Forgotten battles of the Second World War

Taken coming out of central station in Sydney – Walter Richardson, Richard Grimshaw and Abraham Petty – all killed in action, best mates immortalised.
Taken coming out of central station in Sydney – Walter Richardson, Richard Grimshaw and Abraham Petty – all killed in action, best mates immortalised.


FOUR friends stopped and posed for a photograph outside Central Station in Sydney, having recently enlisted together to serve in the second World War.

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Abraham (Abe) Petty, Walter (Wally) Richardson, Richard (Dick) Grimshaw and Ernest (Darby) Munro were good mates, originally placed together in the 2nd company 2/20th Battalion before being split up later during service.

Abe, Wally, Dick and Darby were all killed in action, and did not return home.

Wally, who ended up serving as a Gunner with the 17th Anti-Tank Unit, had a wife and a two-year-old daughter at home.

His daughter Joan, a Medowie resident, grew up hearing stories about her father, his time in the war, and stories of the battles.

Seventy-five years on, and she feels that some of these stories have been overlooked.

She spoke to News Of The Area about two of the stories she carries with her.

“One important battle we don’t hear about is a place called the Tol Plantation, where soldiers were mercilessly killed in horrific circumstances, and left there in the jungle,” Joan said.

“My father was one of these men killed here, and I urge people to do some reading and learn about this horrific episode in WWII, and what happened to these brave young diggers.”

With Wally’s life taken at Tol Plantation, and Abe making the ultimate sacrifice at a place called Ambor Island, their mates Dick and Darby died tragically in the often overlooked tragedy of Montevideo Maru, the second of Joan’s stories to share of overlooked battles.

The Montevideo Maru was a Japanese Motor Vessel that was torpedoed off Luzon in the Philippines by an American Submarine, unaware that the vessel had Australian Prisoners of War and many other innocent civilians on board.

Sadly, they were left to drown in the hold of the ship, never given a chance to escape.

On board were over 1000 victims, consisting of nuns, nurses, priests, soldiers and civilians.

Joan said, “The 75th anniversary of these events has recently passed without fanfare.”

“Maybe, even though next year it will be 76 years, someone may pause and remember that after all this time, their lives were not given in vain.”

“There are families who still feel the loss and pain of their family member to this day.”


By Rachael VAUGHAN

3 thoughts on “Forgotten battles of the Second World War

  1. Hi Rachael, my late father was one of 6 to survive the Tol Plantation Massacre. Could I make contact with Joan as I have photos folllowing 2 visits to Tol in the past 18 months. My first was a short documentary with Mark Donaldson VC as shown on Channel 7.

    Happy to send you the link which could be passed onto Joan



  2. So thankful to read Rachael Vaughn’s article, which fills in some blanks re Our Uncle Dick (Grimshaw).mum, aged 94 could not remember his friends names. So sad a time. Good that now all is being remembered

  3. Hi my grandfather was murdered at Tol Thomas Webb 2/10 Field Ambulance, my nan sent presents every Christmas believing he was alive. Revenge is good two of his brothers Alexander (Sandy) Webb, Military Cross and Bob exacted their revenge till the end of the war. Never forget.

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