Monday, 7 November 2011

Lest We Forget III

As we continue this week to remember those who served in our military a look at some brothers who served...

Harry William Flintoff Appleton (1910 – 1995) 

A career soldier, Harry Appleton graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932 and  joined the Governor General’s Horse Guard in 1937. He served in Italy and Holland during WW2.  From 1946-49, he served as Resident Staff Officer at U of T’s department of Military Studies. He was then attached to the Department of National Defence in Ottawa where he served a tour of duty with the British Army of Occupation in Germany and with British Military Intelligence in England. He returned to Ottawa about 1954 to a DND desk job punctuated by a year’s service as Field Officer in Waiting to then Governor General Vincent Massey. Due to retire in 1960, he asked for a last active duty posting and was assigned the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Jerusalem.

Lt. Col. Harry Appleton leading the delegation from the cenotaph in Jerusalem

Thus he became one of Canada’s first Peacekeepers, helping supervise the Arab/Israeli borders in 1959/60 from border outposts in Jericho, Ramallah, Jenin and Gaza.  Harry retired from the military in late 1960 , took up residence in England and began a second career as a teacher of Mathematics. His third career – in computer science kept him busy and fulfilled from his retirement from teaching to his death at age 85. Harry died in England, but his ashes were returned to Sturgeon Lake and were scattered on the water near the family cottage that he loved and always made a point of returning to on his regular visits from England.

and his brother...

Pilot Office Arthur Richard Appleton
Arthur Appleton, July 1940

He had enlisted on June 25, 1940. From July 1940 to November 1941 he served in the Europe theater. In November 1941, he sailed from Liverpool on the MS Johann Von Oldenbarnvelt, the Nederland Line’s colonial mailship that ran service from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies.  In January 1941, she was allocated to the Allies and converted for trooping duties. She was able to carry 4,000 troops. Throughout the war, she sailed through enemy-infested water without damage. She became known as the "Lucky Ship."
With his mates on the MS Johann Von Oldenbarnvelt

They arrived in Durban, South Africa, in late November/early December 1941.  Duban was a major R&R centre. 

From there in January they set sail on the SS City of Canterbury.  A former coal ship, the conditions on board were so appalling that a muntiny was staged.  The complaints were investigated and found to be justified by the men who had "mutinied" were found to have been guilty of disobeying a direct order and sentanced to between one and three years hard labour.  Ironically, the mutineers ended up safe in India while those who had boarded sailed on to Singapore and Batavia.
On board the SS City of Canterbury

On February 5, 1942, the SS City of Canterbury with Arthur Appleton on board came into Singapore just as the Japanese launched their attack on the city. The other ships in the convoy, the Empress of Asia and the Felix Roussel, were beached and burnt out.  City of Canterbury made it.

The City of Canterbury continued with all speed to Batavia, docking at the Tanjong Prioke Docks at the Port of Batavia on Java.

The Canadians disembarked and headed into Batavia where rumours swirled about the advancing Japanese.  Arthur Appleton headed to the hills.  This picture of Buitenzorg is the last picture he took befre being captured by the Japanese.
Arthur Appleton was a POW on from February 1942 until the end of the war.  On Thursday, July 15, 1943, the Toronto Daily Star noted that "Sgt. A.R. Appleton is prisoner of war.

 During that time he was able to send home two scripted cards.

Rather than gaining weight and playing baseball, Arthur had been put to work on the Sumatran Railway. "They ate starch and rats, they died of exhaustion dysentery and tropical sores, but on 15 August 1945, the last year of the war, and the day that the red Japanese sun finally went down, the death railway from Pakan Baru to Muara was ready. The last nail that the scarred survivors drove into the last sleeper in the Sumatran jungle was one of copper. As tradition has it, for lack of a gold one.

The railway line built by Dutch, English and Australian prisoners of war and by press-ganged Javanese slave labour (Romushas) through marshy forest of central Sumatra under orders from Japanese occupiers had taken a toll in human lives… it is certain that the remains of thousands … lie under the sleepers of a railway line which was never to see a train after 1945. All the suffering in this case was for nothing. The railway line no longer exists. Kilometres of rail have been looted or sold as scrap iron. And what remains is slowly rusting away in the stagnant black marsh water of the impenetrable Sumatran Jungle."

This sketch was in Arthur Appleton's photo album.

Like so many others, Arthur Appleton finally came home.  He was honourably released on March 7, 1946.  He was awarded to CVSM and clasp, the 1939-1945 Star, the Aircrew Europe Star and the Pacific Star.  He built a life, married, had a family, and came back to Sturgeon Point.

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