NX26029 Owen Smith
The following commenced with a 2/18th new
book order back in Aug 2008. We would like to thank Linda Ottery for her
kind agreement to allow it's inclusion here on the 2/18th web site.
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My uncle, Pte. Owen Smith from Glen Innes,
was a member of the 2/18 Bt. He was taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore, &
was transported to Sandakan, Borneo, where he died in June 1945. I am trying to
gather as much information as possible on the circumstances of his short life.
Thanks for such a quick response & apologies for my tardiness in replying. I
often do Internet searches, looking for extra information, or new books on
Sandakan. My mother started the research many years ago, and since her death,
the role family historian has passed to me. I just stumbled upon your page the
night I first contacted you.
The death of Uncle Owen deeply affected my family - he was the only brother of
my father (both orphaned when my Dad was 4 years old). After Dad's passing, I
found a letter from Owen that he had carried in his wallet for the pat 60 years
- very faint and hardly readable. I had the letter restored, and am in the slow
process of transcribing it. It was written before the fall of Singapore, sharing
what his days were like & giving my Dad advice on how to conduct himself (at
that time Dad was too young to join & was in the Citizen's Militia). I was also
fascinated with the letter on your website by Major Okey. It gave a good insight
to the events leading up to their capture.
Owen actually made it to Ranau on the 2nd march, but died the next day.
Sometimes I feel, that had those men been saved, my Dad & our family life would
have been very different, but we must accept things as they are & go on. But I
want my boys & others to know & remember just what those men went through, &
eventually history may stop repeating itself.
I have attached 2 photos of Owen, and have a scanned copy of his letter &
another photo of a group of soldiers that Owen sent home from Singapore.
I should tell you Owen's factual details.
Pte. Owen Smith NX26029
Born: 3 February 1920 (Glen Innes NSW)
Enlisted: 14 June 1940 (Paddington NSW)
2/18 Battalion B Coy.
Disembarked Singapore 18 Feb. 1941
Transported to Sandakan ?
Died: 27 June 1945, Ranau, Borneo
I have attached a
the original & only letter we have from Owen (obviously his last)
which I am still in the process of
transcribing. When that is completed, I will send you a copy if you wish. Also
attached is a scanned copy of a poor photo I found of Owen & others taken in
Malaya. If you would like more detail of his family background, I would be happy
to pass along what I know.
I received the book & was thrilled.
Information that can fill in some of the blanks in his life as a POW - it's
I also noticed in one of your newsletters that another 2/18th member, who passed
away recently, was named Owen Smith (could be confusing, except that he was a
Lance Sergeant & Uncle Owen was only a Private!.)
Please pass on my respects to his remaining family.
Meanwhile, I will keep on transcribing - one line at a time, and might write
something more detailed for your site. It is something I have wanted to do for a
long time now. It may turn out that these family histories get put
together sooner now, rather than later.
The above are
excerpts from e-mail between Linda and the webmaster between Aug 2008 and Feb
We wish to also remind you
that the story is provided with written permission of Linda Ottery on behalf of
her uncle. This permission does not permit the copy, electronic or
otherwise of the material presented for ANY use, personal or commercial, without
the express written permission of the
Secretary of the 2/18th Battalion (AIF) Association.
Page created 13 April, 2009. Last Updated
13 Apr 2009 10:42:16 +1000