"F" Force
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Departure Dates:-

18-30th April 1943

Work Party Name:-

“F” Force

Commander:-

Lt-Col. S.W.Harris R.A., 148 fd HQ 18 Div

Journey:-

Land

From Camps:-

Changi

To:-

Ban Pong

 

Consisted of:-

British

Australian

Non-Dutch

Dutch

Total

3334

3666

 

 

7000

 

Transports:-

 

Date

Train Party

PoWs

Overall Train To Thailand

1943

 

 

 

18th April

Train 1

 

64

19th April

Train 2

 

65

20th April

Train 3

 

66

21st April

Train 4

 

67

22nd April

Train 5

 

68

23rd April

Train 6

 

69

24th April

Train 7

 

70

25th April

Train 8

 

71

26th April

Train 9

 

72

27th April

Train 10

 

73

28th April

Train 11

 

74

29th April

Train 12

 

75

30th April

Train 13

 

76

 

Remarks:-

The Japanese told the prisoners that because of food shortages in Singapore a model camp was to be set up in the Cameron Highlands, this was a mountainous region in the centre of the Malayan Peninsula. The British believed this and the sick were also included in the party of 3334 British and 3666 Australians. The Australians however were very wary of Japanese promises and did not include as many sick.

Those of the 18th Division remaining in Singapore were included, also Cyril Wild. Wild was a major who had also been a Shell executive in Japan, so he was included as the senior interpreter.

On the 8th April 1943 the first of the sixteen trains left Singapore, thirty men per truck. The prisoners were told to take all their belongings, this included a piano, clothing, medicines, tinned food, leaving very little room in the trucks for the prisoners.

During the day the temperature in the trucks reached 120 degrees, but at the night the trucks were very cold. The benjo (toilet) being projecting the rear end out of the trucks when the train was in motion. Otherwise squatting by the side of the train when stationary, sometimes being allowed water from the engine to drink. At Ipoh the prisoners found the promise of the Cameron Highlands was a lie, carrying on up country through Malaya and into Thailand, then on to Ban Pong the staging post for the Thailand-Burma railway. This ill-fated force was to boost the “Speedo” and push for a completion date.

‘F’ & ‘H’ forces had the longest forced march of all the work parties along the railway, for men who were not fit, this paid a very heavy toll in deaths. They were marched every night from 6pm to 6am, catching feet on bamboo shoots caused tropical ulcers in the months to come.

John Coast met the men of  “F” force at Tarsao, they had been walking for the last five days and were having a 24 hour rest. He writes in his book.

“Many sick men, too sick to heed prodding rifle buts or bayonets. They were almost asleep on their feet. I left them with a sick feeling in my stomach. We had at least become slowly ammune to the conditions, but “H” and “F” parties were being treated infinitely worse than us. They were new to it all, they couldnīt even make an atap hut or bamboo cooking fire.”

 

Taken from ‘From Shanghai to the Burma Railway’ by Richard Laird

1943/04/25 - Transported to Thailand with ‘F’ Forc,  Train 8- 70th Train from Singapore to Thailand

Commander Lt-Col. S.W. Harris, 148 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

The route in cattle trucks to Thailand:-

1943/04/26 - Kuala Lumpur (0300 hrs), had rice and dried fish at Ipoh (1600 hrs)

1943/04/27 - Reached Pai (0200 hrs), arrived Haadyi (1700 hrs)

1943/04/28 - Water in cattle trucks very short, heat stifling in trucks all day

1943/04/29 - reached Ban Pong

The PoWs were ordered off the Cattle trucks on arrival and after a walk of nearly a mile to a transit camp where they were then informed they would be marching North West  along the railway route in 14 mile stages. Many of the PoWs tried to sell their possessions to the Thais but not at a good price as the Thais knew the the PoWs from ‘F’ Force were already in bad shape and could not carry their baggage for long.

1943/05/02 - After two days of walking through the night, as it was too hot in the daylight sun, they reached the small town of Kanchanaburi. Many who tried to carry their possessions left them at this staging camp.

Walking at night caused many problems as the track was uneven with bamboo shots cutting into their feet, in time tropical ulcers would form.

1943/05/13 - PoWs from train 9 caught up with train 8 party and they moved out together at 1930 hrs.

1943/06/02 - Reached Songkurai, many of the PoWs had dropped out along the route.

 

‘F’ Force Summery

 

British

Australian

Total

Departed Singapore April 1943

3336

3664

7000

 

 

 

 

Returned Dec. 1943 - Sime Road

175

165

340

Returned Dec. 1943 - Changi

835

2060

2895

Returned April 1944 - Changi

295

411

706

 

1305

2636

3941

Less died at Changi

17

32

49

 

1288

2604

3903

I.J.A. Custody (Including Changi Hosp.)

11

 

11

Alive as at 30th Apr. 1944

1299

2604

3903

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Died Thailand Burma Railway

2013

1014

3027

Died Changi

17

32

49

Missing

17

14

21

Total Casualties

2037

1060

3097

 

 

 

 

Casualty Percentage

61.03%

28.95%

44.21%

 

F Force Summery

 

 


 

FEPOW Family

Keeping The Candle Burning

In Memory of FEPOW Family Loved Ones

Who Suffered in the Far East

Thanks for all the support

 

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anbird1

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