Colin William HOWSE


HOWSE, Colin William

Service Number: VX39752
Enlisted: 17 February 1941, Royal Park, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/21st Infantry Battalion
Born: Mildura, Victoria, 19 May 1919
Home Town: St Kilda East, Port Phillip, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Died of Illness (POW of Japan), Ambon, Netherlands East Indies, 15 September 1944, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Ambon War Cemetery, Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

17 Feb 1941: Enlisted Private, SN VX39752, Royal Park, Victoria
17 Feb 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN VX39752
2 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Australia's Northern Periphery, Gull Force
15 Sep 1944: Involvement Private, SN VX39752, 2nd/21st Infantry Battalion, Prisoners of War


Colin was assigned to2/21 Battalion AIF Unit, which was to become "Gull Force". He trained for a short time in Bonegilla. As a truck driver he was part of the convoy headed for Darwin, a hazardous and fraught journey. On the 13th of December he left the encampment at Winnellie, out from Darwin, and embarked on the Netherlands cargo steamer the SS. Both. The men disembarked on the 17th December 1941 on the Dutch controlled, lush tropical Amboina (now Ambon). The country was totally unprepared for the Japanese invasion. "Gull Force" surrendered on the 3rd February 1942, the day after the Dutch surrender. Conditions on Ambon were exceptionally harsh and the men suffered the highest death rate of all Australian prisoners of war. Colin died on the 15th September 1944, aged 25. His oath of enlistment papers records he died of beri beri, (caused by the lack of vitamin C). There are other possibilities. Colin was buried in the Galala War Cemetery. Later his remains were moved to the Ambon War Cemetery. The grave reference is 20.D. 13. At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra his name is located on the Roll of Honour at panel 47.

"The only memorial which could be worthy of them was the bare uncoloured story of their part in the war". CE Bean.

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