Thompson, Claude Goodwin (Flight Sergeant, b.1913 - d.?)

Accession Number MSS1214
Collection type Manuscript
Measurement Extent: 1 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Manuscript
Maker Thompson, Claude Goodwin
Place made Australia, Netherlands East Indies, New Zealand, Singapore
Date made 1941-1945; c.1990
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM315 419/103/072
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

Collection relating to the Second World War service of 403783 Sergeant Claude Goodwin Thompson, Royal New Zealand Air Force [RNZAF], Dutch East Indies, 1941-1945. The collection consists of a typescript narrative of Sgt Thompson's Second World War experience, and several additional related pages. This narrative was published in 1996 as 'Into the Sun'.

Chapter one of the manuscript begins by briefly discussing Sgt Thompson's training in New Zealand, then his move to Java where he briefly flew outdated Vickers Vildebeests before moving on to Singapore, then back to Java. Whilst on Java, Sgt Thompson's airfield at Kalitjati was attacked by Japanese. Sgt Thompson, along with several others were able to escape, but were later intercepted by Dutch forces who turned them over to the Japanese as prisoners of war.
Chapter two discusses an escape attempt where Sgt Thompson along with a friend named Eddie, successfully escaped from the camp in which they were interned. After several weeks of traveling, Eddie and four other British airmen surrender themselves, with Sgt Thompson continuing on by himself before he was forced to surrender to Japanese forces. Throughout this period, Sgt Thompson discusses the relationship that Allied soldiers had with varying parties, such as the local Dutch population, and indigenous tribes people.
The next twelve chapters discuss Sgt Thompson's movements between several prisoner of war camps throughout Java and Indonesia. Throughout these chapters, considerable time is spent discussing his living conditions, and in particular the medical situation faced by the prisoners, and punishment that the Japanese laid out to prisoners.
Later chapters in the manuscript discuss Sgt Thompson's time working on the railway at Pekan Baru, including the living conditions, the effects of beriberi on fellow soldiers, and sporadic details about the 'Burma-Siam Railway'. The manuscript ends with the announcement of the end of the war, and Allied drops of supplies being made to the workers at Pekan Baru.

Particularly notable events from the account include a visit by Dutch relatives to prisoners while he was based at a camp called Lyceum; privileges in earlier camps such as being allowed out to visit the local town to buy supplies; a month spent cramped inside a ship in Haruku harbour with patients suffering from dysentery, beriberi and other medical issues; conducting gardening duties for the Kempeitai; an account of a German submariner beating up a Japanese soldier who was trying to impress him by beating up Allied prisoners; Sgt Thompson's time spent with a dog called Judy, who was the mascot of HMS Grasshopper, survivor of the sinking of both the HMS Prince of Wales and SS Van Warwick, and later received the Dickin Medal; and how to properly butcher a rat.

Sgt Thompson spent around three and a half years as a prisoner of war, and experienced around twenty prisoner of war camps.

The additional pages in the collection are: two pages of a draft preface; a facsimile of an itinerary organised for Sgt Thompson and his wife in April 1972 while on a visit to Pekan Baru, Indonesia, the site of part of the railway that Sgt Thompson worked on as a prisoner of war; a photocopy of a letter from Louis Mountbatten, written as a reply to Sgt Thompson following his enquiry to his wife about their meeting in 1945 when her plane was the first Allied aircraft to land at Simpang-Tiga Airport near the concentration camps at Pekanbaru; a facsimile of caricatures depicting the different stereotypes of Japanese captors encountered by Sgt Thompson; a short biography of Sgt Thompson's post-war rehabilitation and lifestyle; and a facsimile of an article from the SPI Daily, dated 21 April 1972, discussing Sgt Thompson and his wife's visit to Pekan Baru.

An early version of 'Into the Sun' can be found in MSS2206.