Barry recalls his father's Sandakan march bravery
BARRY Galton was only four-years-old when his father Daniel, went off to war in 1939.
Those first four years were to be the only ones he had with him.
Former Lismore resident Barry, who now lives on the Gold Coast as a semi-retired journalist and historian, said his father was working as a compositor with The Northern Star when he enlisted as a private in the 2/20 Battalion, aged 34.
"His battalion was in Singapore when it fell," Barry said of his father who was one of 2500 allied troops captured as a Prisoner of War (POW) by the Japanese in 1942.
"They were locked up and taken to Sandakan, in Borneo, where they were to build an aerodrome for the Japanese."
Sandakan, he said, proved to be a hellish experience, described as one of the sorriest Australian episodes of the war.
Barry said his father spent most of the war years in POW camps, surviving death marches to another POW camp at Ranau, towards the end of the war.
"My father survived the death marches as he had a fair bit of bush craft knowledge and was able to help his comrades know which plants were edible along the way," he said.
However, according to war crime trials, Daniel Galton was executed at Ranau.
"This was confirmed at the war crimes trials by a Lismore Barrister Athol Moffatt," Barry said.
"He was 40 when he died he would have turned 100 this year."
Sadly, Barry said his father died not knowing he had won a commission for outstanding bravery in the field.
"The day Singapore fell, he wiped out Japanese machine gun posts and had half his hand blown off," he said. "It was an horrific episode from start to finish."
There are no survivors from those episodes today, but Barry joins relatives of the victims, including 14 from the Northern Rivers, in organising memorials throughout Australia.
Barry and fellow members of the Old Sandakan Association are holding a 9am service this Anzac Day at the Sandakan Memorial, New Farm Park, Brisbane.