Research & Articles by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired), JP
Research, Interviews and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year.
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Sequel To Jack Thorpe’s Recollection
Of Lt Col (Later Sir Albert) Coates

The previous story of amputations performed by Lt Col Albert Coates on the Burma Thailand Railway has a sequel. Towards the end of the article there was mention that 4 ex POWs, which included two amputees Basil Clark and Syd Howard, had gone to the Alhambra Bars in Perth to have a drink. Jack Thorpe has provided the following sequel.

“I thought I might as well finish the story off about the four young blokes who were having a drink at the Alhambra Bars in Perth at about Oct 1945. It was about mid afternoon that we decided we had better move, so after about ten minutes trying to negotiate and find a way how to get out of the Hotel, with such obstacles as stairs and numerous doors, we found ourselves in Barrack St and our object was to make the bus departure point at Newspaper House. At those times there were foot policemen doing traffic control at major intersections, hence a policeman at the intersection of Barrack St and St. George Tce. He noticed these two soldiers in uniform (Basil Clark and Syd Howard), both on crutches and only one leg, and not handling the crutches too well. As we approached the intersection he gave us a nice wave, blew his whistle and stopped all traffic for these two blokes with one leg to cross, which was very nice and thoughtful of him. But these two buggers got half way across and started to argue about who could run the furthest without using their crutches. The result being they both threw their crutches to the four winds, under cars and trucks, and set off down St. Georges Tce. I was left to recover the crutches. By this time, as there was no traffic moving, quite a lot of the motorists were out of their vehicles laughing and enjoying what was going on and helping me to gather up the crutches. Having done so the policeman gave me a nice smile, and waved me goodbye, and got his traffic moving again. Both Syd and Basil were sitting on a seat at a bus stop completely exhausted. I asked them did they want their crutches, they both said together “My Bloody Oath”.”

There is a further sequel. John Ross was an officer in the 4 Anti Tank Regt who suffered severe injuries to his legs during the defence of Singapore. Post War John (some know him as Jack) moved to Western Australia, studied dentistry and practiced same in Applecross for many years. His wife was reading the first article about the amputation performed by Lt Col Albert Coates on Basil Clark in Burma. She enquired from her husband whether he had read the article and, in particular, the last paragraph when there was mention of Basil Clark marrying his Pre War girl friend who was a nursing at the Mount Hospital in Perth. She reminded John that she too had nursed at the Mount Hospital at that time, that she knew the bride and that she had actually attended the Wedding.


Article presented by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP. E-mail (As at September 2004 Jack Thorpe lives in Three Springs, Syd Howard lives in Rivervale & John Ross lives in Bibra Lake (all in WA)).

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