As we clock over past midnight to the 25th April, 2012, we welcome the onset of another ANZAC Day.
A national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and to commemorate all those who died and served in military operations for their countries.
It also serves as a time for reflection for me personally as I recall the various stories that were handed down from my late Grandfather, Henry Thomas Aubrey Bowles, who served as an Air Force navigator.
Given that this year's ANZAC day falls on a weekday (and there is obviously no national vacation here in Singapore), we will not be heading out to Kranji war memorial for the dawn service. However, every time I have visited the site, I am always overwhelmed at the number of Aussie graves lined up as far as the eye can see.
Therefore, this year, I thought I would offer up a few statistics on the number of Aussie POWs (prisoners of war) and fatalities as recorded in history in Singapore and surrounding areas within the region:
"Twenty-two thousand Australians were captured defending Malaya, Singapore, and the Netherlands East Indies. Over 21,000 were from the Second AIF (particularly the 8th Division); 354 RAN; 373 RAAF officers; and 71 women from the Australian Army Nursing Service. Of these, 14,792 were captured at Singapore; 2,736 on Java; 1,137 on Timor; 1,075 on Ambon; and 1,049 at Rabaul.
Nearly 36% of Australian prisoners (8,031) died in captivity.
Massacres of Australians occurred at Tol Plantation on New Britain (160 Australians); Parit Sulong in Malaya (110); and at Laha on Ambon (over 200). Twenty-one Australian nurses were executed on Banka Island, and an unknown number of Australians elsewhere in Malaya and in Singapore, especially at the Alexandra Hospital.
Nearly 2650 Australians died on the Burma-Thailand Railway."
"[In September 1945] the largest numbers of Australians were congregated on Singapore Island and Johore (5,549); 4,830 were distributed in several camps and on a number of working parties in Thailand and remote areas of Burma; 265 were in French Indo-China; about 750 were distributed throughout the islands of the Netherlands East Indies, with the largest group (385) in Java, and in Sumatra (243); about 100 were on Ambon; two were at Macassar, seven on Bali; another 150 were at Kuching in British North Borneo. About 2,700 were distributed between Japan, Korea and Manchuria. About 200 remained on Hainan". [Wigmore, p. 633]
Peter Dennis (et al), The Oxford companion to Australian military history, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1997)
Lionel Wigmore, The Japanese thrust, Australia in the war of 1939-1945, vol. IV (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1968)
To all past and current Australian service men and women - thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do. I thank you, Australia thanks you... and lest we forget, Singapore and the region thanks you for your continued allegiance.
Video: 15th February, 2012 - The 70th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore: