Signed handkerchief : 2/20 Battalion Band

Place Asia: Singapore
Accession Number REL38460
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Cotton
Maker Unknown
Place made Singapore
Date made 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Square fine cotton handkerchief with broad hem and an embroidered 'D' monogram in one corner. The surface is decorated in purple indelible ink with hand-drawn inner and outer borders, enclosing a panel featuring a map of Australia (labelled '2nd AIF 1941') above a plaque shape labelled 'Souvenir from the 2/20 Band Abroad Per DC'. The following signatures are recorded: Cpl J Wood Drum Major (NX72832 Private Donald Anthony ‘Jock’ Wood died 10 February 1942 in Malaya); J Mann (Bass) (NX51496 Private John George Mann returned POW); LeBroome Tenor (NX58305 Private Edward Harold McBroome died 10 February 1942 in Malaya); S King Tenor (NX52938 Private Sidney King returned POW); W Wilson Cornet (NX66458 Private William Wilson returned POW); R Currey Cornet (NX59141 Private Ross Currey killed in action (KIA) 10 February 1942 in Malaya); R Jackson Cornet (NX65716 Corporal Ralph Jackson returned POW); B Dunnett Drum (NX28651 Private Arthur Robert Dunnett died 10 February 1942 in Malaya); J Marsh Cornet (NX53383 Jack Clifford Marsh returned POW); A McDougall (Drummer) (NX56636 Private Angus McDougall returned POW); M Ferguson Baritone (NX33630 Private William Maxwell Ferguson died 10 February 1942 in Malaya); Spanner Cornet (NX53070 Private James Keith Spencer discharged 14 December 1943); W Racklyeft Bass Drum (NX66656 Private Wynford Arthur Rackyeft returned POW); Lou Junge (Drummer) (NX65811 Private Louis Alexander Junge discharged 22 August 1947) M Daly Trombone (NX65751 Private Michael Louis Daly returned POW); C B Wilson Bass (NX52054 Private Clarence Barker Wilson died of illness on 23 May 1945 in Borneo whilst a POW); D Campbell Cymbals (NX45159 Private Charles Campbell died of illness on 19 June 1945 in Borneo whilst a POW) W Blakeney Trombone (NX57415 Private Walter James Blakeney discharged 20 November 1941); J Bent Eupho (NX65748 Private John Christopher Bent discharged 19 February 1943); S A N Burns Tenor (NX45310 Spencer Anzac Nevil Burns died 31 January 1945 in Borneo whilst a POW); Sgt K Cullen Cornet; (NX34130 Sergeant Kenneth Arthur Cullen returned POW) D Johnson Drums (NX65713 Private Daniel Johnston returned POW).

History / Summary

After establishment in Sydney on 15 July 1940, the 2/20th Battalion drew its recruits from Sydney, Newcastle, and the New South Wales north coast. It trained at Wallgrove, Ingleburn, and Bathurst before embarking for Singapore, as part of the 22nd Brigade of the 8th Australian Division, on 2 February 1941. It is likely this handkerchief was illustrated and signed during the trip to Singapore, as no location, other than 'abroad', is mentioned. Upon arriving in Singapore on 18 February, the 2/20th moved to south-west Malaya, where it trained for service under tropical conditions. At the end of August the battalion redeployed to the port of Mersing on the east coast. Connected to Singapore by a surfaced road, Mersing was a potential landing place for an enemy force and with war with Japan increasingly likely, much of 2/20th's energy was devoted to preparing defensive positions. Its first clash with the Japanese was on 14 January 1942; and from this point the battalion conducted a fighting withdrawl until the surrender of Singapore on the night of 15 February. The battalion's members were initially imprisoned in Changi prisoner of war camp and later broken into working parties transported to camps on the Burma-Thailand Railway and in Borneo, Japan, French Indochina, Java, Sumatra, and Malaya. The surviving prisoners were liberated in late-August 1945 and began returning to Australia almost immediately. The 2/20th Battalion was formally disbanded later that year.