Arthur Moon was born at East Maitland on 17 May 1902. It is almost certain that Moon did his medical training at Sydney University and it is highly likely that he served in the Militia.
He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) on 24 April 1940. Initially he was a member of 2/4 Field Ambulance, which was in the Middle East and deployed into Syria. Whilst in the Middle East he transferred to the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) (it is said, at the request of Major E (Weary) Dunlop then 2 I/C 2/2 CCS). In February 1942 the 2/2 CCS, together with other units including 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion and 2/2 Pioneer Battalion, sailed from Suez for an unknown destination. In the event, on 18 February 42 (Singapore having already fallen) they were landed in Java to honour a British undertaking to assist the Dutch in the defence of Java. On 6 March the Dutch capitulated and the Australians, known as “Black” Force, became POWs.
It is difficult to establish the events over the period Feb to Dec 42. However, from the War Diaries of Weary Dunlop (WDWD) it is clear that a General Hospital was established. (It is reasonable to assume that the CCS ceased to exist, as following cessation of hostilities things were now static). The General Hospital had 23 officers and it is certain that Arthur Moon and Ewan Corlette were Medical Officers on the staff. Little is recorded in Dunlop’s diary of Moon and Corlette’s activities in Java.
In January 1943 a party of a little less than 900 POWs, known as “Dunlop” Force was assembled to move to Thailand under the command of Lt Col Dunlop. The other medical officers with him were Majors Moon and Corlette and Captain Tim Godlee. Arthur Moon was appointed “Baggage Officer”. En route to Thailand the Force spent about 10 days in Singapore then had an horrendous five-day train journey. During the journey Arthur Moon and some others suffered leg injuries from dangling their legs out of the sliding doors on the steel rice trucks. The force arrived at Banpong in Thailand on 24 January and was trucked to Tarsau. From Tarsau the Force moved on foot approx 25 kms to their first work area at Konyu where they arrived with 875 POWs. Amongst the officers in this party were Majors Greiner, Wearne, Woods and Clarke (Dentist). All of these officers made positive contributions to Camp life. Overall, there were 58 medical personnel from 2/2 CCS in Dunlop Force. During the time the force was at Konyu, Dunlop observed that Arthur Moon was always one of the busiest people.
Moon moved to Hintok Mountain Camp early April. However, he then moved to Tamakan in late April. Dunlop comments “This is a serious loss as Arthur has done magnificent work with the sick and is one of the most thorough, loyal and capable souls living. ……”
Whilst at Tamakan, Moon worked under a British Territorial Officer Lt Col Philip Toosey. Toosey appointed Arthur Moon Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at the Medical facility (for want of a better term).. There were six medical officers, one dental officer and fifty medical orderlies on his staff. Toosey was fulsome in his praise of Moon’s work. It is also clear from the Dunlop diaries and Phil Menisky’s and Ashley George Old’s drawings that Moon was also at Chungkai and Tamuang at various times.
Artists were used by many medical officers to illustrate conditions generally as well as medical conditions. Major Alan Hazelton used Lt “Smudger ‘Smith, 5th Suffolks, to illustrate eye conditions he was dealing with. Dunlop used Jack Chalker to record medical conditions (Chalker also did a sculpture of Dunlop’s head). Moon’s clinical notes are recorded on the reverse of some of Old’s drawings.
Whilst at Tamuang in 1944 “Chick” Warden 2/19 Battalion recorded that Moon treated him following five days of beating by the Japs. “Chick” was on a bed with an improvised frame over the bed (his leg was apparently in traction). During a search of the camp by the Japs, Moon hid some records under “Chick’s” back. These may be some of the records mentioned in the following paragraph.
In 1945 at Tamuang Moon buried POW records and statistics in a tin just prior to moving to Pratchai in northeast Thailand. After the Japanese capitulated Moon returned to Tamuang and with the assistance of the Thai merchant Boon Pong, who had earlier provided much under cover assistance to the POWs, was able to recover the tin intact.
Post war he returned to concentrate on Obstetrics in Sydney.
He was a strong advocate for his fellow POWs in repatriation matters. It is known that in 1972 he made detailed submissions on behalf of “Chick” Warden to assist him in having a review, for repatriation purposes, of a severe condition of his larynx.
He died on 28 October 1973, seventy-one years of age. Along with many others, his efforts in support of his fellow POWs have received little acknowledgement.
Article put together by Lt
Col Peter Winstanley 248/85 Hester Avenue,
Merriwa WA 6030