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John William Pryor

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John William Pryor
Pryor John William.jpg
Personal Information
Date of Birth 7 Feb 1908
Place of Birth Narrogin, Western Australia
Death 29 Sep 1978, aged 70
Place of Death Armadale, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 33 years, 2 months
Description 5'5" (1.65m) tall ; ; brown eyes ; black hair
Occupation Kangaroo shooter
Religion Church of England
Address Seventh road, Armadale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , William Henry Pryor
Military Information
Reg Number WX11893
Date of Enlistment 29 Apr 1941
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion
Military Movement
1st Departure from Australia
Journey Dates 9 Sep 1941 ‒ 22 Sep 1941
Transport Details HMT Queen Mary Convoy 12A Fremantle to Port Tewfik via Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Return to Australia
Journey Dates 29 Jan 1942 ‒ 6 Feb 1942
Transport Details SS Île de France Convoy JS3 Port Tewfik to Bombay
Journey Dates 9 Feb 1942 ‒ 15 Mar 1942
Transport Details SS Kosciusko Convoy SU1 Bombay to Adelaide
2nd Departure from Australia
Journey Dates 6 AUg 1942 ‒ 13 Aug 1942
Transport Details SS James Fenimore Cooper Brisbane to Port Moresby
Return to Australia
Journey Dates 2 Oct 1942 ‒ 6 Oct 1943
Transport Details AHS Manunda Port Moresby to Sydney
Post War Details
Fate Wounded in action 1942
Returned to Australia
Medals 1939-45 Star
Africa Star
Pacific Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45



Pre War

War Service

Enlisted at the Claremont Recruit Depot, and was transferred to the 3rd Training Battalion at Northam camp. With almost no training he was granted pre-embarkation leave from 5 May until 11 May 1941, but did not go overseas until September. In he meantime he was transferred to the 1st Training Battalion, and spent from 23 Aug to 3 Sep 1941 in hospital with Pharyngitis. On 9 Sep 1941 he embarked as a member of the 21st Training Battalion on the HMT Queen Mary as part of Convoy US12A, bound for Suez via Trincomalee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). They reached Suez on 22 Sep 1941 and disembarked into trucks to be driven north to a transit camp on the edge of the Great Bitter Lake. On 19 Jan 1942 John was posted to the 2/16th Battalion.


Ten days later, on 29 Jan 1942, as a member of the 2/16th Battalion he boarded the SS Île de France at Suez, a part of Convoy JS3, for Bombay. where they disembarked on 6 Feb 1942 and were sent to camps to await their embarkation on smaller, slower ships in the convoy that would carry them to Singapore. John was allocated to the SS Kosciusko. The convoy set out for Singapore on 9 Feb 1942, and refuelled at Colombo. When Singapore surrendered on 15 Feb 1942 the slow moving convoy was approaching the Sunda Straits, and given that the Japanese had already landed on many of the Dutch East Indian islands (Indonesia), the convoy's destination was changed on the orders of Churchill to Rangoon, Burma to assist with its defence. Curtin, however, was determined to bring every possible soldier home to defend Australia and demanded that the convoy, now redesignated as Convoy SU1, turn around and sail for Australian ports. On 25 Feb 1942 the convoy again refuelled in Colombo, leaving there on 1 Mar 1942 for Fremantle which it reached on 15 Mar 1942. Around 350 of the members of the 2/16th Battalion from the SS Kosciusko failed to reboard when the convoy sailed for Port Adelaide which was reached on 23 Mar 1942. [1]


In Adelaide on 7 Mar 1942 John was charged with having failed to appear at a parade appointed by his Commanding Officer. Guilty he was awarded three day's Confined to Barracks. Shortly after the battalion was placed on trains for Queensland, and on 6 Aug 1942 the battalion boarded SS James Fenimore Cooper in Brisbane for Port Moresby which they reached on 13 Aug 1942. Quickly sent four days after arriving to the Kokoda Track where Militia units were attempting to delay the Japanese advance on Port Moresby. Following the 2/14th Battalion the 2/16th Battalion began the trek up the track on 17 Aug 1942. They had a 6 day trek to Isurava.

They participated in the later stages of the Battle for Isurava, and then the fighting retreat back down the track that began on 30 Aug 1942 to Efogi where they dug in on 6 Sep 1942. John was admitted to the 46th Australian Camp Hospital on 12 Sep 1942, and in the early morning of 8 Sep 1942, the 2/16th Battalion had suffered heavy casualties from a heavy Japanese machine gun that had outflanked them. Given the distance between the battlefield and the Camp Hospital and the time it took casualties taken to walk out to it, this is likely to be when he was wounded. John had had received a gunshot wound to the right arm resulting in a compound fracture. The battle at Efogi was to last several days.


After being patched up, John was embarked on the AHS Manunda on 2 Oct 1942 and evacuated to the 103rd Australian General Hospital in Baulkan Hills, a suburb of Sydney where he was admitted on 6 Oct 1942. Moved on by Ambulance train, on 26 Nov 1942 he was admitted to the 115th Australian General Hospital at Heidelberg in Victoria. Discharged from hospital on 1 May 1943 he was sent to WA where he enjoyed leave from 6 - 20 May 1943. On 22 Jul 1943 at 110th Australian Base Hospital Perth he was assessed as fit to carry out certain duties which require only restricted medical fitness, but given he had no specialist skills or training, it was decided to discharge John as Medically unfit category 'D'. John was discharged on 1 Sep 1943.

Post War

Notes

  1. Across the Sea to War, Peter Plowman, Rosenberg,2003, pp 325-364.

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