This Prisoner of War Post (Service des Prisonniers de Guerre) cover was addressed to NXE5101, Captain Sandy E.J. Robertson, Australian P.O.W., Zentsuji War Prison Camp, Shikoku Island, Japan. Ir had the usual Australian red Opened by Censor and the purple boxed Passed by Censor hand stamp, as well as a purple Japanese censor ‘chop’. The cover was posted from Melbourne on 10 March and it incorrectly appears to be dated 1946 (Figure 1).
He was identified in two lists, the first on the WW2 Nominal Roll of the Australian War Museum, as:
Name: ROBERTSON, SANDY EDWIN JOHN
Service: Australian Army
Service Number: NX35101 (N74526)
Date of Birth: 18 OCT 1915
Place of Birth: COLLACENALIN (No such place)
Date of Enlistment: 5 Jun 1940
Locality on Enlistment: BELLEVUE HILL, NSW
Place of Enlistment: PADDINGTON NSW
Next of Kin: ROBERTSON, FREDERICK
Date of Discharge: 26 Nov 1945
Posting at Discharge: 2/10 Field Ambulance
WW2 Honours & Gallantry: None for Display
Prisoner of War: Yes
The second was a listing of Australian, New Zealand & Fijian P.O.W. (1942-45) at Zentsuji Camp, Japan which had a note stating that most of the Australians were moved to Hakodate, Japan and rescued at Hakodate Camp #4. He was one of the 98 Australians originally at Zentsuji, where there were also troops from Britain and USA. His listing was as follows:
ROBERTSON, "Sandy" E.J., Capt., R.A.A.M.C. (2/10 Field Ambulance), AIF, (Rabaul), New Britain. The latter was the place of his capture, and the information in brackets was found in a third list: POWs and Missing of the Far East and South West Pacific Islands.
No further information could be found for Captain Robertson in previous or later civilian life.
There is considerable information about the Zentsuji Camp which is on an island at the southmost part of Japan. Of interest is the notification of the Allied Prisoners by air-drop that Japan had surrendered and that clothing, food, medicine, towels, soap and insecticide powder would be included in the bundles (Figure 2).
The bunks at Zentsuji Prison Camp are shown in Figure 3.
The forced employment of the men marching off for labour is shown in Figure 4.
The plan of the Zentsuji P.O.W. Camp which was operated in 1942-45 is shown in Figure 5.
One would have hoped for more information on this man.
Addendum (August 2009): Totally out of the blue and 25 months later, I received an email from a Louisa Wright from Australia asking whether I had more information on Captain Robertson. She supplied information to me as follows: " He left Zentsuji diabetic and blind in one eye but resumed his medical career, became a paediatrician in Double Bay, had two daughters and lived to 1988".
"I am trying to chase up a card delivered to his wife Gwenda in 1943, which was the first information she had about him since the fall of Rabaul. It is said to have been a part of a mail bag dropped over Darwin by a japanese reconnaissance plane". Unfortunately I could give her no help in this matter. Thank you, Louisa.
Addendum (April 2010): A reader married to a grandaughter of Sandy Robertson has provided a photo of Dr. Sandy Robertson when he was a P.O.W. in Zentsuji as shown in the following Figure 6.
Thank you, Daniel.
Addendum (September 2011): Four years after the original paper was written another cover was found, sent to to Capt. Sandy Robertson (Figure 7).
The reverse was seen and it was sent by his wife, Mrs. Sandy Robertson from Homebush, Sydney N.S.W.