Beilby, Philip James (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 22662
Department
Sound
Production date
2002-02-22
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 390, Number Of Items 13
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

Australian private served with 2/4th Machine Gun Bn, Australian Imperial Force in Singapore, 1942; POW in Singapore, on Burma-Thailand Railway and in Japan, 1942-1944

Content description

REEL 1: Background in Western Australia, 1910-1939: family; education; problem of damage to eyesight after illness; employment as motor mechanic; effect of Depression on daily life; employment in garage; father’s service in First World War; memories of Armistice Day celebrations and influenza pandemic; attitude to British Empire and patriotism; question of eyesight preventing military service; reason for enlistment; attitude to rise of Hitler; opinion of Churchill and Chamberlain; brother’s service in army. Aspects of training with 2/4th Machine Gun Bn in Australia, 1939-1941: route marches and physical training. REEL 2 Continues: posted to camp in Darwin, 9/1941; training in workshop; recreational activities; opinion of Japanese treatment of Allied POWs; attitude to Japanese and threat of invasion; morale; reaction to being posted to Singapore; attitude to survival. Aspects of voyage aboard Aquitania to Singapore, 1941: daily life aboard ship; training; guard duty; opinion of accommodation; opinion of Dr Claude Anderson and other medical officers; attitude to overseas service; opinion of defences on Singapore; opinion of Japanese; reaction to Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, 12/1941. REEL 3 Continues: opinion of Australian Prime Minister; problem of spies; opinion of officers and NCOs; comradeship; transferred to Dutch cargo ship and disembarked in Singapore. Aspects of operations with 2/4th Machine Gun Bn in Singapore, 1-2/1942: location of Bn; daily duties; opinion of British officers; problem of lack of aircraft and equipment; duties digging slit trenches in rubber plantation; story of attempting to leave Singapore on boat; reaction to blowing up of Causeway; first experience of being under fire. REEL 4 Continues: conditions in Singapore during bombardment; reaction to seeing dead bodies; attitude to surrender to Japanese, 15/Feb/1942; paraded before Japanese. Aspects of period as POW in Singapore, 2-7/1942: story of execution of soldiers from 2/4th Bn; marched to Selerang Barracks, Changi camp; description of camp and barracks; accommodation; story of finding own clarinet; daily routine; organisation of POWs; opinion of food; military discipline; black market activities; story of cigarettes; description of food rations; working parties; story of execution of recaptured POW. REEL 5 Continues: daily routine and living conditions in Changi; maintenance of personal dignity; problem of boredom; educational classes; concert parties; popular songs; problem of coping with internment; topics of conversation; religious beliefs; use of vegetable gardens to supplement diet; digestive problems caused by food; state of health of POWs and diseases. REEL 6 Continues: attitude to captivity; rumours in camp; relations with guards; personal possessions; question of attempting to escape; story of voyage to Victoria Point, 4/1942; description of ship and living conditions; daily routine aboard ship; food; unloaded ship; treatment by guards; morale; moved to camp near aerodrome; contracted dysentery; opinion of camp at Victoria Point; moved to camp in jungle; sporting and musical activities; story of speech by Japanese colonel. Aspects of period as POW on Burma-Thailand Railway, 1942-1944: moved to camp at Thanbyuzayat; description of building huts; treatment of indigenous population by Japanese. REEL 7 Continues: moved camps as railway progressed; problem of vitamin deficiency and diseases; story of drunken POW; method of treating POWs with beri-beri; daily routine; question of sick POWs being forced to work; cholera outbreak at 75 K camp; description of infected ulcer on hip and treatment; story of POW taking photographs in camp; effects of cholera and treatment; description of camp hospital; method of treating ulcers; use of maggots and leeches to clean wounds; protective clothing against malaria; problem of lice in clothing; effects of climate; memory of reveille bugle call; use of sugar in diet. REEL 8 Continues: selection of POWs for work; organisation of working parties; number of guards; work quotas; terrain; story of centipede; effects of being bitten by scorpion; use of elephants to carry wood; working hours and ‘speedo’ period; role of officers liaising with Japanese; opinion of Korean guards; nicknames for guards; beating of POWs by guards; importance of friendships; topics of conversation; problem of weight loss among POWs; concerts; conditions for Japanese guards; attitude of Japanese to POWs; amusing story of Japanese guard ‘George‘. REEL 9 Continues: further memories of guard ‘George’; memories of period in Saigon; attitude of Japanese towards Emperor; English language newspapers; clandestine radios; awareness of progress of war; amusing story of Japanese officer; question of maintaining self-respect; reaction to deaths of POWs; burials; attitude to survival; relations with local civilians; theft of watch; quality of tobacco; memory of Moonrider cigars; use of charcoal in cigarettes; Red Cross parcels. REEL 10 Continues: description of work on railway; problem of cold; effects of tropical ulcers and dysentery; completion of railway and moved to 105 K camp at bridge over River Kwai; question of pride in completion of railway; method of selection to work in Japan; physical condition of POWs; concerts; description of ship Rakuyo Maru; train journey to River Valley Road camp, Singapore. REEL 11 Continues: Aspects of voyage aboard Rakuyo Maru to Japan, 1944: description of accommodation and sanitary facilities; sailed to Philippines in convoy; daily life aboard ship; story of ship being torpedoed by American submarine in China Sea; description of abandoning ship and period aboard raft; deaths rate among POWs on raft; problem of lack of water and salt water ulcers; story of catching rain water in shorts; rescued by American submarine, 9/1944. REEL 12 Continues: memory of music aboard submarine; further deterioration of eyesight; medical treatment; food; hospital treatment in Saipan; issued with American army clothing; number of survivors from sinking; description of Rakuyo Maru sinking; reaction to death of friends; attitude to praying; effects of period in sea; attitude to reconciliation with Japanese and opinion of Keiko Holmes; sailed from Guadalcanal to Brisbane, Australia; reception on arrival; convalescence. REEL 13 Continues: Aspects of period in Australia, 1944-1945: reunion with family in Western Australia; posted to army camp; returned to civilian employment in garage; question of adjustment to civilian life; mental condition; attitude of civilians to POWs; reaction to dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, 8/1945. Reflections on period of military service

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