John James Boyall (Jack or JJ) NOBLE


NOBLE, John James Boyall

Service Number: SX9236
Enlisted: 20 July 1940, Wayville, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 8th Division Ammunition Sub-Park
Born: Hindmarsh, South Australia, 16 November 1907
Home Town: Tumby Bay, Tumby Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Hindmarsh and Kilkenny
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Died of Illness (POW of Japan - malnutrition), Burma, 13 September 1943, aged 35 years
Cemetery: Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

20 Jul 1940: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX9236, Wayville, South Australia
3 Nov 1940: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX9236, 2nd/14th Field Regiment
2 Nov 1941: Embarked 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX9236, 8th Division Ammunition Sub-Park, HMAT Zealander
16 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore
13 Sep 1943: Involvement 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN SX9236, 8th Division Ammunition Sub-Park, Prisoners of War
Date unknown: Involvement

NOBLE, John James Boyall SX9236 1907 - 1943

NOBLE, John James Boyall SX9236 1907 - 1943

A short personal story written by his son, Mr. Alan Noble of Plympton, South Australia, Australia

My father, John James Boyall Noble, known as ‘Jack’, enlisted early in WW2 on the 20th July 1940, which resulted in our family leaving Tumby Bay, South Australia to live in Largs Bay, South Australia. This enabled Jack, who was stationed in the Army Barracks at Wayville and then Woodside, to spend his “leave time” with his family.

However, he was soon transferred, firstly, to drive Army trucks loaded with war supplies from Alice Springs, Northern Territory to Darwin, Northern Territory.

Then he was transferred to the 8th Division, Ammunition Sub Park Malaya and "C" Section in Malaya and Singapore, where he was captured by the Japanese Army. He was imprisoned in the notorious Changi prisoner of war camp which was used to imprison Malayan civilians and Allied soldiers.

From there he was sent north to work as a POW on the famous Burma Railway, which became known as the ‘Death Railway’.

Nothing was heard of him for many months, and my Mother was extremely distressed – as we all were!

I was in Year 5 at Largs Primary, in October 1943 when, during lunch break, I was called into the Headmaster’s office to be informed that a kid from our neighbourhood had returned from lunch at home with the news that my Mother had just received a letter/card via the Australian Red Cross, from my Father (see attachment).

The Headmaster, a WW1 veteran, sent me home immediately, to celebrate the news.

We found a date written on the back of the card, 22/1/43 which meant it had taken 9 months to get to us!

A second letter/card came during December 1943 (see attachment), but the very sad news came soon afterwards.

A letter, from the Australian Government arrived, stating that my Father had died in Burma on the 13th September 1943, a month before we received his first letter. The cause of death was listed as malnutrition and other health problems. Jack was aged 35 years.

As you would imagine, the impact of this news was immense.

During the early years after the loss of my Father, my Mother and I came to appreciate the invaluable financial and social support provided by the Australian charity Legacy.

Alan Noble September 2016

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Jack was born at Hindmarsh (SA) in June 1907 to John Noble and Harriet Noble (nee Boyall).  He went to school at Hindmarsh and later at Kilkenny, leaving school at 15.  He did various odd jobs around his home suburbs until the mid 1920s, when he left Adelaide and traveled to Tumby Bay to pursue a life on the land: however this was a “bad” time, just before the Great Depression, with few farmers taking on full time employees.  He took employ with the Tumby Bay Council as a road maintenance worker for a few shillings (1 shilling = 10 cents) a week: this work involved him leaving Tumby before sunrise on Monday mornings, with 5 days provisions and living in tented accommodation on the work site, before returning home on Friday evenings after dark.  Employees were not paid for traveling time or for periods when they could not work due to inclement weather!  He remained in this employ until he enlisted in 1940.

During this time, despite his prolonged absences from Tumby, he met and courted Thelma Savage, the daughter of the owner of the Ritz Café.  They were married at Prospect (SA) at the Methodist Manse on 12 March 1928.  They had 3 children (2 boys and a girl).

On 20 July 1940 he enlisted in the Army at Port Lincoln.  He then made his way to Wayville (SA) for processing before being sent to Woodside (SA) for training, Thelma and the children moving to Adelaide to be closer to him.  Unfortunately for the family, at the completion of his training he was posted to Alice Springs as a driver, transporting stores from the rail head at Alice to Darwin.  He remained in this posting for almost 12 months before being sent to Sydney in October 1941 where he embarked on HMAT “Zealandia"; he disembarked in Singapore on 8 January 1942 and was posted to 8 Division Ammunition Sub Park (1 AASC).

Unfortunately for Jack this was only a few weeks before the fall of Singapore (February 1942) when the whole garrison surrendered.  Jack was listed as MIA (Missing in Action) from 9 April 1942 until 2 November 1943; on this date it was confirmed that he had been taken POW (Prisoner of War). 

After several cards from Jack to his family a similar envelope was received in the mail: even the postman remarked that it looked like another card from Jack.  Instead it was a note advising that Jack had died from illness (malnutrition) on 9 August 1944.  Needless to say the family was shattered after firstly finding him and then losing him again.

Jack’s wife, Thelma, remarried to Tom Craddock; however, she did not fully recover from the trauma of the loss of her first husband and her health remained poor until her death.

Jack is buried at the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery at the northern extremity of the Burma Railway 


Medals and Decorations

1939 – 45 Star                                                                                   

Pacific Star                                                                                         

Defence Medal                                                                                  

War Medal 1939 - 45                                                                         

Australian Service Medal 1939 - 45