Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley death details for September 27 - October 3, 1945.
MORE LIBERATED SERVICEMEN
Word has been received that Driver Alan Goble, of Bar Beach, who was taken prisoner of war when Singapore fell is free, and should arrive in Australia shortly.
Driver Goble left Australia with the 2/20th Battalion, Eighth Division, and was in several prison camps, including Changi.
In a letter to his sister, Mrs R. A. Donald, of Pacific Highway, Driver Goble said the atrocities committed by the Japanese were too awful for words.
He also said he had taken part in the 400-mile march through the jungle to Niki, which occupied 17 days. During the march the men had slept on only four nights. When the march was completed, their feet were in a very bad way.
The letter was written on September 15. Driver Goble expected to go on board ship next day for the voyage to Australia.
Mrs E.J. Sullivan, of Helen Street, Merewether, has received a letter from her husband, Private Edward Sullivan, stating that he is safe and well in Singapore.
Private Sullivan served in the Straits Settlements Volunteer Service. He was district superintendent of the Berjuntai Tin Dredging Company at Batang Berjuntai.
Mrs G.A. Rose, of Main Road, Warners Bay, has received word that her son, Private Edwin Cherry, 2/19th Battalion, AIF, previously reported prisoner of war, is now safe. Private E. S. Porter and Private S. W. Porter, sons of Mrs. C. Porter, of Young Street, Carrington, have advised her that they are well and hope to return home soon.
They were captured at the fall of Singapore. .
Mrs G.H. Kildey, of Third Street, Teralba, has news that her son, Corporal H.S. (Mick) Kildey, is alive in Japan. He was with the 2/10 Field Ambulance and was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore, and has since been in Osaka Camp, Japan. One brother is with the RAAF and another brother and his father are in the AIF
DIED AS PRISONER
Mrs C.E. James, of Veda Street. Hamilton, has received news that her husband, Private C.E. James, died of illness while a prisoner of war at Ambon.
Private James was an employee of Kurri Kurri Cooperative Society for 151/2 years, and later employed by Richard Owens Ltd. at Adamstown. He was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs D. James, of Abermain. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Driver C. (Sam) Fernie, of Morisset, who was a prisoner of war for three and a half years on Ambon, died of illness on May 7.
Before enlisting, Driver Fernie was employed at Morisset Hospital for nearly 20 years. He took an active part in sport. He played one season with Wallsend first grade cricket team, and had success as a fast bowler.
He also won honours at Rugby League with the hospital team and with Dora Creek. He excelled at hockey and helped the hospital team in many wins.
His mother, Mrs A. Lang, lives at West Wallsend. Driver Fernie leaves a wife and two children, Kevin and Judith.
FATE OF RABAUL MEN MYSTERY
No trace could be found of a Japanese troopship which left Rabaul in June, 1942, carrying 700 to 1000 Australian prisoners of war, said the Minister for the Army (Mr Forde) in the House of Representatives. Most prisoners, he said, were men of the 2/22nd Battalion which defended Rabaul.
"It has not been possible to trace the movement of the vessel after its departure from Rabaul," he said.
"Apprehension is felt that it failed to reach its destination of Hainan."
Some officers of the 2/22nd had been recovered he said. These officers, with nurses and female missionaries, left for Japan on another ship.
Urgent instructions had gone to advance field formations to try to learn the fate of the Rabaul garrison. Interrogation of Japanese prisoners of war, camp commanders, guards and interpreters from Rabaul was also proceeding.
FORMER PRISONER WELCOMED
Corporal H. Dial, one of the first prisoners of war from Singapore to return to Newcastle, was the guest of honour at a welcome home given by his parents, Mr and Mrs J.T. Dial, and family, in the Holmesville Hall. Corporal Dial was a prisoner for three years and a half. Mr R. Mowbray was chairman at the function which was attended by 180 relatives and friends.
PRISONERS HARD TO TRACE
"The task of tracing many prisoners of war in Borneo is proving difficult," said the Army Minister (Mr Forde), in the House of Representatives.
It was feared, said Mr Forde, when eventually located, the death rate would be found to have been high owing to the meagre food ration and the high incidence of sickness in this area, Mr Forde added.
Australian prisoners of war had been moved from their known location to other parts of Borneo before the surrender of the Japanese, he said. Every effort was being made by interrogation, both of recovered Australian prisoners of war and Japanese, to obtain information about the movements of Australians.
The task had been made more difficult by the fact that the Japanese had burnt the camp at Sandakan after the Australian prisoners of war had left, thus preventing any evidence being obtained. While some graves of prisoners of war in Borneo bore the names of deceased members of the forces, many were without means of identification.
Food and medical supplies had been flown in and the evacuation of recovered POWs was proceeding with all haste, where it was possible to remove them.
"The Government fully sympathises with the next-of-kin, who may rest assured that no expense will be spared to trace the missing men," Mr Forde said.
FREED MEN HOME SOON
Mrs Mavis Dickson, of Union Street, Wickham, has received word from her husband, Corporal Robert Dickson, who was a prisoner of war in Japanese hands for more than three years. Corporal Dickson is now on board a hospital ship en route to Australia.
Mr and Mrs Vaughan Smith, of Gordon Avenue, Hamilton, have received a letter from their son, LAC Kevin Smith, that he is fit and well in Java. This is the first letter they have received from their son in three years and a half.
Private A.E. Brace, son of Mr. J. Brace, of Catherine Hill Bay, has been reported safe and well after having been held as a prisoner of war in Malaya. He will be returning shortly.
Mrs A.E. Dyring has been notified by the Air Board that her husband, Sergeant A.E. Dyring, has left Batavia by plane for Australia, via Balikpapan. Sergeant Dyring was in the Lockheed Squadron at Kota Bharu, and from there went to Singapore, Sumatra and Java, where he was taken prisoner in March, 1942.
Sapper Wallace H. Shearman, who was taken prisoner at Singapore, has been liberated from Fukuoka camp, Japan. He worked on the Burma-Thailand railway. His wife, Mrs W.H. Shearman, lives in Crebert Street, Mayfield East.
PRISONER ESCAPED ILLNESS
Private R. Donald Henderson, son of Mr G.D. Henderson, of Gordon Avenue, Hamilton, who has been a prisoner of war in Japanese hands since the fall of Singapore, has arrived home.
Private Henderson, who was attached to the 2/10th Field Ambulance commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Shepherd, of Adamstown, was in Changi camp, Singapore, but for seven or eight months was with an ambulance unit on Thailand railway construction work.
Rations, he said, were limited, but he had not been subjected to any brutal treatment, nor was he ill at any time. There was a lot of sickness among fellow prisoners, caused mostly through lack of nourishing food.
The medical section had very few medicines with which to treat men with tropical ulcer, beri-beri, dengue and malaria. Weighing over 9 stone (57kg) when he went away, Private Henderson's weight was about 7 stone (45kg) while a prisoner.
BRINGING FORCES BACK
As the shipping position stood today, it would take 24 months to bring back to Australia the 170,000 Australian fighting men still on service in the islands, Mr Fraser, Labour MHR, said in a broadcast from Canberra. There might well be Japanese troops in the islands being guarded by Australian troops two years from now, he added.
3625 AUSTRALIANS MISSING
The Minister for the Army, (Mr Forde) told the House of Representatives that 3625 known Australian prisoners of war were still not yet in Australian or Allied hands. Between the end of the war and September 26 8769 Australian prisoners had been recovered by the Allies.
This made a total of 12,394 reported alive, since war was over. It was regretted that the general reports indicated that the death toll in many areas might be heavy, but it would take a considerable time to ascertain the names of those concerned.
It was too early to make any reliable estimate of how many might be recovered ultimately. On September 26, there were 4926 AMF personnel who had been recorded as prisoners and about whom no information had been received since the war had ended.
The total number of AMF men in Japanese hands during the war was 19,968. Of these, 99 escaped or were recovered before the end of the war. Since the homeward movement of recovered prisoners began the names of nearly 700 Australians returning by air and 4700 returning by sea had been notified to their next-of-kin or published.
Australians were only a sixth of the Allied prisoners to be repatriated from Singapore and Manila camps. Thus the repatriation of Australians was only a small part of the gigantic repatriation task of the Allies. Replying to complaints of lack of transport, Mr Forde said priority had been given to returning prisoners. Until this was completed, the repatriation and demobilisation of service personnel overseas would remain practically at a standstill.
RAAF DETACHMENT FOR JAPAN
A Royal Australian Air Force detachment is to go to Japan. The force will arrive in Tokio from Borneo within a month.
It will comprise 2050 officers and men, with 100 fighter aircraft and several transport planes. The force will include fighter pilots who have served through the South-west Pacific campaigns. Two brigades of Australian troops will follow the airmen to Japan.
SEARCH FOR GRAVES
Australian reoccupation forces are locating and identifying graves of Australian soldiers and civilians. Officers of the War Graves Section have covered hundreds of miles in the last fortnight checking up on information given them by Japanese and natives.
They probably have ahead of them many months of investigations, as well as the unpleasant task of exhuming bodies and bringing them to central cemeteries. The Japanese took tombstones from civilian cemeteries and used them in the construction of pillboxes.
The officers have also found traces of hasty efforts by the Japanese to make a pretence of care for our dead by the erection of new crosses bearing inscriptions dated 1942.
Sergeant J.O. (Ollie) McDonald; who was a member of the 2/10 Field Ambulance, has written to his parents, Mr and Mrs J.B. McDonald, of Mount Hutton, stating that he has arrived in Manila from Japan. He was released from Fukuoka prisoner of war camp on September 16. Educated at Cook's Hill Intermediate High School, he was employed at the BHP prior to enlistment.
DIED IN JAPANESE CAMP
Captain P. Lusk, AIF, has been officially informed that his brother, Lieut. Fred Lusk, of Newcastle, died of illness in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1943.
Lieut. Lusk, who was transport officer in the 2/20th Battalion, was taken prisoner in Malaya. He was 37 when he died. Before the war he was employed by G. Dawson and Sons Ltd., of Newcastle. He was the motoring writer of the Newcastle Morning Herald.