided by officers and men from many units of the Commonwealth and allied forces which showed that the heroism he displayed was outstanding. Despite repeated beatings and many other forms of ill-treatment inflicted because of his defiance to his captors, Private Madden remained cheerful and optimistic. Although deprived of food because of his behaviour, resulting in malnutrition, he was known to share his meagre supplies purchased from Koreans with other prisoners who were sick. This did not deter him and for six months, although becoming progressively weaker, he remained undaunted in his resistance. He would in no way co-operate with the enemy. This gallant soldier’s outstanding heroism was an inspiration to all his fellow prisoners.
The three year war was the first open conflict of the Cold War.  Australia was one of 21 countries to support South Korea against the invading communist North Korea.
Almost 18,000 Australian servicemen fought however their return home was to an Australian public indifferent to a distant war, especially one which ended in a difficult stalemate.
After the WW2 former Fairbridge Farm schoolboy Albert King resided in Norseman and was employed as a miner.    He re-enlisted on 9th August 1950, landing in Pusan, South Korea on 28th September 1950.  The battalion was part of the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. Troops from 3RAR were rotated and replaced on an individual basis, and 3RAR remained in Korea for the duration of the conflict.
King served with the Special Forces Unit 3 RAR and was killed in action after only 42 days in Korea on 8th November 1950.  His Regt. No. was 5/400008.  We believe King’s remains were recovered from North Korea in operation Glory and reinterred in the UN Memorial Cemetery in 1955.
‘In June 1950, North Korea, supplied and advised by the Soviet Union, invaded the South. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal participant, joined the war on the side of the South Koreans, and the People’s Republic of China came to North Korea’s aid. After more than a million combat casualties had been suffered on both sides, the fighting ended in July 1953 with Korea still divided into two hostile states. Negotiations in 1954 produced no further agreement, and the front line has been accepted ever since as the de facto boundary between North and South Korea.’
Relations remain ‘Cold’ between North and South Korea with both sides guarding their boundaries separated by the Demilitarised Zone and 38th Parrallel.    North Korea has one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and its people have suffered enforced poverty and many died during famines. They live their lives isolated from the world.
The Korean war is often referred to as ‘the forgotten war’.
During WW2 Korea and Koreans suffered under the rule of a  brutal Japan who annexed Korea in 1910.  Relations between the two countries continues to be strained.
Most members of the Korean royal families  (primarily the Korean princes and princesses) were brought to Japan to marry into the families of Japanese aristocracy. The idea was to blend them into Japanese society and thereby removing the symbol.  Another example of this plan by Japan burning down and dismantling the Gyeongbokgung (the primary royal palace in Seoul which is still being restored today) and replacing it with a new administrative building for the Japanese governor. Several royal members died in Japan before the end of WWII, and those who did survive were actually denied reentry to their homeland by the South Korean government. Sygnman Rhee, the president of South Korea from 1948-1960 – many thought him a dictator of South Korea, was concerned about the possible challenge to his authority the return of the royal family may present to him. Throughout his regime, the royal family fell into obscurity until the 1960’s, when Park Chung-hee allowed them to return.
Today,  the young people of Korea probably dislike China more than Japan.

Please read further details of the war.

 

 

 

Death of Mrs Joan HAMPTON, WIDOW OF TOM HAMPTON 25 Jan 2024

 

January 2024

 

HAMPTON, Joan. 
We are saddened to learn lovely Joan Hampton has passed away aged 101 years.  Joan is widow of Tom HAMPTON WX9405 of ‘C’ Coy who was recovered from Thailand at end of war having working on Burma end of Railway with Green Force.  Joan had been widowed since 22 January, 2001.
We offer our sincere condolences to Joan’s family.

 

 

 

Above:  Tom Hampton, Bill Carlyon, Joe Beattie, Pop Heppingstone.

WX23079 Bravery & Tragic death of Ron ELLIS, Wagin – 2/4th MGB

THE TRAGIC DEATH OF RON ELLIS 1942, SINGAPORE – BRAVE YOUNG BOY FROM WAGIN

 

Singapore 11 Feb 1942 at 2/13th Australian General Hospital then located at St Patricks School a young Western Australian soldier who had fought so hard to survive, took his last breaths.    In order to save his life medical staff amputated his badly wounded arm 2 inches below his shoulder.  The patient also had a shrapnel wound to his chest and had been in a badly shocked state when brought in.

 

WAGIN boy Ron ELLIS was 21 years old. 

 

WX13079 Ron Ellis enlisted AIF 17 May 1941. At Northam Army Camp in late Dec 1941.   Ron Ellis was one of 246 soldiers selected to reinforce  2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.  Several men had only just enlisted and a larger number had only the barest training.  They were given leave and ordered back to Camp after New year.  On the morning of 15 February 1942 the men marched through Northam and boarded a train to Fremantle.  The carriages were filled with  excitement and bravado.  They had no knowledge of their destination nor what lay ahead. Their train slowed down when passing through small towns allowing locals to farewell them.
As the train neared Fremantle the boys could see a massive ship.  The ‘Aquitania’ with about 4,000 troops was anchored at Gage Roads off Fremantle.  The reinforcements  were taken out to ‘Aquitania’.  Climbing aboard they encountered hundreds of soldiers attempting to leave the ship without permission and desperate to see their families.  Some were exiting port holes, others over the side.There was madness.
The following day ‘Aquitania’ prepared to sail for Singapore just after midday on 16th Feb 1942.  Left behind were about 90 well trained machine gunners.
On the day before landing at Singapore, half of 146 soldiers  were designated to form ‘E’ Company,  SRB and the remainder would reinforce 2/4th’s platoons, in particular to fill the places of the men left behind in Fremantle unable to free themselves from Fremantle goal.  A large number were locked up in Fremantle gaol by over- zealous MPs and local Police who failed to enquire when their transport ship was departing.
Ellis was one of three reinforcements to join the newly formed 16 Platoon. At Singapore 24 troops transferred from D Coy’s four Platoons and with three Reinforcements formed 16 Platoon under C.O Sgt Arbery, Platoon Sergeant Colevas & L/Cpl Stribley.  
22nd Brigade (3 Battalions) had the eight mile NW coast Sector and was supported by 2/4th’s ‘D’ Company 13, 14, 15, and 16 Platoons.
‘D’ Company 14 & 16 Platoons were supporting 2nd Brigade’s 2/19th Battalion whose CO Lt/ Col Oakes had replaced  Lt-Col Anderson VC who was ill.  Their location was from the Murai to Berih (Sungei) River and Choa Chu Kang Road.  The mouth and estuaries provided an excellent opportunity for deep penetration by Japanese landing craft giving access to Tengah Airfield and ability to attack the rear of 22nd Brigade.  The area is best described as a tidal basin a kilometre wide from north to south and twice that in length.
16 Platoon was located on the exposed north headland of Tanjong Skopec with two guns sited on the water’s edge and a third 350 metres east covering a huge area without any supporting infantry.
During the early fighting Stribley was KIA. CO Arbery & Colevas WIA & evacuated.
 Ordered to fall back to Bn HQ 16 Ptn found ‘D’ Coy HQ deserted and ran into strong Japanese concentrations.  Under attack they were forced to scatter into small groups.  Destroying their guns they tried to make their way back to Australian lines.
By Surrender on 15 Feb 16 Platoon had 8 men standing.  Nine were KIA, two escaped to Sumatra, at least 6 wounded and at least 2-4 missing in action.

16 Platoon was made up of 27 men

By Surrender on 15 Feb 1942

9 men KIA
3 Men WIA evacuated 8/9th Feb 
3 men shell-shocked
(Harrison did runner & boarded ship to Fremantle,  Wilson MIA 8/2 returned to Unit 15 Feb, Richard Annear escaped Sumatra, Wood escaped to Java )
8 Men Standing

 

The following insert was printd in the Wagin Argus and Arthur, Dumbleyung, Lake Grace Express (WA : 1924 – 1954) Thu 16 Apr 1942 Page 1 
Late  Pte. RON ELLIS, No. 16 Platoon
Heroism at Singapore 
An interesting letter has been received by Mrs. G. Ellis, of Wagin containing news of her late son, Pte. Ron Ellis, who was recently reported as having died of wounds at Singapore.
The Letter comes from a very reliable source, and having seen the original for ourselves, we can vouch for its authenticity. However, as permission has not been given by the writer to publish her name, we will not disclose the source of the information. The letter is sufficient to show that Ronny Ellis, during his tragically short period of actual service, proved himself to be a real Australian soldier, with everything that it takes to be a hero!
Efforts are now being made by local Authorities to see that the action of the late Pte. Ellis, in rescuing an officer under heavy enemy fire is reported to and recognised by the Military Authorities.
The letter received by Mrs. Ellis reads as follows: –
‘Dear Mrs. Ellis,
You will no doubt be very surprised to receive this letter from a stranger, but as my brother fell in the same battle as your son Ronald, and I have been able to gain some details – particularly in relation to your boy – I am taking the liberty of writing this to you in the confidence that it will bring you pride and some consolation. I feel sure that you will want to know all that can be found out, as much as I have wished to learn about my brother’s death, but without success.
The news I have for you was given me by a Corporal of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, who escaped from Singapore near the end of the battle, and has been back in Perth some three weeks. I, of course was anxious to learn if he knew anything of my brother, but, unfortunately, as they had been in different Companies, they were unknown to one another. However your son Ronald was known to the Corporal, and I am glad to be able to tell you that your son’s courage and devotion to duty were all that anyone could hope.
In the Cpl.’s own words, “Ronnie saved my life”.
As related to me, it appears that about a dozen men were endeavouring to carry out a retirement, when they found that they were caught on three sides by Japanese troops and were consequently forced to swim a river to escape. Discarding all equipment, they entered the water and endeavoured to reach the opposite bank. All succeeded in doing so except the Corporal, who is a bad swimmer and he got into great difficulties in midstream. Thereupon, your son returned to him and assisted him to the far bank, all the time under dangerous fire from the enemy. It was a great example of absolute unselfishness and fearlessness and, I am sure will be a source of great pride to you.
The above occurred on Monday, February 9th and the Corporal was with your son until Wednesday the 11th, when they lost touch with one another. I understand that it was on the next day that your son was reported to have died. Please accept my sincere sympathy in your sad loss, and I know that you will understand that I can enter fully into your feeling of sorrow and loss, as my brother fell on the next day and I did truly love my brother ________
Yours sincerely, _______________

Please read about Rowland

 

Below:  Aquitania.

Please read about ‘Stirling Castle’ Ceylon to Melbourne 1942.
And Please read about HMT ‘Egra’

There was another 2/4th who also escaped using same route and date as Rowland.

WX8448 Private George TAYLOR 12 Platoon. He was listed as Missing in Action, believed to have been killed at Sungei Jurong – 2/4th ‘C’ Coy was supporting 44th Indian Brigade, located at southern most defensive line. Scottish born Taylor had been working as a clerk at Bunbury Courthouse when he enlisted 18 Oct 1940.

It was later discovered Taylor escaped to Sumatra, had been picked up by HMAS Hobart at Padang on the west cost of Sumatra and taken to Ceylon.  On arrival  9 March 1942 he was admitted the  to 2/12th AGH. Four days later on 13 March 1942 Taylor boarded the ‘Stirling Castle’ and disembarked Melbourne on 6th April 1942.  From Melbourne to Fremantle he sailed on ‘Egra’ disembarking on 13 April.
The following is an extract from My War Diary, HMAS Hobart, 27th of February 1942 – 20 March 1942 written by Thomas P Fisher and explains the lucky extraction of George from Sumatra
“The reason that we were not with Perth and Houston was and I quote from my diary;
Tanjong Priok Harbour, Java onboard HMAS Hobart
‘On 25 February 1942 we secured alongside the oil tanker War Sirdar to fuel HMAS Yarra was just casting off from the other side of the tanker.
At 10:25 we were attacked by 11 Jap bombers. Bombs dropped all around us making the Hobart jump around and bounce.
We were attacked twice and 44 bombs landed all around us. One bomb went through the stern of the tanker and exploded underneath it.
The Hobart was heeled over by the force of the bombs bursting down our starboard side. At 1100 we cast off in a hurry and put it to sea at high-speed. We could not complete fuelling due to the air raids and damage to the tanker.
As we did not have enough fuel, the Perth left without us and went down to the battle of the Java Sea. Our time in this war zone was running out and I was not aware of it then.  At midnight on 27 February we put to sea from Tanjong Priok, Java. A huge fleet of Japanese ships were reported due to land at Java in the morning. In company with the HMS Dragon and HMS Danae, we put to sea to try and meet the enemy and destroy as many as possible. We made a sweep towards the north but did not make contact.
Orders were received from Commodore Collins that if we did not meet the enemy we were to leave the area by way of Sunda Straits which we did at dawn on 28 March and proceeded to Padang on the west coast of Sumatra.
Once again we were lucky because the Perth and USS Huston, an American cruiser, attempted to go through Sunda Straits 18 hours later and were both sunk. Their crews that survived were taken prisoners by the Japanese. They had run into the enemy fleet that we had been sent to try and intercept. The Exeter was sunk the day before. Of our cruiser force of seven ships only the Trump and ourselves survived. The Dragon and Danae were not attached. The Java and the De Ruyter were sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea.
At 7:30 pm on 1 March we arrived at Padang, and our ship evacuated 550 men, women and children. The men were mostly soldiers who had escaped from Singapore. At 9 pm, we put to sea with one destroyer doing 28 knots. On 3 March we took 106 evacuees from the ‘Dragon.’ The transfer was carried out at sea. Among them were Indian troops. Also on board was a soldier from the 2nd 4th Machine Gun Battalion, George Taylor from Fremantle.
Next day we fuelled the destroyers at sea and the following day, the 5th, arrived at Colombo where we disembarked the troops and evacuees.”
‘Hobart was fuelling at Tandjong Priok on 25 February 1942 when 27 bombers attacked her and the tanker from which she was fuelling. It was estimated that 60 bombs fell near and around her. She suffered some damage from bomb splinters and some casualties and it was her inability to complete fuelling on this occasion that prevented her from taking part in the disastrous Battle of the Java Sea on 27 February 1942.’

Please read further about HMAS Hobart 

FYI
Each Machine Gun Platoon consisted of two sections each with two Vickers machine guns giving the Battalion a total of 48 Vickers machine Guns.
No. 1 and 2 on the gun were to be issued with revolvers, but in the case of 2/4th, this never happened.
Supposedly each Platoon was to be equipped with a Boyes Anti-Tank rifle – but these were never issued to 2/4th. For each platoon six 15 cwt trucks were provided, giving each Company a total of 21 vehicles.
The battalion was organised by attaching certain personnel from Battalion HQ and HQ Companies to the Machine Gun Companies – enabling each Machine Gun Coy to be self-contained administratively.
Battalion transport included 122 vehicles as well as motorcycles – the reason for the inclusion of a high number of driver trade groupings in the Battalion. The handling and maintenance of all these vehicles was paramount to the efficiency of the Battalion. Therefore the Transport Sergeant, Corporals and Light Aid Detachment (L.A.D.) who serviced these vehicles had a big responsibility to ensure serviceability of the Battalion’s transport.

WX16883 Norm PLATTS KIA 12 FEB 1942 SW BUKIT TIMAH

WX16683 NORMAN WILL PLATTS  1910-1942

 

Bunbury boy Norm Platts enlisted AIF 6 October 1941 sent to Northam Army Camp where in December 1941, he was one of 146 men were selected as reinforcements for 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion,  then in Darwin, soon to be sailing to Sydney and onwards to Fremantle.
The 146 men were sent on leave, returned to Northam where they prepared to be entrained to Fremantle on 15th Jan 1942 to board ‘Aquitania’ anchored at Gage Roads off Fremantle. ‘Aquitania’ was a huge ship and was carrying 4,000 reinforcement soldiers for 8th Division in Singapore.
‘Aquitania’ set sail for Singapore the next day 16 Jan 1942, leaving behind about 90 well-trained machine gunners, most of whom had been gaoled by over zealous MPs.    It is believed more than 200 men jumped ship, but most managed to reboard by the morning of 16th Feb, however MPs at the wharf were on the mission!
Please read the story of this debacle
Half of 2/4th 146 reinforcements on ‘Aquitania’ formed ‘E’ Company  and the other half reinforced the 2/4th’s other platoons, filling the shoes of those left behind who would soon land at Java as Singapore was deemed to fall.
Arriving in Singapore Norm was promoted 7 Feb 1942 to Sergeant  in E Coy SRB No, 2 Platoon under Commanding Officer WX9382 Lt Jimmy Till.  This Lt. was well liked by the men.

 

The overall Commanding Officer of SRB was WX3454 Major Bert Saggers formerly CO of ‘A’ Company HQ (his role taken over by his 2 I/C Capt Thomas) who was only informed of this new position on evening of 6 Feb 1942.

Please read Major Saggers account 

The total number of men in ‘E’ Coy was 96.  The Combined SRB numbered about 200.
The Special Reserve Battalion was comprised of two companies ‘A’ and ‘B’ made up of Australian Army Service Corps personnel and ‘E’ Company.
AASC personnel had already been organised into two infantry companies.  ‘A’ Coy commanded by Capt. Hiddleston and ‘B’ Coy by Capt Millner.  Both were AASC officers. The men were also minimally trained and arrived on Aquitania with our reinforcements.
The Japanese first invasion of Singapore occurred on the north west coast of Singapore on night of 8 Feb 1942.  Thousands of Japanese troops crossed the Straits amidst heavy artillery and arial bombardments.
The SRB had been sent to support the troops at Tengah Airfield.  Tengah fell quickly to the Japanese and on the night of 11 Feb 1942 the SRB with one Indian Platoon and one British Platoon, they realised in the darkness not only had they been left behind when the bulk of the Battalions had pulled out, but were now being encircled by Japanese troops.
The next morning, SRB had no option but to fight their way out with a bayonet charge and hand to hand combat with some loss of lives, but managed to kill a larger number of Japanese and the remainder ran with fright making way for SRB to withdraw  and  regroup with the Indian and British platoons.  The three groups walked about a mile through scrubland reaching a clearing described as being saucer shaped.   As they advanced towards some native huts at the other end the Japanese ambushed them with machine guns killing and injuring many, there was chaos. Particularly the frightened Indians ran amok, crossing over into the Australians and British.  Eventually authority organised some order and the taking of the native huts and overcoming Japanese in surrounding area.
The survivors moved a short distance out of danger.  It was here a head count revealed the SRB only had 88 men of the 200 who had started out.
Many wounded had been left behind and many soldiers had scattered to find themselves behind Japanese lines.
Tragically amongst the many dead were Lt Jimmy Till and Sgt Norm Platts.  Platts had been seen attempting to pull  wounded Till back to safety and it is believed Norm Platts was then KIA.
Jimmy Till rushed at a Japanese light automatic section, who at close range had just killed Lt Harry Green, CO of SRB 1 Platoon.  Lt. Till was wounded in his shoulder and pulled back by Sgt. Norm Platts to a position where Till’s wounds could be treated.’
Lt Jimmy Till was 27 years old. Sgt Norm Platts was married with two children was 31 years old when KIA.  
Prior to enlistment Norm was a super active community man, in his earlier years he was involved in scouts.  Later he was part of Bunbury Rowing Club.  But it was Jimmy’s beautiful singing voice that Bunbury remembered.  He was referred to as Bunbury’s Paul Robeson. With his wife, Platts was often heard at local entertainment and concerts.

79 Years Ago, Dec 1944 Sandakan, North Borneo

December 79 years ago at Sandakan POW Camps, North Borneo two young Western Australian POWs extremely ill with tropical illnesses were fighting to stay alive.   Australian medical staff working desperately to keep them living. 

There was no Christmas shopping 1944 North Borneo WW2

Kalgoorlie born WX5222 Les O’Neil  (above) was one of 71 POWs from 2/4th sent from Singapore to work at Sandakan Airfields in North Borneo.  Les was with ‘E’ Force Borneo which departed Singapore on 2 March 1943.
In 1936 Les moved back to Goldfields from Perth to work at Kurnalpi mining near Kalgoorlie.  It was from here Les enlisted July 1940 to join AIF, later becoming part of ‘B’ Coy 9 Platoon as a Driver.
In December 1944 the Sandakan airfields were being regularly bombed by allied planes from the east coast.  The Japanese in turn ordered POW work parties to make hasty repairs, until finally by end of December 1944, the airfields were too badly bombed, no longer able to be repaired.
On 12 December 1944 Les O’Neil became ill at Sandakan No 1 Camp was assessed by an Australian MO saying he could not work.  But Japanese guards would make the final judgement as to whether O’Neil should work and if he was sufficiently ill!
Goldfields’ boys Les O’Neil and Tom Smith (below) were sent to very primitive POW hospitals, separate from their barracks.
With few medical supplies O’Neil and Smith with their compromised immune systems due to several years of very little food, poor diet and excessively hard work faced survival odds.   O’Neil was unable to fight acute gastroenteritis and died four days later on 16 Dec 1944 aged 36 years.  Tom Smith died 18 December aged 32 years.  Neither were married however came from close knit families.
We know Les and Tom were nursed by dedicated orderlies and doctors who would have fought desperately to save their mates.
These young Western Australians in the prime of their lives, who dreamt of being free, returning home to their families and perhaps marrying, having children of his own never saw Australia again.

Norseman born WX8731 Thomas (Tom) Ernest SMITH (above) who arrived at Sandakan with ‘B’ Force Borneo in 1942 nearly 12 months earlier than ‘E’ Force, became seriously ill and sent to hospital where he died 18 Dec 1944 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis and beri beri aged 32 years.  Tom born 1912 Norseman is younger brother to Robert (Bob) Leighton Smith WX8736 (below) born 1908.  The brothers enlisted 23 October 1940 and joined 2/4th’s ‘B’ Company, No. 8 Platoon.

Bob Smith was KIA  Singapore 11 February 1942 when fighting with 8th Platoon under the command of Lt. MacKinnon.  Bob was one of four men from 8 Platoon to tragically die that day, the others were – Sgt Richard Sandilands who was second-in-charge, Don Day and Raymond Carruthers.

Below:  Sandilands, Don Day and Carruthers.

Tom’s mother Sarah Smith lost three sons to WW2https://2nd4thmgb.com.au/story/sarah-jane-smith-mother-loses-three-sons-ww2/
Not a single 2/4th soldier survived Sandakan.
Approximately 2,400 Allied servicemen including 1,787 Australian POWs mostly perished between Jan-Aug 1945 at Sandakan and ‘marching’ to Ranau.

Just 6 Australian men survived the horrors of Sandakan in WW2.

Please read story of Sandakan and its brave POWs.
https://2nd4thmgb.com.au/story/b-e-forces-borneo-sandakan/

 

 

Glad Cowie celebrated her 100th birthday 5 Nov 2023

Mrs Glad Cowie, formerly Gladys Skipper who married Harold Cowie WX8641 in 1947 celebrated her 100th Birthday on 5 November 2023 (Guy Fawkes Night)

Above:  Glad with daughters Gail and Faye.

Glad enjoyed afternoon tea with a gathering of extended family and friends at Kings Park.  Guest speakers included Ray Galliott, Secretary of Ex-POWs where Glad had held several responsible roles prior to closure of meetings..    Ray had organised for Glad to receive messages of congratulations from King Charles, Australia’s Prime Minister Mr. Albanese, WA’s Premier Roger Cook and Glad’s local MP Kate Chaney.   President Harry Tysoe spoke on behalf of 2/4th – the late Harold Cowie fought with 2/4th in Singapore and worked on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘F’ Force. Harold passed away in 1995 and Glad still to this day, resides in the original Cowie family home and is well able to take care of herself!

 

Outram Road’s prisoner WX12835 John MCGREGOR sent 1943 Changi Hospital

Major Charles Edward GREEN WX3435 replaced  Commanding Officer, Lt-Colonel WX3376 Michael Joseph ANKETELL who died of wounds 13 Feb 1942.
Major GREEN (below) made it very clear he would not approve of anybody escaping.

 

In mid March having discussed their plans with  WX3452 Capt Tom Bunning, Commanding Offficer ‘B’ Company and received his approval, the two men collected together extra supplies
 WX6067 Lt. Penrod Dean and WX12835 Lance Corporal John McGregor from 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion escaped Changi and headed north towards Malaya.  Initially they spent time with Chinese freedom fighters, but were recaptured within months and returned to Singapore.  At the Singapore Supreme Court, 18 May 1942,  the two men were sentenced by a Japanese court to two years incarceration at Outram Road Gaol beginning on 24 April 1942.  They were the first two Europeans to face a Japanese military court.

WX12835 John Alexander McGregor

 

Location:  Outram Road Gaol, Singapore July 1943

The following excerpt has been taken from McGregor’s book ‘Blood on the Rising Sun’.

 

Fifteen months later on 19 Jul 1943, a very ill John McGregor with three Australians and four British POWs were taken out of their solitary confinement cell, unshackled, and miraculously led into a waiting truck.  Penrod Dean had managed to brush past McGregor and whispered he was off to Changi Hospital. I say miraculously, because McGregor fully expected to be taken before a firing squad.    The Japanese guards only ever played mind games with the prisoners of course in conjunction with being mercilessly belted by guards at any time of the day or night.   Now at this moment the Japanese at Outram Road were transferring these POWs out to receive medical treatment – they didn’t want them ‘dying on their watch.’  The men would be closely monitored by the Japanese and returned to complete their sentences.
At Changi the 8 men were dumped on the hot bitumen at Barrack’s Square.  Soon after the POWs huddled bodies on the ground were recognised for what they were.  Sick POWs requiring urgent medical attention and carried into the hospital by a doctor.
Inside the hospital ward, McGregor cried like a baby at the kindness of the few officers – one offering a rolled cigarette, another offered three boiled lollies. But the well-wishers were soon hunted away when medical staff realised McGregor’s continual muttering about Outram Road, the other prisoners, the conditions, etc confirmed his mental health was precarious.  As McGregor wrote ‘he had lost his sense of reason’ believing the Japs were playing a trick on him.  The four Australian POWs lay naked, gaunt, filthy dirty with matted hair on their beds, their bodies covered in lice, sores and badly swollen limbs.  Remember Outram Road POWs were forbidden to communicate with anybody!  The POWs would need time before any further visitors were to be allowed!
A very humbled McGregor had nothing but high praise for  the hospital staff and support offered to the POWs at the hospital.
The men were fattened up and McGregor underwent several operations – for haemorrhoids and pterygiums on both eyes were removed in attempt to improve McGregor’s exceedingly low vision.  Of course the Kempei Tai doctors were weekly visitors to check the prisoners wellbeing.  POWs from Outram Road were not permitted to wander out of their confined area.
McGregor wrote the names of these dedicated doctors:  Major Nairn, Major Adrian Farmer of Perth, Major Clarke of Brisbane, Col Bye and Col Cotter-Harvey of Sydney, Lt. Col Glyn White of Melbourne and Major Claffy, Major Orr and Colonel Osborne. And surprisingly, Brigadier ‘Blackjack’ Gallegham, the Australian Camp Commander who was a tower of strength to the Outram Road boys. (I mentioned surprisingly because my research reveals most senior officers on the whole did not visit the sick.)
Outram Road POWs were forever indelibly damaged both physically and mentally.
They all returned to Outram Road to complete their initial sentence.
On his return, McGregor found there had been some sweeping changes –
  • the food was better,
  • sanitation had improved with closed toilets provided in cells,
  • no more solitary confinement! 
POWs who were considered sufficiently well enough were offered menial prison duties, 
Prisoners were also receiving a daily wash,
daily exercise in the gaol yard,
and corporal punishment as McGregor had previously received was abandoned.
Taking his time to settle back into this new environment McGregor found a place with the fit men in gardening activities in the grounds encircling the gaol.
We don’t know what brought about this change, perhaps change of Outram Road Commanding Officer.
In 1978 John McGregor had the opportunity to meet up with two fellow Australian POWs from Outram Road Gaol – Stanley Davis and Christian ‘Chris’ Henry Neilson of Sydney, he wrote they had not changed – they had with them their indomitable fighting spirit!

‘I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m no bloody hero, just one stubborn bugger, that’s all…’ said by Chris Neilson.

Signaller Chris Neilson arrived at Outram Road Gaol mid Oct 1942 and was allocated the adjoining cell to McGregor and soon set about trying to make contact with anybody to communicate with him via morse code.  McGregor had only a smattering of knowledge from his chlldhood days, but keen to communicate with his new neighbour, set about learning again. The two prisoners were able to tap away day and night whilst being extra vigilant not to be heard by the guards.

 

Above:  Barrack Square, Selarang with cook house. (with thanks to AWM)
Please read the story of five Australian POWs betrayed by their senior officer

War Crimes trial for Outram Road Gaol Japanese

The books written by John McGregor (Blood on the Rising Sun) and Dean (Singapore Samurai) have several significant variations.
McGregor lost his eyesight and had to learn braille.  He published his book in 1980 and had died prior to Penrod Dean writing his book in 1998.  McGregor was no longer alive and unable to refute some of Dean’s content.
It was Signaller Chris Neilson who clarified several points, such as Dean did not learn morse code.  Only McGregor did.
McGregor never mentioned sabotaging the Japanese, with stolen munitions when they were moving through Malaysia on foot.   Surely these actions would have drawn attention – from the Japanese and the locals who would report them.  The last thing the men wanted.

_________________

 

 

 

STAFF OF THE 13th AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL
Commanding Officer Col. D.C. Pigdon E.D.
Registrar Major A. R. Home
Lt. Colonels W. A. Bye C. H. Osborn
Majors B. A. Hunt T. P. Crankshaw R. G. Orr
B. W. Nairn J. O. Rosson B. L. Clarke
G. F. S. Davies NX76351
Captains J. L. Frew VX39181 E. B. Drevermann VX61260G F.Braby VX60066 QM
T. G. H. Hogg TX2185 C. R. R. Huxtable M.C. V. A. Conlon VX39982

 

Adrian Ward Farmer (14 March 1895 – 5 August 1964)
Was an Australian rules footballer who played with University in the Victorian Football League (VFL).
Born in Melbourne to Paul Ward Farmer and Helena Joyce, Farmer was educated at Trinity Grammar School. He later studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. While a first year student, Farmer player a solitary VFL game in the second last round of the 1914 VFL season, scoring two goals as an undermanned University team were defeated by Fitzroy. He also played district cricket for University from 1914 to 1919.
Farmer enlisted to serve in World War I in June 1918 but was never called up and was demobilised in December 1918.
After completing his medical studies Farmer moved to Western Australia and commenced practice in Perth, specialising in ear, nose and throat conditions. He married Jean Saltau on 4 April 1922.
Farmer later served in World War II as Commanding Officer of the 2/4th Casualty Clearing Station in Tampoi, Johor, Malaysia and was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese, spending over three years in prison before being released at the end of the war.
Farmer died in Perth on 5 August 1964

Major Bertram W. Nairn

University of Melbourne MB BS (Melb) 1926 FRCS 1934 FRACS 1940
Consultant Surgeon Bertram Nairn was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1901, the son of William Ralph Nairn, a High Court Judge, and Terisa (nee Bertram).
He attended Scotch College and then went to Melbourne to study medicine at Melbourne University. Bertram Nairn spent some time working and studying in England and obtained his FRCS in 1934. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1940.
During the Second World War he served in the Australian Army Medical Corps (13th AGH) as a surgeon with the rank of Major, spending much of his time in Malaya. He was captured by the Japanese and was a prisoner of war at Changi Camp. In recognition of his service he was awarded an MBE (Military). After the war he returned to Perth and established himself in private practice.
In 1946 he was appointed Honorary Surgeon to the Royal Perth Hospital and the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. He served these hospitals with distinction for twenty years, retiring in 1966. He was at one time Chairman of the State Committee of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and had the reputation of being a quiet but determined man.
In 1936 Bertram Nairn married Freda Weir and they had three sons, one of whom studied law.
He established a high quality vineyard at the Peel Estate and was a pioneer in this area. The vineyard is now run by one of his sons and produces high quality wines with an international reputation. An active sportsman he rowed for Scots College and played football, tennis and cricket as an undergraduate at Melbourne University. He was a long standing member of the Weld Club. On retirement in 1966, the Board of Management appointed Bertram Nairn Emeritus Consultant Surgeon in recognition of his service to the hospital.
Bertram Nairn died in 1986 aged 85 years.