AUSSIE POW'S RETURN TO AUSTRALIA
|visits since 14 January 2002|
Members of the 2/26th Infantry Battalion were captured by the Japanese with the fall of Singapore. They endured three and a half years of hell. Brothers, Nev and Eric Anning and their best mate Jimmie Roycroft were among the many who were poorly treated by the Japanese. Near the end of the war, the POW's heard on a rudimentary wireless set that the Japanese may have surrendered but they were not sure that it was true. About 3 mornings later when they all lined up for work, the Japanese guards were nowhere to be found. They had left overnight.
A few days later the RAAF arrived. There were only 17 men left in their unit. Nev, Eric and Jimmie and the remainder of the unit flew back to Australia in 3 Catalina flying boats. They landed on the Brisbane River, near the central business area of Brisbane and docked somewhere near where the new Goodwill Bridge is now located.
Other Australian POW's arrived at Rose Bay in Sydney by Catalina. RAAF Navigator, Flying Officer Gordon Wicks, was one crew member of 9 Catalinas which were to be sent to Singapore carrying Medical Stores, Personnel and Records in preparation for Unconditional Surrender by the Japanese. Gordon flew in Catalina A24-351 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Bern Parker.
They arrived at Rose Bay in Sydney on 27 August 1945 and loaded their cargo. They flew back to Rathmines to refuel. At 0700 hrs on 28 August 1945 the 9 Catalinas flew to Cairns in north Queensland. They flew to Darwin the next morning. On 31 August 1945, one of the Catalinas, A24-1, crashed on takeoff. It was towed in to the mud flats where remains of it can still be seen to this day. The other eight Catalinas returned to their moorings after this accident to see if they could lighten their loads.
They eventually took off later that afternoon for Labuan. They refuelled at the USA Seaplane Tender at Tawi-Tawi and arrived at Labuan during early in the afternoon of 1 September 1945.
They waited for 8 days to receive their orders to proceed to Singapore. They finally received their long-awaited orders at 0950 hrs on 9 September 1945. The "Instrument of Surrender" had been signed in Tokyo Bay at 0940 hrs on 2 September 1945. They left immediately for Singapore where they landed in the straits adjoining Singapore Island. They went ashore in their rubber boats, commandeered some Japanese vehicles and set out to find Changi Prison.
Admiral Mountbatten arrived in one of many Sunderland Flying boats that landed in the Straits later that afternoon.
Bern Parker's Catalina carried 17 POW's back to Australia in addition to the normal compliment of 6 aircrew. The Catalina was fitted out with 4 bunks, a small toilet and a small electric stove. They left Singapore at 0950 hrs on 12 September 1945. They rested in Labuan for 24 hours. They took off from Labuan at 1545 hrs on 13 September 1945 and flew direct to Darwin. This was a 15 hour flight.
They stayed overnight in Darwin. They left at 0700 hrs the next morning arriving in Cairns 8 hrs 40 mins later. They left Cairns at 0655 hrs on 16 September 1945 and finally arrived at Rose Bay in Sydney at 16.25 hrs after a 9hrs 30 mins flight.
The 9 Catalinas landed in a small corridor of water at Rose Bay between hundreds of small pleasure craft that were there to meet the returned POW's. The POW's disembarked onto launches after the Catalinas had tied up at their mooring buoys. The launches then moved through the throngs of spectator craft to the wharf at Rose Bay.
NOTE:- Nev Anning was still alive and well in May 2006.
Who were the 17 POW's who flew in A24-351?
I'd like to thank Muriel Butler for her assistance with this web page.
© Peter Dunn 2004
This page first produced 14 January 2002
This page last updated 25 May 2006