Soldier profiles

Service Number : WX16572
Date of Birth : 14/05/1922
Place of Birth : SCOTLAND
Known as : NEIL
Occupation on Enlistment : SHIPPING CLERK
Date of Enlistment : 22/09/1941
Locality on Enlistment : VICTORIA PARK, WA
Place of Enlistment : CLAREMONT, WA
Rank (at time of discharge / death) : PRIVATE
Service : ARMY
Final Posting : 2/2 PIONEER BATTALION
Position / Platoon / Company (as 2/2 Pioneer) (date / details) : 3 PLATOON A COMPANY (JAVA)
Unit Transfers / Promotions (date / details) : 28/01/1942 TRANSFERRED TO 2/2 PIONEER BATTALION FROM DIMRA TRAINING CAMP AT HILL 69 PALESTINE
Theatres of War : SYRIA, JAVA
Wounded (date / details) :
Discharged : 11/02/1946
Date Died : 30/03/2019
Age at Death : 96
Community Roll of Honour : N/A
Buried Location / Memorial (P.O.W., D.O.W., K.I.A.) : N/A
K.I.A. (date / details) : N/A
D.O.W. (date / details) : N/A
M.I.A. (date / details) : N/A
P.O.W. (location/s) : JAVA
Died P.O.W. (date / details) : NO
Recovered P.O.W. (location/s) : JAPAN
Honours and Gallantry : None for display
Applicable Australian War Memorial circulars : NO
References found (entries & photos) : National Archives of Australia (Barcode 6464722 [NOT EXAMINED]),   WW2 Nominal Roll,   Australian War Memorial,   AWM_REL/01823.jpg,   Submitted story,   Submitted story,   Submitted story,   Submitted story,   N_MACPHERSON_1.jpg (ANZAC Day 2009 Kanchanburi War Cemetery [RECENT photo]),   G_ATKINS_7.jpg,   G_ATKINS_20.jpg,   G_ATKINS_25.jpg

Background :

Information submitted by Neil MacPherson OAM (2/2 Pioneer).

1924 Migrated with family to Western Australia in the Soldiers Group Settlement Scheme, family took up a 500 acre block at Margaret River, all fully timbered.

1926 Lack of capital, equipment for clearing forest and finance for crops and stock scheme failed, most settlers walked off properties and moved to Perth after extreme hardship.

1928 Nedlands a suburb of Perth, State Primary School.

1930 Depression years, family moved to Lake Grace, father worked on Lake Grace Hyden Railway construction, family lived in tents, children on correspondence classes.

1933/5 Perth Victoria Park Primary School, 4th 5th & 6th grades.

1936 Perth Technical School for 6 months, on turning 14 years, needed to help support family, so applied for and was appointed Message Boy for Hardie Trading Ltd. Studied at night school after work for two years (Note including war service, served the Company for 50 years and 3 months, 1954 transferred to Melbourne then Launceston, Adelaide and in 1966 finally back to Perth, 1986 retired as State Branch Manager).

1938 Promoted to Shipping Clerk, joined Senior Cadets 11th Battalion, night training Drill Hall, Weekend AG1219Bivouacs, rifle shoots Swanbourne Rifle Range.

1940 Applied to enlist in the 2nd AIF under the name of Neil Ormiston, using my two other names, put my age up to 21, my father then agreed to give his permission if I waited 12 months.

1941 Enlistment 2nd AIF when age reduced to 19 years, applied in May, accepted, enlisted September 22nd, Northam Camp (98 kilometres north of Perth), October pre embarkation leave then sailed Troop Ship H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth November 8th. Training at Dimra Training Camp, Palestine as a re-enforcement for 2/16th Infantry Battalion 7th Division. Leave in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

1942 The losses in the Syria Campaign meant that the 2/2nd Pioneers needed reinforcements, so 52 of us West Australians were transferred to this famous Fighting Victorian Battalion on 28th January. Due to the extreme situation with the Japanese advances, 3000 Australians, the vanguard of the 7th Division were loaded aboard the fast troop ship the S.S. Orcades which sailed from Port Tewfik, Suez on the 30th January for Australia. Under orders from General Wavell, the Force was ordered to land at Oosthafen, Sumatra to meet the Japanese thrust. On reaching the wharf, and before disembarkation, the orders were rescinded, and troops returned to Orcades. Quick departure due to enemy already in Oosthaven outskirts. Next day troops landed Tandjoeng Priok (port of Batavia, Java). N.B. Wavellís H.Q. staff took over our accommodation and was evacuated to Australia. Troops dispersed to five Airports to guard against Paratroops, daily air attacks. Cruisers Perth and Houston sunk 28 February while attacking major enemy landing in Sunda Straits. March 3rd A Company Pioneers ambushed while moving against encircling enemy, Neilís Platoon officer Lieutenant Cliff Lang and several others killed. Several parties made their way back through enemy lines to rejoin unit. Australians in convoy retreated into mountains for guerrilla fighting, however 8th March Dutch authorities surrendered Island with all Allied forces. May, POW Bicycle Camp Batavia, October 8th boarded Kenkon Maru, 12th Changi Singapore, 14th Maebasi Maru, 23rd Rangoon, 24th Yamagata Maru to Moulmein (part of William's Force on the Burma Railway), 25th Thanbyuzayat, 27th Tanyin (35 Kilo), 28th started work on Railway. December 18th conjunctivitis, blindness Thanbyuzayat Base Hospital for treatment, no drugs, rest and eye cover only.

1943 Thanbyuzayat, 8th January posted back to work camp 35 Kilo, March moved 25 Kilo Camp then progressively 40 Kilo, 45 Kilo, 60 Kilo, Chronic Malaria transferred to 30 Kilo Base Hospital, November 105 Kilo camp. Malaria attacks continued, health seriously deteriorating, first five letters from home received, lifted morale and my survival prospects.

1944 January train from 105 Kilo to Tamarkan. Recuperated with better food, made several trips up mountain carrying water to Jap Lookout, for double ration. May/June Water party for Jap Cook House provided access to Japanese food supply, health improvement continues June, part of Japan Party, 5 day train journey to Singapore in steel rice trucks, River Valley Road camp Singapore, work parties Wharf, Ammunition Dump etc August September Jeep Island building Dry Dock September, River Valley Road Camp. 15th December boarded hellship Awa Maru at Singapore. 26th December sailed in convoy for Japan.

1945 Awa Maru voyage continued up China Coast across to Moji Japan. Arrived in Japan 16/01/1945 aboard hellship Awa Maru. Train to Senryu Emukae Kyushu Camp 24. Minimum training in underground coal mining then down the mine. 9 days on 1 day off, shifts changed every 10 days. (Atomic bombs dropped Hiroshima 6th and Nagasaki 9th). 16th August half way though day shift brought back to camp. Told war had ended. 28th August first supply drop by U.S.A.F. bombers. Hikes in countryside, met farmer families. September 14th train to Nagasaki, through bombed town to wharf. Processed by U.S. people, boarded U.S.N. Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Chenango Okinawa Transit Camp, B24 bomber to Manila. 7th October boarded British Aircraft carrier H.M.S. Formidable. Arrived Sydney 13th October, processed Ingleburn Camp, next day train to Melbourne. Leave then on to Adelaide, more leave, train to Perth arrived home 21st October my Motherís 45th birthday. After 3 weeks leave, Hollywood Hospital for processing, treated for some of the infestations, like hookworm, etc, then Port Walter Camp for final processing, interrogation, dental care, which continued into 1946.

1946 Discharged 11th February. Under the Post War Commonwealth Scheme, took a 3 month refresher course on Book Keeping at Perth Technical College before returning to Pre-War employment National Trading Company Hardie Trading Pty Ltd a Reid Family private Company.

Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 26 January 2009. Citation reads `For service to the community, particularly through the establishment of the Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association, and to raising the awareness of the prisoners of war experience.'.