PAYMASTER COMMANDER JOHN CHARLES
ROOKWOOD PROUD, RANVR
DIRECTOR OF FELO
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
Naval Commander John Proud relocated Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO) to Brisbane where he commandeered a house called "Kirkston" in Rupert Street, Windsor. He kept his office in Melbourne which was located in a house called "Goodrest" at 104 Toorak Road, South Yarra.
John Proud enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 26 August 1939 in Melbourne, Victoria. He became Director of FELO.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to his country. He was located at HMAS Lonsdale when he was discharged on 12 November 1945.
|1 Oct 1936||Appointed Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant (on probation), RANVR|
|17 Feb 1938||Commission issued.|
|5 Jul 1937||Appointed to "Cerebus" (add'l) for 13 days training|
|4 Jul 1938||Approved to "Cerebus" (add'l) for 7 days training|
|3 Jul 1939||Approved to "Cerebus" (add'l) for 13 days training at Navy Office|
|2 May 1939||Promoted Paymaster Lieutenant, RANVR|
|26 Aug 1939||Appointed to "Cerebus" (add'l) for Navy Office|
|8 Jan 1940||Demobilised|
|8 Jun 1940||Cerebus (add'l) 4 Jun 1940 and to Cerebus add'l for passage to Singapore "Merkor" (Appt's on behalf of Admiralty)|
|Jul 1940||"Sultan" (add'l) for duty with Captain on the staff.|
|5 Dec 1940||Granted Acting rank of Paymaster Lieutenant-Commander RANVR.|
|4 Sep 1941||Granted the temporary rank of Paymaster Commander, RANVR|
|10 Mar 1942||Appointed "Lonsdale" add'l 10.3.42 (Appt on behalf of Admiralty)|
|Sep 42||Appointed "Brisbane" add'l 9.42 (Appt on behalf of Admiraly)|
|25 Nov 1944||Reappointed "Moreton" add'l for FELO as actg Pay Comm, RANVR|
|25 Nov 1944||To be paid the rates of pay & allownaces prescribed in the N.F.R. for Paymaster Commander (on Promotion), whilst acting in that rank|
|1 Oct 1945||Appointed to "Lonsdale" add'l|
|12 Nov 1945||Shore|
|?||Granted War Service rank of Commander (S)|
|30 Jun 1947||Promoted Lieutenant Commander (s), RANVR|
|31 Mar 1958||Appointment Terminated|
John Proud died in August 1979.
By Bob Wurth
Author of Saving Australia
When the ashes of four of the six submariners killed in the 1942 midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour arrived home in Japan later that year, Radio Tokyo called their return a chivalrous act that "greatly impressed" Japan.
The first Japanese ambassador to Australia, Tatsuo Kawai, took the ashes back to Japan and handed them to relatives of the young men on arrival at Yokohama. Kawai had come to Australia in March, 1941.
"The heroes' actions so impressed the Australian people that in spite of the
fact that Australia recognises herself as the 49th state of America, they
responded with the courtesy and honor of a naval funeral," Kawai told Japanese
The National Archives referred my request to declassify the secret Australian wartime file to the historical division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which acquiesced, believing that the bizarre details would no longer give offence to Japan.
The Curtin Government allowed the four young men from the two Japanese submarines recovered in 1942 to be cremated in Sydney with full military honors.
Japanese newspapers in 1942 also praised the Australian action in returning the ashes. This greatly interested the military propaganda section of the Allied Intelligence Bureau called the Far Eastern Liaison Office or FELO, based at Windsor and Indooroopilly in Brisbane.
FELO's director, naval commander John Proud, according to a letter to Port Moresby in December 1942, concocted a plan to cremate Japanese war dead from battlefields in New Guinea. The plan was to drop them with the identity of the dead together with leaflets drawing attention to this "chivalrous act" and deploring the unnecessary wastage of life.
"This scheme may seem fantastic at first" he said "but it has been inspired by the somewhat spectacular reaction in Japan to the action of the RAN in cremating the bodies of the Japanese who were killed in the submarines in Sydney Harbour, and returning the ashes to Japan.
"The cremating would, of course, be done on a comparatively small scale and 'off the record' there would be no guarantee that the ashes were those of the person named on the label," Proud wrote.
Proud's scheme eventually got the approval of the Allied Commander in Chief, General Douglas MacArthur.
By January 1943, Proud believed that Japanese morale was beginning to crack. He thought the return of the ashes of more Japanese "would impress the Japanese soldier that he is fighting 'gentlemen' and therefore offset the Japanese propaganda which has been to the effect that Europeans have no sense in tradition and are rather brute beasts." Proud thought the exercise would show that "the other fellow" was not so bad after all.
"It would cause considerable embarrassment to the local commanding officers. If the leaflets were properly designed they would inform the troops of our action and the commanding officer would not dare to ignore the return of the ashes," Proud added.
As the plan went ahead, undertakers and Japanese experts were consulted. One intelligence chief asked: "Is it necessary to use genuine Japanese bodies? Would not ashes of cremated animals be just as effective? There would be no difference in the chemical composition." But no animal ashes were ever used.
Commander Proud and his FELO staffers in Brisbane insisted on using only the ashes of war dead and urns identical to those used in Japan were obtained. During 1943 the accompanying leaflet was written and amended. It stated that Allied commanders "respect the traditional regard of the Japanese soldiers for the return to the homeland of the ashes of those who have been killed in battle."
By the end of end of August 1943, all was set. The urns and leaflets were attached to parachutes and loaded aboard an RAAF bomber in Port Moresby commanded by Flying Officer Gerard Keogh, who before the war had been an assistant district officer in New Guinea and a gold miner at Wewak. Keogh's wife Justina, mother Hessie and father Edmond lived at East Maitland in New South Wales.
Keogh had orders to fly over occupied Lae to drop the remains of the Japanese soldiers. The aircraft soared over the Owen Stanley Range while Proud and his staff in Brisbane anxiously awaited news.
Several years back I was sitting in the reading room of the National Archives in Canberra when an archivist delivered to me the long-closed file that had been secret since the war. It had just been declassified at my request. As I came near the end of the now declassified file I came across a cable from Port Moresby to Brisbane dated September 1, 1943. The details were not published in my book for reasons of space. I recall that when I read the cable in the NAA reading room, I could feel the hair rise on the back of my neck. The cable read:
"FOR FELO. AEROPLANE WITH F/O KEOUGH AND ASHES OVERDUE FEARED LOST. BELIEVED NOT TO HAVE REACHED LAE. SUGGEST SEND MORE ASHES AND LEAFLETS."
Keogh's bomber crashed flying to Lae, killing the pilot and crew. The cause of death on Gerard Keogh's service record reads "Flying battle." Proud desperately tried to resurrect interest in his fantastic psychological warfare scheme and to drop more Japanese ashes, but it was abandoned by his senior officers, who thought the scheme no longer worth the effort and risk.
I would like to thank Chris Summers, a niece of Commander John Proud for her assistance with this web page. John Proud was married to Chris's father's sister.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page last updated 03 February 2017