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!
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)
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)
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.
In 1914 Tom Zeeb aged 11 years of Brown Hill created many smiles when Goldfields newspaper readers read the following story.
Tom had requested his 1/- with which he had intended to purchase crackers for Guy Fawkes night 5 November, be donated to the Belgium Fund. He had posted a letter to Mr C. Cutbush at the Belgian Fund Committee:
‘I should like to give my 1/- to the poor Belgian children instead of spending it on fireworks. Will you please send it on for me?’ Tom also enclosed 12 penny stamps.
A copy of Tom’s letter was published in several Goldfields newspapers.
‘1914 to 1919, the Commission for Relief in Belgium directed an innovative and successful international food relief program for more than 9 million Belgian and French civilians who lived in German-occupied territories and were highly dependent on the importation of foreign food aid for survival.’
The US generously raised money long before they entered the war.
Its leading figure was chairman, and future President of the United States, Herbert Hoover.
Zeeb was born in Brownhill, Kalgoorlie in Nov 1903 to parents ‘Charles’ Karl Felix Zeeb and ‘Elizabeth’ Eleanor Blanche Hunt who had married 1901 Boulder. Tom’s father was born about 1870 Hagelloch, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. He had lived in the Goldfields since late 1890s.
Zeeb snr was employed as a miner at Brownhill – a few kms out of Kalgoorlie.
Above: Karl Zeeb has gained notoriety over the years for hisstrong work for Labour and unionism. He was very active with Alluvial Miners in Kalgoorlie about 1899 – fighting to have the right to continue mining/prospecting. There was confrontation with Police who took up guard on areas they tried to mine. A number of miners, including Zeeb were arrested for various charges, mostly ‘larceny of ore’.
Several thousand miners referred to as a ‘Belligerent Force’ attempted rescue of those locked up and the Police were pressed to call for reinforcements. The ringleaders of therescuers, were sentenced to 12 months goal.
The angry miners gathered the next weekend for a mass protest where a a motion was passed demanding justice for the diggers and pledged to take immediate steps to shake off ‘the intolerable tyranny inflicted in the goldfields residents by the Perth Parliament.’
Those arrested were later found not guilty.
It is believed Karl Zeeb may have faced discrimination for his German birth. There were more than 100,000 germans living in Australia. Many were labelled ‘enemy aliens’ and jailed without trial or ability to appeal their detention.
Most inmates were ultimately deported in 1919 in a Government-backed form of ethnic cleansing.
It is highly probable Karl chose to enlist to avoid deportation!
In 1917 Karl Zeeb enlisted and joined Australian Tunnelling Corps as did so many men from Collie and Kalgoorlie and other miners around Australia. He joined 3rd Tunnelling Coy and in France he was gassed, returned to Australia and discharged August 1918.
In November 1940, Tom Zeeb enlisted with AIF and later joined ‘B’ Coy Headquarters as a Cook.
As a POW in Selarang, Zeeb joined ‘H’ Force Group 3 to work on the Burma-Thai Railway.
Tom survived the railway and returned to Singapore at the end of 1943 to Sime Road Camp. Being interviewed on his return to Perth at the end of 1945, Tom Zeeb talked of the dedication of Dr Fagan ‘who did everything in his power to help the men’.
POW CARDS RECEIVED SEPTEMBER 1943 BY WA FAMILIES
Sent by POWs JAMES WILLIAM ROBINSON,
JOSEPH LEWIS LONSDALE,
and BERT HEAL.
Bert Heal and Jim Robinson would lose their lives and not return to their families.
Lane and Lonsdale look very much like two school boys, well not long out of school! Dennis Lane died at Sandakan early 1945.
WX16717 Joseph Lewis ‘Lew’ LONSDALE was born Melbourne, Victoria 1923.
Lew enlisted 24 September 1941 aged 18 years. He joined 2/4th and was Taken on Strength to Woodside Camp, SA on 5 October 1941. He joined ‘B’ Company Headquarters under CO Cpt Bunning and captured Singapore 15 Feb 1942.
Lew was selected with ‘D’ Force V Battalion to work on the Burma-Thai Railway leaving 17 March 1943.
For some men the thought of being crushed by collapsing ceilings, suffocation and/or blast injuries were very real. Others simply feared working in a confined space. Apprehension was dealt with the usual Japanese method of persuasion and brutality. It is known some Dutch and Americans deliberately injured themselves (breaking an arm) to avoid mine work.
WX16727 ‘Lou’ Lonsdale who arrived with ‘Aramis’ Party 19 June 1944 describes the work underground in his Affidavit to War Trials. (AWM54 File 1010/4/92)
‘We were worked 8 or 9 hours a day on shift work in the mine and were actually away from camp about 12 hours because we had to march about two miles to the mine and back again. Work in the mine was divided into three sections.
Work in the extraction section consisted of blasting the coal wall and shovelling coal into trucks and elevators to the surface.
In the preparation section work consisted of building rock walls along the tunnels as coal was being taken out, to make it as safe as possible.
In the exploration section work consisted of tunnelling through from given points making new laterals and coal.
Japanese and Koreans were working in the mine at same time as POWs and Chinese labour battalions working in the adjoining mine, which connected with the mine we wereworking in. Reports came to us that the Americans had originally owned the mine and abandoned it as theyconsidered it unsafe to extract more coal. When we arrived at Omuta we found the mine had been re-opened. We were taking out pillars of coal that should have been left there for safety measures. In some parts of the mine laterals had sunk so low we were bent almost double while carrying tools such as jack hammers, shovels, picks etc. andheavy logs for timbering. There were quite a lot of falls of coal and rock. Ironically the Japanese suffered most in these falls’.
Lew Lonsdale was recovered from Omuta at the end of the war.
WX15941 James ‘Jim’ William ROBINSON
Born England, Jim aged 11 years migrated to WA with his family. His birth mother died soon he was born and his father remarried.
Prior to enlisting Robinson was working with Tindal’s Gold Mine, about 5 kilometres south south-east of Coolgardie. He was a miner and truck driver. Enlisted Aug 1941. As a reinforcement he joined 2/4th at Fremantle on ‘Aquitania’ – Headquarters Company under 2/4th’s Commanding Officer Lt. Col Mick Anketell who DOW during the fighting at Singapore.
Jim was selected to work on Burma-Thai railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion.This Battalion included more than 120 men from 2/4th, departed Singapore Railway Station mid May on a horrific 4-5 day train journey. Crowded into small carriages the men were freezing cold at night and the days absolutely roasting hot.
The first camp they worked at was Tarsau which would become the Japanese HQ for ‘D’ Force. Soon after it became the Hospital Camp for ‘D’ Force Thailand ‘S’ Btn – Tarsau work load did not prepare them for Konyu II and the Hellfire Pass region they were going to. And they were to soon realise Changi was a holiday camp in comparison to working on the Railway.
We believe Robinson was one of many POWs evacuated sick out of Konyu area and taken by barge to Chungkai Hospital Camp where he died of acute enteritis 28 July 1943 aged 28 years.
WX8597 Frank HINDS born Maylands 1911 enlisted AIF Oct 1940. He later joined ‘B’ Coy 9 Platoon.
Hinds was also fortunate to survive the horrors of ‘F’ Force and returned to Singapore around Christmas 1943. During 1945 Frank worked with the Levelling Party Changi Aerodrome, then X6 Party and P Party. Please read about these work parties.
Frank was a tennis player and belonged to Maylands Rowing Club prior to enlisting. He had worked at the Maylands Brickworks.
Frank was a fit young Australian man and survived to be recovered from Changi at the end of war.
He married after returning from war. Jack Alderton of 2/4th was also a Maylands boy. His suicide in 1952 was devastating for Ivy and Frank and many men.
WX9320 Herbert William HEAL (Bertie/Bert) had been working as a yardman in Toodyay prior to enlisting with AIF.
As did Frank Heal. The majority of POWs who made up ‘F’ Force had been former patients and/or older soldiers. It is probable Bertie had been hospitalised prior to this selection and many POWs had been ill, hospitalised or recently released to their Units.
On 3 September 1939 Australia’s Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War.
At Toodyay Jack Baker, Les Raynor, Bert Heal and Gordon Dorizzi are farewelled 1 Nov 1940, heading by train to Claremont to enlist in AIF.
These young men would have been full of energy and excitement. At this moment in their lives they are looking at a journey to the unknown! Who was to know what lay ahead? Certainly they all thought they would be fighting the Germans and their allies.
Only one man would return from war.
Above: Newcastle Hotel, Toodyay.
Below: Newcastle Hotel as originally built early 1900s.
At Toodyay Emily and Henry Rayner ran the Newcastle Hotel, for many years.
Emily was widely known as ‘Ma’ – she ran a very ‘well behaved’ hotel – a resilient and very experienced hotelier having previously ran the Marble Bar Hotel for some years she was well respected and the men of the town knew ‘never to play up’ in her pub! ‘Ma’ was a legend.
WX9357 Leslie Robert (Les) RAYNER was second of three sons of Emily and Henry Rayner. His brothers Harry enlisted with AIF and brother George enlisted with RAAF. He also had two step-sisters Flo and Doris.
Les was farming at Nabawah prior to enlisting. He had also announced his engagement to Doris Ash of Dindiloa, Chapman Valley, near Geraldton.
Henry was Hotel Manager at Marble Bar from at least 1912 through to 1922. Les would have spent his early years growing up here.
Les was wounded in action on the last day of war, 15.2.1942 at Buona Vista. Admitted to 2/13th Australian General Hospital with shrapnel wounds to both legs, he had one leg amputated. He died 27 February 1942 aged 24 years.
A number of ‘A’ Coy men were KIA at Buona Vista.
WX9320 Herbert William HEAL (Bertie/Bert) had been working as a yardman in Toodyay prior to enlisting with AIF.
The majority of POWs who made up ‘F’ Force had been former patients and/or older soldiers. It is probable Bertie had been hospitalised prior to this selection and many POWs had been ill, hospitalised or recently released to their Units.
Bert had interests in yachting and side-car racing at Claremont Oval.
WX9367 John ‘Jack’ Robert BAKER would later join 2/4th ‘s ‘A’ Coy 6 Platoon under CO Lt Johnny Morrison. The 2/4th were firstly sent to train in Woodville, South Australia and then Darwin, N.T.
Born in Perth, Jack married Toodyay girl Sylvia ‘Joyce’ Smith. He was employed as a Linesman with WAGR at Toodyay. Jack lived much of life around Toodyay. He was best mates with Tom Dorizzi. Tom’s wife Ellen and Jack’s wife Joyce were sisters and talented sporting women, in particular hockey.
John ‘Jack’ Baker missed boarding ‘Aquitania’ 16 Feb 1942 before she sailed for Singapore. Baker was one of about 90 men from 2/4th to be left behind.
Baker arrived in Java some weeks later, joined forces with other Australians. He was assigned to ‘Blackforce’. The Dutch capitulated to the Japanese without a fight! They were taken POWs of Japan about 8 March 1942.
It is estimated there were about 3,500 Australian POWs in Java. Most of these men were sent to work on the Burma-Thai Railway. In early Oct 1942, Jack was sent with ‘A’ Force Burma Java Party No. 4 under CO Lt. Col J.M. Williams to sail to Singapore first, then sail to northern Burma to Rangoon, up the Salaween River to Moulmein, then either train or truck to Burma end of the Railway – Thanybyuzyat. ‘Williams’ Force as it became known had the hard task of maintaining or repairing problems on the rail. Most of the POWs were engineers with 2/2nd Battalion. They were constantly on the move.
There were 43 men from 2/4th in Williams Force of which about 10 men died.
Jack was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war to return home to Toodyay.
Jack died 17 November 1962 in Perth aged 55 years.
WX9274 Gordon DORIZZI also known as ‘Punch’ is one of three Dorizzi brothers who enlisted AIF and joined 2/4th MGB. His parents Tom and Mary Ann Dorzzi had five sons tand resided in the old Gaol at Toodyay, with each son having his own cell as his bedroom.
Bert Dorizzi had enlisted a short time earlier and Tom enlisted May 1941. Tom and Gordon were with ‘A’ Coy and Bert with ‘D’ Coy. Both Bert and Tom received wounds during the fighting at Singapore.
Tom and Bert left Singapore with ‘B’ Force Borneo and Tom left short time later with ‘E’ Force Borneo. The three brothers were all working on the aerodromes at Sandakan. The camp was run by a ruthless Japanese officer and the POWs lived a tough time. But it wasn’t until 1945 that things really turned nasty at Sandakan. More than 2,000 POWs would die during the months of Jan-Aug 1945 – of which 71 men were from 2/4th. They died of starvation first complicated by tropical illnesses. Gordon was 28 years old when he died 11 Feb 1945 at Sandakan. Bert died aged 26 years also died on 11 Feb 1945 and Tom Dorizzi was 31 years old when he died 11 Mar 1945 at Ranau Camp, North Borneo.
WX8525 Heppingstone, Ian David known to all as ‘Pop’ spent the first 12 months on the railway line at Tarsau Hospital camp due to his ill health. Sent to the Burma Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion, Pop missed out of the horror of Hellfire Pass region and Kanyu II, Hintok Camps.
Below: Tarsau 1943-1944
Pop wrote of large numbers of sick and very sick POWs arriving from the ‘Line’ especially during speedo Mid1943 and the terrible days at Tarsau when as many as 20 POWs died in one day. Doctors performed amputations and Heppingstone thought Basil Clarke had his amputation at Tarsau – (in fact Clarke’s amputation took place at Khonkhan Hospital Camp in Burma Sept 1943). POWs constructed crutches – surprising the Japanese with their engenuity.
A British POW was suffering with mental health problems – POWs would hear the man screaming nightly, he was singled out and regularly tortured by the Japanese, until the Japanese took him outside and shot him. Officers had tried to intervene but the Japanese Officer said of the British POW
‘He was the sanest man in the Camp’.
Below: Tamuang – where Pop would have caught up with a large number of 2/4th ‘D’ Force S Battalion – well those who had survived without evacuation with illnesses – and where the Japanese selected ‘fit’ POWs to work in Japan. He was grateful not to be selected – POWs knew the stories of US submarines attacking transport ships on their journey to Japan.
They received improved food rations than previously (The Japanese had to fatten up POWs to sail to Japan) – the Japanese distributed US Food Parcels – most unusual.
Heppingston was sent to Chungkai and work party to Konkoita August 1944 near the border with Burma. At Konkoita they had to repair roads and the railway destroyed by monsoon rains. Konkoita during the businest days on the line gained the notoriety of being the ‘worst POW Camp’ (‘F’ Force).
Officers discovered a large cemetery and several empty huts which had previously been a brothel for the Japanese. The Korean women working in the brothel would have been taken from their families and homes – later known as ‘Comfort’ Women and today (2022) continue to wait for official Japanese acknowledgement, reparation and an official apology.
Below: Chungkai 1944
Below: End of War is evident – Kachu Mountain Camp. It was here Pop was able to years later, recall the weather was delightful – sunny during the day and cool at night with practically no rain. The surrounding rolling hills were covered with light forests, bamboo and wild bananas.
Above: Pop wrote of the well-known cricketer E.W. Jim Swanton who ‘assumed’ the leadership role of the Camp when Japan’s surrender was announced!
There were numerous stories praising Swanton,his cricket playing career and his cricket commentating and journalism life. He lived until he was 92 years old. However we did come across the following:
‘Born on February 11, 1907 at Forest Hill, London, Jim Swanton was a walking database of cricket knowledge. But he was not universally loved and the historian Rowland Bowen dubbed him as “Pomponius Ego”, while Ray Illingworth noted that Swanton was “too snobbish” to travel in the same car as his chauffeur.’
It is estimated Swanton who carried his Bible to war camps wrote about eight million words mostly relating to cricket over nine decades. Regardless of his demeanor, Lord Runcie noted at his funeral:
“The solemnity, prickliness and, yes, arrogance that were part of the serious perfectionist gave way to the gentle self-mockery and kindly wisdom which never seemed to fail us.”
At Tarsau Tom Uren, who later was part of the Whitlam Cabinet in Canberra, arrived sick from a work party located up the line, but in no time Uren was the winner of a boxing match with another Australian.
Many years later, Heppingstone saw Uren at a function. Pop mentioned the boxing match but Uren developed a sudden coolness in his manner and no further discussion took place.
“We worked by the principle of the strong looking after the weak.”
Tom Uren has his portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. (The following has been copied from the Gallery information – interesting is the reference to Uren’s boxing)
Edward Tom Uren AC (1921-2015), former Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, was a major campaigner on environmental and urban-planning issues and rights for veterans. He became active in left-wing politics after the war, during which he was a prisoner of the Japanese. Becoming member for the western Sydney electorate of Reid in 1958, he held the seat until he retired 32 years later.
He was Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam government and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1976–1977. In the Hawke government he held several portfolios before retiring to the backbench in 1987. He retired from politics in 1990 and became a Life Member of the ALP in 1993. A great volume of Uren’s correspondence and official papers is held by the National Library; his autobiography, Straight left, was published in 1994.
Tom Uren lived for most of his life in Balmain, Sydney, where he was born. The portrait Gloves off refers not only to Uren’s early ambitions as a boxer, but to his multifarious political battles for social justice and heritage conservation of areas of inner Sydney (which can be seen in the background).
Uren lived to 92 years, serving 30 years with Australian politics.
Uren was born in Balmain, Sydney, (then a working-class suburb) and educated at Manly High School. Uren’s family originated from Penzance, Cornwall.
He left school at 13 to get what work he could as did thousands of boys and girls at that time.
As a young man, Uren played rugby league for Manly Warringah and was a strong competitive swimmer becoming Freshwater Surf Club’s junior champion. Uren had an early career as a professional boxer and challenged Bill Britt, the then holder of the Australian heavyweight championship.
He joined up when war broke out.
He was taken prisoner after a bloody battle against overwhelming Japanese forces near Koepang. His next three birthdays were as a PoW.
During his 18 months on the Burma-Thailand railway Uren suffered and saw dreadful brutality and debilitating, often fatal, diseases.
He was in the Hintok camp under the command of Melbourne surgeon Edward (Weary) Dunlop. Dunlop took the miserable allowance paid to his officers so he could buy food and medicine which were allocated according to need.
Uren said of the difference between the British and Australian POW Camps on the Railway in reference to British Officers and their indifferent relationship with their men. (This also occurred with some Australian Officers).
“Only a creek separated our two camps, but on one side the law of the jungle prevailed and on the other the principles of socialism.”
Eventually, Uren was shipped to Japan and put to work in a factory at Omuta about 80 km from Nagasaki.
Snow was well known and respected with 2/4th MGB – he was a former player for Perth Football Club and played several interstate games including the memorable WA win against Victoria in 1921. He was coach of the successful 2/4th Football team at Northam Army Camp.
Above: Young Snow – Perth Football Club
B Company Headquarters
Back L-R JA McGregor, GP Biggs, G Japp, HA Jackson, A Brookbank, WJ Robinson. Centre AMcD Drummond, SM Hogben, JC Colbey, EE. Miller, GJ Doodson, F Vaughan, CH Dunn, J Hill. Front TW Zeeb, C Flakemore, AS Hewby, Capt GMcR Bunning, Capt AR Smith-Ryan RS Campbell, TJ Barnett.
2/4th MG Battalion Football Team 1941
Back Row:- Con Ryan (Noresman), Mac McCaffery (NSW), Lou Daily ( Capt, Subiaco, Vic, WA, Sandover Medallist 1935), Snow Hewby (Manager, Perth Football Club and1921 carnival for WA), Ron Anderson (Swan Districts), Frank Clarke, Tommy Tompkins. Middle Row:- Clive Helmrich (Swan Districts), Ron Badock (Kalgoorlie Miners, Norseman Tigers), Joe Pearce (Swan Districts), Bob Riebe, Cliff Spackman (Kalgoorlie Miners), Jim Dore (Perth & WA State Baseball) Front Row:- Jack Ovens, John Smith, Jack Wheelock, Bill Innes (East Perth & Cycling), Harry White ( Swan Districts), Alf Musman (SA & East Perth)
Arthur Syndey Hewby, known as ‘Snow’ was born 1898 Gingin to parents Arthur George Hewby and Louisa Emma Dewar who married 1894. He joined 2/4th’s ‘B’ Coy HQ as Warrant Officer Class 2 under Commanding Officer Capt. Gavin Bunning (also a former Scotch student).
He worked on the Burma-Thai Railway with the ill-fated‘D Force Thailand, V Battalionsuffering high rates of illness and deaths in appalling work and camp conditions. Snow was recovered at the end of the war from Ubon POW Camp, Thailand.
Snow was a WW1 Veteran.
He enlisted 24th March 1916, leaving Australia with 7th Reinforcements for 44th Battalion. With his Service Number of 1840 he worked his way through the ranks to 2nd Lieutenant in France. He was wounded in action on 20th October 1917 with a gunshot wound to his left side. He returned to WA safely.
44TH BATTALION WW1 – WESTERN FRONT
‘Raised at Claremont, Western Australia, in February 1916, part of 11th Brigade, 3rd Division. Following initial training in Australia the battalion embarked on 6 Jun 1916 aboard HMAT A29 Suevic for England where they spent a further four months training before moving to France on 27 November 1916, entering frontline trenches of Western Front on 29 December 1916.
During the very cold winter of 1916-17 they alternated between manning front line positions and providing men for working details when in the rear. Prior to their first real taste of battle which came at Messines, Belgium 7-10 Jun 1917, they had been billeted in a rest area at Coulomby and had previously participated in an unsuccessful, two company raid on enemy positions,an ill-fated effort involving almost half the battalion on 13 March 1917.
During the following months 44th Battalion was heavily employed in the Ypres sector, taking part in another major battle to capture Broodseinde Ridge part of the Ypres offensive of 1917.
The attack began before dawn 4 October 1917. The Australian troops involved were shelled heavily on their start line. One seventh of their number became casualties even before the attack began. The attacking troops were confronted by a line of troops advancing towards them; the Germans had chosen the same morning to launch an attack of their own. The Australians forged on through the German assault waves and gained all their objectives along the ridge. It was not without cost, however. German pillboxes were characteristically difficult to subdue, and the Australian divisions suffered 6,500 casualties.
Of the 992 men from the battalion who were involved in the Ypres operations, only 158 emerged unwounded when it was relieved for a rest on 21 October.’
It was on 20 October 1917 during the battle for Broodseinde Ridge that ‘Snow’ Hewby was wounded and evacuated with a GSW to his left side.
(We wish to acknowledge the above information is from Birtwhistle and AWM)
Snow married 1925 to Elsie Day. At that time he was manager of Lake Mason Station, Sandstone This station today is a Conservation Park. Lake Mason was established in 1906 as a cattle station, known as ‘Berrigun’. Later it changed to sheep and wool production. That continued for more than 80 years. In 2000 the state government purchased Lake Mason.
Below: Original homestead.
When Snow enlisted WW2 16 Aug 1940, he recorded his birth date as 1900 (the enlistment cut off age was 40 years) when in fact he was born 1898 at Gingin.
Prior to enlisting WW2 Snow was publican at the Southern Cross Hotel.
The Hewby Family
His mother Louisa ‘Lu’ Hewby died very young at Guildford Feb 1910 aged 35 years. Snow would have been about 12 years of age. He then had an older brother William ‘Bill’ John Hewby b. 1896 and a younger brother Lionel George Hewby b. 1904. Both Bill and Snow were students at Scotch College, Swanbourne excelling at sport – football, cricket and rowing.
Snow’s youngest brother Lionel tragically died of diphtheria in 1911 aged 7 years. Lionel had gone to stay in Wagin with friends during the school holidays, spending a few days attending the local school where he contracted diphtheria and soon after died in hospital. (there were at least 3 other deaths)
William John ‘Bill’ Hewby Service No 3678 was KIA 30 May 1916, WW1 with 11th Batallion, Fleubaix, France. He was just 20 years old. Bill enlisted 4 Oct 1915 with the 12th reinforcements 11th Battalion, aged 19 years 8 months. He was 5’ 11 ½ “ tall and working as a survey cadet.
Leaving Fremantle the 11th Battalion reinforcements arrived at their training camp in Egypt. We know Bill was at Habieta.
Western Front – 11th Battalion AIF WW1
‘In early 1916, the 11th battalion sailed to Alexandria on the Empress of Britain. From Alexandria, it travelled by train to bivouac at Tall al Kabir. At this time, the battalion received 367 reinforcements from Australia before undertaking defensive duties around Gebel Habieta, guarding the Suez Canal. In February, the AIF was re-organised and expanded. This saw the veteran battalions split to provide cadres for new battalions and as a part of this process, the 11th Battalion provided personnel to the 51st Battalion, by transferring the even numbered sections to the new battalion. At this time, the battalion received four Lewis Guns for organic direct fire support.
On 30 March 1916, as the AIF’s infantry divisions were transferred to Europe, the battalion sailed from Alexandria aboard the HMT Corsican. It arrived at Marseilles, France, on 5 April and then moved by train to Flêtre where it was billeted until the 19th when it moved to Sailly, where it commemorated Anzac Day on 25 April. In mid-May, after a period of acclimatisation and training to prepare them for the European battlefield, the 11th Battalion moved up to the front line around Petillon in the Fleurbaix sector, with a strength of 27 officers and 929 other ranks. A further draft of reinforcements, totalling 69 men all ranks, arrived on 25 May, and on 30 May the battalion had its first experience of combat on the Western Front.
Late that evening, German artillery bombarded the Allied line around the Cordonnerie salient, before infantry launched a raid on the 11th Battalion’s trenches. In the fighting that followed the 11th Battalion lost four men captured, 37 killed and 70 wounded.’ From AWM
‘They travelled by train to Flêtre where the battalion was billeted until the 19 April, before moving to Sailly, where it commemorated Anzac Day on 25 April. In mid-May, after a period of acclimatisation and training to prepare them for the European battlefield, the 11th Battalion moved up to the front line around Petillon in the Fleurbaix sector.
The 11th Battalion were in the front lines near Cordonnerie Farm at Fleurbaix on 30 May 1916 when the Germans subjected them to an intense artillery bombardment followed by a small raid. The battalion lost 36 men KIA, 61 WIA and 6 missing. We believe Bill Hewby was one of those killed in the attack.’ (information from Birtwhistle History)
Bill’s father received no further details other than his son was KIA. The AIF returned to Bill’s family the following items:
Identity disc, belt, cigarette case (damaged), knife, mirror, fountain pen, wallet, letters, photos and note book.
It is almost as if Bill Hewby missed the war.
Below: Australian soldiers in the rain at Billets Fleurbaix, May 1916.
Pozières and Mouquet Farm
Bill Hewby missed the 11th Battalion’s action throughout June 1916 and the remainder of the war –
placed in support of the front as it was brought back up to strength. At this time, the battalion’s organic fire support was increased by the addition of two extra Lewis Guns. The following month, they moved to the Somme and were committed to fighting around Pozières. After arriving at Albert 19 July amidst a gas attack, the battalion spent the next couple of days preparing to attack, working to improve trenches and cache stores, during which they were subjected to heavy artillery bombardment.The attack was put in just before midnight on 23 July and was a costly success.
Amidst heavy casualties, the 11th Battalion took the forward German trenches and amidst the confusion of the fighting advanced beyond their limit of exploitation, entering Pozières and moving beyond where they became embroiled in close quarters fighting. After capturing five artillery pieces, the battalion’s officers and non-commissioned officers eventually managed to regain control of the advance and the battalion was brought back into a defensive line along their first objective. At dawn, patrols from the battalion entered the village again and cleared out the cellars beneath the battered remains of the village’s buildings, capturing over 40 prisoners.
During the night of 24/25 July, the Australians attacked again, but after establishing a new defensive line, the 11th was forced to withdraw after suffering heavily from both friendly and enemy shelling. In the morning of 25 July, further casualties were sustained by German artillery. German infantry then launched a counterattack on the battalion’s right, but the Australians managed to hold their ground. They remained in the line throughout the day, before the 19th Battalion arrived as part of the 5th Brigade‘s relief of the 3rd Brigade. Having lost 19 officers and 512 other ranks killed, wounded or missing, the battalion had suffered the most of all the 3rd Brigade’s battalions and was moved back to Berteaucourt to be rebuilt.
Above: we wish to acknowledge State Library of WA for the above photo. It had become necessary to defend the Suez Canal from enemy raids. The Canal was a vital waterway for the war.
Below: Capt Walter C. Belford M.A. regularly published in The Western Mail the events of 11th Battalion in WW1. This covers the 11th Battalion’s posting to Gebel Habiata, Suez Canal 1916 of which Bill Hewby was part of.
Born: Geraldton 1921 to David William and Mary Grace Cripps of Northampton.
Enlisted: AIF 13 Aug 1941. He joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘A’ Company Headquarters at that time under Commanding Officer Major Saggers.
Taken on Strength to Woodside Training Camp, South Australia 5 Oct 1941.
His Northampton mates WX16356 Ernest Edward Randell (known as Jimmy) WX15967 Donald (Don) Elias Sutherland were part of same platoon. Sutherland was KIA Singapore 15 Feb 1942 aged 20 years. Jimmy Randell remained with Davey on their journey to Burma working on the Burma-Thai Railway. They were together on ‘Rakuyo’ Maru when it was torpedoed by American submarines and sunk Sept 1944 in the South China Sea.
Cripps and Randell lost their lives.
It was the dedication of Peter Cripps, nephew of Davey in achieving the following Last Post Ceremony for his uncle.
Commencing at approximately 4.45 pm AEDT, the Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony in the Commemorative Courtyard. Each night the ceremony shares the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour.
The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Greg Kimble, the story for this day was on (WX15783) Private David Charles Cripps, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, Second World War.
WX15783 Private David Charles Cripps, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion
Died at sea (Rakuyo Maru)
12 September 1944
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private David Charles Cripps.
David Cripps was born in Geraldton, Western Australia, on 15 December 1921, the son of David and Mary Cripps.
His father was a farmer who had enlisted for service in the First World War, but was given a medical discharge after suffering from chronic dermatitis. The elder David Cripps died when David was just three years old. His mother later remarried, but had no more children.
Young David Cripps grew up in Northampton, where he attended school at Bowes.
On 13 August 1941, at the age of 19, David Cripps enlisted for service in the Second Australian Imperial Force. Soon after joining his training unit, he developed laryngitis. After a week of recovery, he was back in training.
In early October he was allotted to reinforcements to the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. Largely consisted of men from Western Australia, the battalion had been established to provide direct fire support to infantry brigades of the 8th Division.
After taking the journey to Darwin, where his battalion was undertaking garrison duties following the Japanese landings in Malaya, Private Cripps embarked for overseas service on 30 December 1941.
Following a Japanese attack on Rabaul, the convoy carrying Cripp and his battalion turned and sailed to Sydney, and then Fremantle, finally reaching Singapore at the end of January 1942. Here it was hastily deployed in support of the 22nd and 27th Brigades in the north-west of Singapore island. Heavily engaged and outnumbered around the landing beaches, over the course of the week it was pushed back towards the city.
After days of air raids, the Japanese attacked Singapore on the 8th of February, crossing the Johore Strait and attacking along the 22nd Brigade’s front and the 27th Brigade near the Causeway.
The machine-gunners suffered heavily. In early February, 137 men were listed as killed or missing, 106 wounded, and 24 described as having “shell shock”. These casualties constituted almost one-third of the battalion.
Despite this, the battalion kept fighting, sending out patrols until receiving the order to surrender. Despite orders to surrender weapons and ammunition, the men destroyed the majority of their equipment before being marched to Changi gaol.
Cripps was one of the 3,000 men who was part of A Force, the first Australian group to leave Singapore for Burma. After sailing in the Celebes Maru on 15 May, a third of A Force disembarked at Victoria Point in the far south of Burma. Another third were sent to Mergui and the remainder to Tavoy, all tasked with building air fields.
At first the conditions for prisoners were adequate, if basic. Japanese control was fairly lax and a relatively good working relationship with the Japanese was established. Despite this, prisoners who attempted to escape were executed without trial.
In September 1942 the Australian prisoners were consolidated at Thanbyuzayat to begin work on the Burmese end of the Burma–Thailand Railway. As work went on, conditions for the prisoners became worse. Without adequate food and medical supplies many were falling ill. Their condition worsened in 1943 as cholera, smallpox, dysentery and malaria broke out and malnutrition became endemic. Relentless labour on inadequate rations in a deadly tropical environment caused huge losses. By the time the railway was completed in October 1943, at least 2,815 Australians, over 11,000 other Allied prisoners, and perhaps 75,000 other forced labourers were dead.
After the railway was finally completed in October 1943, Cripps and the other surviving prisoners were gradually returned to Singapore.
While the suffering and deprivations of the Burma–Thailand Railway are well known, the most dangerous period in a prisoner’s life was travelling in captivity. Over-crowding, sickness, disease, and the dangers posed by Allied submarines caused stress and anxiety. Conditions on board ships were severe: over 1,000 prisoners might be crammed into spaces suitable for a few hundred and given little food, fresh water, or adequate sanitation facilities. The prisoners of war called these transports “hellships”.
On the 6th of September, David Cripps was among the 1,318 Australian and British prisoners of war assembled on the hellship Rakuyo Maru which was part of a convoy bound for Japan.
On the morning of 12 September the convoy was attacked by American submarines in the South China Sea. Rakuyo Maru was sunk by USS Sealion II. Kachidoki Maru, carrying British prisoners of war, was hit by USS Pampanito.
Prisoners able to evacuate the ships spent the following days in life rafts or clinging to wreckage in open water. About 150 Australian and British survivors were rescued by American submarines. A further 500 were picked up by Japanese destroyers and continued the journey to Japan.
David Cripps was one of 1,559 Australian and British prisoners of war killed in the incident.
He was 22 years old.
With no grave but the sea, today his name appears on the Labuan Memorial, which commemorates over 2,000 men who died while prisoners of war and who have no known grave.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.
This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private David Charles Cripps, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Are you surprised Australia had a Camel Corps in WW1?
Do you remember the story of Lawrence of Arabia?
View several of Frank Hurley’s amazing photographs of Australian Imperial Camel Corps WW1
During research for WX9554 Corp. Arthur Lindsay Roy POWELL of 2/4th who survived the war as a POW of Japan – we discovered he was named after his uncle – Trooper Wilfred (Roy) TRENAMAN Service No. 2414, 4thANZAC Camel Battalion AIF, who enlisted from Nanine however had been working at Barrambie – a goldfields mining ‘Town’.
Trenaman was KIA Palestine 30 March 1918 during operations at the First Battle for Amman, aged 26 years. His name is memorialised at Jerusalem War Cemetery with 3,300 Commonwealth serviceman from Egypt and Palestine with no known grave.
Trenaman enlisted AIF 16 May 1916 first joining 10th Light Horse, embarked HMAT Surada from Fremantle. He transferred to 4 Battalion Imperial Camel Corps (Australia).
Trooper Wilfred (Roy) Trenaman was working at Barrambie when enlisting. 116 kilometres south east of Meekatharra and 75 kilometres north west of Sandstone it was a mining town and somewhat wild!
(We wish to acknowledge and thank Moya Sharp who wrote of Barrambie: put the ‘wild’ in the wild west!!)
‘Half the men were replaced each pay day at the Barrambie Range Mine as they were drunk and not turning up for work.’
WX9554 Arthur (Lindsay) ‘Lin’ Roy Powell was born Northampton 1918 to Arthur Powell and Clara Evelyn Trenaman. He spent his formative years at Northampton. Known to everybody as ‘Lin’ he enlisted firstly with 11th Battalion Militia prior to enlisting AIF in Dec 1940 aged 22 years. He joined Battalion Headquarters No. 3 Platoon in the role of carpenter. On 24 Jan 1942 he was promoted to Corporal.
As a POW in Singapore he worked on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand ‘V’ Battalion, departing Singapore in crowded railway trucks (28 POWs in very small railway trucks) on a 4 day hellish journey bound for Thailand. ‘V’ Battalion under the leadership of 2/4th’s Major Alf Cough endured the toughest working and living conditions of all ‘D’ Force. The loss of life and sickness was tragic and staggeringly high.
Towards end of 1943 the railway line was mostly completed and the Japanese began to move all POWs in camps throughout Burma and Thailand to one of several large Thailand based camps or hospitals – hospitals for the many sick and dying. Food and health care was very much improved compared to ‘speedo’ and those months and months slaving and starving on the Burma-Thai Railway – the Japanese now wanted POWs fit and healthy to send to work in Japan – which at that time extremely short of labour.
Lin Powell was fortunate to avoid selection – he may well have been sick. Those of ‘V’ Battalion who went to Japan endured a hellish ship journey to Moji, Japan to work at Omuta coal mine – run by American POWs where conditions were ruthless and likened to the Mafia.
We believe Powell was sick, possibly evacuated out of the railway at Brankassi Camp possibly to Tamarkan Hospital. Having recovered somewhat, he was selected in a work party to Pratchai. Please read about Pratchai.
Powell was working at Pratchai when the end of war came. He was evacuated to Bangkok to fly to Singapore. He sailed home on the ‘Circassia’ from Singapore to Fremantle at the end of 1945.
Below: Lin Powell’s photo taken about 1940-41 when he was 22 years old.
The Motto “Nomina Desertis Inscripsimus” – In the Desert We Have Written Our Names.
IMPERIAL CAMEL CORPS (formed with British, Australian, New Zealand & Indian forces)
There existed an urgent need for long-range desert patrols in Egypt. In 1916 the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was formed. (The Australian and New Zealand Corps were attached to Anzac Mounted Division). The ICC first fought against the Senoussi on Egypt’s western frontier and then were deployed to the eastern frontier against the Turks.
The Australians and other units in Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) advanced into Ottoman territory. In 1917, the troops entered Palestine. In 1918, EEF advanced into modern-day Jordan and Syria. The campaign ended on 31 October 1918, a few weeks after the capture of Damascus.
The battalions of the ICC fought alongside light horse units at Romani, Magdhaba, Beersheba and Rafa, and remained an integral part of the force that advanced north through Palestine in 1917 and 1918.
Tens of thousands of camels were needed to get water to the soldiers, and they were excellent for desert patrolling. Later, they were also used to transport cameliers into battle – the riders would dismount to fight. And of course the camels were essential to transport wounded and ill troops.
In 1918 when the Camel Corps disbanded, (the terrain in northern Palestine was such that the camels were no longer useful) the men transferred to the Australian Light Horse brigade.
The first five photographs were taken by photographer Hurley.
Above: Australians of the Imperial Camel Corps on the march, 1917-1918
Above: Palestine hills and water.
Above: Camels crossing water.
Above: Rocky, hilly landscape Palestine.
Above: Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, on lower left Absalom’s Pillar, on right the Grotto of Saint James, Kedron Valley.
Above: Egypt on leave.
Above: Left to Right note the uniforms of the Australian, British, New Zealand and Indian troopers from Camel Corps.
Below: Indian Camel Corps Trooper
Below: Australian Camel Corps
The Imperial Camel Corps Brigade was formed January 1916 from British and Commonwealth troops (Australia, New Zealand, India) and attached to Anzac Mounted Division. There were four regiments: the 1st and 3rd were Australian, the 2nd was British, and the 4th was a mix of New Zealanders and Australians. Each regiment had around 770 men, and at full strength the brigade contained almost 4,000 camels.
Initially the Camel Corp was used to deal with the revolt of pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen in Egypt’s Western Desert. During 1916 the Camel Corps undertook long patrols and brief skirmishes with the Senussi. British commanders in Egypt appreciated their fighting qualities and in late 1916 the ICC was transferred to the Sinai desert to take part in operations against the Turkish army.
Battalions of the ICC fought alongside Australian light horse units at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa. The ICC remained an integral part of the British and dominion force that advanced north through Palestine in 1917 and 1918. It suffered particularly heavily during the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917, and in the operations conducted in November to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba. As the ICC moved into more fertile country of northern Palestine, its practicality declined. The camels needed more fodder and water than equivalent numbers of horses. Unimpeded by the desert, horses could now move much faster.
Fresh supplies from ships came ashore on barges and then travelled by camel to military camps. Camels were used as ambulances, with stretcher-like cacolets attached to their saddles – a terrible and painful ride for injured!
The Camel Corp were involved in conflicts alongside the Light Horse. The cameleers would ride to the scene of action, dismount and fight on foot – as infantrymen. As with the Lighthorse a group of four troops lived and worked together forming a team. During action one trooper/cameleer would remain behind with the camels.
Troopers found camels were a lot easier to control than horses, once they were barraked (made to kneel down). Much less prone to panicking when exposed to enemy artillery and small-arms fire it soon became normal procedure for one man to look after 12 or even 16 camels once they were barraked.
The dromedary is a single-humped camel native to the Middle East and North Africa. The larger bikaners were used for carrying. The lighter Egyptian camel, in particular females was preferred for riding.
It is true Camels may be prone to have bad breath and bite. However they can:
carry up to 145kg – including cameleer’s equipment and supplies including 300 rounds of .303 inch ammunition for his rifle survive without water for up to 6 days, routinely 5 days, whereas horses required water daily.
travel over 40km a day – walking pace was calculated at 4.8 km (3 miles) an hour. At a trot the camel could make 9.5 km (6 miles) and hour.
‘The camel was well adapted to desert conditions, their feet splaying for traction in sand, their stomachs able to retain prodigious quantities of water, they can cover great distances where nothing else could even survive, while also capable of considerable bursts of speed. A modern racing camel can canter as fast as a horse for an hour and more, and sprint at 40mph.’
Camels eat almost any green vegetation they can find in the desert.
At full frontline strength the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade required approximately 3,880 camels. Sufficient to carry enough supplies and equipment to keep the Brigade in the field for five days as well as providing mounts for the men.
The Corps was supported by a Camel Remount Depot and Camel Veterinary Hospital where the camels were well cared for if necessary and returned to service. On a daily basis the troopers cared for their own camels, brushing down their coats and removing ticks. The troopers named their camels. In accordance with local Egyptian practice only un-neutered male camels were used. The following is a description by NZ trooper.
‘Sometimes in the syming [rutting] season a bull camel will go mad, and attempt to run amok through the lines, attacking anyone in its path. In this condition the brute lurches straight forward with neck outstretched, bared teeth, and foaming mouth, towards the object of his attack, and blindly stumbles over rope-lines or other obstacles in his path in his attempts to reach his victim. When a camel attacks a man he uses his teeth first, and then attempts to crush the life out of him by kneeling on him and pounding him with his hard horny knees.’
It was said the Carmel Corps ‘were notorious as rough men of less than desirable character’ – apparently they used colourful language i.e. swore a lot! Australian battalion commanders had seized upon the opportunity to offload some of their more difficult characters into the Camel Corps. They were regarded as poor cousins compared to the dashing Light Horse Brigade. The Camel Corps proved themselves to be inventive and effective in battle. The CC suffered terrible losses in the 2nd Battle of Gaza. When they ran out of ammunition, they hurled down rocks onto the Turks. The large numbers of wounded endured agony being transported by the 5th Camel Brigade Field Ambulance – rocking side to side, the journeys were particularly long by which time many wounded were dead.
The most famous camel-rider was world renowned Colonel TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia.
Lawrence explained he wore Arab dress because it was more comfortable than military uniform when astride the beast.
Below: Ottomans completed this railway construction in 1908, to the surprise of many who believed the Ottomans were not capable. Below map shows the route.
One of the reasons for the attack by Camel Corps was to capture the important Hedjaz Railway at Omman in 1918 and thus prevent the movement of Ottoman Troops north and south.
Can you recall those ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ scenes where Lawrence with his dedicated team of arabs seemed to be aways blowing up the rail tracks?
Below: First Raid on Amman – Roy Trenaman was KIA Amman 30 March 1918. On this day, Sat 30/03/1918 – 1,530 died across WW1 battlefields.
‘The first “raid” on Amman was mounted between 22 and 30 March 1918 by the British 60th Infantry Division, the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Brigade with the intention of inflicting casualties on Turkish forces and severing railway communications with Damascus. The force crossed the Jordan River on 22 March and, despite difficult conditions, the village of Es Salt was occupied by the evening of the 25 March. The attack on Amman itself commenced on the morning of 27 March with the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and the cameleers providing the attacking force. Fierce fighting continued for two days. The force effected serious damage on the railway but Turkish resistance was so strong that British forces withdrew on 30 March. All elements of the raiding force had recrossed the Jordan by 2 April.’
‘Defending Amman on 27 March the Ottoman and German garrison consisted of 2,150 rifles, 70 machine guns and ten guns. Jemal Kuchuk commander, Fourth Army, arrived on 28 March to take command of the defence of Amman. Up to 30 March, approximately 2,000 reinforcements arrived with more to follow. In reserve at the Amman railway station were the 46th Assault Company from the infantry’s 46th Division. Part of the 150th Regiment (48th Division) garrisoned Amman and part of the regiment guarded the railway to the north and south of the city. One battalion of this regiment and one battalion of the 159th Regiment with some Circassian irregular cavalry, guarded the region towards the Jordan River between Es Salt and Ghoraniyeh, manning posts guarding the river. The German 703rd Battalion with a cavalry troop, an artillery section and the Asia Corps’ machine gun company which was “particularly strong in machine guns”, had arrived back from Tafilah and was in the foothills at Shunet Nimrin on the Amman road by 21 March. These units amounted to no more than 1,500 rifles deployed between Amman and the Jordan River, when the EEF crossed the river.’
Total casualties of both infantry and mounted divisions were between 1,200 and 1,348. The 60th (London) Division suffered 476 infantry casualties including 347 wounded and the Anzac Mounted Division (incl. Camel Corp) suffered 724 casualties including 551 wounded.
Above: British 60th Infantry Division – marching to the First Battle of Amman
Field ambulance staff moved the wounded from the regimental aid post (just behind the front lines) to an advanced dressing station. The trip was about 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8km) and took around 6 hours to complete.
Stretcher-bearers worked in relays. At least 36 stretcher-bearers handled each patient along the way.
The main dressing station was another 3 to 8 miles (4.8 to 12.9km) beyond the advanced dressing station.
I would imagine many wounded knew they would never reach a base hospital and they were right. ‘The journey’ could take sometimes as long as a week or two.
The regimental aid post was a vital point of liaison with the field ambulance units set up further behind the front. The post controlled everything in front of its position. Field ambulances controlled the medical evacuation chain behind the post.
Above: Hedjaz Railway was essential for transporting supplies, troops in WW1.
The war ended October 1918 and the Imperial Camel Corps was rapidly broken up. At Lawrence’s request many of the camels were given to the Arab forces who had fought alongside Allenby’s men.
“We were sorry for the camels. Although we often cursed them, when they were to be taken away from us we found that we had become quite attached to our ugly, ungainly mounts. The Arabs would not treat them as kindly as we had done, and we reckoned they were entitled to a long spell in country that suited them better than the rough and slippery mountain tracks of Palestine.”
Please listen to the Australians of the Imperial Camel Corps – they also mention personal knowledge of Lawrence.
Below: Camel Corps transporting supplies
Known as Cacolet Camels – Right: for wounded who required to lay down Left: for the wounded who could sit. Understandably and sadly many wounded did not survive the slow and agonising journey to reach medical aid.
Above: Camel lines for the Imperial Camel Corps Field Ambulance.
Above: ‘Barraking’ (made to kneel).
‘Mounted drill began with “barracking” – getting camels to their knees. The rider tugged the halter rope downwards, making a guttural “duh, duh, duh”. Old soldiers were intrigued to find that the camel seemed to do everything by numbers:
One! Bend the lower portions of the forelegs.
Two! Sink down on the lower sections of the hind legs.
Three! Fold the upper portion of the front legs on top of the lower.
Four! Bring down the upper parts of the hind legs above the lower.
Five! Shuffle and tuck in the feet comfortably.
On the order “Get read to mount” the rider pulled round the head of the camel until it looked to the rear, placed his left foot on the bend of its neck and grasped with his right hand the peg at the back of the saddle.
On the word “Mount” he raised himself sharply into the saddle, throwing his right leg over the front peg (pommel), let out the halter full length and the camel would instinctively rise to the accompaniment of ferocious roaring that stopped as soon as the camels were up.
On a dark night in a wadi the effect could be weird!’
Below: List for Troopers to take on active service – Marching order. The Dhurra bag was Carmel food.
Above: Midday rest scene. In foreground are ‘fantassies’ (5 gallon water vessels) and dhurra bags (containing 50 lb corn) for camels
We wish to acknowledge the above 3 photographs are from ‘Sand, Sweat and Camels. The Story of the Australian Camel Corps’ by George F and Edmee M Langley. ISBN 0 7270 1013 1.
Above: Australians of the Imperial Camel Corps near Rafah during the war against the Ottoman Empire, 26 January 1918
Note: Troopers above stripped off uniforms, often remaining shirtless in the desert heat – when discovered by an Officer in Egypt quite near to ‘Barracks’ at Cario he complained. Obviously these officers never travelled in the desert and probably never left the comforts of Cairo life. In fact Cario seemed to attract large numbers of officers and government officials who would later be ‘cleared out’ – of no value in a war.
Above: Imperial Camel Corps riding outside Beersheba 1917.
Above: Feeding time.
Above: Bath-time for the troopers and their camels.
We wish to acknowledge Imperial War Museum for these photographs – an opportunity to share these historical insights with today’s Australians.
Above: Amman looking towards the Citadel 1918.
Above: Pencil drawing of Omman in distance.
Above: Amman Raid March 1918
Above: Hill 3039 where we believe Trooper Trenaman lost his life 30 March, 1918. 62 Troops died at Israel/Palestine conflict on this day, it was a military failure. There had been no time to collect and bring back dead troops.
We acknowledge Birtwhistle History Centre, Armadale, WA
Two years of service cost the ICC 240 deaths: 106 British, 84 Australians, 41 New Zealanders, and nine men from India.
Above: CC officer outside his tent. Everything was temporary – to be pulled down and erected elsewhere.
Below: Jerusalem CWG Cemetery
Below: Red Cross Report – Wilfred (Roy) TRENAMAN’S body was never recovered. His name is recorded on the Australian Memorial WW1 – Jerusalem War Cemetery.
Trenaman is one of 3,300 Commonwealth Serviceman who died WW1 in operations in Egypt or Palestine who have no known grave.
It was an unwritten law those serving with Camel Corps and Light Horse were always recovered unless absolutely impossible. The nomadic Bedouin usually robbed bodies of personal effects and sometimes worse. This silent law was also applicable to the Turks and Germans. There are stories of Turks carrying a white flag to return an Australian’s belongings recovered from a Bedouin.
Above: The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial – This sculpture is located at Victoria Embankment Gardens, Thames Embarkment east of Charing Cross, London.
Above: In June 1918 the Camel Corps disbanded, (no longer useful for travelling until the end of the war). The troopers of Australian Camel Corps formed the 5th Light Horse.
The above memorial is in Melbourne – This small shrine is planted beneath a tree in Birdwood Avenue, Shrine Reserve, Melbourne. The tree was planted in 1934 by Captain J.R.Hall and was No.16 in the ballot.
There appears to be no substantial Memorial in Australia to the Imperial Camel Corps Australia WW1.
The Camels and their troopers have disappeared into the past!
There is no regimental history of the Imperial Camel Corp because as a regiment it did not exist. There were never any headquarters or organisations in Australia, other than the groups of originals who met up after Anzac Day.
Of all the fighting units in the British Army the Imperial Camel Corps are the least known to the general public throughout the Commonwealth, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
They came from outback Queensland, Western Australia, Australia’s rural towns and cities, including many indigenous, from London slums and Britains’ stately homes. All classes of society and all types welded together by the incredible animal – the Camel.
Above: Kalgoorlie St Johns Anglican Church Honour Roll, Maritana Street, Kalgoorlie was opened 27 November 1921 by General Hobbs.
The inscription reads:
Gallipoli, Belgium, France, Egypt, Palestine
To the Glory of God
And in the memory of the gallant men of this Diocese who fought and fell in the Great War 1914-1919
The tablet is erected in pride of their valour and in sorrow for their loss
See Ye to it that they be ever held in honoured remembrance
Stan Currie was known as ‘Sue’ most of his life. The Currie family resided in Claremont. At that time the land was sparsely housed. Very close to the family was an orchard and vegetable garden owned by a Chinese man by the name of ‘Su’. Stan had a habit of picking apples from Mr. Su’s apple trees and hence the Currie family called young Stan ‘Su’ which somehow and at some time became ‘Sue’.
Chinese and other market gardeners sought wetland areas with a water table. Market gardens were located on peaty soils on or near lakes, swamps and drained swampland. The Claremont Lake area was perfect. Originally known as Butlers Swamp – 10 acres was granted to William Burton Butler about 1830-1850 and was used for farming and stock grazing. Around the turn of the century orchards and gardens flourished around Butlers Swamp area. With the changing immigration policy there were few Chinese market gardeners from after 1920’s and 1930’s. There had been chinese market gardens near the Swan River in early Nedlands and South Perth foreshore until 1950.
Sue Currie was in Saigon with Ron Badock – after the war the two men remained close mates. The Badock’s lived nearby in Floreat. Ron’s children recall visiting Sue Currie with their Dad – always wondering why he was called ‘Sue’ – decades before Johnny Cash’s song ‘The boy named Sue’.
The song ‘A Boy Named Sue’ is one of Johnny Cash’s most recognisable songs, written in 1969 by Shel Sliverstein, a well known children’s book author. Cash sang ‘A Boy named Sue’ at San Quentin in 1969 – several decades after ‘Sue’ Currie’ childhood.
Stan Currie was the youngest of four sons and two daughters born to his parents Thomas Currie and Janet ‘Jessie’ Kilpatrick who married about 1899 England.
The Currie family had been residing in Claremont since about 1899. Thomas he had worked for the Claremont Municipal Council for the last 15 years prior to his death in 1923 at Fremantle Hospital aged 61 years. The Currie family resided at 8 Albert Street – most of their children had grown up and lived elsewhere. ‘Sue’ was one of the last to be living at home he was 21 years of age.
Scottish born Thomas Currie had been an elder at the Claremont Presbyterian Church and the family was much involved in community events and interests including the Soccer Football Club where ‘Sue’ played. The children were schooled at Claremont Primary School.
The employees of the Claremont Municipal Council ceased work on the afternoon of the funeral to attend, including Mayor Mr. S.C. Marriott, Town Clerk Mr. E.W.V. Gribble and several employees W.J. Laker, S.T. Rose, H. Walker and T. Atkinson. Thomas Currie’s coffin was borne to the grave at Karrakatta by Councilllors W. Cherry, T.F. Hughes, T. Wrightman and A. Smith.
Stan Currie married Ena Mary Walsh in Perth 1933. Previously Stan had resided in Albert Street with his parents Thomas and Jessie Currie. Stan and Ena resided in Shenton Road, Claremont until he enlisted in 1940. They had two daughters. After the war, Stan returned to and remained in Claremont throughout his life.
Stan enlisted AIF Jun 1940. He later joined 2/4th’s ‘B’ Coy Headquarters, becoming Corporal under Commanding Officer Capt Bunning.
POW Currie left Singapore during 1943 to work on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force Thailand ‘S’ Battalion. During July to October 1943, Stan was at Tarsau Hospital Camp on burial duty he buried many POW including several 2/4th boys :
WX11580 A/Cpl Don McGlinn 16 Jul 43 avitaminosis
WX8777 Sgt J. Sanderson 19 Jul 43 avitaminosis
WX15690 Pte J M Carr 23 Jul 43 malaria
WX8689 Lt/Cpl MacMaster 25 Jul 43 beri beri
WX13553 Pte S Spouse 13 Oct 43 tropical tumour
Currie later was selected with ‘Both’ Party to work in Japan. The party reached Saigon and remained there until the end of war.
When Stan returned home in 1945, his youngest daughter had never known her father.
Stans’s mother Jessie, died in August 1945. Jessie did not know her youngest son survived.
Stan died in 1977 aged 74 years and Ena lived a long life until 1995 and died aged 93 years.
‘The Highgate Hall of Honour recognises the service and civilian histories of current and past members of the RSL Highgate Sub-Branch. Participation in the Hall is voluntary and not all past or current Highgate members are listed. The Hall was the initiative of the late Phil Loffman, a former President and long-serving Committee Member of the Sub-Branch in addition to long-serving as a Deputy Warden of the State War Memorial. The Hall includes the names of those who were members of the West Perth, Public Service or Press Sub-Branches which were amalgamated with the Highgate Sub-Branch in 1976.’
https://2nd4thmgb.com.au/story/25th-light-horse-machine-gun-regiment-wa/https://2nd4thmgb.com.au/story/25th-light-horse-machine-gun-regiment-wa/25th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment WA
25th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment WA
Believed to be established 1939 – in West Australian country towns. Several towns were most supportive with enlistments.
Recorded below: Corp. Tom Hampton, Troopers Peter Moate from Kellerberrin
Vern Trigwell in middle row furthest right. Harry Cain second row from top, 4th man from left. Allan Trigwell second row from top, 2nd man from left. Bendall was also in this photograph – believed to be 2nd Row fourth from Right.
WX17864 BENDALL, Bertram Alfred “Bert’ enlisted AIF 3 Dec 1942 and joined 2/4th’s ‘A’ Coy Headquarters Platoon with Harry Cain as a reinforcement at Fremantle on board the ‘Aquitania’. Bert had been in the 25th Light Horse Militia. He lost his life in North Borneo at Sandakan on 12 Feb 1945. Bert was 30 years of age. And was with Allan Trigwell at Sandakan.
WX17860 CAIN, Henry David known as ‘Harry’ member of Donnybrook 25th L/Horse. Cain enlisted AIF 3 Dec 1941, joined 2/4th ‘A’ Coy Headquarters Platoon as a reinforcement joining the Battalion at Fremantle on board the ‘Aquitania’ to sail to Singapore on 16 February 1942. Cain was KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan12 Feb 1942, he was 22 years old.
WX17706 CUNNINGHAM, Alfred (Alf) Thomas resided at Bellevue Hill – was with 25th L/H at Guildford. Joined AIF & 2/4th 19 Nov 1941, joining ‘C’ Coy 11th Platoon. He was WIA 10 Feb 1942 at Jurong Road, Singapore. Taken to an Indian RAP – he was never seen again – the RAP obviously overrun by Japanese soldiers.
WX9405 HAMPTON, WO Class 2, TOM was member of Merredin 25th L/Horse. Hampton was recovered from Bangkok at the end of the war. He had worked on the Burma end of the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘a’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion.
WX13562 MOATE, Peter Joseph was member of 25th L/Horse at Merredin and worked for WAGR. He was recovered from Nacompaton POW Camp at the end of war having worked on Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force, Java Party No. 6 O Battalion.
WX17882 TRIGWELL, ALLAN GEORGE was member of 25th Light Horse at Donnybrook. Allan tragically lost his life at Sandakan POW Camp, North Borneo on 4 May 1945. He was 23 years of age. Please read about Sandakan.
WX17863 TRIGWELL, Vernon Chapman was a member of Donnybrook 25th Light Horse. He lost his life 14 Sept 1944 in the South China Seas when the Japanese transport ship ‘Rakuyo’ Maru was sunk by US Submarines. Vern was 24 years of age. Please read about ‘Rakuyo’ Maru