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James William Basell

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James William Basell
Basell James William 2.jpg
Basell James William 1.jpg
James (centre) after being recovered from POW camp
Personal Information
Date of Birth 21 May 1916
Place of Birth Kelmscott, Western Australia
Death 9 Sep 1977, aged 61
Place of Death East Cannington, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 24 years 5 months
Description 5'6" (1.75m) tall ; ; dark complexion ; brown eyes ; dark hair
Occupation Butcher
Religion Church of England
Address East Cannington, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr Alfred John Basell
Military Information
Reg Number WX9195
Date of Enlistment 30 Oct 1940
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion
Military Movement
1st Departure from Australia
Journey Dates 30 Dec 1941 ‒ 24 Jan 1942
Transport Details HMT Aquitania Darwin to Singapore via Port Moresby, Sydney & Fremantle
Return to Australia
Journey Dates 20 Sep 1945
Transport Details plane Thailand to Singapore
Journey Dates 24 Sep 1945 ‒ 26 Sep 1945
Transport Details RAAF Aircraft A65-89 Singapore to Morotai via Labuan
Journey Dates 28 Sep 1945 ‒ 30 Sep 1945
Transport Details RAAF Aircraft A65-89 Morotai to Brisbane via Townsville
Post War Details
Fate POW Singapore Jan 1942
Returned to Australia
External Monument(s) The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria
Medals 1939-45 Star
Pacific Star
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45



Pre War

Electoral Roll entry: 1937 c/- Hamersley, 23 Meadow street, Guildford, farm hand.

War Service

Enlisted at the Claremont Depot and while there required medical attention from 15 - 19 Nov 1940. On 27 Nov 1940 he was transferred to the 3rd Depot battalion at Northam camp, and on 4 Dec 1940 was allocated to the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. On 24 Feb 1941 he returned to the Claremont camp to undertake a Motor Transport course, and on 10 Jun 1941 he was granted trade status as a Grade 3 Driver.


James married during 1941 to Ethel Beatrice. He was AWOL from midnight 16 Jul 1941 until 1:00pm on 17 Jul 1941, James was fined £1 ($2) and forfeited another 5/- (50 cents) being a day's pay. On 8 Jul 1941 he was granted leave before embarking in Fremantle on 21 Jul 1941 aboard HMT Duntroon, arriving in Adelaide on 25 Jul 1941. James role within the unit was as a driver for the 'C' Company headquarters. In Adelaide he and the rest of the battalion entrained for Darwin on 11 Oct 1941, and on 21 Oct 1941 they were part of the Northern Territory defence.


James along with the rest of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, embarked in Darwin on 30 Dec 1971, and while his records say it was for 8th Military District, which covered New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the New Hebrides, the real destination was Singapore. They had gone to Port Moresby to join an escorted convoy. Given that the Japanese had subsequently attacked Rabaul, the convoy was rerouted via Sydney and Fremantle. On 24 Jan 1942 The battalion and James disembarked in Singapore. On 8 Feb 1942 the Japanese attack on Singapore Island commenced and it was all over by 15 Jan 1942. On 16 Feb 1942 James' records note that he was missing in Malaya, and on 20 May 1943 that he was a POW.

James was initially held prisoner at Selerang Camp and Changi Barracks with POW Number 4/5901. He was later sent to Thailand as part of 'D' Force and at various times was in Kanu II, Tamuang, Chungkai, and Nakom Nayok camps.


On 20 Sep 1945 James was recovered from the Japanese in Siam (Thailand), and he was flown to Singapore. On 24 Sep 1945 James enplaned in Singapore for Morotai via Labuan, arriving there on 26 Sep 1945. On 30 Sep 1945 he deplaned in Brisbane after a flight from Morotai via Townsville, and he was placed on a train for Sydney, arriving there the next day, 1 Oct 1945. On 6 Oct 1945 he boarded a troop train in Melbourne for Perth, and on arrival on 10 Oct 1945 was admitted to the 110th Australian Base Hospital (Hollywood Repatriation hospital post war). He shared time between the hospital and the 109th Convalescent Depot on Point Walter until he was discharged on 13 Dec 1945.

C Company HQ Platoon

Post War

Initial address post discharge was Station street, East Cannington. Ethel Beatrice died 19 Sep 1986 aged 63. Electoral Roll entries: 1949 - 1954 at Station street, East Cannington, no occupation; 1958 - 1977 at 78 Henry street, East Cannington a butcher, with son Rodney, electrical tradesman.

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