Charles Patrick TRACEY MID

TRACEY, Charles Patrick

Service Number: NX70508
Enlisted: 28 November 1940, Paddington, New South Wales
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hurstville, New South Wales, 4 October 1908
Home Town: Lismore, Lismore Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Clerk / Bank Clerk
Died: Orange, New South Wales, 14 October 1974, aged 66 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, New South Wales Garden of Remembrance (Rookwood Necropolis)
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World War 2 Service

28 Nov 1940: Enlisted Major, NX70508, 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion, Paddington, New South Wales
28 Nov 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, NX70508, 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion
15 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore, POW - Prisoner of War: 15/02/1942, Fall of Singapore, Allied Forces surrendered to the Japanese Force; to Date: 15/08/1945, Japanese Force surrendered to the Allied Forces, Malaya/Singapore Campaign.
23 Jan 1946: Discharged Major, NX70508, 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion
23 Jan 1946: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, NX70508, 2nd/26th Infantry Battalion
1 Aug 1946: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Malaya/Singapore

(AWM) CHANGI (Changi Military Camps)

Changi Report

(AWM) Australian War Memorial – Canberra, ACT, Australia
WW2 History; Extracted Copy from the “AWM” Website
Changi (Changi Military Camps)

The name Changi is synonymous with the suffering of Australian prisoners of the Japanese during the Second World War. This is ironic, since for most of the war in the Pacific Changi was, in reality, one of the most benign of the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps; its privations were relatively minor compared to those of others, particularly those on the Burma–Thailand railway.
For much of its existence Changi was not one camp but rather a collection of up to seven prisoner-of-war (POW) and internee camps, occupying an area of approximately 25 square kilometres. Its name came from the peninsula on which it stood, at the east end of Singapore Island. Prior to the war the Changi Peninsula had been the British Army's principal base area in Singapore. As a result the site boasted an extensive and well-constructed military infrastructure, including three major barracks – Selarang, Roberts and Kitchener – as well as many other smaller camps. Singapore's civilian prison, Changi Gaol, was also on the peninsula.
Most of the Australians captured in Singapore were moved into Changi on 17 February 1942. They occupied Selarang Barracks, which remained the AIF Camp at Changi until June 1944. For many, Selarang was just a transit stop as working parties were soon being dispatched to other camps in Singapore and Malaya. Initially prisoners at Changi were free to roam throughout the area but, in early March 1942, fences were constructed around the individual camps and movement between them was restricted. In August all officers above the rank of colonel were moved to Formosa (present-day Taiwan), leaving the Australians in Changi under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick "Black Jack" Galleghan. Security was further tightened following the arrival of dedicated Japanese POW staff at the end of August 1942. The new Japanese commandant requested that all prisoners sign a statement declaring that they would not attempt escape. The prisoners refused en masse and, on 2 September, all 15,400 British and Australian prisoners were confined in the Selarang Barracks area. After three days a compromise was reached: the Japanese ordered the declaration be signed, thus making it clear that the prisoners were acting under duress, and the prisoners were returned to their original areas.
Throughout the war the prisoners in Changi remained largely responsible for their own day-to-day administration. The main contact with the Japanese was at senior-officer level or on work parties outside the camps. Extensive gardens were established, concert parties mounted regular productions, and a reasonably well-equipped camp hospital operated in Roberts Barracks. Damaged infrastructure was progressively restored and both running water and electric lighting were common throughout the Changi area by mid-1943. Camp rations and supplies were supplemented by the opportunities that work parties provided for both theft and trade. For a time even a university operated inside the AIF camp. However, most prisoner activities suffered after May 1942 when large work parties began to be sent out of Changi to work on projects such as the Burma-Thailand railway. In February 1942 there were around 15,000 Australians in Changi; by mid-1943 less than 2,500 remained.
In May 1944 all the Allied prisoners in Changi, now including 5,000 Australians, were concentrated in the immediate environs of Changi Gaol, which up until this time had been used to detain civilian internees. In this area 11,700 prisoners were crammed into less than a quarter of a square kilometre: this period established Changi's place in popular memory. Rations were cut, camp life was increasingly restricted and in July the authority of Allied senior officers over their troops was revoked. Changi was liberated by troops of the 5th Indian Division on 5 September 1945 and within a week troops were being repatriated. After the war Changi Gaol once again became a civilian prison, while the Changi military area was repaired and redeveloped for use by the British garrison. Following the withdrawal of British troops in 1971 the area was taken over by the Singapore Armed Forces and still has one of the main concentrations of military facilities on the island. Roberts Barracks remains in use but the original buildings at Selarang were demolished in the 1980s. Changi Gaol was scheduled for demolition in the second half of 2004, although the original entrance gate and a section of the outer wall were preserved as a memorial. A museum and replica of one of the chapels built by Allied prisoners in the Changi area have been opened on the road between Changi Gaol and Selarang Barracks. In 1988 one of the original prisoner-of-war chapels was transported to Australia, re-erected in the grounds of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and dedicated as the national memorial to Australian prisoners of war.

Submitted 13 August 2017 by Daniel Bishop


REPORT: The 8th Division Involvement

The Story of 8th Division; The 8th Division Involvement Report

The Story of 8th Division

An abridged copy of a lecture delivered to the Royal United Services Institute by Major John Wyett A.M., the last surviving Staff Officer of General Gordon Bennett’s H.Q. of the 8th Australian Division.;;

By 1941 Germany controls all Europe as well as Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete. Rommel was at the gates of Cairo. Japan seizes her opportunity, signs a pact with Thailand and establishes bases and air fields. Their Army lands in Thailand and Malaya in early December 1941 at the height of the monsoon season.

Churchill sends Britain's two most powerful and modern battle cruisers to Singapore and they are sunk within 10 days of arrival. Only a few days after hostilities begin Japan has control of both sea and air. Her aircraft, thought to be obsolete and ineffective,, prove to be far superior in performance and in much greater strength than those of the R.A.F. AND R.A.A.F.

The American defence chiefs had made an appreciation of the Far East situation 12 months earlier and reported to Roosevelt, “Malaya is indefensible”. This was proved to be true.

The early stages of the campaign in Malay were marked by a series of disasters, and more were to follow. The defence strategy codenamed “Matador” and aimed at attacking the enemy as he attempted to land was never implemented.

There were strict orders from London that Thailand's neutrality must be respected. Troops must remain on the Malayan side of the border and “Matador” could not be implemented without the consent of the Prime Minister. Churchill delegated this authority to Wavell who passed the authority to Air Chief Marshall Brooke Popham, who had been brought out of retirement to act as Commander in Chief of forces in Malaya and Singapore.

As soon as the Japanese invasion fleet was sighted off the coast of Thailand, troops from the 11th Indian Division were placed on full alert awaiting the order to cross the frontier. Brooke Popham could not make up his mind and the troops were left waiting in the drenching rain of the N. E. Monsoons for a day and a half.

The Japs meanwhile were ashore in Thailand opposed only by those valiant efforts of the airforce which were no match for the invaders and were soon overcome.

They seized the two Thai airports – Singgora and Pattani and soon had possession the British airfield at Kota Bahru. By the time operation “MATADOR” was authorised, the Japs had over 26,000 troops ashore. A vital strategic advantage had been lost.

From that point on, all the initiative was in the hands of the enemy. He was ashore in strength, he had quickly gained supremacy in the air, and his ships could move freely, virtually unmolested.

The 8th Division Involvement

Five weeks from the time the Japanese landed unopposed in Thailand, they had gained control of 80% of Malaya, with the defending forces in constant retreat in a campaign similar in many respects to the blitzkrieg conquest of Europe by the German allies. But in this case, using the subtler tactic of encirclement and avoiding wherever possible, the brute force of direct confrontation.

10th January 1942 – At this stage the Japanese Forces were south of Kuala Lumper and approaching a defence line stretching across the southern part of the peninsula from coast to coast.

The central portion of this line was manned by the Australian 27th Brigade of the 8th Division together with the 2nd Loyal British Regiment and the remnants of 9th Indian Division. This rather mixed group was named Westforce and placed under the command of General Bennett. Our 22nd Brigade was in its original position at Mersing where elaborate and effective defence positions had been prepared. They became part of East force together with the 11th Indian Division and were under the command of Brigadier Taylor, Lt. Gen. Heath of the 3rd Indian Corps was in overall command.

14th January 1942 – A strong force of Japanese was trapped in an ambush by 2/30 Battalion at Gemas and received many casualties when the bridge over the Gemencheh River they were crossing was blown up. However a small advance party had been allowed trough the trap, and following their usual procedure, immediately found and cut the telephone lines to the ginners and H.Q. As a result the artillery barrage which had been planned did not occur until much later and when much of the target had deployed in the usual encircling movement.

Meanwhile, following troops had managed to cross the river and cut off the ambush party. Japanese engineers quickly repaired the bridge with timber from a near by sawmill, which had been left intact. Although the Japs had received a severe setback it was not long befre their light tanks and infantry were exerting considerable pressure on the 2/26th Battalion near Segamat, as the forward unit of the main defence group.

As divisional H.Q. was situated too far back for effective control, I had been sent forward to set up an advance operational headquarters in Seramat, where the main stand against the Jap advance was to take place. I chose a small unobtrusive house in a side street and the small but efficient staff I had brought with me soon had things working smoothly.

A day or so later General Bennett paid us a visit. He was highly critical of the position I had chosen as being out of keeping with the dignity and importance of his status as Commander of Westforce. He pointed to a very large and ornate, pretentious looking brick house in a prominent and very exposed position at a crossing on the main road and instructed me to move there at once. He then departed and I decided to stay put in our little house among the trees.

As it turned out, the Japs made the decision for us, because next day low flying planes made a couple of passes and then bombed us. Fortunately, I had managed to get all the staff into the slit trenches we had dug in the lawn so nobody was hurt.

;The planes flying were low and we watched fascinated as the doors to the bomb bays opened and one by one the bombs came out horizontally, slowly righting themselves and dropping in a graceful curve. ;It was possible to judge fairly well just where they would fall, and one seemed to be coming directly into our trench. Fortunately it was aimed at the house but still too close for comfort. It went straight through the roof, through the floor and exploded when it hit the ground underneath. Our pleasant little wooden house was no more, but, surprisingly it did little damage to our equipment and we were soon operational again in a couple of little outhouses. But not for long.;

While all this action was going on at the Segamat position a strong Japanese force of cruisers, destroyers and two transports, all with heavy air cover was spotted off Endau by an Australian Hudson Aircraft and the information relayed to Singapore. Once again fortune favoured the Japanese. They had avoided the more accessible beaches at Mersing because they knew every detail of the well prepared defences of the 22nd Brigade.

Never the less, the Australians were in a good position to deal with the enemy advance towards the important road junction at Jemaluang when orders were issued by Malaya Command to withdraw. Confusing and disappointing though such orders were, the Brigade group managed to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy and a delay of three days to his advance. An ambush arranged on the road to Jemaluang was completely successful.

The defenders were able to withdraw safely and the fire of the 2/10th Field Regiment was so devastatingly accurate that the Japanese wanted to know how we did it. (this was later, after hostilities ended) They were given some very strange details. All this came about because of an imminent threat to the left flank of Westforce. The crack troops of the Japanese Guards Division had landed at Muar on the west coast and had quickly overcome the untrained, newly enlisted men of the 45th Indian Division. Their commander and most of his British officers had been killed and there was little resistance left.

With superiority and command of both sea and air, Yamashita, the Japanese General, was able to mount a giant pincer movement aimed at bottling up and destroying the whole of the army in Malaya.

I was ordered to arrange a conference in Segamat of the commanders of the 9th Indian Division, General Bennett, General Barstow and General Key. General Bennett was late and we were kept standing around for over half an hour before he arrived.

When he did so, he burst into the room looking all hot and flushed and without further ado immediately began shouting a tirade about low morale and a cowardly withdrawal complex. After about ten minutes of totally inappropriate and offensive remarks he turned abruptly, left the room and went.

I simply did not know where to look in the utter confusion and embarrassment of the vacuum he had left. It was Colonel Coates who broke the grim silence by saying, “Well I wonder what that was all about”. Then seeing my dejected face he came and put his arm about my shoulders saying. “Come on Wyett, we will soon work something out.”

General Bennett must have been acutely embarrassed at having to order a withdrawal so soon after his successful ambush at Segamat because only a few days previously General Barstow had suggested that such a plan be prepared in the event that it might be needed in an emergency. This had been summarily dismissed and General Barstow rudely rebuked as being defeatist. I think the incident marked the beginning of a mental decline in General Bennett, which was to lead to a decision by General Sturdee, Chief of Staff in Australia, to relieve Bennett of his command of the 8th Division. A decision never implement due to the turn of events.

Meanwhile things on the west coast were not going well. Having practically wiped out the 45th Indian Brigade, the Japanese Guards division was not firmly established with very little between them and Singapore. Two Australian battalions, the 2/9th from the east coast and the 2/29th from Segamat had been hastily dispatched to the Maur area to try to stem the tide and were now heavily engaged. The commander of the 2/29th had been killed. Reinforcements sent by Malaya Command did not arrive due to mismanagement and the 2nd Royals lost their equipment and were delayed because of demolitions prematurely exploded in front of them by over zealous fortress engineers.

At this stage Lt. Col. Anderson, C.O. of 2/19th Battalion gathered most of the remnants and took over command of the group. They fought gamely knowing that the fate of the whole of Westforce depended on their efforts. They suffered appalling casualties but succeeded in blocking the advance of a whole division of crack Japanese troops. Finally after food, water and ammunition had run out, “Andy” ordered his group to disband in the night rather than surrender, and make their way out as best they could. It was a dire case of “Save yourself”.

The withdrawal from Segamat and the east coast had been completed. Westforce had been saved from the threatened pincer grip. When General Percival heard the news he said, “We breathe again.” There was now no alternative but to retreat to the Island of Singapore. This was completed without incident on the night of 31st January 1942.

Reference: Origin of The Story of 8th Division; The 8th Division Involvement; are extracted copies from "8th Division Story"; The Official 2/26 Battalion Website,
In affiliation with the 2/26 Battalion Family & Friends Association Inc.


Submitted 13 August 2017 by Daniel Bishop


(AWM) 2/26th Australian Infantry Battalion

2/26th Australian Infantry Battalion

Unit: 2nd Australian Imperial Force; Place: Redbank Camp
Event: Invasion of Malaya
Battle Honours: Johore
Malaya 1941-1942
Singapore Island

Commanding Officers:
Boyes, Arthur Harold 'Sapper'
Tracey, Charles Patrick
Decorations: 1 MC; 1 DCM; 15 MID
Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
• AWM52/8/3/26: 2/26 Battalion war diary.
• Magarry, William Ronald, The Battalion story : 2/26th Battalion, 8th Division, A.I.F(Jindalee, Qld : W.R. Magarry, 1994).
• Uhr, Janet Margaret, Against the sun : the AIF in Malaya, 1941-42(St. Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 1998)
Category: Unit; Conflict Second World War
Unit hierarchy: *Australian Army * Infantry * 2/26th Australian Infantry Battalion


The formation of the 2/26th Infantry Battalion began with the appointment of its first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Boyes, on 1 November 1940. A shortage of camp accommodation, however, prevented its assembly as a unit until 26 November when the first of its personnel marched into Grovely Camp. The 2/26th drew its recruits from Queensland and northern New South Wales and trained at Grovely until the battalion relocated to Redbank Camp on 29 January 1941. A weekly cross-country training run earned the battalion its nickname, "the gallopers".

On 24 February the 2/26th began moving to Bathurst and joined the other battalions of the 27th Brigade - the 2/29th and 2/30th - as part of the 8th Division. The 27th Brigade was the last AIF infantry brigade raised for service during the Second World War. The battalion left Bathurst on 29 July bound for Singapore, via Melbourne, arriving on 15 August.

In Singapore the 2/26th was camped near Changi village on the north-eastern tip of the island. With war against Japan increasingly likely, at the start of October the battalion began deploying to Malaya where it continued its training and prepared defences. It was split between the area around Kota Tingii, on the south-eastern tip of the Malayan peninsula, and Jasin in the west-coast sultanate of Malacca. On the night of 6 December 1941 the battalion stood to arms and was concentrated north of Kota Tinggi. It saw no action for the ensuing month and on 10 January 1942 moved to Johore, on the western side of the peninsula.

The 27th Brigade formed part of Westforce and fought alongside British and Indian troops. The Australians was deployed around the Segamat sector. The 2/30th was in the foremost position at Gemas, where it was to act as a "shock-absorber" against the initial Japanese attack. The 2/26th was deployed in the Paya Lang Estate, while the 2/29th was deployed at Buloh Kasap but it was later sent to Muar to reinforce the Indian brigade.

Following the 2/30th's successful ambush at Gemas on 14 January, the 2/26th conducted a fighting withdrawal to Yong Peng, Ayer Hitam, and a number of other locations, as Westforce withdrew towards Singapore Island. Between 26 and 27 January the 2/26th held the Simpang Rengam crossroads at 46-mile post, where they were shelled by Japanese artillery and strafed by Japanese aircraft. By 28 January the 2/29th was involved in the heavy fighting at the Namazie Estate rubber plantation. That day and the next the battalion inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese. The 2/26th proved to be particularly successful in fighting these rearguard actions and its morale was high.

With Indian troops protecting the final withdraw, the brigade entered Johore Bahru on 30 January and crossed the Causeway into "fortress" Singapore. When the Japanese attacked Singapore on 8 February the brigade defended the Causeway sector. They could not stop the Japanese, however, and on 15 February the British commander on Singapore surrendered. The 2/26th spent the next three-and-a-half years as prisoners of war.

After the surrender the battalion was concentrated in Changi goal, where they were used as labour for work parties, first in Singapore and then in other parts of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. Men were sent to Burma and Thailand to work on the railway, while others were sent to Borneo and Japan.

After the war's end, the battalion's return to Australia was a "fragmented event", as troops came home from a variety of locations and by a variety of methods. The main body of the 2/26th - 470 men - returned to Australia aboard the ship Largs Bay, berthing at Pinkenba Wharf in Brisbane on 8 August 1945.

INFORMATION REFERENCED: (AWM) Australian War Memorial; Extracted Copy; 2/26 Australian Infantry Battalion; VISIT-Website:

Showing 3 of 3 stories

Biography contributed by Daniel Bishop

Son of Patrick TRACEY & Ada May (nee GATES) TRACEY.

Next of Kin - Wife: Jessie Amos Robertson (nee-SKED) TRACEY.