WW2 researching my grandfather advice




 
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October 29th, 2015  
Lisleowen
 

Topic: WW2 researching my grandfather advice


Hi I am new to this site; I am very interested in WW2 history and have been since a child. I collect WW2 memorabilia: movie props, artefacts etc and do regular battlefield tours. My main interest is D Day and I also have a good collection of art prints with veteran signatures. Only in the past year I have been researching my grandfather who was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese and subsequently died of malnutrition. I have found one of the camps he was in and I am trying to research his time from sailing from Britain. I have quite a lot of information but I am struggling to get the full facts. My grandfather was a gunner in the Royal Artillery, 242 battalion. I would appreciate any advice. I have found his grave and plot number and have pictures through the war graves commission. I am also trying to find a photo of him as I have no photos. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been told the Australian government hold a lot of information as it was the Australian army who initially went into Borneo to recover the dead etc. Cheers Paul
October 29th, 2015  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisleowen
Hi I am new to this site; I am very interested in WW2 history and have been since a child. I collect WW2 memorabilia: movie props, artefacts etc and do regular battlefield tours. My main interest is D Day and I also have a good collection of art prints with veteran signatures. Only in the past year I have been researching my grandfather who was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese and subsequently died of malnutrition. I have found one of the camps he was in and I am trying to research his time from sailing from Britain. I have quite a lot of information but I am struggling to get the full facts. My grandfather was a gunner in the Royal Artillery, 242 battalion. I would appreciate any advice. I have found his grave and plot number and have pictures through the war graves commission. I am also trying to find a photo of him as I have no photos. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been told the Australian government hold a lot of information as it was the Australian army who initially went into Borneo to recover the dead etc. Cheers Paul
Are you sure it was 242 Battalion or 242 Battery?

As I recall 242 Battery was part of Sparrow force and there are several websites dedicated to them that you may be able to contact.

From the cofepow website...

Quote:
The 48th LAA Regiment, 'Bofors Guns', had three Batteries, 49, 95, 242. We sailed from Gourock on the river Clyde the day Japan declared war, December 7th 1941. We and many other regiments were on the 'Duchess of Athol'. We thought we were going to Basra (where the problems are now). We stopped at Freetown, and had our Christmas dinner there, then on to Durban. We changed ships there and after about six days there we boarded the 'HMT Dunera' with the possibility of Singapore, but we and other ships were diverted to Batavia, Java, and docked at Tanjong Priok harbour.
http://www.cofepow.org.uk/pages/armedforces_48thLAA.htm
October 29th, 2015  
Lisleowen
 
Hi guys thanks I am really excited at the information I am getting back. My grandfather was in 242 battalion 48LAA. He apparently sailed from the river Clyde on the 7th Dec 1941 on the Dutchess of Athol heading for Basra. He apparently changed ships and diverted to Batavia, Java. He was captured on the 9th of March 1942 after being over whelmed by Japanese paratroops and they were ordered to lay down there arms. For some reason he went to Jesselton camp where he died on the 12th of March 1943. I've read Jesdelton wasn't the main camp POWs went to. My Auntie was told he was taken from a ship due to being so poorly and was told he was heading home. I am thinking maybe this is why he ended up in Jesselton and not one of the bigger camps. He was repatriated by the Australian army who done a fantastic job under the circumstances and conditions they found. He is now in the Labuan cemetery at peace. This is all I have. I am trying to fill in the gaps. Other sources have said he will have travelled from camp to camp and this is how he had fallen poorly. I also would love to understand the circumstances of his capture. His name was Gunner Hitchings army number 11052513. I would love to have contact with anyone from his battalion who may have served with him. Thanks for all your swift replies. My auntie will be delighted as she has always wanted to no about his army life. She had very little information up until I started the research. Thanks, anymore info would be appreciated.
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October 30th, 2015  
MontyB
 
 
I assume this is the guy here?
HITCHINGS, Gunner, ALEX LEONARD, 11052513. 242 Bty., 48 Lt. A.A. Regt. Royal Artillery. 12th March 1943. Age 31. H. A. 3.
October 30th, 2015  
Lisleowen
 
Yeah that's my grandfather.
October 30th, 2015  
Lisleowen
 
I have searched various sites I have been told about and applied for his army records. Probably won't be much in his army records so not expecting much back. I no there won't be any photos in his file as I have already asked. I am busy trawling the Internet for pictures of his battalion but not having much luck. There is s picture of his battalion on the COFEPOW site, he may be in this picture but have no pictures to go off. I have researched all the obvious places with no luck. I have been advised as I previously stated to get in touch with the Australian authorities but not sure if there would be much mileage in this, I'm unsure. I purchased a book on the Royal artillery service overseas and it mentions my grandfathers unit in Java but not much else. But yeah that is my grandfather definately.
October 31st, 2015  
MontyB
 
 
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb..../sandakan.html

Here is a site about another member of 48 LAA 242 Battery who was taken as a POW and died in Sandakan Camp, maybe you could contact them for photos and information...
October 31st, 2015  
Lisleowen
 
Hi that information is fantastic. Much appreciated. The article is interesting and gives me other lines of research I didn't no. I will be looking into antheas POW list. Hopefully this can lead to other things. I will also look at trying to contact this guy for information. To think his father may have known my uncle, could have even been his best mate, who knows.
Thanks for your help really appreciated, this has given me more to look at as I was at stalemate. Cheers
October 31st, 2015  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisleowen
Hi that information is fantastic. Much appreciated. The article is interesting and gives me other lines of research I didn't no. I will be looking into antheas POW list. Hopefully this can lead to other things. I will also look at trying to contact this guy for information. To think his father may have known my uncle, could have even been his best mate, who knows.
Thanks for your help really appreciated, this has given me more to look at as I was at stalemate. Cheers
My uncle John was Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, he was also captured in Java. He ended up on the POW camp at Sandekan in north east Borneo where he was murdered by Japanese guards on the Sandekan Death March on 26th March 1945, He has no known grave. The Japanese gave the reason for his death as malaria, they forgot to add beatings, starvation diet and working till he dropped.

Out of over 2600 British and Australian POW's only 6 survived, because they escaped on the death march. Only 3 of those were fit enough to give evidence at subsequent war crimes trials.
October 31st, 2015  
MontyB
 
 
Here is some information on 242 Battery's movements around the time of his capture written by another of 242's personnel.

http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources...larke-moji.pdf

Arthur George Clarke
Army Service and Death 1941-1943
George Clarke was conscripted into a locally raised regiment of the Territorial Army, Royal Artillery (RA) 48th Light Anti-Aircraft(LAA) probably in early 1941. Initially, the duties of the unit involved the defence of the Essex ports (mainly Harwich) from German air attacks. Late in 1941, the regiment was assigned to overseas service in the Middle East and, with Gunner George Clarke (242 battery), left Southend by train on a miserable foggy day in early December.
On arrival at Gourock (Glasgow) the regiment was to be embarked on a modern ex-Castle Line troopship but, because of engine trouble, the men were loaded onto "Duchess of Atholl" which already contained other units. The resulting overcrowding was sufficient to lead to threats of mutiny which was only prevented when promises of improvements in conditions were made.
The ship formed part of a convoy which eventually sailed on December 8th (probably around the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour). The "Duchess of Atholl" had a reputation for discomfort in heavy weather (she was variously described as the "Dancing Duchess" or the "Drunken Duchess" because of the excessive rolling). The situation was made worse by engine trouble which resulted in a decrease in speed (lagging behind the rest of the convoy for some time) which also made the rolling worse, with crockery and cabin furniture flying around and most of the troops suffering from severe sea-sickness.

The voyage included a brief stop at Freetown, Sierra Leone, (the troops did not go ashore) and instructions, at some point, for the convoy to be diverted to Singapore to support the defence of Malaya from the invading Japanese. The convoy reached Durban, South Africa, (on January ? 1942) and the troops were given shore leave, where they were well received by the South Africans who organised receptions and sight seeing. The regiment was then embarked on "Dunera", a much more comfortable troopship, and the convoy (DM-2) left Durban on January 13.

Nearly all of the convoy was rerouted to Batavia, Java, (now Djarkata) as the situation in

Malaya was considered to hopeless. The forces to be landed in Batavia consisted of 3(?) regiments of Royal Artillery together with 3 RAF fighter (Hurricane) squadrons.

The convoy landed at Batavia on February 3 and the troops were housed in the barracks of the
colonial Dutch forces where no provision had been made for food. Few preparations had been made by the Dutch for the defence of Java and life in Batavia carried on as normal, with bars and restaurants open. It was generally agreed that Java could not be effectively defended, and the decision to land the troops there (rather than send them on to Australia) was mostly political.
Any resistance would, however, delay the Japanese advance which, at the time, presented a major threat to Australia. The forces on Java also included some American sailors from the USS Houston, a cruiser which was sunk off the Java coast, and a battalion of U.S. troops.

The first Japanese air attacks began on February 3 and 5 and the RA LAA regiments were initially mostly used to defend the airfields from which the assembled Hurricanes were flown. The troops were initially under the command of the regional British Army chief General Wavell, but on February 21 he moved his command to Colombo, Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka) and all British and Australian forces then came under the command of the Dutch Governor-General Dr. van Starkenborghder. The forces on Java also included some American sailors from the USS Houston, a cruiser which was sunk off the Java coast, and a battalion of U.S. troops.
The main Japanese force landed on Java early on March 1 and was opposed by Dutch and Australian infantry. The Japanese advanced easily with the only effective resistance coming from the Australian troops ("Blackforce") under Brigadier Blackburn.

The RA regiments continued to defend the airfields and then withdrew with the intention of
possible continuing the fighting as infantry, with the possibility of evacuation from the south of the island.
During this time, we know of the movements of 242 48th RA and it is likely that the only fighting that George Clarke would have been involved in would have consisted of strafing by Japanese aircraft. Following a number of movements, the regiment was ordered to surrender on March 8 when the Dutch authorities decided that further resistance was pointless. The British and Australian forces were also obliged to surrender at this time as further fighting, it was believed, could have compromised their eventual status as Prisoners of War (POWs) under the Geneva Convention.
It is likely that George did not encounter a Japanese soldier until a few days after the surrender.
The allied forces on Java were held in a number of prison camps and George was in a camp in Batavia (probably the old colonial barracks known as the "bicycle camp"). It is likely that conditions in this camp were not too bad, with much of the organisation and discipline left to the British and Allied officers. There were probably isolated incidents of brutality by the Japanese but, for the most part, the Japanese had other priorities and mostly used the prisoners in work parties to construct or repair airfields.
Following the initial Japanese conquests in South-east Asia, the Japanese then made plans for the redistribution of POWs as slave labour on construction projects, which included the Burmese railway, and in the mines in Japan and Taiwan. The POWs were generally viewed with contempt by the Japanese who considered surrender (rather than fight-to-the-death) to be dishonourable and that they should be considered as no better than "coolies" (native labourers).

After around 6 months in the Batavia camp, George was included in a group of POWs who were destined for labour in the mines in Japan and left Java on October 21 bound for Singapore, the distribution centre for POWs.
Conditions of the ship to Singapore (possibly the "Yosida Maru") were reasonable comfortable.
The group was held in Singapore for a short time and it is likely that the men were tested for dysentery before the final stage of the long voyage to Japan, for which the group was loaded aboard an old ship, the "Dai Nichi Maru". The group would almost certainly have suffered a considerable amount of brutality while in Singapore and when embarking on the ship, when the men were crowded in the (3?) holds of the ship. Conditions in the holds were appalling, with the men crammed into the holds with no room to lie down, with virtually no sanitary facilities. The holds in the tropical climate of Singapore were extremely hot and suffocating with little water available and very small quantities of poor quality rice the only food. It is believed that some of the men drank water from ice loaded aboard the ship and this lead to the rapid spread of dysentery.
 


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I Really need some advice here.. :(