Frank and fellow soldiers from 2/10 Field Regiment were part of 1000 strong force being sent to Burma by the Japanese to become working
parties. All members of the 2/10 were allocated to 2 Battalion under Majors Kerr and Barraclough. On March 15, A Force was loaded
into trucks and taken to the wharves. Here they were loaded onto the Toyohashi Maru. They were crowded into the holds of the
ship like sardines. The temperatures in the hold were intolerable and as many of the men had dysentrey the smell was foul. Twelve
days after setting off, they arrived off Tavoy in the middle of very bad weather. The men were unloaded into barges to be moved towards
Tavoy. That night they camped in a rice mill before beginning the 40 kilometre march to Tavoy.
Upon arrival at Tavoy, they settled
in at apartially completed airfield and slept in the hangar. A Force spent the next three months finishing the airfield that had been
started by the British. Work was hampered by lack of equipment, heavy rain and deliberate sabotage. Their basic rations were supplemented
by food bought from the locals. In order to keep up morale, concert parties were arranged whenever possible. By the end of September
the airfield was completed and the battalion was marched back to Tavoy. Here they were packed, under worse conditions than their trip
from Singapore, into a small steamer, Unkai Maru, for their trip to Moulmein. Upon arrival the men were herded into open cattle cars
for their train trip to Thanbyuzayat. The men were reorganised into groups of 50, under an Australian Lieutenant, and each man was
given a small wooden disk with his POW number on it.
All of the new arrivals were addressed by the Japanese Commander, Colonel
Nagatoma and were told that anyone trying to escape would be shot and only those who worked would be given rations. The POW's were
there to build a railway to link southern Thailand to Burma. The force was to make a line along the route originally surveyed by the
British but regarded as impractical because of the conditions.
Frank was part of Anderson's Force and marched to the 18km camp
at Alepauk. At this camp the Australians first came into contact with Korean Guards. The initial work was construction of embankments
and each man ws expected to move 0.6 cubic metres of soil per day. As it was seen that this was easy to achieve the quota was soon
increased. By Christmas 1942, one quarter of the men were sick and attended sick parade, mainly through malnutrition and disease.
January 3, Anderson's Force moved to the 35 km camp. here the men were expected to build wooden bridges and culverts. All of this
was done with the most primitive of equipment. The men were under constant abuse, physical and verbal, by the Japanese engineers and
the guards. Beatings with pick handles, bamboo canes and rifle butts were common for the least provocation. the daily quota was also
increased to 2 cubic metres of soil per man per day irrespective of their size or state of health. The men found ways to slow the
work down where ever possible, however this resulted in more beatings. As a punnishment Anderson's Force were moved back to the 26
km camp. Here they became the mobile track laying party. This was the hardest job for the POW's to undertake. One group would carry
the sleepers and place them into position, a second would carry the rails to their position and the third would hammer in the spikes.
They were expected to unload the sleeprs and rails whenever they arrived, night or day.
The mobile track laying crew was then
moved again. This time to the 45km camp at Anarkwan and soon after a further move to the 60km camp. When they settled into the camp
there were some dead native workers there and Cholera was discovered. The camp was completely sanitised as the Japanese were terrified
of Cholera, however, 16 cases of Cholera developed, seven of which were fatal. By now the wet season had arrived and Malaria started
to occur. The whole area became thick with mud and slush but the men had to continue working in the torrential rain. Conditions were
not much better when they moved to the 70km camp as it was a sea of mud and mosquitoes and sandflies made life difficult. Almost as
much as the Japanese.
In order to speed up the progress the POW's were expected to work 24 hour shifts at times and, with the
distance from Thanbyuzayat increasing and the wet weather continuing, the rations were often late and limited to mainly rice and sweet
By early August the force had advanced to the 84km camp. Here all those that couldn't continue working were shipped back,
by train, to the 55km camp hospital. In September they were moved in open trucks to the 95km camp. By the beginning of October they
crossed the Thai/Burma border at Three Pagoda Pass to set up at the 116km camp. By now the wet season was ending but the rain had
damaged the road so badly that rations deliveries were often delayed. a combination of delayed food, poor quality food and the Japanese
policy of 'no work, no food' saw a dramatic decrease in the morale of the weakened men.
Anderson's track laying crew made their
final move to the 131km camp and it was while they were here that the was joined to the west bound track at the 145km mark. During
this period there was frantic effort by the Japanese to have the line finished. They forced the men to work for up to 33 hours straight
at time to achieve their goal on October 17, 1943.
After the line was joined, Anderson's crew were used to spread ballast along
On the 13th of December 1943, at the 131km camp, Frank finally lost his battle with malaria and dysentery
and died. He was initially buried in the camp cemetery but in December 1945 he was transferred to the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery (Grave