Australian War Graves in Sri Lanka

Discussion in 'Australian' started by Mozzertad, May 11, 2012.

  1. Mozzertad

    Mozzertad Junior Member

    I recently visited Colombo in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and took pictures of almost 400 war graves (1914-58 but majority WW2).

    This included over 40 Australian servicemen - some in the official Borella memorial garden, other scattered elsewhere in the unkept cemetary.

    I would like to share these with people with an interest - and better still have them reach the descendants - and also invite people t add details of the person, the date/battle they lost their life in and anything else of interest.

    These are uploaded to:

    Log In | Facebook

    Thank you.
    RosyRedd likes this.
  2. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Brilliant work Mozzer - I used my facebook log-in to have a look but I have no idea on how to post info (I'm a bit of a facebook numpty).

    A quick look shows that most of the Aussie soldiers died of illness in Ceylon on their way back from the Middle East. At least one died on the way over in 1940 but otherwise they seem to all be from April - June 1942.

    The sailor with the elaborate headstone provided by his shipmates from HMAS Bathurst also died of illness according to his record card at the NAA.

    Most of the RAAF deaths occurred in aircraft crashes while flying with RAF squadrons.
  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    From the facebook link – “The WW2 Allies gallery contains 130 stones split by 37 Australians, 9 New Zealand, 8 Dutch, 2 Canadian and 74 Asian (Ceylon, Indian)/African”

    Here are the 37 Aussie burials (9 RAAF, 2 RAN, 1 Army Nurse & 25 AIF) – the first email says “this included over 40 Australian servicemen” – did I miss a few on the facebook link?

    I will add details as I go along (acknowledgement in advance: 99% of the info on RAAF casualties has been lifted from the research work of Alan Storr, whose results are available on the AWM website as pdf documents)

    MUTIMER RAAF 400153
    NICHOLS RAAF 406256
    MADDISON RAAF 404702
    CARDNO RAAF 404012
    NEILL RAAF 404255
    BROWNE RAAF 400516
    WATT RAAF 404223
    WHITE RAAF 404191

    WILSON RAN W1910 (illness – NAA personnel file)
    HAYES RAN 24365 (illness – NAA personnel file)

    THIEDEKE, Cynthia Mabel (Sister) of 12th Australian General Hospital (AANS) QX22500 / QFX22500 on AWM ROH - which shows cause of death as illness

    Gunner Ernest John SANDFORD NX3303 of 2/1 Field Regiment RAA (AWM ROH = Injuries) (CWGC & AWM ROH disagree on Date of Death - I will get this checked out)
    Private William Claude WALKER VX48505 of 4th Australian General Hospital (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Sapper George WALTON VX53539 of 2/8th Field Company RAE (AWM ROH = Injuries)

    Captain Robert Allan SPENCE NX76241 of 12th Australian General Hospital (AWM ROH = Accidental) (First enlistment in the Papua Militia (he is on the Honour Roll in Rabaul), previously had the service number of P1)

    Lance Corporal Alfred Jack SIMMONS VX17562 of 2/5th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Lance Corporal Arthur Edwin DONNELLY NX43971 of 2/2nd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Accidental)
    Signalman Herbert John KELLY NX31013 of Signals 6th Division (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private Raymond SCHIPP NX2395 of 2/2nd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Accidental)
    Private John William BRUCE VX19176 of HQ GEN BASE DEPOT (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private Peter Warwick ARMSTRONG NX2625 of 2/1st Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Accidental)
    Lieutenant Colonel Norley George DODDS QX6060 of Headquarters Base Area Middle East (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Gunner Bruce CHAPMAN NX21715 of 2/15 Field Regiment RAA (AWM ROH = Died of wounds) (AWM photo)
    Private John GRACE VX6799 of 2/6th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private Harold Percival SPEDDING NX69053 of 2/1st Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Sapper Henry Casson JOHNSTON VX24295 of 2/8th Field Company RAE (AWM ROH = Injuries)
    Private Raymond RYAN NX42812 of 2/2nd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Lance Corporal Ivan Franklin KNIGHT NX4834 of 2/3rd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Corporal Clifford Neil NICHOLS NX8538 of No 1 Company AASC (AWM ROH = Injuries)
    Lance Corporal Harold William UNDERHILL NX4770 of 2/3rd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Gunner William Henry JONES QX19045 of 2/1 Anti Tank Regiment RAA (AWM ROH = Injuries)
    Private Eric Winn MULDER VX20707 of /2 ARMY FD WKSPS AAOC (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private Herbert Arthur NIEJALKE SX10564 of AAMC 2/2 Field Ambulance (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private William Kitchener CRIDDLE WX17577 of 2/28th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
    Private John Archibald HALLY VX55205 of 2/7th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Injuries)
    Private James Vivian O’BRIEN NX54662 of 2/2nd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)

    Another couple from the Battle of Ceylon gallery:
    Corporal Laurits Theodor LARSON VX21370 of AAMC 2/9 Field Ambulance (AWM ROH = Injuries)
    Acting Staff Sergeant Kevin Edward O’TOOLE VX3725 of 2/5th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Illness)
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    BROWNE RAAF 400516

    BROWNE, Allan John - (Sergeant) 400516 RAAF

    Hurricane Z5447

    8 Miles North East of Ratmalana, Ceylon


    30SQN RAF - aircraft took off to engage Japanese fighters attacking Colombo. He succeeded in shooting down one enemy fighter, but was then attacked from behind and was shot down. The aircraft crashed and burst into flames and the pilot was killed.

    The engagement was seen by members of the Ceylon Light Infantry, who rushed to the crash and extricated the pilot from the burning wreck but he was dead.
  5. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    WATT RAAF 404223 / WHITE RAAF 404191

    WHITE, Sydney Walter (Sergeant) 404191 RAAF & WATT, Noel Alexander (Sergeant) 404223 RAAF

    Blenheim Z7968

    Satmalana near Colombo, Ceylon


    11SQN RAF - aircraft took off on an operational flight from the adjoining aerodrome at Satmalana near Colombo and crashed at 2.15pm as a result of engine failure on take off. Along with other Squadron aircraft Z7968 had been detailed to find and attack 50 seaborne enemy aircraft which had been reported on the north west coast of Ceylon.

    About half way along the runway the pilot cut in plus boost and the aircraft became airborne. At about 50 feet the starboard engine failed and in spite of efforts by the pilot to maintain control, the aircraft swung to the right and spun into coconut trees. The aircraft carried 4 x 250lb bombs.

    The Pilot was killed, and the Air Gunner was dangerously injured and died of his injuries on the same day. The Observer was also badly injured in the accident. Crew: RAAF 404191 Sgt S W White (Captain / Pilot) / RAAF 404223 Sgt N A Watt (Air Gunner) / RAAF 400196 Sgt R D Stair (Observer) – discharged 1946 as a Flying Officer
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    MUTIMER RAAF 400153

    MUTIMER, Stanley Charles - (Flying Officer) 400153 RAAF

    Beaufort W6543

    Colombo, Ceylon


    22 Squadron RAF - aircraft took off from RAF Colombo and struck the roof of a house approx 400 yards from the west end on the runway, and crashed. Crew: RAAF 400153 FO Mutimer, S C (Captain / Pilot) / Flight Lieutenant LEAHY, Ian Stewart (Navigator Bomb Aimer) 404031 RNZAF / RAF Sgt J H Sheriston (Wireless Air Gunner) / RAF Sgt R Simons (Wireless Air Gunner) / Flying Officer SMITH, Basil Le Breton (Pilot) 412525 RNZAF (Pax – 30 Sqn RAF).

    FO Mutimer and Flt Lt Leahy were killed in the crash and FO Smith died shortly after. Sgt’s Sheriston and Simons were seriously injured in the crash.
  7. spidge


    Hi Dave,

    I also now have this lad as an Aussie.

    SANDERS , LESLIE WILLIAM Pilot Officer 3895 217sq RAF 30/04/1943 26 Royal New Zealand Air Force Leslie Sanders was the son of Leslie and Mary Veronica Sanders of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Joyce Sanders of Rochdale, Sydney.

    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 166/4/32 Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Hudson
    Serial number: FH 430
    Radio call sign:
    Unit: ATTD 217 SQN RAF
    Hudson FH430 took off from RAF Vavunia at 0555 hours on 30th April 1943,detailed to
    carry our an anti-submarine NE detector patrol B & C. On return from the patrol the Pilot
    was ordered to carry out an anti-aircraft gun cooperation exercise.
    On the return from the patrol, the pilot dived down to the runway and flew from one end
    to the other about 5 feet off the ground. He then pulled up sharply and climbed to approx
    3000 feet. From approx 2,500 feet he apparently sighted a gun -post position as a target
    and dived straight on the gun position at about a 30 degree angle of dive. He failed to pull
    out at a reasonable height, and it was not until he was approx 100 feet from the ground
    that any apparent effort was made to pull out. Owing to the high speed the aircraft had
    gathered in the dive and to the terrific strain imposed on pulling out, the wings of the
    aircraft pulled back and the fuselage continued on to crash into trees approx 50 yards
    from the runway at RAF Vavunia. The aircraft crashed at 1145 hours and all the crew
    were killed.
    RNZAF PO Sanders, L W Captain (Pilot)
    RAAF 404702 PO Maddison, H L (Pilot)
    RAF Flt Sgt R P Lansdale, (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
    RNZAF Flt Sgt B L McDonald, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RAAF 403488 Flt Sgt P W A Armstrong, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    All the crew are buried in the Colombo (Kanatte) General Cemetery, Sri Lanka.
  8. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Thanks Geoff - that's ARMSTRONG, Peter William Alexander (Flight Sergeant) & MADDISON, Hamilton Lewis (Pilot Officer) accounted for then.

    I have cross-posted the info on MUTIMER onto the New Zealand graves thread for the two RNZAF casualties.
  9. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    NICHOLS, Albert Mervyn (Sergeant) 406256 RAAF

    Blenheim Z7640



    11SQN RAF (incident mentioned in unit ORB downloaded from TNA) - survived: JONES, William Michael (Sergeant) 400256 RAAF (discharged 1945)
  10. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    CARDNO, William Guyan (Sergeant) 404012 RAAF

    Gunshot wound to head (self-inflicted)

    Colombo, Ceylon


    11SQN RAF (AHQ India) - details of death obtained from his digitized NAA casualty file. Wireless Air Gunner (extra info from AWM pdf). Death of member not mentioned in unit ORB downloaded from TNA. AWM ROH cause of death - Accidental (Ground Accident).

    "To oppose this air and sea armada, Colombo was defended by the two Hurricane squadrons. The only bombing force was XI Squadron’s Blenheims. There was a further Hurricane squadron (261) a long way away at Trincomalee on the other side of the island."
  11. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    NEILL, Robert Nason (Flying Officer) 404255 RAAF

    Hurricane 1771

    Colombo, Ceylon


    258SQN RAF - aircraft took off in a formation led by Flt Lt Sharp. The formation was engaged and split up soon after take off in order to attack enemy aircraft which were attacking base. No information is available as to the final action in which Neill was killed, but his body was found by Army officials. His aircraft had crashed near Colombo (AWM pdf).
  12. spidge


    Although Sri Lanka may seem small it is half the size of England.
  13. Mozzertad

    Mozzertad Junior Member

    Sincere thanks you guys. Makes it worth the effort - I hope they're useful your end too. I hope you don't mind me pasting the details you have provided on the photos?

    Dave, there are some Australians in the Battle of Ceylon gallery, plus the WW1 which I think takes it over the forty. Many thanks.
  14. Mozzertad

    Mozzertad Junior Member

    Hi both.

    Just counted three we hadn't uploaded to the Australia gallery.

    Aus Merchant Navy, Purser, L E Pulson, 19/4/44 aged 25

    E J Sandford, gunner, 2/1 Aust FD Regt, 25/5/52 aged 37

    W C Walker, A A MC, 22/5/42, aged 40.
  15. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Thanks Mozzer - post whatever you want to into facebook, all of my info comes from publicly available sources. Hopefully relatives or researchers for any of these casualties will find this info either through this forum or through facebook.

    (they search for the name or service number, arrive on this forum and then see the link to the facebook photos - win-win)

    Any further info I dig up for the AIF soldiers I will add to my first post, unless they warrant their own post due to the amount of info etc.

    I think the photos for Walker & Sandford are already in the Aussie gallery.

    Purser Polson is a new one though.

    I will go have a look in the Battle of Ceylon gallery.


  16. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    From the Battle of Ceylon gallery - CASWELL 404709 RAAF

    CASWELL, Garth Elliott (Flying Officer) 404709 RAAF

    Hurricane BG795



    30SQN RAF - aircraft took off from Ratmalana drome during a general air attack by Japanese aircraft on Colombo. BG795 was seen engaging an enemy aircraft and during the combat BG795 crashed in flames approximately 8 miles north east of Ratmalana drome. (Storr has him with 60SQN)

    Already on page 54 of this thread
  17. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Gunner Bruce CHAPMAN NX21715 of 2/15 Field Regiment RAA (AWM ROH = Died of wounds) (AWM photo)

    Permalink: P06364.001 | Australian War Memorial

    Informal portrait of NX21715 Gunner (Gnr) Bruce Chapman, 2/15 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, of Chatswood, NSW. A member of the militia forces before enlisting with the 2nd AIF on 28 May 1941, Gnr Chapman embarked in late July for Singapore, where the regiment trained at Nee Soon. Throughout January and February 1942, the regiment was involved in heavy fighting against Japanese forces moving down the Malay Peninsula. As a member of C troop, 30th Battery, Gnr Chapman was wounded at Namazie Estate on 27 January 1942, when his gun position was bombed by the Japanese, in an action that saw two other gunners wounded and NX70475 Lieutenant Harry Hingst killed. Gnr Chapman was admitted to 2/13th Australian General Hospital (AGH) near Johore Bahru for immediate treatment, and was embarked by stretcher for 2/12th AGH at Colombo, Sri Lanka, sometime around 10 February, just before Singapore fell to the Japanese. Gnr Chapman died as a result of his wounds and malaria at 2/12th AGH on 19 March 1942, age 21 years. He is buried at Kanatee Cenetary at Colombo.
  18. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    (this is the only AIF member that died of injuries or accidentally that has a digitised personnel file held by the NAA)

    Corporal Laurits Theodor LARSON VX21370 of AAMC 2/9 Field Ambulance (AWM ROH = Injuries)

    Died of injuries sustained when he fell from a roof - broken spine (see attached extract from his file)

    Attached Files:

  19. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Lance Corporal Arthur Edwin DONNELLY NX43971 of 2/2nd Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Accidental) 27 May 1942

    Private Peter Warwick ARMSTRONG NX2625 of 2/1st Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Accidental) 27 May 1942

    According to the war diary of the 2/2nd both of these men were accidentally shot (I presume in two separate incidents) during a large multi-unit exercise. The war diary of the 2/1st doesn’t offer any info on what happened.

    Frustratingly, both diaries refer to a third fatality to a member of the artillery caused by a road accident during the exercise. None of the headstones match so I went to the CWGC site but the only other Aussie casualty in Ceylon around that time was a Sapper with a RAE Field Company.

    (Unless they mean Gunner Ernest John SANDFORD NX3303 of 2/1 Field Regiment RAA (AWM ROH = Injuries) 25 May 1942 - photo of member and private casualty advice from the newspaper attached)

    Attached Files:

  20. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Private John Archibald HALLY VX55205 of 2/7th Battalion (Infantry) (AWM ROH = Injuries) 5 July 1942

    Died from injuries sustained in a grenade training accident. The other men killed outright were buried in COLOMBO (LIVERAMENTU) CEMETERY

    Attached Files:

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