CONTENTS OF BORNEO POW SITE
ARTICLES BY BILL YOUNG
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 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.
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......
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.
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Article - Long Ago In Borneo by Bill Young
© 2006, Bill Young. All rights reserved.
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