I follow, with interest, the blog of ‘GP COX’ called ‘Pacific Paratrooper’ – it had captured my attention some time ago as it was a blog that reflected, as the title suggests, the Pacific theatre operations in WW2. It’s an area of war history that is sometimes overlooked but it’s one that has had a profound effect on Australia and its people.
This theatre of war came right to our doorstep – Broome, Darwin and Sydney were all in receipt of Japanese ‘interest’ during the War. Things might well have turned out differently for Australia, had the Japanese actions not been repelled.
Major Clarence Barton Dawkins, graduate of Royal Military College Duntroon, died in Singapore. His older brother, Lieutenant William Henry Dawkins, was also a graduate of the College and had been killed in WW1 at Gallipoli.
G.P. Cox’s most recent post summarises well the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces – Japan – a part of the Australian war service and history that is often overlooked. It reminded me that my mother talked often as to how my uncle had badgered his mother to let him sign up. Eventually he managed a permission form somehow (I suspect not legally) and off he went. It was as a member of the BCOF- Japan he was posted.
This image, dated 1946, is a tiny photo of Frank taken reflected in the window of a shop – the original is smaller than the reproduction on this page (it measures barely 4cm long). To me, this is the equivalent of a modern ‘selfie’.
Frank sent his mother another image that has survived – with an annotation on the back giving his regiment, HQ Sigs, based in Kure.
The photo was obviously double exposed but I’m guessing any mother would be pleased to see her son in reasonable shape when he was so far away.
Reverse: A search for Frank’s enlistment and service record details on the NAA website reveals nothing and I have always wondered whether he enlisted under a false name – which is quite likely knowing what a rapscallion he was! Other Australian military researchers who had specialised in this area told me he, in his real name, isn’t on any lists as having been part of the BCOF they have; so it’s looking more and more likely he used some deception to get there.
Born in 1927, Frank would have been just 18 or 19 when he first went to Japan. He told me when I was young, he spent two years there – he learned a little of the language and used it on odd occasions when, as a teenager, I stayed with he and his wife. He must have admitted to his deception at some point, as later in life he was admitted to the R.S.L. as a former serving member, and he received government veteran health care support when he became ill.
Photography and film technology always intrigued him and, in the 60’s particularly, it was not uncommon to find him staggering in at all hours, having been out filming and processing newsreel footage for television stations. His years with the Education Department saw him work in the Audio Visual unit (AVEC) making films. Later years saw him with a ‘retirement’ career as a film and TV actor and extra and small investor in the Australian film industry.
I can’t confirm his enlistment and I can’t ask him as he passed away in 2008.
One of these days, I might uncover those records that tell the official version of his service but, in the meantime, I like to remember ‘that man‘ who was a significant and wickedly mischievous influence on my life.