Research & Articles by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired), JP
Research, Interviews and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year.
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HOBBS ALAN FRANK MAJOR SX10761 2/4 Casualty Clearing Station
POW "A" Force
Alan Frank Hobbs was born in East Marden, South Australia on 31 January 1899. His early education was at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide. He attended Adelaide University and graduated MBBS 1922. He married Mabel Ross James 1924. Alan Hobbs also attended Surgical Courses at Adelaide University and also in England. He was admitted Fellow Royal College of Surgeons 1928 and Royal Australian College of Surgeons 1939.
His enlistment date into the Australian Army (AIF) was 1940. He was allocated to the 2/4 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) which was formed on 30 December 1940 in Hobart, Tasmania. The planning to establish this unit had taken some months. The appointed Commanding Officer of the 2/4 CCS Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Hamilton from Newcastle started assembling the staff for this unit December 1940.
The first two Medical Officers to join the Unit were Captains "Bon" Rogers (a 1st World War veteran) and John Chalmers (subsequently to drown when being moved to Japan in 1944). Both these Medical Officers were Tasmanians. They were soon joined by Captain Stuart Simpson (a Dental Officer), who like the aforementioned was a Tasmanian.

In January 1941 the unit was then moved to Sydney via Melbourne . In February 1941 a convoy of ships comprising the Aquitania, The Queen Mary and the New Amsterdam headed south and then west. The convoy was joined later be the Mauritania. The ships stopped in Fremantle.
13 February the convoy left Fremantle. On around 16 February, in the Indian Ocean, the convoy broke up. Three vessels with escort took a course to Colombo and the Queen Mary, with a new escort, headed for Malaya.
For the balance of 1941 it seems the Unit was located in Malaya. It was occupied in further training and, it seems, enjoyed a social life.
8 December 1941 changed all that. The Japanese invaded southern Thailand and Malaya. I have been extremely fortunate in being provided with a typed copy of Major Hobbs diary (kindly provided to me by Major Hobbs' son Doctor William Hobbs of Adelaide). The Diary contains three distinct parts:-
1. before the Japanese invasion of Thailand and Malaya
2. the period after the invasion to the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942
3. some detail of the time as a POW to December 1942.
I will now insert on following pages, the typed version of Alan Hobbs diary (bear in mind that it has been typed from hand written notes in his small diary). The diary will be followed by relevant comments from various books, articles or papers:-

Below is a picture of his diary which actually measures around 10 cm by 5 cm. Readers will have some understanding of the difficulty in reading/ deciphering the written material.


March 1941

Mon 3 Visit from Colonel Hedley Summons C.O. 2/9 Field Ambulance & SMO Port Dickson, Seremban areas. Visited S Civil Hospital where 9 cases from Port Dickson & 9 from Seremban CRS. Still no beds CRS only 20 stretchers. 2 sisters Irving & Taylor in CRS & 2 Pump? & McMillan in Civil Hospital (all from 10 AGH Malacca).

Tue 4 Well now. Pleasant day. Cloudy in morning making much cooler. Apparently becoming accustomed to tropics as do not sweat nearly as much now as at first. Not much variation in temp. except with sun, about 80 to 85. Night not unpleasant, usually need 1 sheet half way through night. "Pictures" in evening. $0.75 reduced from $1.50.

Wed 5 CRS 17 patients - about ½ day's work. I do administration, ops and lecture to orderlies, treat inpatients. I visit Seremban Civil Hospital each Saturday and report re patients to DADMS. All are discharged through CRS here at Port Dickson.

April 1941

Sun 6 !! Germany attacked Greece and Yugoslavia.

Wed 30 To Malacca 10 AGH for Clinical Meeting.
" Severe thyrotoxicosis rare here - native.
" Troops - Amoebic Dysentery to Hepatitis.
" Ankylostomiasis with diarrhoea.
" Severe Typhus. Typhoid - native.
" Malaria (2).
" Many fungus infections.
Note - AGH = Australian General Hospital DADMS = Deputy Assist Director Medical Services

May 1941

Thu 1 Routine CRS.
Walk to Kepang? For Light Section Exercise.
Equipment not sufficient for much surgery.

Fri 2 No batman. No good.
2/20 farewell dinner. Capt. Bon Rogers O.C. Adv. Depot of Med and Vet stores was in camp with H G Prest at Royal Park. Crusty (Prest) going on Amb. Transport.
CRS. Last.

Sun 4 2/20 left for Port Dickson.
2/18 arrived in Seremban.
Lt. Col. Varley. Major. Assheton 2IC. Major. Merritt.

Tue 6 Visit from Brigadier Stringer A.D.M.S. Malaya Command and Col. Derham.
For---? quite pleasant chap and interested in things?.
Advanced depot of Medical Stores to function at Malacca.
Also visit by Major O'Donnel & Capt. Cusack of British Army.

Sun 11 Seremban to Malacca
Trip with Abang? to Pulau Perimbun? 7 miles south of Malacca owned by Jucke? MO named Salleh.
B.O. spoke?. Tiffin in Malayan fashion eaten with fingers. See Mab's letter May 13 or 14 1941.
Went with Abang?, Heatherington, Lt. Pockley 2/20 & Reg. Reid.

Tue 13 Seremban.
Too wet for golf.
Dinner with Abang at Rest House. Discussion on various topics. Life, death etc. Does not believe in N.Test? but in death being a transition.

Wed 14 Pictures Metropole. Terry and the Pirates. Trying 8 - 12 pm.

Thu 15 To Kajang for 8 am. Breakfast.
Exercise on Brome Estate 9 m SW. Establishment of advanced operating centre by Light Section of CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) . Looked over rubber factory.

Tue 20 Dined with Sisters Irving, Pump, Dwyer. (Schumann) at 327 Circular Rd. Seremban
Also present Mr. And Mrs. Killingston?.

Wed 21 In bed from afternoon until Sunday 25/5/41 with "flu".
Have to postpone leave to Singapore & Cameron Highlands. (was to leave tonight).

Wed 28 Work commenced. Formal mess night. Sisters Drummond, Ogilvie and other nurses entertained. Dance at mess. Major Assheton (2/18) lived at P.E. Knows Dr. Boucaut of SA.

Thu 29 Game of golf in the evening. Letter writing evening.
Feel really well for first time since 'flu'.

Wed 4 Leave for 7 days commenced but approval only arrived from H.Q. today so will go in a.m.
Still boil neck and right ear.

June 1941

Thu 5 To Kuala Lumpur with Rod Jeffrey. (Capt Medical Officer - died on Sandakan Death March)

Fri 6 On to Cameron Highlands with Morris 12. For details Mab's letter no. 34 of 12 - 13/6/41.

Sat 7 Met Mrs. Imrie & later Mr Miss Jackson, Mr Willie, Mr Trevor - Seremban. Mr Thearus?, Mr Wainright, Mrs Smith, elderly lady. Mrs Rintoul - Asst. Manageress. Mrs Raftery proprietress.

Mon 9 Col. Cotter Harvey, Mrs Burdett, Group Capt. Bromnell?

Wed 11 Returned from Cameron Highlands via K.L. Golf at Selangor Club. Reaching Seremban at midnight.
Cost of Driver (official) 13 cents per hour.

Thu 12 Commenced duty.

Thu 19 Electric fan. Great idea. Can write in afternoon and dress without sweating.

Mon 30 Bought cane chair $2.40. Can now read in comfort. To mess with 2/9 Field Ambulance at Port Dickson. (Col. Summers CO.). Conference of MOs. with Bob Wall and Lloyd Cahill (NX35149) from Seremban. Coconut groves and views of Straits of Malacca very attractive & sunset about 6.30 pm.

No diary entries available for July to December 41.

January 1942

Mon 5 Air raid on aerodrome, 10 bombers at about 7 a.m. Lasted on and off about ¾ hour. Many bombs and much AA fire. Only one military casualty, abrasions and cut scalp. I was in bath lathered at start.
From slit trench could see 10 planes and 3 fighters & AA fire and hear whistle of AA shells. Report of 2 bombers not reaching base - crashing on way home.
Transferred stretcher to tent, is rather? Adjacent to ward.

Tue 6 No. 91 posted to Mabs.
Wed 7 21 sisters of 10 AGH arrived. ?Destined to Mr. Pratts bungalow. Others going to 13 AGH temporarily . Also several officers.

Thu 8 Majors Andrews (H.L. VX39316) and Uhr, Capts Woodruff and Wright, also Padre Benjamin (VX39516) arrived from 10 AGH with 37 OR en route to a new location.

Fri 9 Enemy bombers over at 4:30 this morning. Took to trench for a few minutes only. Apparently on way back from Singapore which had a raid with 7 killed. To Mabs No. 92.

Sun 11 AIF taking up new positions on defence line. Gordon Bennett G.O.C. West Force including 3rd. Indian Corps.

Mon 12 2/3 M.A.C.(Motor Ambulance Convoy) arrived, 2 sisters.
Have had no casualties. Just a few vehicles bombed and machine gunned.
Have been with 3rd. Indian Corps. Evacuating through 5th. C.C.S.
10 A.G.H. left for Singapore.

Tue 13 Went to ?Rengan Estate Hospital with Col. Pearson, Mjr. ?Marker, Capt. Gibbs of 5th. C.C.S. (Indian). They have returned through Tanjing? Malin?, Kajang, Seremban, ?Tampin Ayer Hitam. Maximum 10 days one place. Generally 2 or 3 treating casualties up to 60 in a convoy. To 3rd. Indian Corps HQ. "(where confusion reigned)"
Sydney ?Nardell Later in Chungkai.
Japs respecting Red Cross.

Wed 14 From Mabs No. 89 & 90 From JHH & mother. To Mabs No. 93.
Fair number of road accidents and a few minor Indian battle casualties. Visit by Cpt Seed R.M.O. to 155 Rgt. Withdrawn from North. Worst action at Slim River. Commenced continuous evacuation from here to 13 A.G.H. & 1 M.G.H. during day and convoy at 0900 daily. Planes (Jap) over once. No bombs. Battle casualties in A.I.F. commenced. Operated from 2300 to 0600 oo 5 cases.

Thu 15 Yesterday A.I.F. in action 2/30 Battn. Gemas - 1 Co. 'B' damaged badly a 'brigade'(of Japs). Enticed them across the bridge - ambushed. A.I.F. 8 cas. (2 killed). Japs smashed.
Operating. 1700 to 0930. Syd (Krantz) and I, 36 cases. Mine included wounds legs, arms, face, head, chest & abdomen. A.I.F., British and Indians, most A.I.F. Others minor injuries not operated.
?Brown killed 2 Japs & fought 2 others. Reported in the papers as killed 6 Japs single handed. Wounds to head, cracked skull and face wounds. Slept 4 hours in jungle. Found right way in a.m.

Fri 16 Operating 2130 to 0400 on the 17th. Ten casualties, AIF and British. Theatre worked well but need:
1. preop. prep. before coming to theatre 2. Xray from preop. 3. Anaesthetic started while previous case in progress.
I could work a 24 hour stretch but 12 followed by 3 hours rest is better.
Jap ?inakel carried '25' bullet from face L > R. Jap infiltration over Muar River and at Bakri. Mjr. Jones operated GSM L shoulder (on the 17th). 74 cases evacuated.

Sat 17 To Mabs no. 94 re AIF in action. No letters from home.
No further casualties except minor not requiring op. About 12 serious cases being returned home. Enemy planes first 23 then a much greater number over very probably to Singapore. Very cool. Japs threatening Muar Region. 2/29 gone into action. Four casualties required operation. Done by Syd (Krantz) from midnight on. Wounds, plaster.

Sun 18 I have 9 retained casualties. Progress satisfactory. All pyrexial. Three with bayonet wounds, multiple fractures, skull seems normal. Evacuated two today after 72 hours. Those wounds inspected in 48 hours, discharge free, thin slough on the surface but not much inflammatory reaction surrounding. I slept all night. Weather very cool. Forty nine planes over at 12:30 ?
Plaster with salt sets satisfactorily. Gauze with size or starch will not set. With starch sets partially and softens later.

Mon 19 Sisters sent back. Went to 13 AGH. Ted Fisher also to 13th with dengue.

Tue 20 To Mabs no. 95. Moved from Mengkibol to Fraser Estate. Left Mengkibol.

Wed 21 Commenced operating in the evening.

Thu 22 From Mabs no. 91 & 92. > my 88 & 89 on 10th. From Ian. From Ethel. First Malayan CCS started working in operating team in own theatre. Operating at moderate pressure only.

Fri 23 To Mabs no. 96 (in haste) answering 91 & 92.
Syd Ktantz and Brereton returned. In status quo. Laminectomy for GSM and paresis? R leg and increasing paresis? Of L leg after admission. Also had skull wound (probably only outer table) and multiple chest wounds, superficial.

Sat 24 Operating on roster with Cpt. Smyth? & Cpt. Naurusie? Of the 1st Malayan CCS. Many cases admitted but only about 15 ops. per 24 hours. Many old wounds from 2/19 & 2/29. Lloyd Cahill, Dean Austin, Lt. ?Hammond From 2/19 after being cut off four days near Muar. (read a comprehensive account of Captain Lloyd Cahill (MO) situation in Soldier Surgeon in Malaya by Lt Col Tom Hamilton.)

Sun 25 192 casualties including many trucks? Passed through CCS last night. A few ops including 2 very serious. Cpt. Keating bullet wound L axilla severed auxiliary artery & musculocutaneous nerve. Several transfusions of serum and blood over 18 hours. No pulse in wrist, oedema but some circulation. Ligature two ends and veins (Sulfa). Left Fraser Estate Hospital Kului? 12:40 a.m. 26th. 15 F.A. (Canadian) came in before we left. Compound fracture tibia & fibula arrived just before we left, sent on.Keating later at 10 AGH amputation and death later.

Mon 26 Kulai to Johore ?Bahru
Arrived Johore Bahru old mental hospital at 2:30 a.m. per water cart. Syd (Krantz) and C.O. earlier set up theatre. Slept 3:00 to 7:00. To prepare to evacuate to Singapore Island Command.
John Chambers (MO TX2150) went to their site on Singapore Island previously occupied by Air Force personnel, "were occupying too much accommodation so kicked us out".

Tue 27 Operated all night - 6 cases. Most needed transfusion some with serum and some with blood in addition. Amputated arm, fractured humerus (2). Fractured humerus and abdominal wound from entry wound over pelvis - died. Could not close abdomen. Facial wound. Compound fracture R. femur, tibia and fibula. Anaesthetic by Des Brennan (2/3 MAC).

Wed 28 To Bukit Panjang. I left Johore Bahru at 0930 for new site in Bukit Panjang English School for Malays, Singapore Island, 7 miles from the causeway. Main body arrived about 2 p.m. now working hard. Commenced operating at 6 p.m. A good site but only 1 mile from petrol tanks. ?Food factory and railway on one side of site and main road on the other. Red cross on padang?. Since 14 Jan 1600 casualties have passed through our hands.

Thu 29 Several ops. on last night from 6 p.m. till 3 a.m. - on again 12:00 to 8:00 in theatre. Only one team working most of the time. Staff overtired and no nurses so difficult to get two theatre teams continuously. I did 13 cases, 11 of them between 6 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. One case of bullet wound severed popliteal artery and vein. Ligatured with difficulty. Much haemorrhage before transfusion. Later in day a thoraco-abdominal wound left chest with slight lung trauma but much haemorrhage then through diaphragm and spleen, stomach and splenic artery. Died after 24 hours.

Fri 30 Raids on Singapore naval base daily. Usually about 25 or 30 planes seen early in the morning. Saw one shot down by AA fire yesterday and one on fire and fell today. Sisters rejoined us (2) from 10th A.G.H. Sat 31 Rest of sisters back. Causeway from Johore Bahru to Singapore Island blown up. "Battle of Singapore" commences. All out troops evacuated to the island without casualties. Our big guns boomed all night. Four sisters returned to 13 A.G.H. leaving Kinsella, Hannah, Wilmott and Farmaner. No Work!

February 1942

Sun 1 No casualties except two minor bomb injuries. One from 2/3 M.A.C. about a mile away. Went with C.O. in car to Singapore. Sat in Raffles hotel but no "boys". After we left the "all clear" sounded so apparently all were in shelters! Back via Pasir Panjang and Reformatory Rd. Bomb damage in city. Remarkable how small parts of buildings damaged leaving the rest standing.

Mon 2 Only minor cases admitted from working in constructing slit trenches etc. Daily raids 2 or 3 times, fairly close. Much smoke from fires to North East.
Gray,s birthday! Cheerio Gray! Will see you I hope before you have too many more.

Tue 3 To Mabs no. 99 and parcel from Mabs. Air raid on oil tanks 8/10 mile North of us at 0530. Bombs sounded very close and shook the bulding knocking cups off the table but no windows broken. Machine gun fire from planes. One tank set on fire making a landmark for a raid by 20 planes about 10:00 a.m. on same objective and unpleasantly close. Two car accidents with naval personnel and Lt. Col. Fearson? Punjabis. Kept up all night - scalp lacerations and knee injuries. One comminuted patella required removal of the patella and sulphanilimide in the joint.

Wed 4 Much bombardment of the enemy from many 25 pounders placed close to us. A few casualties from enemy artillery, nearest about 3 miles from us. While operating on one with extreme haemorrhage from a perforated artery and vein of the thigh, repeated fire commenced from a 25 pounder 200 yards away - 2/10th Field Regiment - was a bit distracting. Using a tourniquet eventually oversewed? the vessels in two places with aneurysm needle and controlled the haemorrhage. Foreign body, shell splinters, removed. (Lt. Neillon?) Air raids several.

Thu 6 Sgt. Orchard blood transfusion last night - cross matched both group IV - reaction with rigor and subsequent jaundice. (Severed popliteal artery and vein with gangrene of toes.) Evacuate to 10 A.G.H. with all other patients as we move tomorrow owing to danger of shell fire on gun batteries and Ack Ack all around us. Two cases of shell wounds died before operation. Abdominal with prolapse of viscera and penetrating wound of chest with haemothorax from liver, lung.

Fri 6 To Swiss Rd. Club. C.C.S. closed to casualties last night pending move. C.O. and Chalmers moved with advance party to Swiss Rifle Club 4-5 miles nearer Singapore, early. I remained to supervise loading till 4 p.m. Practically clear by then. Regular gun fire about us. Solitary Jap plane flew low over us, commenced a machine gun burst but apparently stopped on seeing the red cross. Wing marking distinct. We thought it was our plane at first. No AA fire. By ambulance to new site. Delightfully situated 11/2 miles from main road - chalet, hilly?, concrete tennis courts, swimming pool 70' by 35' - 9 or 10 feet deep, tiled etc.

Sat 7 P.O. Pattie - RAF welfare officer. Knee wound in bombing attack on docks on 30th. Former AIF Major. Thinks more of RAAF than RAF in Singapore.

Sun 8 Very heavy bombing raids on Bukit Timah Rd. between the above and Bukit Panjang where we were last. 2/3 MAC 8 wounded and a number ?NYWN from burying. Artillery very heavy on night of 8th. Putting up surgical tents on the tennis courts. Digging and cutting down trees for roof to trenches. Japs landed on Singapore Island.

Mon 9 A very busy day. Wards got ready for work. X Ray functioning. Most wards full. One op. in evening, buttock wound. While X raying him, several shells whistled over and burst not far away but mostly duds. Syd (Krantz) - one op. next day only before move. Very disappointing after hard work setting up. Capt Alec White (MO) arrives as Reinforcement. Capt. Doug Cummins (MO) arrived en route for 2/10 Field ambulance.

Tue 10 To Gilstead Road. Asiatic Petroleum to ?Bengalow. Ordered in a.m. "Ready to move to new 10 AGH. Packed up surplus "light" section at Swiss Rifle Club. 2/9 and 2/10 FA's joined us during the night. Much shelling and bombing. Guns all around us. Shells in area. Splinters through Wayworth's tent, Q store and through theatre tent and a cabinet. Spent a good bit of time in trenches till 3 p.m. then strangely quiet for several hours. Moved out after loading rapidly about 6:45 p.m. to Gilstead Rd. During morning heard many shells whistling over us and exploding and bombs whistling.

Wed 11 To Manor House 10 AGH.
Slept well on the upper floor of a bungalow until 4 a.m. when heavy gunfire and shelling commenced. During a.m. much bombing and shells whizzing over us. One fell only 200 yards away and grit scattered over "my" trench. One shell fragment through the orderly room and plaster on my table from the ceiling.
Unit split up. I and 13 orderlies to 10 AGH. Fisher, Brereton and Burnside to 13 AGH. Things got hot so rest of unit left for 13 AGH. Rumours yesterday of a Yank landing at Penang and ?PD later of Indian division fighting on north of Singapore Island. Further report today of forces having reached Kuala Lumpur. Later of Japs having been pushed back from Causeway. Last night and this a.m. rather despondent as it appeared that it was a "bad blue".

Arrived at 10 AGH (Manor House) about 1200 and commenced operating at once with Phillips and continued until midnight. Rough and ready surgery with no preop. treatment as at ?Khiang. After 12 had a poor night as shells were whizzing over and landing not far away. Our artillery was close on our south side so we were in a cross fire. Machine guns were heard quite close. Did not sleep in my tent but slept for a while in the "round house".

On Wednesday evening with Carl Furner. Sgt. Syme to Gilstead Rd. for a few medical stores by car. All night the din was terrific from our guns about ½ a mile away and Jap shells bursting apparently behind us and over about Bukit Timah Rd. Manor House had a direct hit on tents 2 days ago and 2 killed. Sisters still working under fire unperturbed.
I was detailed to return to the Manor House (1 mile) by car through roads congested with retreating Indian troops. (This seems to be their main function). Instructed to evacuate the 400 patients to Cathay, Singapore General Hospital, St. Joseph's ?Institute, 1st Malayan CCS (Col. ?Maledha) and 1st Malayan General Hospital.
Commenced just before nightfall having had no evening meal. Ambulance arrived from 2/2 MAC and 3 ton trucks from 2/2 Reserve Motor Transport Coy. I was told to take charge as I had had more experience of moving than the AGH officers, Farmer, Uhr, Fagan (Mjrs.) Cpts. Pufflet and Park (killed 9 Feb 1942). Imagine the evacuation in the darkness, no lights allowed outside and very little inside as Japs quite close. Shells whining. Our guns - with those battery commanders we had tried to arrange not to open fire and draw Jap fire near us until we had a chance to evacuate -- commenced to fire in bursts and Jap shells whizzed over us and exploded in response. Things were going fairly well when a convoy of trucks, bren carriers etc. arrived on the scene - a British detachment under a young officer who was concerned with "blowing the main road between us and Singapore ". We hoped we would get past first as there were still about 100 patients left. This convoy had completely blocked the highway for about 1/3 of a mile so our movement was held up for nearly an hour while we cleared it getting some of our trucks out first and then glad to get rid of his. The orderlies (some of them) worked hard and with each load of patients some orderlies went with the overcrowded ambulances to the various destinations.
At last at about 1.00 a.m. we left after having loaded a large number of hospital beds but having decide not to load the last two trucks as we had been expected to leave before midnight and we did not know how close the Japs were and thought it wise not to risk capture by staying longer. The trip in to Singapore was quiet except for machine guns being heard and shelling proceeding mainly of Singapore (where we were bound for). Arriving at Cathay we had great trouble finding where to go as our floors were entered from the back (about 4th floor). With a few CCS men I was walking along a street trying to find the way around when a shell shattered a house about 50 yards away making us take to the earth for a minute or so.
Eventually we got in after climbing a huge flight of stairs outside ?trail and found Bert Jose who had evidently been doing a good job in the necessarily chaotic conditions after so hurried a move. The Oldham Hall move had been completed 2 or 3 hours before ours. The Cathay was filled with troops (3rd Indian Corps). Native and civilians on our floors. Patients lying packed everywhere, all in complete darkness, and any flash of a torch, however dimmed, was greeted with yells of "put that light out" mainly from shell shock in N.Y.D.?N cases.
Over all incessant shelling was going on. Most of the shells bursting in the city. I spread my ground sheet on the floor of the Entrance Hall and tried to sleep there being no possibility of doing anything further for the patients in the darkness.

Thu 12 In morning not much surgery. Walked 2 or 3 miles to "silence some of our guns which appear too close to AGH but found it further away then anticipated. To Oldham Hall for lunch. Caught in an Indian convoy en route while dive bombers and machine gunning was active. Made a dash for it rather than take to the drains with a crowd of Indians and "ask for" machine gunning. Lunch at mess. To Oldham Hall after. Saw sisters Kinsella and Farmaner. Later 2 shells 30 yards from front door. So we decided to withdraw AGH to Cathay.

Fri 13 Day spent classifying surgical patients and doing a number of operations in theatre established in the East side of the building (shelling coming from the West). Dressings were done as well as possible in the absence of water and other facilities. Three Civilian women did great work here assisting. Had some very sick men. Some new ones being admitted. Adrian Farmer working with me.
Slept in bomb proof room downstairs (3rd floor) and had to get up to do one op. In the night, one of the most eerie nights I've experienced, general fire, shrieks of ?NYPDs etc.

Sat 14 At 2:00 pm to 1 Malayan CCS at St Josephs Institute for 24 hours to interchange with ?Harvey Phillips. Numerous shells seen from our window immediately before 2:00 pm. Apparently not causing much destruction. St Josephs had 5 direct hits with shells last night. During the night of the 14th slept in a corridor open on one side. Shells falling in vicinity all night.


Sun 15 Surrender of Singapore at 8:30 pm.
Cathay severely shelled and vicinity bombed at about 1:00 pm. Sixteen killed in Convalescent Depot in cinema and many injured. Bomb in courtyard at St Josephs at 2:00 pm just when I was due to leave. Capt Rod Jeffery and I in theatre. "Are you ready" he said as I was scrubbing up. Next moment bomb, bomb, bomb, the early ones landing in the padang across the road with the gun emplacements and the last one we heard land in our courtyard. It was a miracle that there were no casualties among patients and staff as the ward is in a position separated only by a bunding wall only 10 yards from the edge of the 25 foot crater. 5 cars and trucks burned and a man working under one of them was only blackened. Two or three casualties only from over the street. Returned to Cathay after this to find that they had been busy in theatre ( Harvey Phillips and Kevin Fagan) with casualties from Cathay shells. While operating on Henshaw (NX60395 DOD 16/11/43), late of CCS, for a compound fracture above the elbow Colonel White came in and announced cessation of fighting as from 8:30 pm. This had appeared inevitable today but what a disappointment! Our active participation finished.

No entries from Mon 16 to Sat 28 Feb.

March 1942

Sun 1 Water bottles collected. Found later that only the 10 AGH had handed theirs in as the Japs only wanted a few, so very annoyed at not having kept mine.

Mon 2 I have now 2 wards with 22 patients, mostly suppurating wounds. A few amputations, most suppurating badly but not much toxaemia. Compound fractures of upper and lower limbs, one brain injury and amputation of arm (died later).

Wed 4 Rank badges removed Nips. Order. Ordered that all officers wear 1 star on our left pocket.

Thu 5 To CCS in evening. Op ?Turich, GSW R shoulder, comminuted fracture of head & neck (of humerus) in extreme abduction . Could not be ?screwed down so distal fragment spiked into it. A third fragment lying medially ? subsequent limitation of adduction.
Orderlies changed over to 3 eight hour shifts. All CCS nursing orderlies now working at 10 AGH.

Fri 6 to Sat 7 pages missing.

Sun 8 Moved from Selarang - Gordons Barracks to new site, Combined General Hospital (CGH) at Roberts Barracks. AIF Hospital here separate but under command of Lt Col Craven, CO of British General Hospital. Col Pigdon in command of AGH but under control of Craven!

Mon 9 Joined by CCS officers quarters? Working with 13th and 10th and a few other AAMC officers including Bob Dick of 2/3 MAC. Quarters in one end of large 3 storey barracks building. Room 20 feet square. Only 4 officers in room. Very comfortable in this respect. Lt Col Cotter Harvey Maj Arthur Home Rg Sgt BATN? Carl Furner and myself. Cr Verandol?? Tom Hamilton, Col Bill Bye, Maj Kevin Fagan, Bert Nairn commenced working with us at CGH. I with H Phillips and Fagan have on one floor about 100 patients. Terminal 2y haem. Compd. Fracture R humerus. Next room Henry Phillips, Lyall Andrews, Bruce Hunt, Cpt? Cahill (Note - there were two Medical Officers with surname Cahill -they were Frank and Lloyd and both later members of F Force in Thailand) and …….

Roberts Barracks from Dysentery Ward

Wed 11 Our area consists of about ½ mile by 1/3 mile and includes 9 3 storey buildings, barracks with several small outbuildings. Four of these are occupied by our patients all told.350 surgical, many dysenteries and other med. Cases. British Hospitals occupy 3 buildings in the same area and others nearby.
At present we are allowed to walk outside hospital area for about a mile, into areas occupied by British troops.
Malay Command 3rd Inf. (?Ind) Corps RE and other officers occupy "Artillery Barracks" on the hill overlooking Johore Straits. Visited there - concert in evening. Beautiful situation and view of Straits.

Sun 15 Food wonderful! Rice and roast pork killed from our pen. Very small amount but good. For tea 2 jam tarts each and BREAD. Usually rice for three meals very slightly flavoured with diluted milk and sugar sometimes not flavoured at all. Occasionally with stew or curry. Tea with no milk or sugar. Coffee or cocoa nil.
Food ration - Rice 17 oz
Meat 11/2 oz or fish 1 oz.
Sugar ¼ oz.
Salt 1/6 oz.
Milk ? very little.
Veg 2 oz per day, turnip and green peas now.

Tue 17 Food on Sunday was most unusual. Standard day is: Breakfast, rice dry or crushed (by us) in form of porridge. Lunch rice flavoured slightly with something as direct? Corn, small amount of weak gravy etc or green cooked paw paw. Dinner usually better - rice with curry, stew, occasionally rice and raisin tart, piece of bread, occasional flour and rice roll or rice cookie. The extras not always.
Rice I can eat in large quantities if flavoured with curry, stew, salmon or herrings, beans and especially coconut which (strangely) we have very rarely. Afraid always still hungry after a meal so far.

Sat 21 Transferred with my 28 patients to O2? Ward. Maj. Crankshaw?, Capt. Hogg 84 patients. Sgt. Morgan 2/9 F. Amb. Sent NCO wardmaster.

Wed 25 Our area has been fenced off with barbed wire so are definitely POW even though AMC. This limits our wanderings to about ½ mile each way. For fencing ourselves in with barbed wire the Japs have agreed to consider allowing us a canteen. But when?

Thu 26 Op Byrnes Aneurism of femoral artery.

Fri 27 Gilbert Jose (MO Major SX11028) died at 0645 after dysentery lasting only a few days. Extreme toxaemia and delerium for about 3 days, then coma for 2. Buried in AIF Cemetery Changi, about 1½ miles from Roberts Barracks on main Singapore road. Maximum number of dysentery cases 469.
Mon 30 Sikhs sent in by Japs as our guards but on the whole we are personally left very much to ourselves and left to run our own hospital. Now about 800 patients in hospital. Dysentery cases diminishing in numbers, surgical cases about 330 diminishing slowly. Should be many less in another month. I have 28 who will mostly remain longer.

Tue 31 Have done 3 secondary sutures ? wise. Tendency to fairly severe reaction following opening of fresh tissue planes. On the other hand skin grafts are not taking very well. I have not done any yet. Have very few wounds involving flexures. Vaseline dressing or tulle gras is very satisfactory for wounds that are still suppurating freely but not when only a superficial wound remains - granulating- then saline compresses or such like prevent the excessively soft and thick granulomatous tissue vaseline etc. engenders.

April 1942

Thu 2 Op. By Col. Osborn for suppurating arthritis of knee. Transection by making? incision through patellar ligament. Skin stitched back. Drains through posterior incision. Fixed in flexion with plaster. ?? ?? to allow dressing. Cases of suppurating arthritis have been very sick with much toxaemia.
Two compound fractures upper end of humerus in shoulder spicas. Extreme wasting leads to movement at elbow and tendency to pressure sores. Lionel Bennett North Adelaide footballer - pyrexial, very sick. Plaster changed.

Mon 6 Rain and thunder practically every day now as at this time last year in Seremban, generally in the afternoon.
It is said that Gilbert Jose's death has stimulated an attack on the fly menace and that it has been directly responsible for rapid diminution in the number of dysentery cases.

Tue 7 Clinic to MOs on 3 cases. Byrne femoral aneurism. Morley median and ulnar paralysis and radial palsy. After this walked 1 mile along railway line and loaded coal and old timber and pushed truck back to camp. Shorts no shirt and in pouring rain. Thoroughly enjoyed our first outing since visit to O.Pfs? 12 March. In evening entertained ourselves with impromptu speeches of 3 minutes. Mine on life without petrol only touched on the fringe of the subject.

Wed 8 Op removal of sequestrum from amputation stump (Campbell). My day as kebum (gardener) with Tom Hamilton. Rain caused play to be abandoned for the day but watered with the urine pot and gathered snails (outsize) before retuning. A half hour's read by candlelight. First of my 8 remaining ones. Hibiscus leaves cooked with dinner. Meat tart good. Hibiscus not so.

Thu 9 Dysenteries only 125 cases AIF. + 40 foreigners? in our hospital.
Wt. 11.5 Yesterday given boiled rice (frightful smell) but had to eat it. With curry rice for evening meal would be quite pleasant. Have acquired a taste for writing and reading when I don't want to lie down on the old stretcher. Rumours that we may be able to write home twice a month (cards). News from home and not being able to send news home hurts more than anything else. Spelling bee evening.

Fri 10 Very well but always hungry even after meals. Getting quite used to tea without sugar
Red Cross buying food for hospital patients, dried milk, fruit and fruit juices (tinned), jam, sweets, glucose D, biscuits. Only equivalent of about 2 tins of jam per day for ward of 60 to 80 patients (only sick ones). Flag Party to valley outside wire to get soil for garden. Golf course here. Dragged bags up the hill and carried them (4 half bags) on a narrow track truck which overturned a few times. Kevin Fagan's case with quadriplegia recovering, from GSW (gunshot wound) R neck. sp. access. N divided? trinsly?? 1845 - usual afternoon downpour coming again, so for a shower!

Sun 12 First case of beri beri AIF. Ward 10:30 to 1:00. Reading. Sunbathe after lunch. Yarn with Maj. Burnett Clarke (QX22806) radiologist from Brisbane re Wilkinson and others of Brisbane. More reading. Read Galsworthy's "Escape", "Defect. Shower, rain. Poured and "blew a gale", in contrast to Seremban last year at this time. After dinner talk by Lt. West on RE ways of entertaining themselves and re adventures of RAF men who escaped in boat to Sumatra on 13/2/42.
Yarn with MOs Bill Bye and K Fagan. Read for ½ hr. and so to bed.

Mon 13 Sickness diminished. Now 630 patients. 120 dysenteries. Surgical cases mostly much improved. Wounds healing and being skin grafted. Several amputations for septic knees and compound fracture of femur. Read history of AAMS 1915. Lecture - Gunther - Arthropod. Evening men's concert. Later by candle, Galsworthy's play The Little Man.
46 Jap warships seen off Singapore.

Tue 14 Commenced practicing type writing (touch).
Bert Nairn's fracture demonstration. See knee, femur. Skin graft: Lake. Evening met Badgett, DO of 1st Malayan CCS (was with us at Kulai) at address given by Cpt. De Moubray formerly B. Adviser to Kelantan? And Trengana?

Sun 19 Hobbies exhibition at Selarang. I did not go over. Sun bath instead.
Ration issue now per man per day.
Promised by Japs.
Rice 15.6 oz 17.6 oz
Flour 0.763 1.76
Meat 1.19 1.76
Veg 0.13 lb? 3.5
Milk 0.681 0.7
Sugar 0.704 0.7
Salt 0.174 0.176
Tea 0.174 0.176
Wheat -- 0.285
Bread -- 1.43

Mon 20 Lecture by Colonel (Sir) Julian Taylor on peptic ulcer. Coconut grated with rice. Can't see why we don't get more. Makes rice very pleasant. Cooks introducing more variety into cooking, rice cakes, scones etc.Tart with rice bubbles good - but difficulty is lack of sugar, milk, fat etc.

Tue 21 First skin graft (done a week ago, large one) taken down. 95% take. (Pte. Lake) Vas gauze - plain gauze. Sponge rubber pad, strapping. Then …..? bandage and back splint used.
Chest cases shown by Cotter Harvey.

Wed 22 First issue of crushed peanuts for manure. Thought too good a food to waste so cooked but not pleasant. No peanut flavour. Contained many weavils. Several cases diagnosed as beri beri have been reported from AIF hospital. Japs approached for more vitamin B1 in diet. Feel well but not much inclined for much exercise.

Sat 25 ANZAC day. Parade of about 400 personnel of CAGH. Although unrehearsed parade was impressive, piped by band of Gordon Highlanders consisting of 5 pipers, 2 side drummers and a base drum and …….? Marched past Col. Pigdon who took the salute. As Col. Hamilton was OC Parade, I was OC 2/4 CCS once again. ANZAC day service was held in a building which was a gymnasium and is now used as man's mess. It shows many battle scars. The service was most impressive especially the prayer by the Methodist padre, Benjamin 10 AGH. Address by Hugh Jones, Presbyterian padre of 2/4 CCS. Benjy is a most virile chap and both as a padre and as a messing officer and …? of the officers mess and in our kitchen garden, is most enthusiastic and not averse to manual labour.

Sun 26 Ate a snail baked in batter after washing in sea water. Very pleasant cf Paris in 1928. Snails here are of a prodigious size and it wouldn't take many to make a good dish. As war has been waged on them by us as gardeners they are now getting more scarce.
Attached typed note presumably AFH practicing his typing.
The time has come for all zealous men to set a good example by coming to the aid of the country. Repeated several times. Then Today the 26th of April, an interesting event occurred. Major Alan Hobbs et alia, had a meal of snails fried in batter. The preliminary reports were very favourable indeed. Major Hobbs stated that he would gladly eat 12 for breakfast every morning if available. He considered the taste not unlike that of very tender chicken.

Mon 27 First case of beri beri in any of my surgical cases in the ward. Rec? organised on 25th. Probably first showed symptoms about 11/4/42 about the same time as first cases appeared in AIF generally. This man wounded on 10/2/42 so developed in 2 months. Foot drop (unilateral) and impaired sensation in both feet and legs. Compound fracture of humerus, secondary haemorrhage. Given Marmite 1 teaspoon 3 x a day.

Tue 28 Attending lectures on surgery by Col. Julian Taylor (Actually Sir Julian Taylor). Doing at present surgery of stomach
Rice ration has been reduced to 12 oz per day from 17 and on this very hungry. It is being increased to 17 again.

Wed 29 Wt. 11.2. Checked by Col. Bye. Lost 7 lbs in last 6 weeks. The average loss is about a pound a week among other officers.
Inspection by GOC Gen. Callaghan. Parade with inspection and inspection of wards.
Ate a tremendous amount of rice today having contrived to wait until it was cooler and so made the milk go further. Had several extras, brown biscuits (rice and flour) and 2 banana fritters. Could have eaten a couple of dozen. One tin of precious pineapple issued to each of us.

Thu 30 A couple of small theatre jobs. Incision of abscess for Lionel Bennetts (SX10628 - 8 Div Ammo Sub Park). Did a bit of dirt carting in the evening followed by a good shower.
Supper on ½ a tin of pineapple. Oh Boy!
Lecture on physiology by Lt. Markowitz. Canadian. (Graduate of Glasgow University)
Several of our officers have been transferred to Singapore or Bukit Timah as RMOs of working parties.

May 1943 (Actually 1942)

Many happy returns of the day Bill! See you before you're 9. We've each had 2 birthdays since I left home. Gray too. Quite enough! I'll have another ½ tin of pineapple for celebration. Hope to see you all before Mummy and Ian have theirs.?? I wonder if you look much different. I hope you've heard that I'm OK and you are not worrying too much about me. How I'd like to hear how you all are!
Later. Pineapple cubes and JUICE. Wonderful but could polish off much more.

Sat 2 Meeting of "Changi Medical Society". Suppuration in region of diaphragm.(see card)
Bennetts, Turich? and Byrnes transferred to "Sgts. Mess" in order to issue better meals for them and other similarly undernourished cases.

Sun 3 Large piece of cheese from mess purchases made in Singapore. Also cheese grated and mixed with rice. A few choc almonds. Biscuits (only ice cream wafers) obtained and purchased by "syndicates" (15 small lollies each!!) Dinner. Rice and herrings 2nd course. Plum pudding and chocolate sauce. The food today was a treat after rather light meals of rice lately. Debate in PM on "Is the cinema of advantage" (humanist??)

Mon 4 Rations 29th to 5th
Rice 15.75 17.635
Meat 1.29 1.763
Veg 0.619 3.527
Flour 0.769 1.765
Milk 0.303 0.704
Sugar 0.705 0.704
Sash? 0.176
Cook oil 0.176
Cigs 10
Soap ½ bar
43 cases of beri beri in AGH to date. Treated with Marmite 3 teaspoons?? 3 x a day or 24 vitamin B tablets (Japanese) daily.
Had our first harvest of spinach from officers' garden. Three beds topped. Although I normally don't like spinach, quite enjoy many things now which I normally don't like.(or even dislike)
???…….? times. Northern ½ of W N Guinea in Jap hands. Further landing on Mindaneo Island.

Tue 5 Maj. Crankshaw Transferred to Dys. Ward. I now have Cpts. Huxtable and Hogg (both served in WW1) . Have 27 patients out of about 70 in my ward. 3 have symptoms suggesting B1 deficiency. Concert. Left with party and Col Hamilton and Cpt. Huxtable (Major Medical Officer WW1) at 1830 for Changi Village where southern area "Br. Concert party" gave an excellent show in open air theatre which was formerly used by natives. Several professionals, good orchestra. Malaya ??? and the Allies came in force. Few Knocks? Good dinner, meat pies etc. American troops on coming? were? "depressed".

Wed 6 Commenced my first bit of typing manuscript on Tom's? diary. (Website owner thinks this may be typing for Lt Col Tom Hamilton, which is on the Website.)
Lecture by Harry Phillips on diagnosis of upper abdominal pain. Pancake for dinner followed by another at 2030. (Dinner 3 course. Soup, herring? and rice. Pancake.) Then gramophone concert by the billiard room party. President Tim Hogg, operator Syd Krantz, popular melodies. Murchison of Fraser estate also there (Murchison later Red Cross Rep Burma). On returning via parapet put my foot in the colonel's water bucket.

Thu 7 Shoes repaired "ordinance" cobbler. Light pair with rubber reinforced with canvas cut from motor tyre by Dave Stuart (VX56229) my batman and the others patched at the toes with leather. Now can walk even in wet weather without feet being soaked. Opened tin of Ham Pate. Apricots going mouldy but will pick one out occasionally without looking at it.
Walked to "Selerang" going through the 2 barbed wire fences with the ferry party with flag which leaves our area every hour and the other wire? Every ¼ to the hour. Japs have allowed us to collect uniforms, trunks (some of them which were not looted) from Singapore store. Looked through them but could not find any of mine.

Fri 8 For last 3 days have "information" that some AIF & Br troops are to be taken "overseas" and that 2/4 CCS is to be the medical unit to accompany the AIF so wonder whither and to what? A change anyway. Most of us are well but losing weight and feeling a bit tired at times especially about an hour before lunch.
Quiz evening in men's mess at night. A slight diversion. Still reading Captain Hornblower's 800 odd pages. A tremendous fellow (Cotter Harvey).
The shower is a boon. Have one at bedtime always as well as in the morning. Wonder how we'll wash in our next camp? A few sick men getting excellent meals however from Red cross etc.


Sun 10 Instructed from Div. HQ that 3000 AIF troops under Brig Varley and Lt Col Anderson VC as 2 IC are to leave for an unknown overseas destination on Tues. morning. Spent the afternoon collecting surgical equipment from AGH CCS which is to go as a complete unit in addition to 3 RMOs. Later advised that Japs are arranging for medical equipment to be available at destination.

Mon 11 Expecting to leave for overseas tomorrow morning. I went at 1100 by ferry flag to Selerang. Saw Col Derham at Div HQ and arranged to go to the Barrack Square - Adv. Depot Med Stores to arrange for the balance of surgical gear. Apparently not much left at the Adv. Depot. Saw Burnside, Adrian Turner etc. and Col Sheppard 2/10 on way back. He is sure of our early ------ to Aus.
In evening ---- on roof of Br. Officers ward (dysenteric dept.) with Col. Barrett, Wolff WO1 Indian Medical Services) and others and discussed the Southern Cross, the Plough etc.

Tue 12 Handed over my ward to Tim Hogg. Parade of CCS 99 Ors. Very smart turnout in view of condition of equipment. Unit marched to Selerang.
Later Capt Tom Brereton returned (keen to go with us) from working party at Bukit Timah? Well treated there and allowed to buy food in Singapore.


Thu 14 Left Changi at 1030 Roberts Backs?? To "Barracks? Square". Inspected by GOC and addressed 3000 troops comprising "Force A". Composite 3 Bttns. And AMC made up of CCS Hygiene Section Cpt. Greville and 1 dental unit. Cpt. Treleaven - 35 trucks - went along Katang? Road - then retraced route and turned off on road away from coast. Shops open, not busy, Jap flags everywhere. Singapore docks shattered. Main buildings practically intact.
Long wait from 1100 to 7 pm on wharf in sun most of time. Before embarked on "Celebes Maru"? were mucked about by "interpreter" - Akioka" counted in groups of 50 each with a group commander. Climbed aboard up a rope ladder on to the deck and immediately sent down to hold, 2 decks down to our quarters. Men and officers all together. Two tiers on each deck arranged around a central hatch. Ship 52 feet wide and hold about square. AMC 130 the rest battalion. This hold made a perfect picture of an old galley with slaves except no oars. A film would have done for "The Sea Hawk". Hot as hell and what a fug! Each man had about 22" to sleep in and the lower tier of the bottom hold, in which we were, had a wooden roof 3'6" from the floor. When in bed (we were not allowed on deck then) sweat ran down in streams. I "slept" on my ground sheet with a life belt for a pillow. At 1:00 am a series of grunts had us get up as the evening meal was ready, the scramble in semi-darkness. The heat and stench was indescribable.
Three hundred miles in about 26' square of hatch cover, fed in 6 groups - rice. Left Singapore 1300 hours.

Depicting the crammed conditions of the Celebes Maru and Toyohashi Maru


Sun 17 Arrived Labuan at 1000 hrs. Anchored offshore and later proceeded to the wharf and tied up. Wharf sheds have been completely destroyed obviously by blowing up from within. MLCs taken while lying off. Spent rest of Sunday and Monday loading trucks (about 20) with rifles and a steam roller which was subsequently submerged in the attempt to land at Simbying? (port of Tavoy).
All we saw of Sumatra here was the wharf, mangrove foreshore and mountains in the background. Forty five hours sailing time from Singapore. Sunday a bad day, landing and not allowed on deck much. Another cool day fortunately but hot as hell below. Joined here by 2 ships with Dutch soldiers from Sumatra. (Possibly one ship had 500 British, including one Australian (Lt Col Albert Coates)).

Mon 18 At 6:30 pm left Labuan (port of Medan) after Jap troops had come on board. 370 AIF shifted from our batch to another to make room for the Japs. Crowded our AMC into one side only - one deck only, 2 layers, the space previously occupied by 110 of us. Most men had 22" x6' and 3'6" above them
Received a cup of soya bean gravy with veg from galley-good. Half hour roster for 3 groups of men alternating through the day. Better. Very little water for washing. Latrines bad, filthy and hosed down fouling deck, but washed away. Dishes washed in casks of salt water. Smoking allowed only in bunks.

Tue 19 Strong wind, mild seasickness. Up in am for hosing etc. then on my hard "bunk" day and night. No vomiting and as previously OK if still but "fug" in hold bad. Jap troops friendly and gave us food and veg. Banana from T.H. (Tom Hamilton).

Wed 20 Arrived Victoria Point 1400 hrs. Islands on both sides, large and small, some only rocks with some jungle. Mainland on starboard (East) 10 miles or so away. Unloaded petrol and 1000 men. These from Toyohasi Maru. Alec White (MO) ashore with this battalion (1st).


(Provided by Mrs Kathleen Hancock, daughter of Alec Hodgson 2010)

Thu 21 Boats to shore at Victoria Point with 1000 men and 500 drums of petrol. Working parties from AIF fed well. Mainland on East (stbd) side with several wooded islands. Other larger islands on W side. The 5 ships, including a naval vessel lying in the strait between them. A few rocky islands to the SW with some trees. - others with heavy jungle. Cool and drizzly rain at times. Had a good bath in rain in morning. Col Ramsay and Cpt Hence entertained by Jap officers at a party in the evening. COP and Adjutant. 4 MLCs reloaded over our hatch making it very dark and close again but keeping rain off our exercise "deck"

Fri 22 Sun and cloud, cool breeze later. Sailed at 0930 from Victoria Point NW along the Burmese coast passing between numerous islands. One large rock in sea like a tower passed at 1:30 pm. Towards evening sea became more open with only occasional islands. Have been doing 14 miles per hour. Cool and calmer night.

Sat 23 Probably passed Tenasserim? About 2400 hrs. This am calm, many islands. Headed NNE for a while before dawn.

This maps shows the route from Singapore to Burma, with ports-of-call on Medan, Sumatra then
Victoria Point, Mergui, Tavoy and Moulemein and the location Ye.



Arrived Mergui at 1630. Extensive, almost landlocked harbour about 7 x 5 miles reminding one of Franklin Harbour except for more mountains around. Extensive mangrove swamps suggest Cowell and the town looks almost the same size on low lying land. An illuminated tower prominent. Electric light in town. Shrines? Showing on hills (3).

Sun 24 Captains John Chalmers, Tom Brereton, Treleaven and his Dental Unit(including 56 Ors all told) disembarked here leaving 71 AMC on Celebes Maru. Slept on deck, cold at 4 - 5 am. Fishing boats in harbour. Very cool breeze in contrast to the frightful fug in the hold. This town lies to the South of a hill about 800 ft. high. Higher mountains in surrounding country. Krantz and I transshipped to Toyahasi Maru (which was subsequently attacked in Ye). The Toyohashi was sunk by a submarine or mine on return voyage to Singapore about June 42. AMC with CO Fisher, Simpson, Lee and Greville being the only troops left on board. Celebes Maru (Osaka) with 350 Nips and guard and crew.
Toyohashi about 9000 tons - much more comfortable, or at least less loathsome than the Celebes. Men have all been allowed on deck. She has 2 decks more than Celebes. Our officers are on the top deck under tent flap flies. Rain comes through badly but no heat and sweat, conditions much better. Slept on Jack Hetherington's mat covered with groundsheet. And although rained heavily, none came through. Food the same but bought an egg each ready boiled and acquired 2 bananas given by Col Anderson so had a fine meal. Cpt Bill Drower of British army (interpreter) is with 2nd battalion. Rains and blows hard here at least 3 times a day and is very cool.

Mon 25 Sailed from Mergui at 0800. Celebes Maru astern. After 5 hours emerged from Straits passing between mainland on starboard and a succession of islands on West with occasional islands also on the mainland side. Then open sea on West at 3:00 pm and entered Gulf of Tavoy, a solitary island guarding the entrance off the extremity of the western mainland. Entrance about 10 miles wide. Mountains right to water. Sea moderately rough but mal de mer now quite absent. Anchored at 1600 three or four miles above the entrance to the gulf.
Signal station on hill on South side. Party with MO Cpt Richards went ashore 25 miles up the gulf to Tavoy. Landing craft bouncing in very rough sea making disembarkation into MLCs dangerous. Boats rising 6 or 7 feet against the gangway with each wave.


Tue 26 Last night gales and rain. Syd Krantz and I risked it under the tent flies on deck. Two Nips driven from their spot came and lay out , one on each side of me, one with his leg on my chest ? the Jyc? From Hetherington's side. Soon they departed and we soon after, wet through. I slept in the forward hold sharing someone's groundsheet, using my haversack as a pillow. Did not sleep much.
Sick 2 malaria
13 diarrhoea (dysentery) "IN BED".
1 dengue
1 tonsillitis
1 arthritis
About 20 other less severe diarrhoeas. The sick receive no help from the Japs in the form of modified food etc.

Wed 27 Disembarked at noon. Awkward getting in to the bouncing boat especially for the sick. Rocky trip with some rain for 25 miles (3 hrs.). Hilly shores at first with a few islands. Gulf gradually narrower and flatter with swampy shores. Arrived at Simbying (port of Tavoy) at 3:00 pm. Indeed an unprepossessing place, something like the Murray mouth with a few "huts on stilts" visible near the water. Saw steam roller from the Celebes Maru almost covered with water where they spilt her into the water. Quarters in a rice mill near water's edge. Crowded with ourselves and Dutch Pers? We had about 65 sick here mostly with diarrhoea and dysentery and 1 Dutchman died here of dysentery. Slept on loose rice full of weevils and dust but comfortable to lie on. Fed very well on S&K rice and M&V tinned fish and sherry. Sanitation very bad. Latrine covered by incoming tide. Syd K and 30 sick suddenly ordered to Tavoy at 10 pm by truck.

Thu 28 Very big tides here about 15 - 20 ft. in 2 hrs. Muddy water rushing in and out like the Murray mouth. Much rain, cool. Food best for a long time by dint of scrounging cases etc. in the old rice mill, including much milk. Officers :- Maj Kerr CO of 10th Battalion Cpts McBain and Hetherington and self. First met Koot, Dutch interpreter.

Fri 29 Just about to take steps to make a new latrine (in fact started) when told to depart in trucks. Pleased as we did not fancy the 25 mile walk to Tavoy. Left Simbying for Tavoy noon by truck. Road for ¾ hour good bitumen. After leaving swamps with typical Burmese huts on stilts, passed up a long valley to E of Tavoy through small villages with many native, apparently friendly. Later told that walking parties were well treated with fruit and cigars., the latter very plentiful and cheap. Bananas, pineapples and mangosteens and coconuts. Padi fields most of the way. Road a few miles East of river. Temples and shrines very numerous with spires gaudily decorated and gold painted of gilt and silver. Scores of these in 20 miles to Tavoy. Many of these in cemeteries, the bigger ones containing elaborate tombs.
Tavoy, fairly large place, what we saw scattered with some largish wooden administrative buildings. Fairly level to undulating country. Wait of 2 - 3 hrs. after debussing then to Police Barracks camp 2 miles past town. Rolly Richards looking after sick. Syd Krantz ill with dysentery. Med supplied by Japs but no equipment for hospital treatment. Jap doctor Chiba Chiu? (1st Lt) visit for figures, requests etc. 90 patients AIF, Dutch 29 latter arrived evening. Fisher, Murchison and 8 Ors CCS arrived 6 pm. Until then only Cpt Richards of 2/15 F Rgt. and myself and 4 orderlies to look after the sick. (Richards part time from aerodrome). First meal from Japs at 1 pm. Then at 3 pm Japs brought rations, pork, rice, flour, green veg and egg fruit, tea and sugar in ample amounts. Cooks from patients cooked a good meal. Condition of dysentery patients deplorable. Latrines filthy and pans full!, maggots. Men have no gear - left at Symbying and nights get cold.

Sun 31 AIF 192 including 178 patients - diarrhoea and dysentery 147, dys 84 and diarrhoea 63. (with or without blood). Including Dutch about 400 in camp. We have only 4 orderlies from Bttn. And Dutch have 21 but many convalescent or slightly ill patients working in the cookhouse etc. Working party 50 in am and 12 in pm. From Bttn. Cleaned latrines which were in a filthy state and dug new ones - pits etc.

June 1942

Mon 1 Col Hamilton and Cpt Lee arrived. (Lt Col Thomas Hamilton and Capt Lee were CO and Adjutant respectively of the 2/4 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station)
Dys 91, diarrhoea 61. Dys mostly improving. Japs have done nothing except provide food and allow us to bring drums from the aerodrome for kitchen etc. and few medicines. Badly need smaller containers to wash patients etc. rope for well, firewood and tools, shovels etc.
Walked over to Brigade HQ at aerodrome to see if CCS can be allowed to come over. Met Newton Lee on the way. Brig. Varley and Lt Col Anderson VC seen but CCS not permitted to leave, all tired after work barge voyage up river and march 6 miles from river.

Tue 2 Hand infection opened for Maj Neelisen? Anaes?
Half of Tavoy subdivision of CCS arrived. Much rain enabling us to get a bath and wash clothes. I got up at 1 am to fill tins with water and again in heavier rain at 4 am for a shower under the spout and washed a few clothes. Since arrival I have slept on a board floor with only a groundsheet and shirt and shorts resting over me to keep warm. Gets cold toward morning.
Cpt Ward, adjutant of 2/15 Field Regiment who is a convalescent patient has been acting as adjutant for the hospital. Lt Vance controlling kitchen. Jap officers have left us alone for 2 days but have left us short of firewood and other requirements.
192 patients, 211 AIF in all. Hard work organising and doing medical work. Jap sentries and doctor in next hut now. 8 AIF escaped from aerodrome yesterday.
Busy day. Rest of CCS (making 64 of our AMC unit of 71) arrived from aerodrome. Duties organised. Nursing orderlies allotted. Afternoon spent in classifying my 100 cases of dysentery and diarrhoea. My sleep on stretcher for the first time since the night of Wed May 13. Was very comfy and welcome. Mosquito net also for first time. Had a couple of beautiful pineapples for 1 box of matches from the Burmese. Syd Krantz convalescent but "requires milk and eggs etc.". No diet at all for patients that can't eat rice and stew. Only additional ration is sugar & ?not desserts p-- in day. Only fluid for fluid diets is tea & sugar & when available, milk. At first had a lot of this but none for two days. Gruel of crushed rice, flour, sugar and milk was good but now no milk or flour and rice and water is extremely distasteful.
Discharged first patients (38). Two dysenteries died yesterday. Disgraceful that Japs should have allowed this to happen without supplying either beds of any kind or bed pans. The only thing they have given us for bedding has been some woven mats which Jap soldiers use as mattresses. Now have many 44 gallon drums for water collecting from roofs. Plenty of rain. Much more bird life here than in Malaya. Crows numerous. Frogs make a great row. Oo (as in book) a (as in last (American)) oo-a.

Fri 5 Buying fruit, eggs etc. from Burmese is now prohibited. Japs say "source of infection". Letter has been written by Brig. to the Jap Commander asking for better food and conditions and facilities for Mr Murchison Red Cross rep to buy in town. We hope that restriction of individual buying will result in these facilities eventuating.
Burmese seem definitely friendly and dislike Jap control. Apparently no wages paid to them now. Some talk English. Language not like Malay. Cleaner and more attractive than corresponding coolie classes in Malaya. Women wear colourful sarongs and carry huge baskets with lids on - vegs. etc. Men large basket hats, pointed & picturesque.

Sat 6 We do not leave camp area now as guarded and strict instructions not to and not even to buy from Burmese near hut which is on the road. Apparently this is the main road to Moulmein.
Dysentery is lessening, many more being discharged daily than being admitted. Dutch cases not diminishing. They less careful with hygiene than we are, less trained c.f. method of cleansing after defaecation.

Sun 7 Borrowed Jack Sherriff's typewriter. 120 cases of dysentery left. Issue of bread, ¼ small loaf each for tea. Equal amount for tomorrow. First bread since left Changi (24 days). I'm afraid life here will get very monotonous if work gets slack. No diversity as in Changi such as lectures, contact with many other officers etc.
Stuart Ward (NX70562 Captain 2/15 Field Regiment), a Canadian who was a patient, but has worked hard here as adjutant, left for his unit. A very good fellow. ( Shell Co. in Sydney 5 yrs.)
Japs asked for a report on time of development, causes, reasons why recovery is slow and our own opinions re treatment of cases of dysentery. We (mainly Fisher) compiled a report in reply to their several questions stressing that infection came from Changi, developed on ships on account of overcrowding, poor food, dirty latrines, soiling deck and lack of facilities for washing persons and utensils. Then conditions ashore with no sanitation preparations, no buckets for carrying water, shortage of water, no provision for washing patients or orderlies hands. No beds or bedding, men's gear not arriving, CCS left on ship till last instead of going ahead to prepare hospital site. Lack of proper food e.g. meat, fish, fruit, milk and eggs for the sick.
Barbed wire surrounding our area about 300 yards square. Simple fence with 4 wires, no aprons?. Open padang bordered on two sides by huts.

Tue 9 Another bread issue. Quite a large amount, so looks as if we may be fed better. Fair amount of vegs daily made up in stew for lunch and tea with rice. Breakfast rice & dry sugar issue to each man (2 ?spoons). Had a cup of cocoa for breakfast today., sugar and Syd's milk. At 9 pm told by Japs that one doctor must go to Ye tomorrow at 10 am. Party of 100 going from aerodrome camp. 100 went on the 8th and 50 a few days before. Three orderlies, Sgt.R Cann (NX6661 2/4 CCS), Anders, Eyles (TX4217 2/4 CCS DOD 50/5/43) went yesterday. Had just finished working, a good sleep in my room. Passenger plane crashed on the aerodrome.


Wed 10 (Letter to Mabs from Tavoy.)
Tavoy to Ye. Told this am can send 3 letters of 1 page or 1 p.c.. to "native country". Headed Tavoy Burma. Wrote to Mabs a few minutes before leaving with party of 4 to take my gear to the aerodrome. 100 mile trip to Ye. Road first bitumen then gravel macadam of variable surface but not too bad. Along valley at first and then climb over mountains and down to ?Yebon village on large river where bridge destroyed. Then walked on foot bridge & 5 trucks over iron girders after naked Aussies had adjusted them in the water. Clean mountain water with gravel bottom unlike Malayan rivers. At Yebon ate bread and bartered soup and Brylcream for two bunches of coconuts.
Daily bus service Tavoy to Ye in 2 stages when "gasoline ?ada" . The scenery was grand especially over the mountains of the latter ½ over high mountains with forest timber heavier than I've previously seen.

Thu 11 Ye is 20 miles from the coast on the River Ye. We had to ferry the river in boats with our baggage then baggage carried in truck and we marched about 2 miles to our camp through the town of about 4000 inhabitants. Huts of wood and attap. Town is low lying rising a bit (thank goodness) on the far side where our camp is situated. Adjacent to "Ye Hospital", the inscription amused us.

Fri 12 Dr Kusunoke, a Jap doctor without a chin is a good fellow and has given the sick a good spin before my arrival as far as attention is concerned. Has done complete and prolonged sick parades and has visited Dutch and Aussie dysentery hospitals and has visited the sick in their huts. Tends to starve patients with dysentery and give many injections. Has even gone to the trouble of giving adrenalin enemas for tenesmus and blood.

Sat 13 Am doing big Dutch and AIF sick parades in am. Orderlies Sgt. Ron Cann, Doug Eyles & Cpl Anders from CCS. Bdr. Brown from 2/15 Field Regiment. 2 Dutch orderlies,
Archie van Hattah a tea planter from Sumatra and Karel Rottevelle a business representative. Educated fellows, both speak English, Karel very well c.f. later - comedian on Burmese whisky.

Sun 14 Inspection of camp by Commander from Tavoy ? permanent there or from Singapore. Taicho.
Demonstration of native Burmese singing and dancing. POWs, Burmese and Japs all gathered round. Officers and NCOs given mats to sit on. Girls from about 4 years up dancing in colourful costumes decorated with feathers and flowers. A band, trumpets, native drums, cymbals and bamboo "knockers".

Fri 19 In evening Jap Dr Kusunoke sent for me to ask me to teach him about a disease which the Ye captain had told him occurred here occasionally which I of course had never heard of. He gave me weak tea and pineapple cubes eaten with a match stick and cigarettes. Also lent me a copy of Manson Barrs Tropical Diseases. Arranged to bring the Ye captain to see me tomorrow. Cholera case 5 miles south of Ye died yesterday.

Sat 20 While doing sick parade Nip doctor brought the Ye captain to see me "He was and is" Inspector of Police "under English and now under Japan". The disease "Mai-ka juang" occurs when the rainy season commences at the beginning of June (and continues for 4 months "pimples just inside the arsehole". It affected 100 people 2 years ago and 50% mortality. None now. If pimples pricked and tobacco juice applied recover in 3 days. If not, die in 10 days. Fever headache, dizzy, anorexia. Must not eat meat or milk. If do, die in ½ an hour."
First currency in Burma obtained 1 rupee. Bought 1 bunch of bananas (14) for 1 ?ama, = 1/16 R = 1. We are to be paid officers 35 cents, NCOs 25 and men 15 cents = for me 5.6 amas per day. First pay 11 amas.

Sun 21 Last night all officers, Aus and Dutch, treated by Jap doctor to a bowl each of "syracor" consisting of soup containing small "peas" stewed and sweetened with sugar. Very rich but not bad if not asked to take too much.

Wed 24 Have been feeding much better in Ye than ever before as a POW. Plenty of rice stew with vegetables, "togay" or "kachang kijan", egg fruit, cucumber. Meat only a little once a day in stew. Can buy bananas, pineapples occasionally, sugar (seneca), salt, curry (plenty).

Thu 25 In afternoon a Chinese of Ye attempted to commit suicide by stabbing himself with a knife. On request from the Japs I proceeded to the scene ½ a mile on a bike to find the patient lying on the edge of the street bleeding from a 2 1/2 inch wound in the epigastrium. Cleaned and inserted my finger into the peritoneal cavity on to the surface of the liver. Moderate bleeding from the wound. Pulse 96 and abdomen not tender. I rode back to camp with Ueda "Gunso" the AMC Sgt. and procured needle and thread in my salmon tin and sewed up the skin and fat only. I only possessed one A forceps and dissecting forceps and 2 needles. Put him to bed after injecting Morphia ¼. Gunso had already injected camphor and was anxious to give another dose "to buck his Ht. up". Visited him by bike at 10.15 pm - satisfactory - and again on Friday morning, when he was free from pain except on deep breathing and pulse still 96.

Fri 26 Visited patient at 9:00 with my "dispenser", Cpl. Walter Moore and Ueda "Gunso". Condition satisfactory.
In evening was ordered to appear in Jap quarters soon after evening meal. About 7 Jap soldiers entertained me. Boots off - squatted. Ate large dish of ?sirajib consisting of sauce made of flour with much sugar and about 10 masses of flour about the size of hen's eggs. When nearly finished - pineapple - 2 large slices & later a large piece of cucumber & 2 creosote pills to prevent indigestion from the large amount consumed. Will surely put on weight if this goes on.

Sat 27 Japanese holiday - celebrated with a parade. Various items by Aus, Dutch, Japs and Burmese. Burmese dances by girls and women. Chinese patient worse - looks like peritonitis. Presented with 11 tins of sardines. Visit to town by truck as Ueda too drunk to ride a bike. Went nearly to sleep in a chair at the house while I attended the patient.

Sun 28 Japs had a wild party mainly on Burmese whisky.

Mon 29 AIF to Jungle House Ye. AIF except 45 sick left for a camp 3 miles on road north for road work. L/Cpl Anders to do RAP work. Dutch left remained here. Self, Maj. Hallyer, Cpt. Moore (NX76188 2/15 Field Regt), Lt. K. Dumbrell (VX35556 2/4 Anti Tank Regt) and Lt. Fleming (sick) Chinaman improved, will probably recover. Present of 3 bunches of bananas 1 coconut, Bought 4 eggs, 1 ama each.

Tue 30 Chinese patient improved.
Dutch 190 arrived from Tavoy. Report many deaths from dysentery among Dutch (16 altogether, 8 in a week). No further Australians. 2 died before I left Singapore & Rangoon, Java, Sumatra and Bangkok.

July 1942

Wed 1 2 patients. Anaemia (Kilbon) ?Dart Dental sent to Tavoy for treatment by truck, the one which brought the Dutchmen. Request to Col. Hamilton for instruments and ether repeated. Large consignment of pineapples from patient. Duly washed in "medicine water". Japs gave us all the Radio news of Jap soldiers everywhere including attack on and landing in Alaska and early fall of New York. Also heard other news yesterday and today.

Thu 2 20 more Dutch arrived from Tavoy. Huts very crowded. AIF dys. ward cleared to Dutch causing much congestion. Chinese satisfactory. Present of bananas, eggs, pineapples and coconuts. Eggs to Fixter (VX44112?), Br. Artillery man with Dutch who is seriously ill with chronic dysentery.. Great difficulty is no facilities for microscopic examination of faeces.

Fri 3 Small amount of equipment from Col. Hamilton. All OK there! Sgt. Ron Cann went out to road camp and Cpl. Andrews returned. Yesterday borrowed a book on Japanese from Pieter Koop Dutch (Jap) interpreter. Japs allowed AIF dysentery to return to their own ward. Big sick parades of Dutch. Still 15 Dutch dysenteries and 11 Aust., nearly all convalescent.
Food excellent last days. Much fruit, fish, curry etc. Maj. Leister Harry Hellyer's (VX12561 2/15 Field Regiment) batman is a gem, cooks "taksan". Afternoon tea and supper included.

Sun 5 5 Dutch officers punished because 2 Dutch soldiers went to the town. Beaten, kicked and tied to a tree with wire round necks and hands tied together behind back for 4 hours. Allowed me to take 2 of them out - one on ?ND before, the other with temperature from URTI. Much rain and wind.. Diarrh. about 60 Dutch and 17 dysentery in hospital. Many recurrent malaria cases among Dutch. No definite new cases here.

Mon 6 Death of Allan Burns a ? Dutch planter from Sumatra from what finished up as peritonitis. Apparently dysentery to start with although no blood in motions. Vomiting, slight blood, later coffee grounds. 3 days slight diarrhoea followed by obstinate constipation - abdominal distension ?effusion into peritoneum. Mass in L.I.F. , collapse and rapid deterioration as from peritonitis, ascites, obstruction and then faeculent vomiting, ? perforation of colon.

Wed 8 "Jungle House" Report from Sgt Ron Cann. ND 12 cases, 5 diarrhoea, 2 abrasions, 4 tinea, 1 URTI. Treatments 34.
Evening treated to ?Sypracor by Japs. Takusan, fortunately with only 2 dumplings. Burmese whisky offered but not accepted. Prefer it for external application. With Maj. Leister H. Hellyer.

Thu 9 Cpt. Huls arrived.
Dutch Dr Huls and orderly arrived from Tavoy. Discussion in evening at Nip. officers house with Koot (interpreter). Apparently not much hope of getting drugs or equipment. Our strapping has just finished, also all ointments. Morphine ampoules available but practically no opium or morphine tabs. Antiseptic ointment for impetiginous lesions especially desirable.

Fri 10 Handed over Dutch patients and RAP work on Dutch to Cpt. Huls leaving me very little to do as I've had only 13 dys. in hospital and 26 ND & LD in camp. My sick parade at 9:15 takes only a ¼ hour. So tomorrow I plan to go to "Jungle House" to see any sick there and for an "outing". If it rains as much as usual it will be a wet walk. Usually lately about 2 or 3 inches a day. Wet season now and average annual rainfall is 480 inches.

Sat 18 Night visit to Jungle House, man with abdominal pain. Three of us rode bikes in the dark. Now and then crashed into ruts, drains etc. as the road is not yet finished. Several bridges uncompleted and had to ?"Blounden" a bog and carry the bike. Had to wheel the bike about ½ wqy as too muddy or uphill. Fortunately it did not rain until the last ½ mile which is surprising in this part of the world. Arrived there wet and dirty at about 1am after 2 hours "ride". As usual at home the patient was much better when I arrived. So went to bed naked under a sheet under a borrowed sheet on a blanket over the hard boards. Didn't sleep too well. A few lumps of skin knocked off the R. leg from bumping the pedal while walking.

Sun19 Inspected a few sick and ordered the transfer of the patient to Ye by bullock cart. Breakfast of an excellent stew, rice and bananas. Then rode back after having a haircut by the Jungle House barber (a professional). A much better trip in daylight in spite of frequently dismounting for drains, hills etc. ?Mublas at ?Urimbla House and bought bananas in Ye.

Tue 21 Buying expedition to the town. Many many cups of coffee and mublas and ?"motas".
George is cooking wonderful concoctions made from rice, flour, onions, curry, pig fat, dried fish, coconut pineapple, bananas, ?mame (Japs use for sugar),bamboo root etc.
Fri 24 Gnr. Howarth (VX18110) 4 Anti Tank Regiment) pretty sick, jaundice. Amoebic hepatitis , probable liver abscess. Emetine gr1 daily. Brown has emetine brought from Singapore. Have had a bed made from bamboos and 2 rice bags. Other patient sleeps on floor with bags, ground sheets on blankets under them. Other cases of dysentery mild but diarrhoea is persistent lasting in some cases many weeks. Acute onset with blood, mucus then subsides after 2 or 3 days to 2 - 6 motions a day. This may persist with mucus and occasional blood for from 4 weeks to an indefinite period with intermissions. Many patients milder still and clear up except for some diarrhoea in about 10 - 14 days.

Sun 26 Howarth dies at 9 am. Appeared like an hepatic infection probably of a generalised nature rather than as localise abscess. Liver was enlarged but no pulmonary signs. Japs supplied timber for coffin and white cloth to cover it. Buried in native cemetery ¼ mile from camp. Ito Shoi, Jap doctor and several Jap soldiers attended the funeral. Also Dutch officers and doctor as well as our officers and some men. All Dutch soldiers lined the route in the camp and stood at the salute as the cortege passed. Also many Jap soldiers. Interesting to see the Japs bow low over the grave before leaving - apparently their custom. Detachment from Jungle House came in for the burial - from Howarth's platoon.

Mon 27 Raining ?mottoma takusan every day and night. It is amazing how quickly it gets away and soon leaves the ground relatively clean but very mucky while it lasts. Prices in town are rising. Too many buyers now. ?Jendiga????? getting scarce and not much coming in from Moulmein apparently.

Tue 28 Walked to Jungle House with Walter Moore. Ron Cann doing a good job there. Treats about 60 men daily. Has from 12 - 37 off duty, mainly wounds infected (of legs). A few diarrhoeas only. After looking at a few sick and having dinner off a dish of plain rice supplemented by bananas brought in a haversack - had a ½ hour sleep and set out for Ye. The walk of 14 miles does not worry me at all now. Moublas at M. House on way home, 3 ½ each, fortified us for the walk. The road is very primitive so far, just dirt with a bit of natural ground in places. Wheels of trucks and ?ushi carts sink deeply in the mud necessitating refilling which, strangely enough the Japs are making the Dutch simply replace with dirt which I should think will suffer the same fate as its "predecessor". I wonder whether Russia is at war with Japan yet. ?Bucket pendik sprung a leak. Sad.

Thu 30 Many rumours Russia declared. war on Japan on July 1.
Repetition of oft repeated news that Java and Sumatra are in the hands of allies and attacking Burma. Alleged newspaper report. Only 8 in dysentery ward and 3 diarrhoeas off duty in camp. Food is fair now when supplemented by our pay which for me is 25 cents = 4 amas a day. This buys 8 (or 4 large) bunches of bananas of which I eat almost 20 a day - sugar, curry, salt, cucumber.

Fri 31 Dutch told by Japs we are all (including sick) moving to a place near Moulmein soon. Also all AIF at Tavoy except 500 i.e. 250 more. In afternoon shopping Jap sentry espies a cow (young) in street and immediately, with great excitement urges us, Cpt. Moore, Cpt. Halse (Dutch M.O.), Koot (interpreter), 2 orderlies and myself, to give chase. This we reluctantly did, two of us with pieces of rope, pinched from boats. The tide was in and up under many of the houses. We followed the animal up hill and round back yards for some time but I steadfastly refused to walk in the filthy water or climb under the houses. Cpt. Moore was once threatened with the butt of the guard's rifle when arguing with him. He was, as we learnt later, afraid of the anger of the commander if we didn't catch the cow whose presence in the street had been forbidden. Eventually the cow attracted a partner and we chased the two of them a mile out of the town. Having nearly caught the wrong cow, after having acquired the aid of several Burmese, we returned ignominiously through the streets lined with amused Burmese asking if we caught the cow. We were much amused by the guard every time it rained, giving his rifle to Koot to put under his coat. Walter on several occasions suggested that the cow was frightened now but would be much easier to catch tomorrow.

August 1942

Sat 1 Told that the wet season finishes in six weeks and then hot in the day and cold nights, by the middle of September. Later in dry season no rain at all. After the wet season got a "less rainy" season first.

Sun 2 Interest in the camp in four elephants brought in for the purpose of arranging hire by the commander, 5R per day. Jap doctor very interested in their physiology. After this, visit to a patient, girl of 8 with a PUO (pyrexia of unknown origin) and delirium. Doctor very worried and spent an hour or more squatting, gazing and feeling the abdomen, what for I do not know. Around the room were fourteen adult natives likewise squatting on their haunches without moving the whole time. I also - but had to move now and again; though I'm much more adept at Oriental squatting than formerly. Doctor is going to ?Lamein tomorrow a.m. so is reluctantly leaving the case to me.

Mon 3 Gathering of the Burmese community, Aus, Dutch and Japs on the "padang" Addressed by Ito and translated into Burmese, Dutch. Orders given re acceptance of currency in the form of damaged notes under penalty of punishment. The native dealers have persistently refused to accept old notes with King George V's head while they will with George VI. Also refuse slightly damaged notes.

Wed 5 Twice daily visits to sick child. Has slightly improved but not good and only semi-conscious. At each visit I receive gifts, usually eggs in the morning and bananas in the afternoon. Some huge golden coloured bananas very tasty. Ceremony of exorcising of devil from sick child

Thu 6 350 Dutch left for ?Lamein on foot and thence for Thanbyuzayat a place ? 40 miles south of Moulmein, allegedly to build a railway from Moulmein to Bangkok. Railway now exists from Moulmein to Thanbyuzayat. Situated on the line to Ye through Lamein. 250 Dutch arrived here yesterday from Tavoy and 102 who had been here before.

Fri 7 Dutch given some morning exercise by the Japs with much knocking down and kicking. Made to run around the village at breakfast time. Illustrating their peculiar combination of temperaments, the Jap doctor (who has always been extremely reasonable with me) brought me two bunches of huge bananas and a bottle of milk given to him by the sick Burmese girl's parents. "He did not need them, so brought them to me as a present".
Arrival of more Dutch from Tavoy (280).

Sat 8 Fresh excess of cases of dysentery among Dutch. 10 yesterday, 6 today. We are not surprised. In Aus. Hospital 12 dysentery - 7 in RAP, 6 infected wounds and 1 pleurisy. 26 ND in camp, including this 7. 6 diarrhoeas, rest tinea and infected wounds, so very little serious illness.
But Dutch troops hygiene is shockingly bad, both general and personal. Their officers have no organised administration of hygiene and we have to continually be chasing them up to get latrines dug etc. They are decent chaps but hopeless to camp with, especially when, on account of our small numbers (50:500), we are dependent on them. They have exercised very little control over the kitchen, especially as regards cleanliness and what we would call illegitimate consumption of rations, e.g. a bullock is killed and unless a man hops in and gets a steak for himself he would probably receive none of it. Much refuse left around kitchen area and the smell does not seem to worry them. On the other hand they are very pleasant and generous. The large proportion of them, including officers, with Sumatran blood is a drawback. They have no hygiene conscience at all. Five Dutch dysenteries in our ward to relieve congestion. They have 31.

Mon 10 First Dutch left for Thanbyuzayat . 480 left today, 280 who arrived on the 7th and 200 who have been in Ye. This leaves 200 here including sick. Lt. Suzaki entertained us. He came to our room to talk and we invited him to have some tea. Instead he sent for 8 bottles of beer and remained talking to us from 4:00 to 7:15 pm. A very pleasant and reasonable fellow. Intensely patriotic but very different and much better educated than most of them.

Wed 12 Another detachment of 280 Dutch from Tavoy staying tonight here and going on to Thanbyuzayat tomorrow. Letter from Stuart Simpson per Lt. Veet M.O. All of Dutch remaining here left for Thanbyuzayat except the sick, 67 including Koot the interpreter and 4 or 5 men on duty - 2 orderlies left (medical), Hunder and van Hattam. Dutch left 34 dysenteries for me to look after. Dr. Huls went too.

Sun 16 Very dry. No rain to fill our meagre water drums so some has to be carted from the well.

Mon 17 Camp now contains 700 men. 258 more A.I.F. from Victoria Point. 200 now quartered in two houses in town making 535 in all from Victoria Point.

Tue 18 An interesting case from Victoria Point. Wasting of ½ deltoid, levator scapulae, trapezius, rhomboids and spinates on one side with winged scapula ? muscular dystrophy. Name - White. Sick. Dysentery Aus. 8, Dutch 31. Forty men just marching out to 90 buying in Ye. Our buying days, Sun and Wed. have been somewhat disorganised lately owing to the through traffic. The impetuosity and mercurial temperament of the Japs has been evident today when, owing to some annoyance with us, the Jap NCO of rations stopped the milk for the hospital as the Burmese came through the gate with it and after 3 hours released it. Also said no more rice today (i.e. no evening meal) but at the moment I see bags being lumped to our kitchen. So they have relented. This series of events is typical of many previous ones.This is the fifth day without any rain, although the wet season should last to the end of September.

Wed 19 "Many many" supplies from Moulmein (medical) ("Deda Gunso") much methyl alcohol and ?eth alcohol but no meth spirit. Concert in evening, jazz band etc. spoilt by rain. At midnight when in bed Lt. Susaki came and asked Koot and me to come over to the Jap officers house to be entertained. This continued to about 2 am. Dr. Kusonoki also woken out of his slumbers. Much talk about international customs etc. Susaki is a very generous and congenial cove and is always ready to see the other fellows point of view although not always able to understand it or of couse agree with it. He realises and understands that the different nations have different customs. He is always bringing us eggs, cigarettes, tinned milk and beer and also gives cigs to the men.
Have seen Lt. Edward Kemp Goninan (NX26589 2/10 Field Company), Col. Hamilton's brother in law. He is very thin from dysentery etc.
Concert reheld in evening, very good (taihan yoroshii!)

Fri 21 Mabs' birthday. Thinking very much of her, boys and home. My main hope is that you are all well and have heard that I'm a POW and not worrying about me too much. How we would all welcome some news of home and the progress of the war.
Cpt. Moore has arrived with "takusan", bananas, curry etc.
I must try to keep Mabs' silver buckles which constitute today's birthday present. Have had them since Oct. 41.

Sat 22 Swim in pool near railway station.

Sun 23 Big Sports Day.

September 1942

Tue 1 Have commenced chess, after having only a game or two in Changi with MOs Adrian Farmer and Carl Gunther. A little more difficult than draughts and a game takes a bit longer.Kurt is the expert but Maj. Green (Charles E Green WX3435 Prom to Lt Col on the death of his CO of the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion before capitulation on Singapore- however, not promulgated) is an enthusiastic beginner. I have become a bit tired of hearing Jap. Can speak a few words but understand very little. After the first sentence, the rest is unintelligible.
More punishment for the Dutch for buying over the fence. Tied up in a bunch. Van Zanten? who has a son here had just returned from the dysentery ward and was soon in a bad way, hands becoming very swollen from constriction followed by oedema.

Thu 3 Jungle House evacuated.
Men from the Jungle House returned, we wonder why! as all the more or less recent arrivals from Victoria Point are still here and the 67 Dutch. 880 in all.

Fri 4 Some of our Jap guards left for Tavoy. "Kaerimasen?"

Sat 5 Concert. AIF and Dutch.Postponed to afternoon because of rain in the morning.
The Dutch sing their old melodious national songs very well.

Sun 6 Called in consultation on Dr Kesonki who has a rash on the exposed parts of the body except the legs. Sun burn is very unusual in the Japs. Entertained with scarce tinned condensed milk. A very popular drink amongst the Japs. (our milk)
Commenced raining on Sat. night and has continued ever since.(generally pouring).
------ rain for 3 days before that so the wet season not on yet.
In last 2 or 3 days about 16 men from the Jungle House with fever and shivers ? malaria. With no blood exam and no regular temp record (only my thermometer left) diagnosis is hard.

Fri 11 Toast and condensed milk in Kohei's quarters with a little engineer who one night showed a special aptitude for chess, but likes to have a second chance when makes a bad move. Often brought milk and cigarettes for us. Has played Yogi in Japan.

Sat 12 Dr Kusunoke has had acute dermatitis from being exposed to the sun with much itching and swelling. Responded to 2 injections of adrenalin (he asked me to consult). So today he sent me presents of a nice bag of tomatoes, about 20.

Sun 13 The Burmese gave an exhibition of Burmese "boxing". They seem to be all in, feet, fists, nails and all but suffer surprisingly little damage. Amusing the way they defy each other by whacking one hand on the other upper arm.

Mon 14 Sasaki Shoi returned from Tavoy. He is taking over all POWs from Ito Shoi and then handing us all over to a new commander. All our old guards are to leave here for Tavoy and apparently thence to Sumatra leaving us in charge of an entirely new group who are part of the ---- of occupation in Burma.

Tue 15 Parade of all troops in the am. Handed over by Sasaki to Miyatake Jungi a sub Lt., our new commander, a much older man than the others. In evening went to Nippon officer house with requests for Dr. Kusanoki. He and Ito had been besieged with presents from Burmese people and gave us, Koot and I, tins of meat, orange crush an coconuts and the doctor gave me half of a present of eggs and bananas (from the
Chinese "suicide") as I had "done half the work". Then mutual expressions of thanks for what we had done for each other and discussions of a few requirements for the RAP etc.
Dr. Kusanoki has always been courteous to me and has done what he could to a certain extent to help us although his capacity to do so has been restricted to an extreme degree on account of the unavailability of supplies apparently but I sometimes wondered if he tried very hard as although he was pleasant to us he did not do things with great enthusiasm.
Mattingley op.
Anaesthetic for multiple incisions of infected leg. We manage these cases with a minimum amount of ether on account of only having had 1 pound from the start. Have given 3 in the CS and still have not emptied one 8 oz. tin.

Sat 19 Weight 45 ?Vis's = 11.8 (73 Kg)
Dysentery much increased, mainly in No. 3 Battalion from Victoria Point. Now 54 in hospital including 9 Dutch. Some commence severely but most soon improve. One man, ?Fixter, a Br. Artillery man with the Dutch was nearly dead for weeks and is now convalescing rapidly.
.Two days warm weather without rain. Eating bananas again about 20 a day. Kachang ?ijis is a valuable addition to our diet. Bought it ourselves in village.

Mon 21 Appendix operation at Ye.
Operation for appendicitis, fairly acute case. William of No. 3 Battalion. Op. under extremely primitive conditions performed on hospital mortuary table. 3 two gallon petrol tins and instruments boiled in a 44 gallon petrol drum and lifted out with wire handles. One sheet with a hole in the middle also boiled and wrung out hot. Skin prep soap and alcohol. Found 3 small tubes 30'' of C.G. and used 2. Ether we only had 10 oz. left. No gloves. Op. no difficulty. Used "things" straight out of tins. Preparations only took 1 hour. Anaesthetic Cpt.Alex White, Assistant Cpl.Doug Eyles, Sgt. ?Cann, Cpl. Andrews. 3 other orderlies assisted with prep etc.

Wed 23 Major Green to Thanbyuzayat.
Ye camp being evacuated leaving sick and hospital only.This morni9ng Major Green, Cpt. White, Cpt. Jackson and Thomas and other officer left for Moulmein (or ? Thanbyuzayat) 435 all told.
Officers heavy baggage transported on railway trollies in striking contrast to when the Dutch went - only allowed to take what they could carry.
Appendix patient developed dysentery.

Thu 24 . Hellyer's party Ye to Thanbyuzayat.
Major Hellyer, Cpt. Moore, Lts. Fleming, Watson, Vance, Cook left for Moulmein with "Jungle House" or 2nd. Battalion Troops. 175 all told leaving 200 souls in Ye camp. Hosp 88, 2Batt. 17, 3Batt. 58. Dutch 13. This include dysentery 2Batt 8, 3Batt. 41, Dutch 7. The rest being ?diarrh, wounds and malaria.
Other men 2Batt. 28, 3Batt. 37 and Dutch 29 left in Ye.

Mon 28 One very sick Australian with dysentery Gnr. Whitcombe of 2/15 Field Rgt. Intense toxaemia, delirium, moderate temperature. Thin, bloodstained frequent evacuations. Takes fluids very well fortunately. Japs are now giving us 10 bottles of milk a day but this is for about 70 patients so use it only for a few sick ones. The new guard also started giving us 40-50 eggs a day but re eggs, they have lost their enthusiasm as they think eggs are bad for "sekura".

Tue 29 Taken by Japs to see a Burmese aged 51 - an ischiorectal abscess with opening externally and into the rectum. Also symptoms of diabetes, with advanced wasting. Also to a Burmese "doctor" whose only claim to the title seems to be that he has a few drugs and instruments which he pinched from the Ye hospital when they left the place. Among them a set of dental forceps which he doesn't know how to use. I must get these.

Wed 30 Now 10 am. Over the way 40 yds. among the palms the Burmese kids in the monastery school are reciting their lessons, every one of them a different lesson at the top of his voice However, this and the monks monotonous chanting at night and the dogs howling (the main jungle noises at Ye except, of course, the Japanese noises) generally pass unnoticed so accustomed have we become to them in the past 4 months. Natives have been collecting fluid for sugar "jendigah" from palms in monastery and our area. The bamboos 20' long (with small pieces of ateral branches left as steps) to trunk of palms to climb up. Tie with rattan, place cross pieces of bamboo between tree tops to cross over. Tap the tree near the top.
We have used much of this sugar in the last few months.

October 1942

Thu 1 Death at 6 am. Of Gnr. P Whitcombe NX 7317 aged 27. Acute bacillary dysentery, moribund for 48 hours. Motions ceased then No vomiting. Took fluids well. Now only 1 or 2 doses of morphine left now but have been told move to Tavoy on 3rd.

Fri 2 Number of patients with dysentery admitted to hospital at Ye between 2/6/42 to 1/10/42, AIF 96, Dutch 84.
Deaths 4. 1 (Burns), dysentery, ? intussusceptions.
2 Howard
3 Kamp
4 Whitcombe

From Ye to Tavoy.

Rose at 5:30 am. The next to last of my carriage ?coindles? invaluable for packing valise etc. The whole 200 remaining at Ye returned to Ye. 40 dysentery patients and 21 others and a few Dutch. 25 sick patients transported to River in?farm carts. We walked then sampans downstream for about ½ a mile. Very picturesque. 200 yds. wide, banks covered with tropical growth. Palms, bananas, bamboos etc. with typical shrines, temples and pagodas. In normal times would be quite attractive. Attap native huits on stilts and large boats on slips being built. I rode in front seat of truck to Tavoy. Road much rougher than on the way up but hot and no rain. Took from 8:45 to 4 pm. Had some sweet bread and butter, first for months from Jap guard. The last 12 miles of bitumen very acceptable.

Sun 4 Arrived at Tavoy at hospital yesterday to finish CCS. Men previously there had left 3 days for Moulmein by boat. Hospital now in charge of John Chalmers (Major J S Chalmers was subsequently to drown when the ship he was being transported to Japanese on was torpedoed in 1944) in crowd from Mergui and with them Col.Coates from Mergui and earlier from Sumatra. 170 AIF and Br. Patients and 150 Dutch patients and convalescents.
Camp has improved much since I left. 1800 AIF and British POWs still in Tavoy "school" camp. I thought I wouls be remaining here with CCS but am now told by Japs that all Ye men except 40 dysenteries will go to Moulmein by boat about 10/10/42. I also.
This hospital is now administered by Dutch who took over from CCS. Major ?Keelison is commander, Lt. Overbeek adjt. Non-medical. Dr. Slatter, Dr. Gates, I joined their mess with Chalmers. They pool all their pay and have extras cooked to supplement the food issued. (Also Keith Bostock R?T). Bostock understood to be Red Cross man.

Mon 5 Have found 6 cases of amoebic dysentery among my 42 cases of dys. From Ye. (5 Aus. And 1 Dutch(Paul)). These are all chronic cases- Henderson ?Jayman, Brown, ?Landby, Ritchie, the shortest 1 month. We have emetine and Yatrin here. What a pity we couldn't microscope them before. I am treating only cases from Ye so only have about 50 in hospital and a sick parade of about 30 in the morning, mostly tropical ulcers and convalescent dysentery and malaria (very few of latter).

Tue 6 Anal fissure op by Colonel Coates. I gave the ether so am doing big surgery.
Food here is fair. Have pap and sugar for breakfast and dinner, breakfast varied every third day by bread. Evening meal nice veg. and meat (scanty) but a good meal when supplemented by extras such as fish, egg and cucumber. On Sat. night regularly have afeed of Nasi Goreng.
Now had detailed account from Coates of experiences since leaving Singapore.

Fri 9 Not much work. Only my dysenteries to see. Sick parade only nominal.Their tropical ulcers seem to be doing better by scraping away excessive granulations, then applying, or rubbing if necessary, with ?biniodide of mercury followed by the application of iodoform powder and leaving 24 hours.

Mon 12 Raining continuously since about 5 am. (now 1pm) also very much last night. We hope this will improve the well supply. The two wells have been getting very low and we do not look forward to the dry season proper.

Tue 13 Before arrival Camp Commandat Col. Nagatamo ordered that all POWs should sign a parole not to escape. Major Green refused and was locked in a hut 10' x 10' with nothing except shirt and shorts, not even sanitary paper. For this he had to use a hole in the floor. No cleaning away done. Food was rice, salt and water. Then Brig. Varley, sent in after 36 hours, decided that "signing under pressure" was established and signed. All others then signed.

Wed 14 Went to the town with the buying party. Many good brick buildings practically all burnt down by inhabitants before the Japs arrived. Big market with much diversity of especially vegetables, sarongs and smells. The section not devoted to foodstuffs very neat and clean but most articles far beyond our income of 4? per day. Talked to 2 Burmese doctors in their surgeries and rode home in a pony cart. "Ali Baba", an Indian from Madras, who does most of the buying for the Tavoy camps is a picturesque and helpful cove.

Thu 15 For the last five days almost continuous rain. All footwear soaked so took to clogs. Many use these always about the camp but I like to keep my feet dry.

Fri 16 Monotony broken by doing a big op. - intravenous infusion of Ringer's solution of which the Japs had given us a fair amount.

Sat 17 Cooking, a man with repeated generalized convulsions of sudden onset causing anxiety (? Cerebral tumour).

Sun 18 Cooking's fits ceased but much stupor and mental deterioration.
Two of dysentery case from Ye have given positive malaria films. Suspected and treated before Ye for malaria. Sgt. Small previously from Jungle House and Cpl. Brown, recurrent, previously at Victoria Point.

Mon 19 Fine today and warm. Packing this afternoon for Moulmein. Hope I get a first class stateroom. I was interrupted this morning about four times while doing my wards, to be counted and recounted by the Nips for the move tomorrow. Have left here about 40 of my 170 Ye men. 38 dysentery including 5 recovered and 2 others. One is Cooking who is much better.
A bright moon over Burma tonight lighting up the picturesque pagoda in the trees to the west of the camp. Boys singing as is usual before a move.

Left Tavoy hospital for Moulamein.

Tue 20 By truck to Tavoy wharf about 10 am. Transport for sick, mostly ulcers. Tavoy river about ½ mile wide and tidal. Flanked by hills up to 2 or 3000 feet high. Barges pulled by motor launches. Ours, a diesel, broke down so did not reach the ships at the mouth of the gulf where we embarked on Kenza Maru until 1:30 a.m. about 11 hours. Officers travelled in launch - not much room, Found about 2'6" width of floor in the hold and slept on my ground sheet. Not as bad as the Celebes Maru.

Wed 21 On Kenza Maru.
On the whole the troops much more comfortable than on the other voyage. Ship about 2000 tons. About 600 POWs crowded in the hold and many on deck. Rained only a little last night. Today very pleasant. Got sunburned. Travelling North a few miles from Burma coast. Mostly hilly down to the coast. Talks with Capt. Alan ?Skull and Maj. Cameron (WX3451) who was in last war at 141/2 and in England with the Commonwealth contingent.

Thu 22 Arrived Moulmein.
Anchored off mouth of R. Salween last night. At dawn started voyage of 6 hours up the river to Moulamein. Wide river gradually narrowing to about a ½ mile with low banks and mountains some distance back. A tidal river here with apparently several channels forming a delta. Moulamein berthed at wharf. Sick and baggage in trucks to gaol. Moulamein a large scattered town. Many picturesque shrines and pagodas. No sanitary arrangements at the gaol. Otherwise a good "camp".

Fri 23 Rain. The dry weather commenced next day.
Awoke after a very good night's sleep, my first night actually in gaol. Brick walls like every other gaol. Grounds of the various yards laid out in gardens. A number of two storey buildings, ours the hospital building with beds so the men are very comfortable after hard decks. Transport to here was well organized. 600 were left for Thanbyuzayat by train, four miles walk to the station. Dug up a few more stores from the gaol.

Sat 24 Moulmein to Thanbyuzayat.
Injection of cholera vaccine.
Truck to staion. Impressive reception by the natives who threw very many presents of tobacco and food into the trucks. One of 40 boiled eggs. A second class carriage was for these times very comfortable with good observation windows.
Departed Moulmein 11:10 187m from Rangoon.
Hmeingenein 12:00
Muddon 12:30
Tawku 12:50 198m.
Kamacuet 1:00 201m.
Kalawthut 1:10 204m.
Thanbyuzayat 1:30 208m.
At Hmeingenein a striking natural object in a large mass jutting out of the plain, about 150 ft. high and 250 ft. long or perhaps more. Jagged surface. 2'6" railway single line, spurs for getting metal from the above rock. Large areas of swamp and rice fields. Many square miles. Reminds me of Aus. Crops but not separated. Banked into small paddy fields as in other places.
Thanbyuzayat- much building of railway.

Sun 25 Joined (Colonel) T. Hamilton, (Major Ted) Fisher and Stuart a Scotsman (most likely Captain Stuart Simpson Dental Offocer). A few orderlies from CCS here yesterday. Tom H SMO and Ted F chief of hospital. 130 patients and staff consist of 2 MOs. 1 DO. Sgt. Paul, Sgt. Shireff, Sgt. Boxall, Cpl. Iles, WO. Coomb, Ptes. Brookes, Young, Fish, Roberts. These do all nursing duties, records, which are huge, and mess orderlies. Cooking and hygiene is done in the kitchen for all camp personell in camp. General Burlauiz?? (Brain Trust). Cooks , enspe??? Working for Japs - etc. making about 90 - 100 permanent camp personnel. The camp is only about a ¼ mile from Thanbyuzayat.
Camp consists of 6 long attap huts. Will hold 1200 men. These will now include POWs being drafted through here and remaining here for 1 or 2 nights before being sent to various camps situated from 4 to 40 km. from here towards Thailand … viz
Some numbers approx. arrived at station.
Kilo Capacity. Nat. No. Date.
Thanbyuzayat 0 1200 Aus 613 10 Sep
Kandau 4.8 1500 Aus 590 26 Sep
Wegali 8.6 1500 Dutch 1205 24 Sep
Aus 38 1 Oct
Aus 47 26 Oct
Aus 110 29 Oct
Aus 130 5 Nov
Thetkaw 14 2000 Aus 1520 10 Nov
Hlepauk 18 2000 Aus 700 10 Oct
(Lt. Col. Anderson.)
Thone-Donku 22 1500
Kun Knit Kway 26 2500 Eng 2000 25 Nov
Retpu 30 1500
Tanyin 35 1500 Aus 900 28 Oct
Aus 500 15 Nov
Deket-Aung 40 1500 Aus 600 27 Oct
(Lt. Col. Black later to 26.) Amer 200 27 Oct
From Java Amer 600 27 Oct
Later 3400 to 22.3 kilo. Camp.

Wed 28 Ted Fisher doing med. Cases. I have now been appointed Surgeon to the Camp Hospital. Syd (Krantz) has gone to 18k camp. (also ?Munchhyjou)
At first it was feared Japs would insist on my going "out". TH (Colonel Hamilton) is now doing only administration of the medical side of the whole area.
Have had two really cold nights so far, sheet, blanket and ?canotes of ?valiso not enough. Surprising! Plenty of water in the well fortunately. Eggs buyable here at 11 for R1 and had sugar ?jendiga"from cane - but canteen only starting and no variety.

Sat 31 My surgical cases mostly ulcers and infected sores, a few rheumatism etc., 2 fractures, one of them compound from g.w. on "Perth". Several hernias. Japs have made no provision for me to operate despite repeated requests. A case of acute abdomen will bring it to a head. But they do not seem to worry as long as their innumerable lists are correct. Interesting to see Jap soldiers being bashed as they are doing training across the road. Lifting and shifting rails and sleepers etc. by numbers. Slapped on the face and hit over the head with a rifle butt etc.
Saw Walter Moore from the 4.8 kilo camp.

November 1942

Sun 1 Conditions here.
Water plentiful. Two wells seem inexhaustible apparently so get my "tong" every morning without stint. Food not so good though. Issue fair. Pap for breakfast and jendigu. For the other two meals rice cooked very well in proper pans and stew. Meat every day is stew for both meals. But no bananas. Only extras we get are eggs and native biscuits. Eggs 11 per Rupee. Many cases of blurred vision and pains in feet apparently from avitaminosis of some kind. Protein is more sufficient here but vegetables very scanty. No actual beri beri. I have 86 surgical cases, Ted Fisher 120 odd medical.

Mon2 Read the log of the USS Houston sunk in the Sunda Straits on Feb 28 1942 lent me by its author First Able Seaman Manuel Castro of the Perth, sunk in the same battle with 14 ships v 48 Japs. Hit several times also in previous few days by air attacks. Has been several times to Darwin.

Tue 3 Celebration of Birthday of Jap emperor ?Ineiji. Holiday for workers. Parade and speech by Col. Nagatowa and cinema in the evening. Marched half a mile from the camp to an open space cinema constructed for the occasion and reserved for AIF and Dutch etc. on one side, centre for Japs and the other side for the Burmese Officers of field rank and above fourth. Dutch ---?, Peter Campbell and AFH given chairs with Col. Tai ?Cho and also bananas and brandy an"enemy" maiden. The program was the longest I have experienced lasting five hours from (9:00 pm to 2:15 am).
1. Advert for Philips valves.
2. Conquest of Malaya and Singaporean Japanese. Propaganda..
3. Ceremonial parade of apparently the whole Jap army before the Emperor.
4. Burmese picture lasting 2 hours.
5. Jap film.
The whole thing was a change but far too interminable. Burmese picture dreadfully long and drawn out.

Wed 4 A lazy day after getting to bed at 3:00 am. Japs didn't even count us on return so a real birthday party. The Dutch interpreter ?Pump met. He talks French with Col. Nagatoma as well as Japanese.

Sat 7 Received a 'chess' book from Dumbrell. Have been playing a bit with Stuart Simpson in the evenings. Reading "Virgin Soil Upturned", an account of the "collective farming system" in the Caucasus in 1930. The Cossacks and peasants are pretty crude in word and action.
Rained again during the night.

Sun 8 W.O. Jack Coombe (Jack Coombe, from Tasmania, was a Warrant Officer in the CCS (Casualty Clearing Station). Post war he stayed in the Regular Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel) has had malaria for the first time and other cases have been acquired in this locality. Orderlies are working very well. Only three are actual nursing orderlies for about 130 patients with many wound dressings to be done. Assisted greatly but slightly ill patients or those with chronic mild disabilities. Otherwise we could not manage.

Mon 9 Commenced suppressive Atebrin yesterday. Three deaths today - suddenly, one AIF, one Englishman and a Dutchman from dysentery. Also one death in one of the our camps. Ted wrote a very strong letter to Brig. And sent on to the Jap Col. As the malaria patient died while going to the latrine outside the ward- absence of bedpan, absence of bed, only a bag on the floor, and no microscope facilities for diagnosis. Rumours are good. Invasion of ?Is. Morocau etc. by Yanks. Heard yesterday and today.
Game of chess Stuart Simpson every night.

Tue 10 Corp. ?Punt the Dutch interpreter had an attack of appendicitis. Has had several attacks before one or two with abscess formation. I thought I was to be allowed to go to Moulmein to operate but no!, taken by the Jap doctor Higuchi in a car for a Jap surgeon to do in the Moulmein Hospital.
The Jap doctor is sympathetic but the Col. Commandant shows a total lack of willingness to cooperate and help to prevent these serious conditions developing. He will not even arrange for the men to spend their meagre wages on extra food.

Wed 11 Letter by Ted to the CO for transmission to Nagatoma showing cases of amblyopia due to neuritis of the optic nerve from lack of vitamins (? vitamin B). Cases of severe pains in feet preventing sleep with the men rising several times a night to bathe their feet at the well. No drugs to relieve them adequately. Cases of chronic infections, tropical ulcers etc. Cases of diarrhea, dysentery and miscellaneous conditions such as debility following dysentery, anaemia following malaria etc. No iron. Grossly deficient diet and lack of medications.

Thu 12 Diet is deficient in fruit and vegetables and meat lately is less in quantity. Always some in stew but not much. Ted Stuart and I have been able to get an egg, a very good duck's egg every evening, bought at 11 for 1 rupee. A piece of cucumber issued the other night but no tomato or lettuce. I feel very well but not much reserve on this diet so that one feels like lying on the old stretcher fairly often. This is generally possible in the afternoon. Stuart S.(Simpson) and I always have a constitutional in the evening after dinner but not far to go.
Flies in the latrines and urinals are very bad, swarms of blowflies.

Sat 14 Nagatomo has now given us a few blankets and mosquito nets for 50 men and bedpans.
By order, a list of drugs and instruments supplied by Japs today.
A good dream last night, The Japs left us to ourselves which obviously meant relief.
Many new ?Nips arrived today crowding our ---- making bathing not quite so easy. ?Koreans to be trained as POW guards.

Sun 15 Still a shower of rain occasionally so the dry season is nearly established. A lazy day with only an hour's work in the morning for me and no administration.
The value in calories and vitamins in our diet worked out, grossly deficient in fat, protein, vitamin B and vitamin A, just sufficient only of vitamin C. Calories slightly deficient.

Mon 16 On our evening walk Capt. Simpson and I were much amused by the Nip. Guard walking over to us near the far gate (two wires with a stake in two loops of the wire c.f. Australian farm) and making sure that it was safely shut by shaking the stake and marching off without answering our "Kom ban Wa" with an air of "duty done".
Had a game of chess with T.H.
I wonder what you know of me now. I hope you don't worry about me when the Nip reverses start as we're anxious about a few difficulties for us as well as them!

Tue 17 Ian's Birthday! Cheerio Ian. Just about ready for the exams I suppose. Then what? I wonder what your year has brought. I hope to hear about it sooner perhaps than I had thought … Af. N.G. Sol. (?Africa, New Guinea and the Solomons). My thoughts are more than usual at home today and also at Cowell of 18 years ago, not to forget Miss Bond!.
We are in good spirits the last few days. I hope you are too.

Wed 18 Much reason for good cheer. Thunder all last night and steady, light rain from 4 a.m. for several hours. Quite unusual lately. It made my morning bath much easier as practically no one at the well. Crowded by Nips last few mornings.

Thu 19 Chess with Capt. Mann who has been admitted to hospital with a pilonidal sinus. He can teach me one or two tricks I am afraid.

Fri 20 Game of chess with Tom Hamilton. He won, now one all. In the evening a concert followed by a game of crib, my first since Lakes Entrance 1919 with Doug Ferrier. We're playing a tournament among our lads, 13 of us in our section of the hut, Ted, Stuart, myself, Bev Brown, Bill Fysh (A Dental Orderly), ?Ken Brookes, Claude Iles, Stan Young, Wally Roberts, Jack Coombe, ?Reub (Reuben) Boxhall, Charlie Paul and Jack Shireff.

Sat 21 Water position bad. Well fails to make enough by morning to cover the pump so couldn't get my usual morning bath but had to be content to manage with a pint of water.
POWs expected here by the Japs, 9000 including 500 from Tavoy have failed to arrive. The latter had left on Nov 10 and were to arrive on the 17th by boat so----

Sun 22 Sunsets here are beautiful. Different from ours in that the whole sky is all colour and not only in the west. The colouring is magnificent and varies in a minute or two. The glow in the east at sunrise is sometimes very bright also, generally when I am having my bath at the well at this time, "the crack of dawn".

Mon 23 Inspection by Brigadier.Varley. Ted had the opportunity of taking a Jap officer (2nd Lt. Higuchi) around part of the ward and showing 17 patients with amblyopia and neuritis and pointing out their serious nature and the lack of drugs. Ted had, in the last week or two, sent three lots of requirements to Nagatomo. After this visit on which he had verbally told Higuchi some of his requirements the latter said to one of the ?Burmese officers "How can I supply drugs if Major Fisher does not tell us what he wants".

Tue 24 Some of the senior officers from the "out" camps are here for a conference. ???---- ---- ------- ----, Col Anderson, John Hetherington etc. In the evening a parade was a rehearsal for tomorrow evening to bid farewell to Col Nagatomo who is going to Thailand for "three months". Hisoda the camp Commandant is an excellent fellow c.f. his remark re Nagatomo to one of our officers "I like it here but I think ---------

This paragraph of uncertain date- could be 26 November

At 5 pm parade before Col. Nagatoma commander out of number 3 Thai POW camp which means the whole series of camps. He stood on a table and addressed us through ?Pump, a Dutch interpreter. Told us how gracious the Jap Emperor was to allow us to be looked after in this camp and to assist in that wonderful and never before attempted project, the completion of a railway between Rangoon and Bangkok. Also that we were not a fighting force and had no chance of escaping being only a rabble. Also referred to us as the skeleton of an army. We could not expect food etc. which they were unable to supply even to the respectable Jap army. This parade lasted 3 hours and finished with the distribution of innumerable arm bands and then a number for each POW. Any man on any job other than "?pole lagging" has to wear an arm band.

Here there are missing pages through to December 1.

December 1942

Tue 1 211 cases in Aust. Hospital.
60 of these in the chronic section. Medical and Surgical
50 Aus, Ph. American in the Dutch dysentery hospital.

Wed 2 New theatre christened. Operation on Mutton for an anal fistula.
Wally Roberts, Jack Coombe and Stan Young have done a good job and made a table with lithotomy stirrups, two tables, a stool and partitioned the space off with attap. Instruments and towels boiled in an ammunition tin and bowls boiled in a 44 gallon drum borrowed from the kitchen. The water is rather muddy but sterile. I use a head mirror for light if necessary.
Picture night and Burmese dancing for POWs. I remained home. Ted and Stuart went, not so interminable as last time.

Thu 3 Long statement signed by Dutch who were recaptured, advising others not to attempt escape, issued at command of Col. Nagatomo describing how Burmese are pro Japanese and will capture escapees and hand them over to the Japs and how they did this.
Rolly Richards in from the 18 km. camp.
Evening. Final of the first round of the crib tournament. Stuart (Simpson) and I winning against Jack Sheriff and Bev Brown. No chess lately. Too much snivelling!!

Fri 4 Much hay fever. Took ephedrine also night before last. Hay fever even before "cold" developed. The grass is now long and seeding and pollinating very much like couch grass at home in appearance but much courser. In the first few weeks here the grass was shorter with sharp seeds but no pollen. Ephedrine is effective in an hour or two and fortunately I have nearly a hundred left.
No further POWs arriving by sea - significant- but Hisoda has gone to Tavoy to bring the remainder from there, presumably except hospital.

Sat 5 Increased officers pay from today. Also commenced increased scale of food issue to patients, being paid for out of the officers pay which from today is paid at rates corresponding to Jap officers of the same rank. However a maximum of 70 R is paid and the rest "put into a Jap bank until after the war". This comes out of 170 for Majors, 122.5 for Captains. Less than 70 R remains for Lieutenants.
From the Majors pay of 170 R per month only 30 R is to be paid and the rest (40 R) put into a fund for Red Cross purposes giving for AIF, British and USA 4800 R per month.
A request for six more orderlies and one new medical officer when the detachment from Tavoy arrives.

Sun 6 Ted at my request for a bit more work, as he has been very busy with medical work and administration, has handed over his diarrhoea and convalescent dysentery cases to me.
Donald Murchison (thought to be Red Cross man - civilian captured in Malaya) is in from the 18 Kilo camp. He hopes to come in here to administer the hospital fund when Nagatomo has gone.

Mon 7 Large sick parade of 150 from new arrivals, mostly sore feet from the march, ?9 cases of amblyopia and neuritis, several hernias, hydroceles and one or two big ulcers. Busy day dressing these and seeing new admissions. 25 admissions and 8 from camp (35k). Total in hospital now 296.
Good concert in the evening. Stuart and I listen from our beds.

Thu 10 First officers pay now R30. Paid 70R less 40R loaned to our hospital fund.
Money left from sale of watch 311/4 Rupees. So now 611/4 in hand. Spent since 24 Oct.- 16 Rupees.

Fri11 Having egg for breakfast and 2 for dinner nights, usually fried by Col. Black's batman, Wood who was Lord Jellicoe's valet in New Zealand.
Cold nights - blanket and trench coat by morning over underpants, singlet and pyjamas. Up at 8 a.m. (dawn about 8:15 to 8:30).
250 AIF and English from Tavoy, the second recent group.

Sat 12 Naito, the new area Commandant who took over from Nagatomo on 7/12/1942, has been on the shicker for several days.

Sun 13 Three Dutchmen shot at dawn after being in solitary confinement two weeks ? where the wounded one is? Rumoured he is in out camp.
Early in the morning Whitfield, an Austaralian who escaped a month ago was returned to this camp. Afterwards examined by TH and WEF and myself and then a conference with Higuchi and an interpreter. He was sent to hospital on the understsnding that he was to stay for 10 days and then returned to camp.
"Tanko" last two nights with counts in huts.
Now 419 patients, including 52 dysenteryin Dutch hospital. Only Ted and I as MOs now.
Whitfield taken without notice by armed Japs and shot within 10 minutes at the cemetery.
Buying from the canteen stopped as from yesterday. Eggs for most patients for today but no more afterwards. Up to date they have been bought unofficially. I take ephedrine gr.1 twice a day lately regularly.

Tue 15 300 prisoners arrive from Tavoy in the evening, the third contingent since my arrival.
Now ordered to salute all Jap soldiers.

Wed 16 Ted Hamilton took over the diarrhoeas and Capt. Steen the eyes and neuritis cases.
A rush of admissions from Tavoy and two lots from camps.
Huts sprayed by Japs for bugs. In the afternoon inoculation for plague. A Japanese vaccine in 8 oz. bottles. 340 were given between 2:30 and 4:00, Australian, British, American and Dutch.
Saluting relaxed.

Thu 17 In the afternoon the innoculations continued - 200 more
Then the funeral of Lt. Staples 2/10 Field Regiment (See short article which is at end of Hobbs story) who died of malaria this morning.
Further orderlies arrive, Eagle, Jerry Byrne, Leo Byrne and Brettels.. Two days ago Goulston, Connoly and Mal Jones arrived in our quarters from the patient's.

Sat 19 Stuart is wading through Lord Bertie of Thame one sheet per day. I'm getting through my Portuguese dictionary more rapidly at the rate of 2 or 3 per day.

Sun 20 170 POWs from Tavoy arrived, the last crowd from there, except for hospital patients. This leaves only John Chalmers, Bert Coates and 100 patients in Tavoy. Also arrived Treleaven D.O,, Syme, Barrow, Hargreaves, Miller, Smith and otherw of the CCS.
The perforated duodenal ulcer case died on the fifth day from pneumonia.

Mon 21 Tom Brereton settled in next to me on the platform. He has had failure of vision, faces looking blurred and can only just read.
Shortest day today with the sun rising at about 9 a.m. Jap time. We get up at 8:00 now, formerly 7:30. It is half light at 8:15. The Southern Cross is seen in the southern sky at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning.

Tue 22 A brisk walk every morning and evening with Stuart and sometimes Tom.

Wed 23 Dutch sick numbering 200 arrived from Moulmein out of 1600 who have been in Rangoon for six weeks. They have had a terrible time there with 175 deaths out of the 1600 with very bad food and conditions. Dysentery, beri beri and pellagra are rife. Many others are unfit from debility. A USA airman who was shot down in the Sunda Straits says Rangoon is being systematically bombed, eighteen times with seven to nine planes in three weeks. Most extensive damage including the guard house with about seven Japs and two British POWs wounded. More planes (Jap) seen over here lately.

Thu 24 Drugs bought. A quantity of material for dressings, aspirin, castor oil, and margarine. The material is like gauze at 1R, 10A per yard (90 yards obtained), bought with Red Cross funds from Moulmein by Ray Griffin. Margarine 28 lbs., castor oil 2 gallons. Aspirin 21/2 per tablet, Marmite 6/. Per jar.
Dutch escapees who were captured a few days ago were brought to Thanbyuzayat, presumably to be shot.
In the evening Naito gave a party to senior officerws and expressed a wish that we should forget that we are prisoners for Christmas. Nine pigs, four for this camp, were provided for tomorrow. Nasi Goreng for dinner, as much as we could eat or more. A few stockings were hung up! Xmas spirit is here with carols.

Fri 25 Christmas Day! Fine and cool and I am now sitting propped up in my bed with my overcoat over my knees at 10:30 a.m. I guess it is much cooler than at home unless it is like 1926. I wonder what you all got in your stockings. My photos on my table show Bill's and Graham's smiling faces. Ian's and Mummy's a bit more serious but I hope you're smiling now. Their smiles often cheer me up. Gray's is obviously just under the surface even in the serious one. I wish I had all my snaps but can imagine you all at home. I wonder if the tennis court is functioning. My thoughts are with you all and I wonder if we will be together next Christmas.
Christmas Dinner of beef and pork and five or six kinds of vegetables. Radish and seasoning excellent. Plum Pudding and Brandy Sauce. Excellent meal! After dinner a gathering of 35 CCS men (some being patients) and other men assisting in hospital. Toasts AAMC by Col. Hamilton, absent members of CCS, by myself.. Drank in coconut "toddy". The evening meal was also good. Pork and veg. again and fruit salad. Band played in the afternoon. ?Command performance once. Naito had said no work Christmas day and must forget we are POWs.
The CO said:
AAMC motto, ?translation? = little by little, RAMC = in arduis fidelis (faithful in adversity).

Sun 27 Three Dutch Eurasians who were captures two months ago and were recaptured in Moulmein in ordinary clothes were shot. Also funeral of Sgt. O'Donnell who was shot by a Jap guard in 18 Km camp.
Saw Col. Anderson who came in yesterday. Higuchi examined stools of our patients for amoebic dysentery and gave us three one grain doses of emetine.
Newton Lee is very fit. We had a good concert in the evening with insulting references to MOs and DO (Medial Officers and Dental Officer)

Mon 28 Col Black returned to 25 Km camp after a long stay with us. Very congenial and interesting company. I examined him yesterday re prostate and found "NAD" (nothing abnormal detected).
Our water supply problem is bad with only very dirty water available and not much of it. I'm still able to get a morning bath of 1½ bowls. Bamboos are valuable for buckets, urinals, splints, beds and posts etc.
Chess with Stuart encouraged by Cpt. Mann.

Tue 29 Bev. Brown called to Jap HQ and shown many drugs and large quantities by Higuchi. He had to dispense some for the Japs and is going today to receive some for us.
New hospital huts are being erected. Five long huts each 100 yards long. Cut timber is being used whereas in the present ones the framework is bamboo. So we are hoping they will be more comfortable.
Operated on a naevus of the scalp.
A little milk for the hospital. Deaths from dysentery almost daily, very depressing.

Wed 30 A thousand Dutch POWs came from Singapore, where they left on the 23rd, via Rangoon and Moulmein. They have good clothes and are very well catered for by the Red Cross in Singapore. Only five sick, the others were left in Singapore. All except the five were sent straight to out camp from Moulmein.
Drugs and dressings arrived, more than before. 2 lbs of cotton ?came Amco only? And 4 oz. of chloroform, 2x10ml. ethyl chloride. Supplies also being sent to camps.
Over 500 patients in hospital (maximum 518 plus 55 dysenteries.)

Thu 31 Well. 1942 finished. I think we may see 1943 out as POWs, but I hope not. We toasted the new year with Toddy at 11:30 pm. Cpt. Steen present and then retired to bed and listened to the Dutch singing until 12:10.
Cheeroh! Everyone at Home! Good luck for 1943!

This is the end of the known diaries.






Comments which help place or describe some of the work by Major Hobbs follow in these books or papers (which are but portion of my library of over 400 books and papers on Prisoners of the Japanese over this sad time in history): -

1. Behind Bamboo by Rohan Rivett published 1946
2. The Albert Coates Storey by Coates and Rosenthal published 1977
3. Against the Odds -Albert Coates by Walter Gherardin published 2010
4. The Survival Factor by Rowley Richards anor published 1989
5. A Doctor's War by Rowley Richards published 2005
6. The Burma Railway by Maj Jim Jacobs written 1947
7. Soldier Surgeon in Malaya by Lt Col Tom Hamilton written 1957
8. Obey Pray & Hope POW Diary by Sgt Alec Hodgson 2/6 Fd Coy written 1943 (whilst POW)
9. Bridging the Gap by Ken Darwin self published 1998
10. Medical Middle East and Far East by Allan S Walker Published around 1951

The following are extracts from the above references:-

1. Rohan Rivett in his very early POW story says, the Australian Medical Officers won unbounded praise from the men of all nationalities. All told there were 13, Colonel Tomas Hamilton of Newcastle was Senior Medical Officer in Burma. Major W.E. Fisher was, a consulting Physician from Sydney, and Major Alan Hobbs, carried the burden at Thanbyuzayat until the hospital was broken up by bombing (Allied). After that, MOs were nearly all interchanged between the hospital and the working camps. Major Krantz of Adelaide shared most of the surgical work along the line with Colonel Coates and Major Hobbs. Colonel Norman Eadie, Melbourne specialist (E.N.T.) served with Williams Force until he became ill himself........(Other references to the following MOs Captains John Higgin, Don Cumming, Claude Anderson, Rowley Richards, Alex White, Tom Brereton and Major John Chalmers (who was to drown when he was on a ship which was torpedoed en-route to Japan in 1944)).

2. The first reference from The Albert Coates "Story" below relates to the period before the capitulation of Singapore -
a. "Routine surgical cases were handled at Manor House ......, whilst Major Alan Hobbs of the 2/4 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) kindly did some operations there in the later stages when 2/4 CCS had no longer a safe home".
b. "....where Major Hobbs was permitted to give them surgical aid..."(this refers to when in Burma)"
c. "Hobbs went with a party of POWs to Ye" (from Tavoy).

3. From Albert Coates papers, the author states "Älan Hobbs, a surgeon on the staff of the Adelaide Hospital and Krantz also an Adelaide surgeon, were on the staff (this must have been at Tavoy). Hobbs soon after went with a party of POW to Ye, further north. Although a FRCS England of the late 1920s, he did not consider it beneath his dignity to accompany a small party of POW as their RMO. He illustrated in person the self-reliance, self restraint and self sacrifice called for at times from medical Officers of high qualifications who served their fellow POW. A Dutch doctor once remarked to me, pointing to Hobbs - "There is a real doctor"".

4. Rowley Richards co-authored this book in 1989. He makes a number of references to Major Hobbs and some of his supporting Medical Orderlies. Also to other Medical Staff, including Dentists, Hygiene Officers, Red Cross Representatives and Quarter Masters. Richards also records verbatim a letter from Major Hobbs to the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Lt Col Hamilton about conditions in Ye.
a. There are 250 Australians and 250 Dutch soldiers in Ye. There is no Dutch doctor. There are 15 Dutch and 10 Australians in hospital with dysentery. I can do the work for both if sickness does not increase unduly. The Japanese doctor from the Celebes Maru is here and is good to us, but there are few medical supplies here. Could you send as many of the following as possible? Ether chloroform -Local Anaesthetic - Mag sulphate (Hobbs had none of these) - Probe - Forceps (Spencer Wells - at least 6) - Scalpel - Scissors (Surgical - Acid Salicylic - Ung Zinci - 'Tar Ointment'- Icthyol - Tinct Iodine - Bismuth or any alkaline powder - Higginson Syringe (if you have more than one) or wound syringe - Aural speculum The Japanese doctor will write instructions at the foot of this letter. Signed A.F. Hobbs Major.
b. Later Major Hobbs joined up with larger elements of the POWs building the Railway from Thanbyuzayat.
c. When construction of the railway was advanced in Burma some of the Medical Officers changed duties. Probably to ease the pressure on the Unit/Battalion MOs. The orders issued by Nagatomo's headquarters were -
In order to alleviate temporarily the task of the Doctors who have continually worked with the upmost zeal and give them the opportunity to foster their health, there will now be a temporary change of POW doctors as mentioned below:
i. Major Hobbs to change with Major Krantz.
ii. Major Chalmers to change with Captain Richards.
iii. Captain Higgin to change with Captain Anderson (this was probably at the 105 kilo camp)
iv. Captain Huls to change with Captain In't Veld
(The Senior Japanese Officer Colonel Nagatomo was possibly influenced in this decision by Colonel Hamilton. Claude Anderson told the website owner, that his rest was at 55 Kilo Camp where he assisted Colonel Coates with about 50 of the over 100 amputations he (Coates) did).

5. Rowley Richards, notes in his second book - "Padre Bashford, the Anglican chaplain who had at times been attached to Anderson Force, arrived at Retpu ......and informed us the Major Alan Hobbs, who had exchanged places with Syd Krantz, was suffering an attack of acute dysentery at the 108 Kilo Camp". Richards also notes "Days later the men had been forced to march for nine hours to the 108 Kilo camp in Thailand, near the border. During the journey they had stopped briefly at 105 Kilo camp for breakfast, and Major Alan Hobbs had remained there with 50 of the sickest man, including one who subsequently died of cholera". Later a group of 200 of the sick were returned to the 105 Kilo camp, where Alan Hobbs remained.

6. Major Jim Jacobs, notes that Major Hobbs had been left at the 108 Kilo camp with some sick men. I wonder if Jacobs has got the camp description right? (I do have the impression that he was meticulous in his staff work. But, he may be mistaken or it could even be a typing error.)

7. Tom Hamilton, in his book "Soldier Surgeon in Malaya, of course confines his comments mainly to the period before capitulation. The following are extracts from his book:
a. Alan Hobbs, senior surgeon with the unit, dark-eyed, keen and capable, hailed from Adelaide. By careful planning and hard training he had produced two good surgical teams, leading one and entrusting the other to Major Syd Krantz, also from Adelaide,
b. An unfortunate flight sergeant had walked into a whirling propeller at Kluang aerodrome. The prop had laid open his left shoulder like a side of raw beef. seemed as though his arm must be amputated.......Major Krantz seemed to have the leading role with this operation. Lt Col Hamilton and Major Hobbs were also involved. Major Krantz said "I think I will give it a go". Major Hobbs agreed. The arm was saved. As an aside, this operation provided a good example of the professionalism of the Health professionals in this unit. I refer to Sister Kinsella, who was responsible for post op care of the patient. I also refer to the Dental Officer, Captain Stuart Simpson, who turned his hand to being the anaesthetist and to his staff being utilised working as stretcher bearers.
c. Alan Hobbs team was also involved in treating a soldier who had 5 bayonet wounds of his scalp, a fractured skull and other gashes to his neck and chest. He recovered
d. Hamilton's book confirmed Alan Hobbs diary notes of around 15-17 January 1942. Hamilton states 165 cases were admitted and Majors Hobbs and Krantz carried out 35 operations.

8. Alec Hodgson makes the following diary note when at 105 Kilo camp.
i. Date 18 September 1943. -Fellow back from 55 (Hospital Camp) "..............Metadyen and Stremple for amputation. Tim Hodgson lost leg. 45 done and 50 on waiting list? Dick Harvey's (may be VX39858 from 4 Reserve Motor Transport Company) foot off here Thursday. Hobbs came from 80 (Kilo camp) for it".

9. This account from Ken Darwin's (SX10941 2/3 Reserve Motor Transport Coy) diary and I will quote extracts from it in some detail.
i. Date 1 July 1943. I arrived at the notorious 55km camp (Hospital camp). I have absolutely no knowledge of how I got there. It could have been by truck, it could have been by train; I do not know. I was in No 5 hut for a while, but graduated to No 8 hut where those about to have an amputation were kept. My new doctor was Major Alan Hobbs from Adelaide. No 8 hut was so full that there were no spare spaces within the hut itself, which was open all along one side. I was obviously sick and some poor fellow who had built a bed for himself of two rice bags told me if I got two rice bags, he and I could build a similar bed with a top bunk above his........ His name was Jack Ruddle VX23058.
ii. Around the above date, there is an entry which describes the curetting of ulcers, using an army table knife, which was dished like a spoon and the edges were sharpened. The ulcer was gouged and dressed.
iii. Date 10 October 1943. This was Ken Darwin's 23rd birthday. Major Hobbs and his entourage, curetted the ulcer.
iv. Ken Darwin makes the following general comment - "I feel it will be important to mention the following, and it is in no way a denigration of what Colonel "Weary" Dunlop did. He was a top person...probably none greater. But let it be understood that there were others who did mammoth tasks in saving life. At the 55 Km camp, as I've already mentioned, Colonel Coates did a magnificent job with amputations, especially considering he was carried into the camp as a stretcher case with acute dysentery. Major Alan Hobbs, also at 55, extended and saved lives with the curetting of ulcers. Before I left 105 to go to 55, Captain Anderson, a Western Australian doctor, had done a magnificent job in the face of impossible odds. And the tale goes on. There would probably be no other group of men who worked so tirelessly and with such dedication, without tools of trade and without drugs/medication to save lives under conditions which were so apparently hopeless."
v. Next morning I went to see Colonel Eadie, the ENT fellow. He told me how lucky I was and that the squeak I had heard was when the last little hole in the ear-drum had healed over itself. Major Hobbs had accepted responsibility for the rest of my injuries and when a small yellow-head appeared at the right side of the right eye, as a result of hot foments, I was held down while he made an incision. The detached retinas apparently re-affixed themselves more or less in the correct places
vi. Date 28 May 1944. - At Kanchanaburi (after the railway was finished and the Burma workers were brought down to Thailand). I was discharged from hospital. I still had my left leg, even though the skin-cover was pretty thin. Major Hobbs said it would probably need a massive skin graft when I got back home. I was allowed onto light duties, so asked Major Hobbs if I could be a stretcher bearer............The answer was "ÿes" and I started immediately.

10. In 1951 Allan S. Walker published a comprehensive book (nearly 700 pages) on the Medical Services in the Middle East and Far East. In the section on the Burma Thailand Railway there are three references to Major Hobbs. In the book Walker briefly mentions some of Hobbs work as follows: "In July (1942) a small medical section under Major Hobbs went with a working party from Tavoy to Ye."(page 583). Another reference states "During January most of the remaining personnel of the Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), and patients arrived from Tavoy, but Major Hobbs was allowed to take a detachment to Moulemein on 18 January (1943) to attend wounded who had been on bombed ships. The most seriously wounded were quartered in a church and were well treated by the Japanese, who supplied good beds, good food and sterilised dressings. The treatment of these sick men proved to be unique in the light of later experiences." (page 585). On page 633 there is the following reference to events after the railway was completed and movement to Thailand had taken place. "When Tamarkan was raided the whole staff did excellent work, and in one of the later raids eight orderlies rescued two seriously wounded men while the camp was under fire. When the hospital was evacuated a surgical team, Major Hobbs, Captain Simpson (Dentist) and six orderlies remained with the rear party till the movement was complete."

This concludes references which I have been able to find on Major Alan Hobbs work as a Prisoner of War (POW) of the Japanese. I should point out that it is clear that Majors Hobbs and Krantz had quite similar experiences, during the battle for Singapore and whilst on the Burma Thailand Railway.
I have no definitive information on where Major Hobbs was at the end of the war. As previously indicated it is thought he was in the Nakhon Nyok area (where many other officers were and I know that Captain Claude Anderson (MO to 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion) was). The route for Major Hobbs' return to Australia, has not been identified. It is known that he passed through Bangkok 30 August 1945. There are vague details of him being in a transit camp with amongst others Lt Colonels Hamilton and Eadie and Captain Cumming. He was discharged from the Army, back in Australia, 27 November 1945.
He returned to Adelaide late in 1945. He worked as a general surgeon privately and he was also an Honorary Surgeon at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He retired in 1963.
His wife Mabel passed away 1973. In 1976 he married Lawrie Margaret Pfeiffer.
Major (Doctor) Alan Frank Hobbs passed away 14 January1993
Post War he was Mentioned in Despatches (see below). Also below is the obituary from his old school Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, South Australia.


- -
This account of the experiences of Major Alan Frank Hobbs was compiled in 2011. It would have been a quite naked article but for being provided with typed copy of Major Hobbs diary, covering the period March 1941 to December 1942, by his son Dr William Hobbs, of Adelaide. For that I am, and readers should also be, grateful. It must have been a mammoth task.
I have lightly edited some parts and placed clarifying comments etc in Bold, as too are some other significant locations etc. I have also taken the liberty of trying to identify people mentioned in the diary and have added regimental detail in some cases.
There are some aspects of the diary, where it is not possible to identify people or places. Also the abbreviated nature of diary entries should be understandable to readers. The following images have been inserted from material held by the Website owner -
" Roberts Barracks, Singapore,
" Victoria Point,
" Map of Malaya/Burma area and
" Depiction of POW accommodation/conditions on Celebes Maru

Having said the above, I am delighted to be able to add to an appreciation of those Medical personnel and others (the doctors, nurses (before they were evacuated from Singapore), medical orderlies, the Dental personnel (who worked closely with the Medical personnel) and those who volunteered to care for their fellow sick and dying.

Lt Col (Retired) Peter Winstanley OAM RFD JP 30 June 2012


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