Background information

The Encyclopedia entry Australian prisoners of war: Second World War prisoners of the Japanese contains an outline of Australians captured by the Japanese, as well as links to entries on each place of imprisonment.

Online resources

Use these resources to identify further information or particular items in the collections relevant to your interests:

Official records

Official records held by the Memorial include:

  • [8th Division in Captivity – Ambon (Gull Force):] Regulations and punishments for prisoner-of-war camp, Tan Toey, 1942. AWM54 554/18/1
  • [8th Division in Captivity – Ambon (Gull Force):] Medical case histories of Australian prisoners of war compiled by Dutch doctor on Ambon. AWM54 554/18/2
  • Ambon (1941–1942) – (Gull Force) – Reports:] Report on Ambon and Hainan by Lt Col W.J.R. Scott, DSO, Commanding Gull Force. AWM54 573/6/1A PART 1
  • Ambon (1941–1942) – (Gull Force) – Reports:] Reports concerning Laha battles – 1942. Australian prisoners of war captured in Ambon – Japanese statements, list of Japanese who may be either eyewitness to, cognisant of, or connected with the Laha massacres, 1945. AWM54 573/6/2A
  • War crimes and trials. Affidavits and sworn statements. (Searchable by name and number, various items). AWM54 1010/-
  • Records of Australian Military Forces prisoners of war and missing, Far East and South West Pacific Islands. Contains nominal rolls and paybook photographs of prisoners of war. Searchable by name, theatre of war, unit, location of prisoner-or-war camp. AWM232

Private Records

Private records held by the Memorial include:

  • Driver W.T. Doolan "Doolan's Song". Malay poem and translation about Doolan's brave stand against the Japanese. 3DRL/4193 [See also photograph AWM 133887]
  • Pte W.L. Viant. Diary kept while in captivity on Ambon and Hainan islands during 1942–45. PR01105
  • Athol (Tom) Pledger 2/12th Field Ambulance. Personal papers kept while a prisoner-of-war on Ambon and Hainan islands. PR00871
  • F. A. Biddiscombe, 2/21st Battalion nominal roll of Australian prisoners of war at Hainan in 1942 and indications of the number who died. Notes on incarceration. Diary covering period Feb 1941 – May 1945. 3DRL/1763


Books held by the Research Centre include:

  • Joan Beaumont, Gull Force: survival and leadership in captivity 1941–1945 (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988)
  • Courtney T. Harrison, Ambon, island of mist: 2/21st Battalion AIF (Gull Force) prisoners of war 1941–1945. (North Geelong: T. W. and C. T. Harrison, 1988). Contains nominal rolls – Ambon and Hainan islands.
  • James McClelland, Names & particulars of all Australians, killed in action, executed, or who died while P.O.W., and who are buried in the Ambon War Cemetery Indonesia: 1939-1945 (Silverdale, NSW: James McClelland Research, 1991)
  • Allan S. Walker, Middle East and Far East, Australia in the war of 1939–1945, Series 5 (Medical), vol. II, (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1953)
  • Van Waterford, Prisoners of the Japanese in World War II: statistical history, personal narratives, and memorials concerning POWs in camps and on hell ships, civilian internees, Asian slave laborers, and others captured in the Pacific Theater, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1994)
  • Lionel Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, Australia in the war of 1939–1945, Series 1 (Army), vol. IV, (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1957).

Check with your local library for availability of these books.

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