James William Basell
From Our Contribution
James (centre) after being recovered from POW camp
|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|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||East Cannington, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Alfred John Basell|
|Date of Enlistment||30 Oct 1940|
|Unit/Formation||HQ Platoon, C Company 2/4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion|
|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||Douglas Dakota C-47 Singapore to Morotai via Labuan|
|Journey Dates||28 Sep 1945 ‒ 30 Sep 1945|
|Transport Details||Douglas Dakota C-47 Morotai to Brisbane via Townsville|
|Post War Details|
POW Singapore Jan 1942 |
Returned to Australia
|External Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Electoral Roll entry: 1937 c/- Hamersley, 23 Meadow street, Guildford, farm hand.
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 Australian 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 Australian Machine Gun Battalion, embarked in Darwin on 30 Dec 1941, 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 Feb 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 on the RAAF's Douglas Dakota C-47 A65-89 in Singapore for Morotai via Labuan, arriving there on 26 Sep 1945. On 30 Sep 1945 he deplaned from A65-89 in Brisbane after a flight from Morotai via Townsville. 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 Australian Convalescent Depot on Point Walter until he was discharged on 13 Dec 1945.
Initial home address post discharge was Station street, East Cannington from 1949 - 1954, later relocating to 78 Henry St East Cannington 1954 - 1977 with his wife Ethel Beatrice, until sadly Ethel passed away on 19 September 1986, aged 63. James was a butcher by trade and a devoted father to three children: eldest daughter Carol, middle son Brian and youngest son Rodney.
"The memory and sprit of James William Basell will proudly live on forever in the hearts of James and Ethel's 8 grandchildren."