2/12th Field Ambulance commemorative board: Sergeant Frederick Stanley Bates, 2/12th Field Ambulance

Place Asia: Netherlands East Indies, Ambon, Pulau, Ambon
Accession Number AWM2017.1363.1
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Wood
Maker Bates, Frederick Stanley
Place made Netherlands East Indies: Ambon, Pulau, Ambon
Date made December 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Wooden board carved in the shape of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Carved into the centre of the board is an outline map of Ambon marked with principal towns and ‘2/12TH FIELD AMB A.I.F AMBOINA THE ISLE OF MIST GARRISONED AT AMBON 1941’. On the left and right hand sides, the bridge 'pylons' bear the names of the 50 men who served in B Company 2/12th Field Ambulance. Each list of 25 names is surmounted by a Rising Sun badge and a representation of the 8th Division's Australian Army Medical Corps colour patch.

History / Summary

This board was made by Frederick Stanley Bates. It lists the members of B Company, 2/12th Field Ambulance immediately after they arrived on Ambon as part of Gull Force in December 1941. Born in 1902, Bates was a locomotive driver when he enlisted in the Second AIF on 15 July 1940. He was taken on strength by the Australian Army Medical Corps on 13 August. Bates joined the newly formed 2/12th Field Ambulance on 22 November and was appointed acting sergeant. The unit was attached to 23rd Infantry Brigade, 8th Division and in the capacity of providing medical support for 23 Brigade the 2/12th entrained for Darwin on 12 March 1941. Promoted to sergeant on 1 July and following the beginning of the Pacific War Bates was one of about 50 men from B Company of his unit attached to Gull Force which embarked for Ambon in the Netherlands East Indies on 13 December. Arriving on the island four days later Bates was captured by the Japanese on 1 February 1942. He was officially reported missing the next day and was confirmed a prisoner of war on 17 February.

In October Bates, then held in the prison camp at Tan Toey on Ambon, was transported to Hainan Island off the coast of southern China, together with 262 Australian prisoners and 245 Dutch prisoners. This included some, but not all of the surviving members of the field ambulance and one of their doctors. On Hainan the men were housed at Hashio prison camp on Bakli Bay in three long huts, one for the Australians, one for the Dutch and one for the hospital, which was staffed by 2/12 Field Ambulance and Dutch medics. The hospital staff rarely worked outside the camp and also grew vegetables to supplement the meagre rations supplied by the Japanese.

Bates survived captivity and was liberated from the from the Bakli Bay camp in 1945 and returned to Australia aboard HMS Striker, arriving in Sydney on 9 October. He spent a period of time recovering at Concord Repatriation Hospital before being discharged on 3 January 1946 at his own request on compassionate grounds.

Of the following men listed on the board just over half of them died, mostly during fighting in February 1942, or as a result of the mass executions at Laha on 20 February 1942. At the end of the war three quarters of the men who had served in Gull Force had died, mainly from disease and malnutrition. Unusually, only seven members of 2/12th Field Ambulance died from this cause, five on Ambon and two on Hainan.

Left hand column: QX6476 Captain Peter McLean Davidson (died while a POW 15 February 1943 asa result of Allied bombing of the Tan Toey Camp aon Ambon), NX65948 Staff Sergeant Robert John Leech (returned POW), NX460703 Sergeant Frederick Stanley Bates (returned POW), NX47190 Corporal Athol Pledger (returned POW), NX57716 Corporal Charles William Baker (missing believed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX46943 Corporal Rex Hattersley (returned POW), NX46498 Corporal Jack Stuart Smith (executed while a POW 15 February 1942), NX55934 Corporal Herbert Stanislaus McEvoy (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX46064 Sergeant Donald Douglas Baker (returned POW), NX47237 Private David William Watkins (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX46347 Private John Bruce (executed while a POW 20 February 1942), NX47737 Private William James Phillips (returned POW), NX46066 Private Harvey Blaxland Cowling (returned POW), NX37751 Private Noel Ross Elith (returned POW), NX46202 Private Ernest James Cousins (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX47722 Private Vincent Anthony Leben (executed while a POW 20 February 1942), NX41310 Private Henry Arthur Purvis (returned POW), NXX67288 Private Robert Keith Knipe (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX37747 Corporal Eric Cyril Fergus Rowe (died while a POW 31 July 1945), NX41368 Private Maurice William Atherton (died while a POW 29 June 1945), NX41321 Private John Clarence Hall (returned POW), NX67380 Private Dalley Leslie Griffin (returned POW), NX38408 Private Reginald Douglas Hazlewood (executed while a POW 20 February 1942), NX67382 Private Herbert Amos Worling (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942).

Right hand column: NX70920 Captain Stanley Boyd McKellar White (executed while a POW 20 February 1942), NX46586 Sergeant Basil Edward Baker (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX37770 Private John Thomas Elliott (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX37767 Private Colin Lloyd Dickson (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX43718 Private Charles John Comber (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX47713 Private Alan Sydney Kenwood (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX47729 Private Douglas Richmond Brown (returned POW), NX46670 Private Allan Lynton Brownley (returned POW), NX47720 Private Hector Gordon Wright (returned POW), NX47715 Private Joseph George Julian (returned POW), NX38113 Private Merton Langley Crane (died while a POW 25 June 1945), NX41281 Private John David Eckert (returned POW), NX46547 Private Thomas Joseph Flanagan (died while a POW 12 July 1945), NX65923 Private Bruce Houston Gordon (returned POW), NX47187 Private Allan Frank Winsor (returned POW), NX41245 Private Whitley Preston Lucas (returned POW), NX47150 Private Allen McDonald (returned POW), NX37778 Lance Corporal Thomas James Castles (died while POW 5 February 1943), NX21514 Private Thomas Laycock Hook (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX66149 Private James Bertram Morrison (returned POW), NX38716 Private Royston Cecil Stevens (missing presumed deceased while a POW 20 February 1942), NX46069 Private Alexander George Cowling (died while a POW 2 May 1944), NX59797 Private Cecil Horace Alfred Drew (executed while a POW 15 February 1942), NX55829 Private Walter Leonard Viant (returned POW), NX28484 Private John Edward Chell (died while a POW 23 June 1944).