Three of the returned servicemen in this photograph were prisoners of war during World War 2. Lew Cooper and Ernie Butler were in Changi Prisoner of War Camp, Singapore from 1942 to 1945. Lew Cooper was a camp bugler. Jim Barnes was a wireless air gunner in 100 Squadron RAAF. In early March 1942 while returning from a mission Jim’s plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a rice field. The crew were eventually captured on 8thMarch1942. He spent 2 years in various prison camps in Java until 3rd June 1944 when 772 prisoners including 267 Australians were sent by ship to Manilla and then on 21st June 1944 on the “Fukvoka 14” for Japan. On 24th June 1944 their ship was sunk by U.S. Submarine “Tang” and only 72 Australians survived after 10 hours clinging to wreckage in the water. They were picked up by a Japanese whale chaser and taken to Nagasaki. Here Jim worked 11 hour days for Mitsubishi Steel until June 1945 when he was sent to work in a coal mine at Omine until war ended. By the end of the war Jim had spent 3½ years as a POW.
It is sad to note that three of the returned servicemen in this photograph all died in May 1993 – Les Fealey 1st May, Ken Nutley 15th May and Lew Cooper 21st May.