Henry James (Harry) CABLE


CABLE, Henry James

Service Number: VX27275
Enlisted: 15 June 1940, Caulfield, Victoria.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/21st Infantry Battalion
Born: Harnham, Wiltshire, England , 2 November 1901
Home Town: Colac, Colac-Otway, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Presumed, Ambon, 20 February 1942, aged 40 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Column 3.
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Ambon Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Private, SN VX27275
15 Jun 1940: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, SN VX27275, Recruit Reception Depot, Caulfield, Victoria.
7 Jul 1940: Transferred 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, 2nd/21st Infantry Battalion, Seymour, Victoria, from 15th Infantry Training Battalion.
13 Dec 1941: Embarked 2nd AIF WW 2, Private, SN VX27275, 2nd/21st Infantry Battalion, Darwin. Disembarked Ambon 17-12-1941.
2 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Ambon, Missing 2-2-1942. Missing, believed deceased, Laha Garrison, “on or after 7-2-42.” For official purposes Presumed Dead 20-2-1942. Date coincides with the “5th massacre” of Australian soldiers at Laha airfield.

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Biography contributed by Karen Standen

Henry James Cable was the eldest son of Henry Edward and Rosina Cable (née Chalk). Born in the Salisbury suburb of Harnham, Henry was their second child. The family moved to the small Wiltshire village of Swallowcliffe, when ‘Harry’, as he was more commonly known, was a boy. 

It was here at the parish church, that Harry’s eldest sister, Hilda married an Australian soldier, Sergeant Clair Larson (/explore/people/208708), in August 1919. The following year, the couple sailed for Australia aboard the Bahia Castillo. Arriving in Melbourne in May, Clair and his bride continued on to his family's property at Carlisle River, near Colac in Victoria.

At nineteen years of age, Henry followed his sister. Arriving on the Themistocles in August 1921, Harry was employed as a farm labourer. He worked in several Victorian farming districts, including Gippsland and Flinders, before eventually settling closer to Hilda.

Enlisting in the 2nd A.I.F. in June 1940, Harry initially gave his sister as his next of kin. This changed however in January 1941, when Harry married his sweetheart, Ivy May Bartlett. Their time together was short, as the 2/21st were transferred to Darwin three months later and at the end of 1941, they embarked for Ambon as part of Gull Force.  

In late January 1942, Japanese forces arrived at Ambon. Outnumbered by almost 20 to 1, the Australian and Dutch forces were overwhelmed. It is presumed Harry was one of more than 300 prisoners massacred by the Japanese at the Laha airfield during February 1942.

Like so many other families of soldiers with no known grave, for Ivy and Harry’s family, it was not knowing what had actually happened to him, that was the hardest thing to bear. Ivy never remarried. She passed away in April 2000.