A list of books and other resources with a connection to the 2/29th Battalion A.I.F.
- 'Black and Gold' by Ron Austin
- 'The Bridge at Parit Sulong' by Lynette Silver
- 'Changi Photographer' by Tim Bowden
- 'Doctor's Diary and Memoirs - Pond's Party, F Force, Thai - Burma Railway' by Dr Roy Mills
- 'A History of the 2/29th Battalion - 8th Australian Division AIF'by R.W. Christie
- 'It Happened To Us - Mark 11' by Gunner Finkemeyer
- 'Keep the Men Alive' by Rosalind Hearder (2009)
- 'Legacies of our Fathers' edited by Carolyn Newman
- 'Men of the Line' by Patti Wright
- 'No Lost Battalion' by John Lack
- 'One Fourteenth of an Elephant' by Ian Denys Peek
- 'Prisoners of War' by Hank Nelson
- 'POW Battalion reunions help healing' reporter: Natasha Johnson
- 'Return from the River Kwai' by Joan & Clay Blair (1979)
- 'A River Kwai Story - The Sonkuri Tribunal' by Robin Rowland
- 'Sandakan a Conspiracy of Silence' by Lynette Silver
- 'Savage Jungle' by Iain Finlay
- 'Staff Walah' by John Wyett
- 'Surviving Captivity' by R.W. Christie, edited by John Lack
- 'Tough and True' by Gary Simmons
- 'The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop' by E.E. Dunlop
'A History of the 2/29th Battalion - 8th Australian Division AIF'
Author: R.W. Christie
The unit originally left Australia as a completely Victorian unit but returned with representatives from all States in the Commonwealth. The 2/29th Battalion was the first Victorian unit into action in the Malayan campaign and has the distinction of two sets of battle honours, one for the bloody Muar Road battle where the Battalion initially and later in association with the 2/19th Battalion held the crack Japanese 5th Division, the Imperial Guards, for six days to enable the whole British force to be withdrawn behind Yong Peng, and the second for their part in the battle for Singapore Island.
'Doctor's Diary and Memoirs - Pond's Party, F Force, Thai - Burma Railway'
Author: Dr Roy Mills
In 1943 Captain Roy Mills was the only Doctor with over 700 Australians on some of the most isolated work camps on the Burma-Thailand Railway. The monsoon rains washed the flimsy huts and tents, low cloud hung over the area, and the meagre supplies of food and medicines were impeded by Japanese indifference, mud and flood. The Australians, weakened by malnutrition, were vulnerable to cholera, dysentery, tropical ulcers and malaria. The Doctor stood at the critical point between the men and the Japanese demands for more prisoners to work longer and faster, and he was, in the eyes of many of the men, their one defence against death by disease. Roy Mills' diary is a personal and professional record of those terrible and significant times. The whole is set within his evocative essays that enlarge on the brief diary entries, and provide a contemporary perspective.
'It Happened To Us - Mark 11'
Author: Gunner Finkemeyer
Stories of the "boys" of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment who served in World War II in Malaya and Singapore in the defence of Australia, and spent three and a half years of their lives as POWs. These 109 stories have been told for the young boys of today, who are the same age as the anti-tankers when they enlisted 60 years ago - 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21.
'One Fourteenth of an Elephant'
Author: Ian Denys Peek
A memoir of life and death on the Burma/Thailand Railway. (Four and a half days after being transported out of Singapore in a Steel Goods train in OCT 1942, Prisoner of War Denys Peek found himself in Siam and a part of the Labour force destined for the project that was later to be known as the Thai/Burma Death Railway.)
'No Lost Battalion'
Author: John Lack
An oral history of the 2/29th Battalion AIF. Over 1000 strong men arrived in Singapore on 15 August 1941. On 17 January 1942 they went into action in Johore, Malaya, and their subsequent resistance to the Imperial Japanese Army south of Muar River has been compared with that of the Spartans at Thermopylae. After inflicting massive Japanese casualties, the Battalion, surrounded and overwhelmed, made a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to join their comrades in the 2/19th Battalion, and then struggled south through enemy lines - a series of actions that were described as "a jungle epic". The 2/29th lost more than 250 killed in action, including their badly wounded, whom the Japanese murdered at Parit Sulong. Joined by 500 recently-arrived and barely-trained reinforcements, the 2/29th suffered further casualties in the battle for Singapore Island. But the survivors' privations did not finish with the British surrender on 15 February 1942. Another 350 men - one-third of those who had survived the battles of Muar and Singapore - would die in captivity as a result of starvation, enforced labour and disease, on the Burma/Thailand railway, and in Java, Sumartra, Borneo and Japan. Many others drowned at sea when their transports were torpedoed. Overall, more than four in every 10 of some 1600 men who served with the 2/29th never came home.
'Tough and True'
Author: Gary Simmons
Son of Lieut Phil Simmons.
Gary, himself a former Army Officer recounts his early years growing up and learning more about the history of the 2/29th thanks to a secret diary his father kept whilst a POW. His book contains many poems written by several members of the Battalion and using his own military knowledge, provides a clear insight into the reasons for the failure of the defence of Singapore. Gary has provided a very personal and at times emotional journey for the reader, culminating with the inclusion of his own diary of the 2007 pilgrimage to Singapore and Thailand undertaken by descendants of the Battalion.
'Prisoners of War'
Author: Hank Nelson
Australians under Nippon. From 1942 to 1945 some 22,000 Australian service personnel including seventy-one women of the Australian Army Nursing Service, became prisoners-of-war of the Japanese. They were held in camps in Timor, Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, Ambon, Hainan, Borneo, Singapore, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, Manchuria, Formosa and Japan. Only 14,000 survived those three and a half years after varying experiences at the hands of their Asian captors.
'Sandakan a Conspiracy of Silence'
Author: Lynette Silver
It is August 1945 and World War 2 is over. Japan has surrendered. As the small number of remaining Australian and British prisoners of war are massacred. Of the 2434 prisoners incarcerated by the Japanese at the Sandakan POW camp, only six, all escapees, have survived. The POWs, sent from Singapore in 1942-43 to work on airfield construction, endured frequent beatings and were subjected to other, more diabolical punishment.
'The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop'
Author: E.E. Dunlop
Java and the Burma-Thailand Railway 1942-1945. More than forty years ago Sir Edward Dunlop, then a Lieutenant-colonel, began these diaries at the start of his imprisonment by the Japanese in Java and on the Burma-Thailand Railway. His meticulous observations of prison camp life were concealed all through the war; by the time peace came in 1945, he carried with him a unique record of the lives of prisoners-of-war. As a commanding officer and a surgeon, "Weary" became a hero and a legend to thousands of Australian and allied prisoners, whose lives were saved with meagre medical supplies and the instruments the medical officers, carried on their backs through Java and Thai jungles. He says himself: "Of some 22,000 who entered captivity, more then 7,000 died or were killed. Of their sufferings… only those who were present can fully comprehend the seeming hopelessness of it all as their bodies wasted and their friends died".
'Men of the Line'
Author: Patti Wright
Stories of the Thai/Burma Railway Survivors. Most people think of Changi in relation to Australian POWs of World War ll. Conditions at Changi were certainly bad, but those on the Thai-Burma Railway, otherwise known as "The Line", were much worse, with many POWs pleased to return home to Changi after the slavery of the railway. This book contains the stories of sixty-eight ex-POWs, stories of survival and death on the Thai-Burma Railway.
Author: Iain Finlay
The gripping story of Sgt Arthur Shephard 2/29th battalion signals platoon sergeant. Based on Arthur's own diary and maps he kept, the book graphically traces Arthur's early evasion of the Japanese following the battle of Muar and the fall of Singapore. Badly wounded and left with three other wounded soldiers to fend for themselves, the book traces Arthur's eventual involvement with the Chinese guerrilla forces. Constantly on the run and racked with disease and constantly starving, Arthur wrestles with his own morale and military code of honour whilst witnessing and being part of the execution of traitors. One by one his companions died around him, yet his indomitable spirit and determination to live eventually saw him overcome against all odds and survive. This is a book you cannot put down.
Author: Tim Bowden
George Aspinall's Record of Captivity. The shadowy and evocative series of photographs taken by George Aspinall in Singapore, Malaya and Thailand from 1942 to 1943 is the most comprehensive photographic record obtained by an Australian prisoner-of-war of the Japanese. The photographs survived not only because of the skill and courage displayed by the teenage boy who took them, but because George Aspinall knew that, unless he processed his films, they would be destroyed by the hot-house humidity of the tropical climate. Indeed the ingenuity and tenacity he displayed to obtain film stock and chemicals to process his negatives form some of the most intriguing elements of the story of the Aspinall photographs.
'A River Kwai Story - The Sonkuri Tribunal'
Author: Robin Rowland
This book dispels the myth of the "Bridge on the River Kwai" and tells in brutal detail of the pain and suffering inflicted on all POW's by the Japanese and more particularly the Korean guards, who were in turn beaten by their Japanese superiors. Many mentions of the 2/29th Battalion.The author is very critical of certain Allied Officers which is cause for pause. The ultimate war crimes trials reveal evidence never before made known which gives the reader a detailed insight into the attitude and conduct of the Japanese senior officers and guards. The depth of research by the author and his resistance to impose his own views on the reader are to be commended, albeit difficult to accept at times.
Author: John Wyett
After three rejections for enlistment in the A.I.F, John Wyett became one of the very few Australian Militia Officers to be trained in the prestigious Indian Army Command and Staff College at Quetta. As a senior member of General Gordon Bennett's staff his account of the Malayan campaign and the fall of Singapore sheds new light on those dark days. He was able to observe first hand a flawed commander at close quarters and tells the story of defeat and captivity in an intriguing way. Captivity meant a struggle against great odds - torture, starvation, a battle of wits with the Kempetai the brutal and feared Japanese military regime who were a law unto themselves. Facing solitary confinement and a death sentence, John still maintains his sense of humour and grim determination to overcome and survive.
'The Bridge at Parit Sulong'
Author: Lynette Silver
Story of the Massacre at the Parit Sulong Bridge. In January 1942, as the Japanese pushed the main allied Army down the Malay Peninsula, two under-strength Australian Infantry Battalions, a handful of gunners and a depleted Indian contingent held back a vastly superior enemy force. The battle was one of the most desperate fighting retreats of the Second World War for which the Australian commander, Lt.-Col Charles Anderson, was awarded a Victoria Cross.
'Legacies of our Fathers'
Edited by Carolyn Newman
During World War II, thousands of Australians headed overseas to various theatres of war. Families farewelled their loved ones, never sure if they would see them again. Many of these people didn't return, and some of those who did had spent years in prisoner-of-war camps and were changed forever. World War II prisoners of the Japanese - their sons and daughters tell their stories. After the wave of Japanese victories during the early months of 1942, thousand of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) were placed in camps around South-East Asia. Having realised the huge potential of their captive "workforce" and the potential danger of having such a large group of prisoners together in one camp, the Japanese soon began to transport the men to different areas in their newly captured territories. Large numbers of POWs were sent off to work partiers to Borneo, Burma, Thailand, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, where they built airfields and railways and worked in coalmines and in shipyards.
'Return from the River Kwai'
Author: Joan & Clay Blair (1979)
Without doubt, one of the most vivid and enthralling accounts relating to the grim fate of prisoners of war. In 1944, a working party of Australian and English POWs boarded the Rakuyo Maru and Kachidoki Maru destined for the coal mines and war production factories in Japan. The men, many suffering from starvation, exhaustion, malaria and dysentery, are literally forcibly jammed into the stifling hot holds of the ships and after a week without adequate food and water, their convoy is attacked by US submarines which are unaware of their human cargo. Both ships are torpedoed and sunk and the men are left for dead clinging to wreckage in the South China Sea for up to 6 days with horrendous results. Some 300 out of a total complement of 2,200 survived after being reluctantly saved by their captors and others by US submarines which ironically caused their demise in the first place.
This sordid tale maintains an emotionally draining but gripping tension throughout primarily due to the numerous vivid accounts of the survivors and the submarine crew. Don McArdle and Strachan White of the 2/29th Battalion are among the survivors.
'Keep the Men Alive'
Author: Rosalind Hearder (2009)
A very readable and informative account of the dedication, compassion, bravery and ingenuity of the 106 Australian doctors who were POW's of the Japanese for three & a half years with some 22,000.00 fellow Australian servicemen. The doctors did whatever they could to keep their patients alive, often at great personal and psychological cost. However some 8,000 Australians or more than one third held in captivity died.
The Japanese captivity included not only internment in Changi and on the Burma-Thai Railway, where 44 doctors were located, but also in many parts of South-East Asia including Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ambon, Timor, New Britain and also in Manchuria and Japan.
Doctors had to assume positions of importance far outweighing their normal role and faced an extreme climate, starvation, rampant disease, physical abuse and forced labour. They had virtually no medical equipment, drugs or vitamins and had to improvise in numerous ways. They often had to carry out medical procedures without the requisite specialised knowledge or training and in many cases, be all things such as surgeons, anaesthetists and psychologists. The importance of, and satisfaction gained from, saving lives kept them going and resulted in thousands being brought home.
'POW Battalion reunions help healing'
Reporter: Natasha Johnson
A touching ABC television report about the profoundly positive impact of Battalion association reunions. The report was aired on the 7.30 report and has contributions from Frank Nankervis and Doug Ogden. Available online at:
Author: R.W. Christie Edited by John Lack
The survival of Australian prisoners of war of the Japanese has been attributed, variously, to Providence, mateship and just plain luck. POW diaries - those remarkable expressions of the will to live - expose another side of survival.
'Surviving Captivity' reveals Bob Christie's intensely personal and private battle, waged with weapons of faith, hope and love of family.
Black and Gold
Author: Ron Austin
The History of the 29th Battalion 1915-18. The Battalion was part of 8th Brigade, 5th Division of the Australian Imperial Force and was formed in Victoria on 22 July 1915 with LtCol Alfred W Bennett VD appointed Commanding Officer, but not officially raised until 10 August 1915. After early training at Broadmeadows, the 29th Battalion, set sail for Egypt, where the troops spent some months on garrison duty at the Suez Canal prior to embarking for France. Black and Gold vividly describes the confusion and bitterness that followed the Battalion's first major action at Fromelles. After a year or so in France, the 29th Battalion journey North to Belgium, and gallantly participated in the struggle for Polygon Wood in September 1917. The final year of the war saw the 29th Battalion returned to the Somme and take part in the victorious advance against the German Hindenburg Line in August and September 1918. The use of numerous photographs and maps as well as many letters and diary excerpts, assists the reader of Black and Gold to better understand the terrible conditions under which the Australian infantry battalions fought during the Great War.