By Kerry Barker
Cpl Barker's cause of death is marked as Pr KIA at Parit Sulong.
'Pr' represents 'presumed'. This is used when no actual evidence exists for the soldier's fate. 'KIA' represents 'Killed in action'.
Granddaughter Kerry was a member of the 2/29th Pilgrimage tour of Singapore/ Malaysia/ Thailand in September 2007. One of the many highlights of the tour was attending the Parit Sulong Memorial dedication on 4 September 2007. On that day 29 relatives and partners of 2/29th diggers attended the ceremony. After the ceremony we had a short service close to the spot where the 2/29th went into the Battle of Muar against the Japanese near Bakri on 17 January 1942. Below is an article Kerry has written for her work magazine.
'The steamy and sun-soaked tiny town of Parit Sulong in southern Malaysia recently once again hosted an emotionally drained group of Australians - the Australians who remembered-either first-hand or through recent lessons-the final stage of the Battle of Muar.
In January 1942 Parit Sulong was the site of one of the most tragic events of Australia's participation in the Malayan Campaign. Approximately 110 Australian and 40 Indian soldiers (who were already Injured and entitled under the Geneva Convention) were massacred in the once-sleepy town located on the route into Singapore.
A memorial commemorating the Australian sacrifice and loss at the Battle of Muar and the massacre at Parit Sulong was dedicated in September 2007. Twenty-nine family and friends of Australia's 2/29th battalion, including myself, grand-daughter of Corporal S.A. Barker were with the frail WWII veterans, current defence personnel and Australian and Malaysian Dignitaries who had come to the Memorial dedication.
To say we were emotionally drained bunch might have been an understatement. The group had gathered in Singapore a few days earlier, had spent a day visiting historic WWII sites in Singapore, including the graves of some of our loved ones at Kranji War Cemetery.
On the day of the memorial service we were at the very place where our fathers, uncles, cousins and my Grandpa had been 65 years previously. We tried to imagine how they had stayed alive and sane, moving through impenetrable jungle, in this heat, with these bugs, and with the possibility of a bullet or bayonet just a step away. We were a mixed bunch of Aussies each with a unique story that linked us to the 2/29th Battalion. Some of the relatives of my travelling companions were sent to the Burma railroad, some to Changi, one father to Yokohamo as a prisoner of war, and grandpa Corporal Barker died in Parit Sulong. Some soldiers came home. They didn't speak of what they had experienced and seen. Some could only tell some of the story: some didn't come home None of them will be forgotten.'
The story of the massacre at Parit Sulong has been recorded in the book 'The Bridge at Parit Sulong' by Lynette Silver (Watermark Press 2004).