Edward James (Ted) KEATING


Edward James
2/6 Field Park Coy RAE
E Force to Borneo
Born Fremantle WA
Died February 11 1944
Kuching Gaol
from Beatings
Involved in escape plan
Aged 36 years
from Norseman WA

Ted the Police Officer

Ted the Footballer

Ted the Soldier


Edward James (Ted)
L/Corporal WX8818
2/6 th Field Park Company R.A.E.

Written by Steffoni Brackenbury (nee Keating)


The story of my Dad, together with his two mates, Don Marshall and ‘Snowy’ Jensen, attempting to escape from Sandakan in Borneo and the subsequent tragic ending has been told previously, so here is another side of Ted Keating with me relying on dates, photos and distant memories of my mother telling me little things about Dad. My Mum died in 1966.

Edward James Keating was born on 25 th November 1907 in Fremantle and my Mum, Olive Vera Counsel on 11 th January 1904. When Dad was 24 and Mum 27, they were married in St Georges Cathedral on 5 th December 1931.

Dad’s great sporting love was football, and he was very good. At 6 feet 6 inches and sixteen stone, obviously a Ruckman. He had two nick-names – ‘Tiny’ – of course, and ‘Goog’. I have a studio portrait of the entire members of the Postal Institute Football Club, dated 1930. They played in the ‘B’ Grade Football Carnival at Bunbury and Dad was awarded ‘Fairest and Best’ for the season. There is also a treasured photo of a tall young footballer in his Postal Institute footy gear, and written across the corner ‘Yours Sincerely’ which he gave to his sweetheart – Mum.

Dad was a Clerk when he and Mum married, however he joined the Police Force on the 13 th July 1933 and his regimental number was 1733. It was 27 years later that my husband, Bob, was given his Police Number 3232. Dad was stationed at Fremantle, and it was there, in a private hospital in Burt Street, just down from our family home, that I was born on 10 th May 1935. Dad left the force in September of that year.

The following years we lived in various places, including Kalgoorlie, where my brother Alan was born on 13 th June 1937. We finally ended up at Norseman, where Dad found employment at Norseman Gold Mines, as well as some private prospecting.

Dad was a gregarious man, very popular with his mates – possibly too popular, according to Mum. She told me he often had to take me with him when he went to the local hotel, because she knew he would always bring me back by teatime. Still playing football, he played for Norseman Goldmines and was awarded the Philpot Challenge Cup in 1940. As a five year old I would get very upset if any opposing players tackled him roughly!

The next date I have is a form titled ‘Notice to Attend for Enlistment’ 8 th October 1940, advising him to report to Norseman Railway Station, 10.00am 21 st October 1940. I have photos of the train decorated in streamers, and another of Dad and his mates, standing proudly and with the hope that he and thousands of other servicemen joining up, would keep their families safe back home. The rest is history but to me, my Dad, Ted Keating, will always be the ‘Fairest and Best’.