Each year we are able to enjoy the spectacular floral display on the Poinciana tree near the Dayboro Medical Centre but how many people stop to read the plaque on the boulder in the garden bed under the tree honouring Jim Barnes.
405034 WARRANT OFFICER JAMES DAWSON (JIM) BARNES
25.5.1916 – 22.9.2003
Jim enlisted in RAAF in June 1940. After training as a Wireless Air Gunner he was posted to Selantar Air Base Singapore. In Sept 1941 he was assigned to 100 RAF Squadron flying Vickers Wilde Beeste – a 1929 vintage bi-plane with top speed of 130 MPH. Their Squadron flew night missions against Japanese at Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur and Batu Pahat and day raids on the Japanese sea force on the east coast of Malaya losing 8 out of 12 planes in one operation.
Early March while returning from a mission Jim’s plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a rice field. The crew were eventually captured on 8.3.1942. He spent 2 years in various prison camps in Java until 3.6.1944 when 772 prisoners including 267 Australians were sent by ship to Manilla and then on 21.6.1944 on the “Fukvoka 14” for Japan. On 24.6.1944 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 he 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.
He was discharged late 1945 and settled in Dayboro. He owned and operated the drapery store from 1946 to 1975 now occupied by these shops. He became involved in most local organizations – RSL, School P & C, Bush Fire Brigade, Rodeo, War Memorial and Show Society Association.
He planted this Poinciana tree in 1955. A lasting tribute to his memory.
Hopefully the tree did not suffer too much as a result of the October storm.