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Document Details


Title: Ray Wheeler
Document type: Oral history
Accessibility: Free Only
Repository: Victoria. State Library. Special Collections. Australian Manuscripts Collection
Collection: Victorians at War - Oral History Project
Description: Ray spent his early life in Swan Hill, Victoria, before his family moved to a farm in the Yarra Valley. He worked as an apprentice printer with the Lilydale Express until he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at 17 years old in 1941. Ray trained at Puckapunyal in the Armoured Division as a signaler-electrician and was sent to Singapore in January 1942. Within a month he was reported missing and taken prisoner by the Japanese. In February 1942 the Japanese marched him and other prisoners to a camp at Changi, Singapore. A few months later he was moved on and transported to Burma camps at Ye and then Moulmein. In late October he was moved onto Thanbyuzayat and Bangpong, staging places for the Thai-Burma railway. The prisoner of war camp in which Ray was held moved regularly as the railway progressed until its completion in September 1943. After the railway was finished Ray was part of a group that stayed on to produce supplies for the trains. When no longer needed, Ray was told he was to join No.1 Japan Party and was sent to Tarsao and then Tamarkan in Thailand. He continued to be moved about as the Japanese attempted to avoid the Allied Forces and traveled to Bangpong, Bankok, Phnom Penh, Saigon, Kuala Lumper and eventually back to Singapore. In September 1944 he was told to board a Japanese troopship. The ship was attacked and sunk but Ray was rescued by the submarine USS Queenfish. He was sent back to Australia in October 1944 to recover. When his health improved Ray was sent to Murchison, Victoria, to guard Japanese prisoners. He was then posted to Italy in August 1945 and supervised the release of prisoners from camps in Europe. Ray returned to Australia in January 1946 and was discharged from the AIF in March 1946.
Original Language: English
Audio: [Audio available]
Speaker: Wheeler, Ray
Speaker gender: Male
Speaker race: White
Speaker occupation: Military personnel
Document date: Undated
Organizations discussed: Australia. Army
Historical events discussed: World War II, 1939-1945
Locations discussed: Asia; Australia; Oceania; Singapore; Victoria, Australia
Topics discussed - ASP terms: Asia; Australia; Australia. Army; Australia--Armed Forces; Australia--History; Australia--Military policy; Oceania; Oral history; Prisoners of war; Singapore; Victoria, Australia; World War II, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Veterans
ASP release: 2005-06
Document code: OHI0026775-28950