CONTENTS OF BORNEO POW SITE


Young 'Billy the Kid





 

 

 







Bill Young with his award 2003

ARTICLES BY BILL YOUNG


Bill Young in recent years

ACCESS TO STORIES, POEMS, PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND PHOTOS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE

Keith William (Bill) Young enlisted in the army in 1941 at the age of only 15 years, by putting up his age. He was a member of the 2/29 th Battalion that went to Singapore with the 8 th Division. Bill’s unit saw a lot of action as the Allies attempted to stop the advancing Japanese Army. He was wounded in the thigh.

Later he travelled to Sandakan in British North Borneo with ‘B’ Force, arriving July 17 th 1942. During his time at Sandakan, Bill often considered attempting an escape from the POW camp. However in February 1943 he and his mate, ‘Jimmy’ Brown, wandered off from the airfield construction site, with no intentions of escape. As they crept back they observed that they had been missed by the Japanese guards and decided so as not to receive punishment, they would indeed escape. They were soon captured and received severe bashings before being sent to Sandakan Prison where they underwent further bashings and interrogation. Later they were taken to Kuching for trial and received a four-year sentence at the infamous Outram Road Gaol back in Singapore.

Many died in this terrible gaol but both Bill and ‘Jimmy’ managed to survive and be rescued at the war’s end. They had experienced two years of starvation, malnutrition, tropical diseases, bashings and the most inhumane conditions imaginable. But back at Sandakan his mates had all suffered as well and most had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Bill came home and was determined not to close this shocking chapter in his life for good but wanted to "tell the story" of what happened to all the servicemen in Sandakan and Ranau. This he did by numerous drawings, paintings, written stories, poems and speaking at functions.

Bill now spends much of his time displaying his drawings and paintings and being involved in various school education programs relating to his experiences as a Prisoner of War. He tells of his experiences as a young man at war who was only 19 years old when he returned from 4 years of hell. He tells his story to the memory, and to commemorate, the 2,500 Australian and British servicemen who died at Sandakan, on the Ranau Death Marches or at Ranau. And he tells of his experiences so as this shameful episode of World War Two will never again be repeated.

He has also written three books, Long Ago in Borneo, Return to a Dark Age and Once Upon a Time in Kuching, about his years as a POW of the Japanese.

Bill drove alone across from Sydney to Perth, across the Nullabor, to visit our Sandakan Exhibition in August 2003. He brought across six of his original paintings that are part of his "Bamboo Collection", for display at the exhibition. Bill has also completed numerous other paintings, sketches and drawings depicting his time as a POW at Sandakan and later at Outram Road Gaol in Singapore. He delighted the students of Baker's Hill Primary School both at the Alexander Library Exhibition and back at their school with tales of his experiences (be they light hearted adaptations of his experiences toned down to primary school level). His rapport with the students was something special to be seen.

Bill also attended our association's Sandakan Day Service held at Kings Park on Sunday August 24th 2003. He was our very special guest at the service and received an award presented by Mr Bill Gaynor OAM RFD, State President Returned and Services League of WA on behalf of both the RSL and our association.

In the October 1st 2003 edition of the Borneo Bugle tribute is paid by way of a photographic display of Bill's visit to the West. The editorial in the newsletter sums up our feelings......

The visit by Bill Young from Sydney was a special event indeed! He added such substance to both our exhibition and the Sandakan Day Service. Someone said to me, “When we talked to Bill it is as though we have known him and he has been our friend for so many years”. Yes indeed, what a wonderful man he is! Such is the character of Bill that he enthralls both children and adults alike. And the wonderful stories he can tell of his life experiences! As you stand listening to his stories and watch his beaming smile your mind drifts to thoughts of those other great Australians and their British mates who never did return from Sandakan. There are another 2,500 special characters like Bill who lie at Labuan.

In 2004 Bill was recognised for his services towards the "Sandakan Story" by the Commonwealth of Australia when he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM). It was so fitting that Lynette Silver also received her OAM at the same ceremony for her wonderful contributions to "Keep the Spirit of Sandakan Alive" by way of her books, research and tours.

CLICK ON THE ARTICLES BELOW TO VIEW ITEMS OF INTEREST

Article - Long Ago In Borneo by Bill Young
Article - Once Upon a Time in Kuching by Bill Young
Drawings by Bill Young about his time as a POW
A few of Bill's large collection of Poems
Photographic display of Bill Young's visit to Western Australia in August 2003
Book - Return to a Dark Age by Bill Young - Coming soon!

© 2006, Bill Young. All rights reserved.
THIS WEBSITE CONTAINS COPYRIGHT CONTENT - ALL STORIES, IMAGES, DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS PROVIDED BY BILL YOUNG CANNOT BE DOWNLOADED FROM THIS SITE WITHOUT EXPLICIT PERMISSION FROM HIM.


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