Signal flag bearing the names of No 9 Hut at Bakli Bay Prisoner of War Camp, Ambon

Accession Number REL/13757
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cotton
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia, Netherlands East Indies: Ambon, Pulau, Ambon
Date made 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

White cotton signal flag with a blue horizontal central stripe, with names written on it in indelible purple pencil. Flag bears the title 'Machine Gun Platoon' on the upper half, and 'C Coy' on the lower half.

The names on the flag, as well as various slogans, are given below. Unless indicated otherwise, those who died, died from disease on Ambon.

Upper half of flag:
‘The better Beer Ballarat’; ‘J B Knight VX28252’ [died 23 July 1945]; ‘The Volum Boys Geelong A G Jones, Ross Lavery’; ‘Cyma “Heh Hank KEEP MY DINNER” Hank Harris Paradise (Sydney)’; ‘Cpl VX44439 VIC BROIWN ROSANNA’ [died 21 May 1945]; ‘Ray Marshall’; ‘VX46427 G T Hastie East Camberwell’[died 20 July 1945]; ‘(Curly) M Calder VX6865 Newport Vic The Sporting PAL’ [died 20 June 1945]; ‘L J Fairbrother VX31121, EAST MALVERN 5.E5 ‘SON’’ [died 20 April 1944]; ‘H G Adams VX52771 Port Melbourne’ [died 24 July 1945]; ‘A K Warner (Plum) VX30831 Dimboola’ [died 6 July 1944]; ‘J Stacey 20th BN 2/21BN’; ‘VX24922 C P Jacobsen West Melbourne’ [died 15 May 1945]; ‘WX10157 W R Taylor PERTH WEST AUS’ [died 25 June 1945]; ‘VX31271 H J (Bluey) Wright, Collingwood’ [presumed dead, Ambon, 20 February 1942]; ‘A Johnson (Johnno) Melbourne’; ‘VX27271 R Connley Colac’; VX24846 W J Kirkman (Buffalo) Prahran’ [died 11 July 1945]; VX39756 T F J Wadham, Mildura’ [murdered, Ambon, 26 April 1945]; ‘VX27140 L A Young Footscray ‘Cactus in the Boob Again’’ [died 25 June 1945]; ‘VX44200 J H Nelson “Nino”’ [died Hainan, 4 June 1945]; VX25089 Cpl Kenny (K A) Hudson (Chappy) Barham, NSW’ [died 22 June 1945]; ‘VX61274 J A Smith Colinton, NSW’ [died 25 July 1945]; ‘Wonthaggi Wanders – VX25030 W J (Curly) Williams [died 24 April 1944], VX25018 M A (Stumpy) Bolding [died 25 July 1945], VX38778 O L (Pros) Williams [died 16 June 1945], VX25024 A C (Jake) Bolding [died 22 July 1945]’; VX31987 J C (Snowy) Young, Bendigo [died 25 February 1945]; ‘VX44633 R Eliston, Culcairn’ [signature added post-war]; ‘VX32128 W J Samson, Moorabin, Vic “Sambo”’ [died 23 June 1945]; ‘VX38950 Pte L T Stewart, Bentleigh [died 13 July 1945]; ‘VX26449 L A Scott, Mildura’ [died 20 July 1945 – name also appears on lower half of flag]; ‘VX44668 Pte F A Ledwidge, Epping, NSW “Blue Megsie”’; ‘VX50425 A J (Stinker) Letcher, Sandringham’; ‘VX26821 A Robertson, Shepparton’ [died 24 March 1945]; ‘VX39998 R McCracken, Fawkner’ [died 26 February 1945]; ‘VX61553 Con O’Keefe, Tocumwal, NSW [died 30 April 1944].

Lower half of flag:
‘VX61138 Pte B J Carland, Coburg’; VX30920 W S “Gussy” Morris, Geelong’; VX27317 A C Wegner ‘Wags’, Colac [died Hainan, 23 June 1945]; ‘VX53272 S F Purchase, Strathbogie, Vic’; ‘VX26449 L A Scott, Mildura; ‘VX53891 ‘F Kennedy, St Kilda, Vic’ [died Hainan 16 November 1943]; ‘VX45078 A B Crowse’ [signature added post-war]; ‘VX39749 R C Woodman, Westgarth’, ‘VX24940 E L Buckley, Fitzroy’ [died Hainan, 4 November 1943]; ‘VX24998 J Fincher, Wonthaggi’ [signature added post-war]; ‘VX20008 “Cpl” R J Campbell, Nth Brighton’ [died 5 September 1944]; ‘VX26617 N L Birch, Fitzroy’ [died 26 June 1945]; ‘VX24064 Tim Doolan, Colac’; ‘Jim Taberner Wonthaggi’ [signature added post-war]; ‘VX27422 S A Merry, Terang’; [VX24855] “’Tiger’ Hudswell W [Walter Thomas] from Struggle Town ‘Get up Joker’”[died 22 July 1945]; ‘VX24286 Sgt D Harries, Ballarat’; ‘VX53328 Mick Ryan A Coy [signature added post-war].

Rectangle in lower left corner:
A scroll with the words ‘HIGHER SERVICE’, and the following names –
‘R [R W] Richmond [killed in action, Ambon; 1 February 1942], B [B G ] Kay [killed in action, Ambon, 1 February 1942]; J Crilly [died of illness, Ambon, 21 February 1942]; [R M] Snowy Balcombe [killed in action, Ambon 2 February 1942]; D Morgan [presumed dead, Ambon 20 February 1942]; [J A] Peggy O’Neill [killed in action, Ambon 15 January 1942]; G [W] Austin [presumed dead, Ambon, 20 February 1942; Snowy [W T] Doolan [killed in action, Ambon, 1 February 1942]; B [G] Wellings [killed in action, Ambon, 15 January

Rectangle, surmounted by a cross, in the lower right corner:
‘Lt [H T] Smith [killed in action, Ambon, 2 February 1942]; Cpl ‘Alf’ [A C] Clerke [killed in action, Ambon, 2 February 1942]; Pte ‘Tiger’ [W C] Arrowsmith [killed in action, Ambon, 2 February 1942]; Ptes Geo [G E] Millist [killed in action, Ambon, 2 February 1942]’, Geo Atkins, Geo [G E] Gambling [killed in action, Ambon, 15 January 1942], Stan Symons [killed in action, Ambon, 15 January 1942; Sjt Bruce Love [presumed dead, Ambon, 15 January 1942]. Underneath these names is ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them’.

History / Summary

This flag was originally carried by Sergeant D Harries, from Ballarat, the bandmaster of 2/21 Battalion. It was signed by members of C Company, Machine Gun Platoon, 2/21 Battalion (Gull Force), who occupied No 9 Hut at Tantoei Prsioner of War Camp on Ambon. The names on the flag were written before October 1942, when some of the Company were moved to Hainan Island. Also on the flag, in rectangles on the lower half, are the names of members of the Company killed in the fighting on Ambon before the surviving members of Gull Force were taken prisoner by the Japanese. A few names have been added to the flag later, in ink and biro, possibly at a POW reunion in Melbourne, in 1984. Two thirds of all the men who signed the flag died in captivity. This exactly mirrors the death rate of the members of Gull Force who were held on Ambon. No 9 Hut was later destroyed as a result of Allied bombing.