Norman Lenard (Bob) Dunnell
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||11 Apr 1921|
|Place of Birth||Subiaco, Western Australia|
|Death||20 Jun 2013, aged 92|
|Place of Death||Rockingham, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||19 years, 7 months|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||Kelmscott, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Harry Dunnell|
|Date of Enlistment||10 Nov 1941|
|Unit/Formation||2/4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion 'D' Company, 13 Platoon|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||15 Jan 1942 ‒ 26 Jan 1942|
|Transport Details||HMT Aquitania Fremantle to Singapore|
|Return to Australia|
|Journey Dates||13 Sep 1945 ‒ 20 Sep 1945|
|Transport Details||USS Haven (AH-12) Nagasaki to Okinawa|
|Journey Dates||22 Sep 1945|
|Transport Details||US Military aircraft Okinawa to Manila|
|Journey Dates||14 Oct 1945 ‒ 18 Oct 1945|
|Transport Details||PBY Catalina A24-359 Manila to Darwin via Morotai|
|Post War Details|
POW Singapore 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
Enlisted on 10 Nov 1941 and on 28 Nov 1941 identified for the 2/32nd Battalion. Training was conducted by the 3rd and 4th Training Battalions before pre-embarkation leave was granted on 10 to 16 Dec 1941 and on his return was transferred t the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. Bob was one of many reinforcements who had travelled by train from Northam Training Camp to join the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion on the 15th January 1942 when the HMT Aquitania dropped anchor in Gage Roads. He had undergone about 2 months training! In another month, Bob aged 21 years would be facing the invading Japanese Army.
Given his lack of preparation, no doubt Bob was one of the very lucky reinforcements to survive the battle. Taken on strength by the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion in Fremantle on 16 Jan 1942, he had been posted to 13th Platoon, D Company.
Captured Malaya (Singapore), he spent ime in the Selarang Camp Changi, the River Valey Road camp and the Selarang Barracks at Changi before being allocated to 'D' Force Thailand, V Battalion, with POW Number 3/7638. They left Singapore by train on 17 Mar 1943. This Battalion was to endure one of highest death rates of all Australian work parties on the Burma Railway. He was at Kinsaiyok Main camp 170.2K, Kuii Kui Yae camp 185.6k, and Brankassi Prang Kasi camp 208K in Thailand before Bob, along with many other POWs was sent to labour camps in Japan.
In his case as a member of the Aramis Party. On arrival he was sent to Fukuoka Sub camp No. 17-B at Omuta Miike, Japan from where he was eventually repatriated. He had first been identified as a POW by the Red Cross in Thailand, and until then his wife and family were uncertain if he had survived the battles for Singapore. Norm was granted proficiency Pay on 15 Aug 1945.
Bob's journey home began in Nagasaki when he embarked on USS Haven (AH-12) for Okinawa. On 22 Sep 1945 he was flown to Manila by US military aircraft, and then on 14 Oct 1945 from Manila to Darwin via Morotai on PBY Catalina A24-359, arriving in Darwin on 18 Oct 1945. The last stage, Darwin to Perth, was again by aircraft, this time PBY Catalina A24-377.
On arrival back in Australia, Norm was admitted to the 110th Australian Base Hospital. He was AWOL from 10:00am on 27 Dec 1945 until 3:00pm on 1 Jan 1946. Declared to still be on Active Service, on 12 Jan 1946 he was fined £3 with the automatic forfeiture of 6 days pay. Two days later further penalty was the loss of his proficiency pay. On 19 Feb 1946 whilst at the 109th Australian Convalescent Depot he was again AWOL, this time from 1:15pm on 19 Feb until 8:15am the next day. This time he was fined 10/- and forfeited a days pay. Finally on 29 Mar 1946 he was discharged.