James Richard (Dick) Braithwaite enlisted in the Army on 24 June 1940 from Newcastle. After being assigned to 2/15 Field Regiment and training in Sydney he left for overseas with his unit on 29 July 1941 onboard the troop ship 'Katoomba'. They arrived in Singapore on 15 August and after further training moved to the state of Johore in Malaya around the end of the year as the Japanese threat increased. After failing to stop the Japanese advance, the Australian troops crossed back into Singapore and were subsequently captured when Singapore capitulated in February 1942. Initially imprisoned in Changi, Braithwaite later found himself sent to Sandakan in North Borneo to build an aerodrome for the Japanese. In 1945 when this work was finished the Japanese forced the prisoners to march from Sandakan to Ranau. The majority or prisoners died or were killed along the way, only six survived. Dick Braithwaite was one of those. He took the opportunity along the march to escape into the jungle, where he was helped by the natives, and then eventually picked up an American PT boat.