Spencer Henry WALKLATE

Male 1918 - 1945  (27 years)


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  • Name Spencer Henry WALKLATE 
    Born 11 Jan 1918  Maclean, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Education 1923  Wardell, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Wardell Public School 
    Employment New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Police Officer 
    Sport 1943  Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Rugby League 
    • Spencer played for St George in 1943:
      Walklate, Spencer, St George, 1943, 15 games.
      2t, 3g (12pts) Promising career tragically cut short in 1943 when listed as missing in action during WWII.
    Military Service 31 Dec 1943 to 13 Apr 1945  [4
    World War 2 
    • Lance Corporal
      SPENCER HENRY WALKLATE
      Service number: NX202843
      Service: Australian Army
      Date of Birth: 11 January 1918
      Place of Birth: BUSHGROVE, NSW
      Date of Enlistment: 31 December 1943
      Locality on Enlistment: BONDI JUNCTION, NSW
      Place of Enlistment: PADDINGTON, NSW
      Next of Kin: WALKLATE, LINDA
      Date of Death: 13 April 1945
      Posting on Death: "Z" Special Unit

      Casualty Details
      Name: WALKLATE, SPENCER HENRY
      Initials: S H
      Nationality: Australian
      Rank: Lance Corporal
      Regiment: Australian Infantry
      Unit Text: A.I.F. 'Z' Special Unit
      Age: 27
      Date of Death: 13/04/1945
      Service No: NX202843
      Additional information: Son of Spencer Henry and May Hope Walklate; husband of Linda Maude Walklate, of Bondi Junction, New South Wales.
      Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
      Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 2.
      Cemetery: LAE MEMORIAL


      Spencer Walklate, tortured, murdered, lost in the mud but never forgotten

      Daniel Lane
      Published: April 25, 2014 - 12:52AM

      "After capture, they were beaten with sticks, slapped in the face and kicked by some of the accused. It was then decided to execute the PW [prisoner of war].

      "One prisoner whilst awaiting his execution was beaten about the feet and legs to such an extent that he could not stand. He was thereupon executed where he was then sitting by being struck a heavy blow (by a sword) on the back of the neck ...The second PW was then executed by shooting ..."

        - Evidence for Japanese War Crimes regarding the deaths of Lance-corporal Spencer Walklate and Private Ron Eagleton

      Spencer Walklate, according to the lone survivor of the ill-fated mission that resulted in the St George prop's torture and death, was a strapping fellow, a family man and tough enough to walk the beat as a cop around Redfern's meanest streets.

      Walklate, a father of two, was also courageous enough to join the top secret Z Special Unit - now known as the SAS - despite the army's only promise to volunteers was they'd get a wooden cross when they were killed. As a member of a unit that undertook missions such as paddling into Singapore Harbour to sink Japanese ships, the odds were stacked against the footballer returning home.

      In April 1945, Walklate was one of eight men selected for Operation Copper - named after Walklate's occupation - to conduct a reconnaissance of Muschu Island off the north coast of Papua New Guinea. Military intelligence wanted to confirm whether the two Japanese long-range guns were still in position because they'd pose a deadly risk to the Australian invasion of Wewak.

      Mick Dennis, 94, and a recipient of the Military Medal, recalled befriending the front-rower, who played 15 games for the Dragons in 1943, during the lead-up to the mission.

      "I get asked a lot about Spencer but I didn't know him for that long," Dennis says. "For the time I knew him we were pretty close. He didn't have to join up; he was in a protected service. He was a family man but he wanted to do his bit - a decent fellow. 

      "I asked where he was stationed, and Spencer said 'Regent Street'. I spent time instructing the police at the barracks, and my father was in the police force, so we had that in common.

      "I didn't know he was a footballer until we spoke. I grew up in Clovelly and was going to trial for Easts. I played beach football, a hard game because you're running on the bloody sand, and you'd play against blokes like [prop Jack] Arnold from Easts and at 5 foot 9 I'd get in 'n tackle 'em.

      "As it turned out, we lived less than a kilometre apart but it took a war for us to meet. You could tell he was a prop; big and strong. I can picture him as if he's here now ... [the Japanese] butchered them, the bastards. If I'd known that at the time I would've gone on a proper warpath ..."

      Operation Copper was seemingly doomed from the start. The commandos disembarked a navy patrol boat in pitch darkness and torrential rain at 2am and paddled ashore. The current was cruel, and while Dennis's craft became stuck on what he thought was coral, Walklate's was swamped by the surf. Equipment was swept overboard and the one radio that survived the landing was too wet to use. The group's signallers took it apart, let it dry and buried it before they continued their mission.

      Some of the lost equipment was washed ashore, and when the Japanese found it the island became a hunting ground with 1000 troops in pursuit of the eight. Their situation desperate, Walklate and three others headed to sea on logs in the hope they'd be spotted by a plane or a patrol boat. Two men drowned, while Walklate and Eagleton were captured.

      Dennis and the three others returned to where they'd buried the radio but were ambushed. Dennis escaped and made a blood oath as he fought on alone. "I thought, 'I'm on an island where there's no way off. My boys were killed or captured, and if they're going to kill my mates I'll kill as many of them as I can.'"

      After days of hunger, killing and surviving close calls, Dennis, whose sister Clara won the gold medal for the 200 metres breastroke at the 1932 Olympics, eventually found a plank which he used to cross the shark-infested waters to PNG. He spent 10 terrifying hours in the water, circled by a shark: "I wasn't so scared of the Japs but the bloody shark terrified me."

      Walklate was killed days before Dennis made his escape. The remains of Eagleton and Walklate were discovered in an old Japanese medical dump last year. While the discovery provided closure for their families and friends, the file that contained evidence - including the confession by Waichi Ogawa that he murdered Walklate with one blow from his sword - created an outrage because, despite the barbaric treatment the Australians endured, their government wilted under pressure from America to wrap the war crime trials up and didn't pursue those involved in the murders who didn't follow Ogawa's lead and commit suicide .

      Lance-corporal Spencer Walklate, a one-time Dragons prop lost in the mud for 68 years, was never forgotten by Z Special Unit. This Anzac Day a much larger number will salute a special Saint when The Last Post sounds at 4pm before the Roosters-Dragons match.


      This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/spencer-walklate-tortured-murdered-lost-in-the-mud-but-never-forgotten-20140424-zqywt.html
    Sport Bondi, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Surf Lifesaver 
    Died 13 Apr 1945  Muschu Island, Papua New Guinea Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Buried Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Memorial at Lae Memorial
      Panel 2

      In Memory of
      Lance Corporal SPENCER HENRY WALKLATE

      NX202843, A.I.F. 'Z' Special Unit, Australian Infantry
      who died age 27
      on 13 April 1945
      Lance Corporal WALKLATE, Son of Spencer Henry and May Hope Walklate; husband of Linda Maude Walklate, of Bondi Junction, New South Wales.

      Remembered with honour
      LAE MEMORIAL

      WALKLATE, SPENCER HENRY

      Rank: Lance Corporal
      Service No: NX202843
      Date of Death: 13/04/1945
      Age: 27
      Regiment/Service: Australian Infantry A.I.F. 'Z' Special Unit
      Grave Reference: C8. E. 23.
      Cemetery: PORT MORESBY (BOMANA) WAR CEMETERY
      Additional Information:Son of Spencer Henry and May Hope Walklate; husband of Linda Maude Walklate, of Bondi Junction, New South Wales.
    Person ID I920  Colston & Wenck families in Australia
    Last Modified 3 Apr 2017 

    Father Spencer Henry John William WALKLATE,   b. 07 Jun 1887, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Oct 1954, Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years) 
    Mother May Hope ASHTON,   b. Abt 1894,   d. 09 Feb 1955, Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 61 years) 
    Married 08 Jul 1914  Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F281  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Linda Maude O'KEEFFE,   b. 1912, Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Sep 1998, Wyoming, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Married 31 Jan 1938  Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 7
    • North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW : 1913 - 1955), Monday 14 February 1938, page 5

      WEDDING

      A very quiet wedding took place at St. Joseph's Presbytery on Monday 31st January, when Linda Maude, (fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. J. O'Keeffe, of Gunnedah, and Spencer Henry, second son of Sergt. and Mrs. Walklate, of Narrabri, were united in the holy bonds of matrimony by Rev. Father Walsh.
      The bride looked very sweet in a frock of powder blue georgette with dainty trimmings of cream lace, with which she wore a small navy straw hat.
      Miss Mona O'Keeffe attended her sister as bridesmaid and chose a frock of cream silk sheer with white accessories.
      Mr. V. Grogan acted as best man.
      Afterwards at the home of the bride Mrs. T. J. O'Keeffe entertained a small number of guests.
      The happy couple will make their future home at Glen Innes. [5]
    Children 
    +1. Living
    +2. Living
    +3. Terence Joseph "Terry" WALKLATE,   b. 06 Feb 1945, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Mar 1985, Aberdeen, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years)
    Last Modified 27 Oct 2016 
    Family ID F108  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 11 Jan 1918 - Maclean, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEducation - Wardell Public School - 1923 - Wardell, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsEmployment - Police Officer - - New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 31 Jan 1938 - Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsSport - Rugby League - 1943 - Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsSport - Surf Lifesaver - - Bondi, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 13 Apr 1945 - Muschu Island, Papua New Guinea Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend Address Cemetery Farm Town Parish City County/Shire State/Province Country Region Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S3] NSW Federation 1889-1918 BDM, (Published by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in association with the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages NSW August 1993).

    2. [S177] Ballina & Richmond River Genweb, (http://www.rootsweb.com/~nswballi/schools/wardell_enrolments.htm), Wardell School Enrolments 1923.

    3. [S178] History of St George Illawarra Dragons, (http://www.showroom.com.au/dragons/dragonshistory/history_players_wxyz.htm).

    4. [S72] WW2 Nominal Roll [database on-line], (http://www.ww2roll.gov.au), Service number: NX202843.

    5. [S342] Australian Newspapers, National Library of Australia, 1938 'WEDDING', The North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW : 1913 - 1955), 14 February, p. 5. , viewed 27 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133302289.

    6. [S30] NSW Between the wars 1919-1945 Deaths & Marriages, (Published by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in association with the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages NSW), 1938/5023.

    7. [S342] Australian Newspapers, National Library of Australia, 1938 'Recent Weddings', The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), 4 March, p. 22. , viewed 27 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article104152877.