The Point of Pilgrimage

Added on by 2/29 Battalion.

Click here to read Heather's article.

This article was written by Heather McRae, daughter of Corporal Donald F. McRae VX27725, HQ Company, 2/29th Battalion.

Donald enlisted on 1 July 1940 and was transferred to the 2/29th Battalion at Bonegilla, Victoria, on 29 November. He embarked with the battalion for Singapore in July 1941.

He fought in the Battle of Muar in January 1942, finally making his way to safety afterwards in a small party of eight men. He became a prisoner of war following the fall of Singapore on 15 February.

He laboured in working parties in Singapore, and in May 1943 was one of a group of prisoners from various Allied units – including 300 Australians, 600 British and some Americans – who were shipped to Japan, known as ‘J’ Force.

Donald was based at Kobe, where men were sent out to work in factories, railway yards and warehouses, and on the docks. In May 1945, he was in a party sent to Notogawa near Lake Biwa, working on land reclamation – he was there when the war ended.

He returned to Australia on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable in October 1945. Don married my mother Beth in January 1960.

I was inspired to write this piece following a pilgrimage to Parit Sulong with descendants and relatives of 2/29th soldiers, organised by Doug Ogden in September 2007.

My article first appeared in issue one of Circa: The Journal of Professional Historians, published by the Professional Historians Association (Vic) Inc. in 2010.

I would like to acknowledge Katherine Sheedy and the Editorial Board for their cooperation in relation to making the article available online. Thank you also to Colin Stiles for his support.

Heather McRae