Oral Histories

Oral Histories

Selarang to Sonkurai

Photo of Dr Peter Hendry

Dr Peter Hendry

Dr Peter Hendry enlisted in the AIF in 1940 as a Captain in the 2/10 Field Ambulance. Prior to the Fall of Singapore Dr Hendry supported the clearing of injured front line troops across Singapore as part of a mobile casualty clearing station. On the allied surrender to the Japanese Dr Hendry spent a year in Changi and was then taken to the northern section of the Burma-Thailand Railway as part of F Force. Dr Hendry was stationed at Sonkurai camp 15km form the Burma border where he aided in the establishment of a 'hospital' near the Sang Kalia River with a section for Cholera patients. On completion of the 'Railway' at the end of 1943 Dr Hendry was transported back to Changi where he would remain for the duration of the war.

Listen to Dr Peter Hendry's story

 

Photo of Jack GarrettJohn Henry Garrett

John 'Jack' Garrett enlisted to escape unemployment in 1940 and was assigned to 8th Division Australian Army Service Corp as a driver. In July 1941 Jack set sail for Singapore aboard the Johanne Van Oldenwald, a Dutch ship where he entertained fellow soldiers with his piano accordion. On arriving in Singapore at the end of 1941 Jack served at Endua in a water patrol until the Japanese invasion where he fought the Japanese at Gemas. On the allied surrender Jack was marched to Changi Gaol where he became a member of the Changi Concert Party. It was here that two British soldiers made his guitar. These men were assigned to a working party and never heard from again. Due to lack of supplies, the Concert Party wound up in 1944 and Jack was sent on working parties throughout Malaya, and on the Changi Aerodrome, until the completion of the war. On being sent out to work, Jack buried the guitar outside the prison camp where he would return and reclaim it after the Japanese surrender.

Listen to Jack Garrett's story

 

Photo of Guy Templeton BakerGuy Templeton Baker

Guy Baker enlisted in the 34th Battalion Militia at the outbreak of war in 1939, at age 18. Twelve months later at 19, Guy would enlist with the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF) and sail to Singapore. Guy sustained a minor injury during the Japanese invasion of Malaya and was recovering in St Patrick's School (acting as a military hospital) on the allied surrender. Three days after the surrender Guy was transported by truck to Changi Gaol where he would remain for the next 12 months. From Changi he was sent throughout Singapore on various working parties. In April 1943 Guy was transported to the Burma-Thailand Railway as part of F Force. He worked at several camps along the 'Railway' from Bampong to Neike (near the Burma-Thailand border at Three Pagoda Pass). On the completion of the 'Railway' Guy was transported back to Changi where he would remain until the Japanese surrender.

Listen to Guy Templeton Baker's story

 

Photo of Frank BakerFrancis 'Frank' Joseph Baker

Frank Baker arrived in Singapore aboard the Queen Mary on February 18, 1941. He fought with the 2/20th Division in Malaya until the Fall of Singapore, at which point he was marched to Selarang Barracks. Frank worked on the Singapore wharves for approximately 13 months. He was then taken as part of D Force to work on the Burma-Thailand Railway where he spent 16 months as an orderly. On the completion of the 'Railway' Frank was initially moved to a large camp at Tamawang, and later transported to Japan aboard a ship the men christened 'Byoki Maru' (sick ship). He spent 70 days at sea before reaching Moji, Japan on September 6, 1944. Frank was transported by train and boat to Yamani on the island of Shokoku and subsequently to a camp at Niihama. There he would spend the duration of the war working in Japanese copper mines.

Listen to Frank Baker's story

 

Photo of Jack Edward DandoJohn 'Jack' Edward Dando

Jack Dando was part of the 2/10th Ordinance Field Park with his brother Rowland 'Rowly' Dando. Jack and his brother left Sydney aboard the Aquitania on January 10, 1942, arriving in Singapore on January 24. The 2/10th campsite moved several times before reaching Napier-Tanglin Road junction when the allies surrendered to the Japanese. Jack and Rowly were marched to Selarang Barracks where they remained until being taken by ship (Tohohasi Maru) as part of A Force to Thanbyuzayat in Burma to begin work on the Burma-Thailand Railway. Jack and Rowly moved through several camps until they reached '55 kilo' camp (Thanbaya) where Rowly would die of dysentery and Jack would develop a serious tropical ulcer on his left ankle. On September 13, 1943, Dr Bertie Coates amputated Jack's left leg below the knee using a crude anesthetic at '55 kilo' camp. At the completion of the 'Railway' Jack was transported to Nakompaton, east of the Thailand end of the 'Railway'. He would remain there until the end of the war.

Listen to Jack Edward Dando's story

 

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