Souvenir pennant : Captain C R B Richards, 2/15 Field Regiment

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number REL29493
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Felt; Paint
Maker Philip & Piper
Place made New Zealand
Date made c 1960
Conflict Period 1960-1969
Second World War, 1939-1945

Souvenir triangular blue felt pennant 'H.M.S. WAKEFUL'. An image of the ship is painted light blue, blue and silver within a red circular rope border. 'H.M.S. WAKEFUL' is screen printed beside this in white and blue. A tag on the back of the pennant, printed in blue has a copyright warning and maker's details.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of NX70273 Captain Charles Rowland Bromley Richards, a doctor who served in 2/15 Field Regiment. Richards was born in Sydney in 1916. He enlisted for service on 27 August 1940. Richards served with his unit in Malaya and Singapore before being captured and taken prisoner of war (POW) on 15 February 1942, at the fall of Singapore. For the next three and a half years he served as a medical officer in POW camps in Changi, the Burma Thailand railway, Saigon and Japan. During this time Richards kept comprehensive diaries and thorough medical reports on the condition of unit members. These were concealed in various places and retrieved after the war or, in Japan, on his person. In 1944, Richards and fellow prisoners of war were transported from Singapore on the Rakuyo Maru, destined for Japan. The ship was sunk by a US submarine on 12 December 1944 in the South China Sea. Only 80 Australian survivors, including Richards, who were rescued by a Japanese frigate and transferred to a whaling mother ship which carried them to Japan. Richards, along with 28 other Australians and 281 British POWs spent the last twelve months of the war in Sakata on the north-west coast of Kyushu. During this period he kept medical records for his men along with some personal notes. After 15 August 1945 when the war with the Japanese ended Richards helped prepare a medical report, a nominal role and other reports relating to the Sakata camp. Shortly after they were released from the camp HMS Wakeful took the group of POWs to Tokyo Bay. From there they went aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and returned to Sydney. Richards was mentioned in despatches for his service as a doctor to POWs and was later made a member of the Order of the British Empire and awarded an Efficiency Decoration for his military service in war and peace.