People - John Andrew Edward Cameron
Born: 15 July 1910. Died: 1 July 1942.
Son of James and Margaret Cameron of Fife, Scotland
John was born on 15 July 1910, the youngest of a family of five boys and three girls. Educated at Wemyss school he lived with his family at 21 Wellsgreen Place, Rosie, Fife. His father worked in the local coal mine along with some of his siblings. They also worked at local farms or in domestic service.
In 1926 John emigrated to Western Australia to join his brother, Bill, who had gone there a few years earlier. They later moved to Victoria where Bill settled in Dandenong and John in Barooga near Cobram in Northern Victoria. John worked as a labourer and horse driver and co-owned an orchard with two other UK ex-patriots.
In October 1939 John enlisted in an irregular AIF Battalion and on 14 June 1940 joined as a regular at Caulfield, Melbourne. He carried out initial training at Balcombe on Port Phillip Bay. On 31 July 1940 John along with 118 other ranks arrived at Campsite 26, Trawool, Seymour, where the 2/22 trained until marching as a unit to Bonegilla on the Murray River on 24 September 1940. It was here that John is listed in the war diary as attending dental parade at 1330 hrs on 2 December 1940. As this is the only medical parade he appears on, he obviously was of good health and had good or no teeth!
At Bonegilla John completed his training and embarked for Rabaul on 11 March 1941 as part of the first main contingent. He was detailed as one of the 38 other ranks in 12 Platoon B Company along with Stan Cameron, Rus Kelly, Sydney McGregor, Horrie Newman, Harry Stewart and Arn Woodhead. The only mention of John at Rabaul is on 9 September 1941 when he was awarded three days extra guard duty by Lt Dowse, B Company subaltern, for sleeping on guard duty. Jack Moyle, B Company corporal, who escaped with Captain MacInnes, remembers John as 'a good trooper, a jovial chap and always ready for a laugh'.
B Company's defensive area throughout their tour of duty at Rabaul was behind Rabaul town defending the beaches at Ramalupal and Tavula, also Rateval and Tunnel Hill Pass on the road from Rabaul. Just before the invasion of 23 January 1942 they were moved to 3 Ways to support A Company at Vulcan.
Jack Moyle last saw John at Harvey's Plantation about a week after the invasion with 30 others, including Stanley Cameron, Horrie Newman and James Parker, commanded by an officer. They went towards a jetty at Harvey's to surrender to the Japanese as they were 'wet through, hungry and buggered'. They thought that if they were POWs then their families would know they were alive.
John's service record shows him posted missing, presumed POW on 25 January 1942 and later presumed dead on the Montevideo Maru.
© Thomas Hollerin 2005
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