Alvin Cedric WILLMOTT

Alvin Cedric
11 Res Motor Trans
B Force to Borneo
Born Northam WA
Died June 29 1945
Ranau No2 Camp
from 'Acute Enteritis'
Aged 40 years
from Perenjori WA



















Alvin Cedric
Private WX 10178
11 th Res Motor Trans Coy

Script written and spoken by Anita Willmott for Anzac Service at Mercy College, Koondoola in 1995


My experience of the Second World War began on 18 December 1940 on the day that my father enlisted in the Australian Army. I was six years old. You will notice that I refer to this man as “my father”. At the time I only knew him as “Daddy”, and have never had the chance to call him by the older name of “Dad”.

In reply to one of his cousins who asked him why he enlisted, my father wrote:

“As you say, I did honestly see it as my duty. I had much more
to fight for than many others, - four responsibilities, etc. as you said.
Several misguided people tried to dissuade me from going, but I fear
they did not know how pigheaded a Willmott can be”.

The four responsibilities were us, his children, - my two brothers, Peter, seven, and Garnet, four, my cousin, John, who lived with us, who was five, and myself aged six.

I was never really aware that there was a war on, or that my father had enlisted. All I knew was that our family life changed. The boys were sent off to a country boarding school. I was taken to Perth to stay with family friends in West Leederville. My mother stayed in lodgings in Perth while she was waiting for my father to complete his Army training in Northam. In this way, although at the time I was not aware of it, I was the last member of my family to see my father alive – a precious memory.

Five months after enlistment, in April 1941, WX10178, Driver Alvin Cedric Willmott, a private in the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) was sent overseas in a troop ship to Malaya. His letters merely said “ABROAD” with no address. He worked as a dispatch rider taking messages by motorbike from one section of the Army to another. Technology was not so well developed in those days.

At the capture of Singapore on 15 February 1942, my father was taken prisoner by the Japanese. The last letter my mother received from him was dated 26 January 1942. In that letter, he said the bombs were getting closer, the night skies were filled with searchlights, and that it was hard to write “things uncensorable that he could tell us”. They could not disclose their whereabouts. My mother heard nothing more for over five months, during which time my father was reported “missing – whereabouts unknown”.

Subsequently, on 19 June 1942, my mother received a letter card from my father posted from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, country unknown; then, some time later, another card, with no date, no address, written (or rather the four lines were typed) from a POW Camp, Borneo. These were stamped with Japanese printing.

On 15 August 1945, there was the ceasefire against Japan, and subsequently the Japanese signed their surrender to the Allies. The whole countryside rejoiced and went crazy with joy. By this time, I was in country boarding school, and all the boarders were given a holiday. I really looked forward to seeing my father again, although by this time, I was eleven, and my father’s image had become rather blurred.

After the war was declared over, my mother avidly watched the newspaper lists looking for my father’s name in the troop ship companies returning to Perth. On the 29 October 1945, over two months after the war ended, she received a War Office dispatch saying that Alvin Cedric Willmott had died in Borneo on 29 June 1945, - six weeks before the war ended. The Dominican Sisters at my boarding school called me out of school to tell me that my father had died. I was given the day off school. There was no family around to be with me.

From information that has come to light since then, my father had been in the prisoner-of-war camp based at Sandakan, Borneo. He died from dysentery and malnutrition. Their total food supply for the day was a handful of rice. Apparently he was too weak to go on the first march from Sandakan to Ranau, but all the sick prisoners-of-war who were left behind on the first march were forced to go on the second so-called “death march” which took place during May and June 1945. My father did not survive, but died somewhere before they reached Ranau, Borneo. There is no grave to visit.

All during my childhood, I always expected to see him come around a street corner at any time, and I would recognize him. It was hard to believe that he had gone forever. It always made me sad to sit on a beach and watch the ocean. You see, - my father went overseas and didn’t come back.