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Plaque - Gull Force

From the Collection of Wangaratta RSL Sub Branch 1 Victoria Parade Wangaratta Victoria

Description
Brown timber in the shape of a shield mounted with a metal a coat of arms depicting white seagull above black and orange diamond within pale blue oval shape.
Size
29cm W x 26cm H
Object Registration
108.1
Keywords
gull force, 2/21 battalion, ambon, ww2
Historical information
Plaque present to Corporal Sperry BODSWORTH MID who served with the 2/21st Battalion and involved with the Battle of Ambon.
On the night of 30-31 January 1942 this small force of 1131 Australian soldiers were stationed at Ambon, an island which formed part of the Netherland East Indies (now Indonesia). An invasion of approximately 20,000 Japanese overwhelmed Gull Force and the majority of the Australian soldiers were taken prisoner.
The execution of 229 at Laha, starvation, over work, disease and the absence of medical supplies led to horrific loss. At the cessation of hostilities only 352 of the original 1131 had made it back to Australia. 779 members of Gull Force made the supreme sacrifice and now lie in foreign fields.
Significance
The Battle of Ambon (30 January – 3 February 1942) occurred on the island of Ambon in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), during World War II. Japan invaded and conquered the island in a few days, facing Dutch, American and Australian forces. The chaotic and sometimes bloody fighting was followed by a series of major Japanese war crimes. Allied casualties in the battle were relatively light. However, at intervals for a fortnight after the surrender, Japanese personnel chose more than 300 Australian and Dutch prisoners of war at random and summarily executed them, at or near Laha airfield. In part, this was revenge for the sinking of the Japanese minesweeper, as some surviving crew of the minesweeper took part.. Three-quarters of the Australians captured on Ambon died before the war's end. Of the 582 who remained on Ambon, 405 died. They died of overwork, malnutrition, disease and one of the most brutal regimes among camps in which bashings were routine.
Blood Oath, a 1990 Australian feature film is based on the real-life trial of Japanese soldiers for war crimes committed against Allied prisoners of war on the island of Ambon, in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), such as the Laha massacre of 1942.
Inscriptions & Markings
Gull Force 2/21 Battalion Ambon Laha
Plaque - Cpl Sperry Bodsworth VX23435 MID
Last updated
3 May 2019 at 5:06PM