Australian prisoners of war: Second World War - Prisoners of the Japanese, Burma-Thailand Railway
The Encyclopedia entry Australian prisoners of war: Second World War prisoners of the Japanese contains general information about the capture of Australian troops as well as entries on each location of imprisonment.
Use these resources to identify further information or particular items in the collections relevant to your interests:
- Collections Search: includes photograph and art images, film, private records and sound collections
- Roll of Honour: records the names of service men and women who died during or as a result of service with Australian military forces
- AMF Prisoners of War and Missing in the Far East and South West Pacific Islands
- RecordSearch: database of official records held by the Memorial and the National Archives of Australia
- Books database: search for published material including books, journal articles, maps, microfilmed collections and websites
- Stolen years: Australian prisoners of war online exhibition
Official records held by the Memorial include:
- [8th Division in Captivity - "A" Force ( Burma ):] Reports on conditions, life and work of Prisoners of War in Burma and Siam by Brigadier C.A. McEachern 1942-1945. AWM54 554/2/1A and B
- [8th Division in Captivity - "D" Force (Thailand):] POW Camps, Thailand, Report on Kinsayok Camp and Hospital and Tarsau Base Hospital, 1943-1944. AWM54 554/5/1
- [8th Division in Captivity - Changi and Singapore Island:] Appendix 1 History of "F" Force from Lieutenant Colonel Harris Commander, Report by Lieutenant Col C.H. Kappe, February 1945 - Recording treatment of POW in Thailand. AWM54 554/11/4 Part 2.
- [8th Division in Captivity - "F" Force (Thailand): ] History of "F"Force .1945-46. AWM54 554/7/2 PART 1B and PART 2B
- [8th Division in Captivity - "H" Force (Thailand):] "H" Force in Thailand. Medical report and summary of deceased personnel. AWM54 554/8/2
- [8th Division in Captivity - "K" Force (Medical Force):] Report on "K' Force (Medical) 1945-1946. AWM54 554/9/1
- [8th Division in Captivity - Other Thailand Forces:] Medical report of 800 Prisoners of War, March from Nakom Naiyoke to Pitsanloke, May 1945. AWM54 554/17/1
- [8th Division in Captivity - Other Thailand Forces:] Report on Kamburi staging camp by Maj E.A. Rogers. Report on Base Hospital Kanchanburi by Lt Col J.W. Malcom, RAMC QR, Tamuang Camp Hospital. Medical Report by Maj A.A. Moon, Tamarkan POW Hospital, December 1943, Burma Thailand sketch. AWM54 554/17/2
- [8th Division in Captivity - Other Thailand Forces:] Reports by Lt Col A.E. Coates, Impressions of the Nakom Pakon Hospital, written at the request of the Japanese Imperial Army. Experience as a POW in Burma and Thailand, general report on medical aspects of POW's treatment by Japanese, 1944. AWM54 554/17/3.
- [Medical - Attendance on POW's:] Part of medical returns and correspondence handed to medical historian by Lt Col J.G. Glyn White (Includes: Force "L", 15 medical officers 100 other ranks; nominal roll of personnel Australian General Hospital selected for inclusion in Force "L"). AWM54 481/8/24
- War Crimes and trials. Affidavits and sworn statements. Searchable by name and service 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 searchable by name, theatre of war, unit, location of POW camp. AWM232. The nominal rolls can be searched online.
Private records held by the Memorial include:
- A.L. Varley (Brigadier, MC, 22nd Aust Inf Bde and POW, Burma d: 1944). Detailed daily record as a POW on the Burma end of the Burma Thai Railway. Describes executions, conditions, rations, illness, work and movements. 3DRL/2681
- Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop. The papers of Sir Edward Ernest Dunlop include his military and prisoner of war experiences and related post-war concerns. Includes his personal diaries. PR00926
- Sir Albert Ernest Coates. Papers of Lt Col Sir Albert Coates relating mainly to his time as commander allied POW hospital Nakom Paton. Reports of Japanese War Crime Trials and the peace treaty. PR86/186
- R.M. Mills (Captain, 2/10th Aust Fld Amb, AIF, POW). Nominal Roll and medical record of "F" Force under command of Colonel Pond, Burma-Thailand Railway, April -November 1943. PR86/211
- C.H. Kappe, (Brigadier) OBE, 1900-1967. Roll of Honour for "F" Force Personnel-including cause of death, date of death, personal effects and list of awards/punishments, camp equipment and rations. 3DRL/2695
- Roland Frank Oakes (Lieutenant Colonel). Oakes' typescript account of the defence of Malaya and Singapore Island , treatment as POW, including Oakes time with "H" Force work and repatriation. Oakes mentions a variety of Australian, British and Indian units and officers. Hand drawn coloured maps are included. MSS0767
- George Ernest Ramsey. These papers span most of Colonel Ramsay's military career, particularly covering his experiences commanding 2/30 Battalion in Malaya and Singapore and as a prisoner of the Japanese (when Ramsay commanded 2/18 Battalion, and No 1 Battalion "A" Force, also known as "Ramsay" Force, includes report on POW conditions (particularly in camps at Changi, Mergui, Tavoy and Tamarkan), letters and newspaper clippings regarding war crimes trials. PR00079
- A.W. Hence (Captain) MBE. Diary/nominal rolls, records relating to Thai POWs at Thanbyuzat and Tamarkan. PR82/053
Books held in the Research Centre include:
- Geoffrey Pharoah Adams, An illustrated history of the Thailand to Burma Railway of World War 2 (Poole, England: G.P. Adams, 1978) Includes map of railway
- Hugh V. Clarke, A life for every sleeper (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1986)
- E.E. Dunlop, The war diaries of Weary Dunlop: Java and the Burma Thailand Railway 1942-1945 (Tokyo: Kenryu Kawauchi 1997)
- 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)
- Lionel Wigmore, The Japanese thrust, Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 1 (Army), vol. IV (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1957) : Chapter 24 and 25 : maps of railway on pages 542 and 563
Published unit histories may also contain information, photographs and nominal rolls of POWs.
Check with your local library for availability of these books.
Theatre programs from concerts held in Prisoner of War camps (3/16/47) and menus (13/4/34) are of great interest and highlight the courageous efforts which people make to maintain their self esteem, integrity and dignity.
Interview with E. E. Heckendorf of 2/30 Battalion and Prisoner of War by Hank Nelson, (S00763) deals with his experiences at Changi and working on the Thai section of the railway.
- Thai-Burma Railway and Hellfire Pass is commemorative website jointly created by the Australian National University and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- The Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is an interactive museum, information and research facility dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway. The TBRC has researched the experiences of approximately 105.000 prisoners of the Japanese in South East Asia during the Second World War. They can be contacted regarding this research at firstname.lastname@example.org.