POWs on Burma-Thai Railway

POWs on Burma-Thai Railway

POWs on Burma-Thai Railway

The Burma-Thailand Railway ran from Bampong, Thailand, to Thanbyuzayat, Burma. Building commenced at each end of the railway. Prisoners in Changi were divided into forces and then sent out to the railway, which was finally completed on 16 October 1943. Of the 9,500 Australians sent as slave labour to work on the railway, 2,646 would never return. There were many camps along the Thai-Burma Railway but one of the most infamous was Sonkurai in the jungles of Northern Thailand, its death toll was the highest of all. Prisoners were forced to build the railway, many of whom were extremely malnourished and even sick with diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and malaria.

Robert Archibald Cunningham

No.: NX33078
Name: Robert Archibald Cunningham
Rank: Private
Unit: 8th Division / 2/30th Battalion
Date & Place of Birth: 14/09/1904, Johannesburg, South Africa
Date & Place of Enlistment: 20/06/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand, Burma

Robert Cunningham enlisted in the AIF in 1940 at the age of 36. Over a year after his enlistment he left Sydney for Singapore aboard the HMT FF (also known as the Johan Van Oldenbarnerelt). He was admitted to the ship's hospital on the way, with boils, but was discharged to his unit before disembarking in Singapore in mid-August 1941. Prior to the fall of Singapore Robert Cunningham was stationed in Malaysia at various locations, including Batu Pahat, Malacca and Jahore. In February 1942 he became a prisoner of the Japanese and was taken to Singapore where he formed part A Force, and was shipped off to Burma to work on the railway. Cunningham and the rest of A Force were not told the purpose of their trip or their true destination.

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John 'Jack' Edward Dando

No.: VX61577
Name: John 'Jack' Edward Dando
Rank: Private (Armed Division Clerk)
Unit: 2/10th Battalion Ord Fd Park
Date & Place of Birth: 10/02/1919, Essendon, Victoria
Date & Place of Enlistment: 24/09/1941, Royal Park, Melbourne
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand

Listen to Jack Dando's story

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 January24. 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 dysentry 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 te knee using 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.

Kenneth 'Ken' Arthur Gray

No.: NX33809
Name: Kenneth 'Ken' Arthur Gray
Rank: Corporal
Unit: 8th Div. Engineers / 212th Field Company Royal Australian Engineers
Date & Place of Birth: 31/03/1919, Sydney, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 20/07/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand

Listen to Ken Gray's story

Ken Gray was a member of the Australian Militia Forces in 1939, enlisting in the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF) during 1940. Ken arrived in Singapore in 1941 and fought the japanese in Malaya. He sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs and was moved to te Cathay buildingin Singapore (housing the 2/10th Australian General Hospital) until the allied surrender. Three days later Ken was trucked to Selarang Barracks where he remained until his injuries had healed. He was then sent on a working party to Caldecott Estate in Singapore. In 1943 Ken was taken as part of F Force to Thailand where he would act as a cook outside tarso camp until being transported to Sonkurai to work on the construction of foundations for the Burma-Thailand Railway. He developed a tropical ulcer on his ankle that almost caused the loss of his leg. On the completion of the 'Railway' Ken was transported to Kanburi recovery camp and subsequently back to Changi where he would remain until the japanese Surrender.

Dr Peter Ian Alexander Hendry

No.: NX35147
Name: Dr Peter Ian Alexander Hendry
Rank: Captian
Unit: 2/10 Field Ambulance
Date & Place of Birth: 29/06/1915, Coonabarabran, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 26/07/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand

Listen to Dr Peter Hendry's story

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 15 km from 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.

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William Alston TebbuttNo.: NX70344
Name: William Alston Tebbutt
Rank: Major
Unit: 8th Division, HQ
Date & Place of Birth: 19/02/1898, Sydney, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 30/09/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Sumatra (served WWI)

William Alston Tebbutt enlisted as Captain, after having served in WWI. At the age of 42 he was later elevated to Major. On the 9th September 1941 William and the rest of his unit, embarked from Sydney aboard the MS Boissevain and arrived in Singapore on the 16th of May 1941. He was encamped at Kuala Lumpur Head Quarters until the fall of Singapore. He was aboard the Vyner Brooke when it was sunk by the Japanese ands taken prisoner by the Japanese in Sumatra where he remained until 1945 when he was marched to Changi POW Camp.

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Content owner: Museum Last updated: 07 Nov 2019 1:40pm

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