Rex Nelson Butler
A.I.F. 8th Division
Rex was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, sent to Changi Prison, then transferred to North Borneo.
Captain `Jock' McLaren hand picked 7 men from the prison (6 A.I.F. one of whom was Rex), each were the best in their field. Rex was a crack marksman.
Others had attempted to escape in pairs and on their own, only to be recaptured.
Rex and the others escaped in dugouts to the Philippines where they joined up with some Americans and Filipinos guerillas where they fought and gathered intelligence for the allies. They are believed to be the only known band of escapees to make it to the Philippines and worked in the province’s of Tawi Tawi and Aiwa Aiwa, where they were very successful.
18th August 1943
Rex and mates were ambushed by Moro Natives on the 18 August 1943. His mates went back for his body a few hours later to find he had been beheaded. His head was found on a pole in the middle of a native village as a warning to friendly natives and Allies.
Out of the eight, only three made it back to Oz.
Rex was awarded the Silver Star medal by the American Post Humus
He is remembered with honour at SA WAN WAR CEMETERY
One Mans War
by H. Richardson
McLaren tried an escape from Changi, Singapore but together with Burnett and Wilkie were caught in Malaya and taken back to Changi after interrogation.
They were then shipped to Kuching, North Borneo, where he first met Rex Butler, a tall, thin, South Australian, who had been a buffalo shooter in the Northern Territory. McLaren picked Rex and Kennedy to escape with him.
Another escape took place on the same night, led by Blow. They met outside the camp but then parted after McLaren party pinched a dug out from a leper colony.
McLaren, Rex Butler and Kennedy paddled all the way to Tawi Tawi and joined the guerrillas on the 13th June 1943, ten days after leaving the pow camp at Kuching.
On the 30th they again met up with Blow, Wagner, Steele, Gillon and Warrant officer Wallace (who had escaped earlier then Blow and McLaren).
Blow was of senior rank and in charge of the party in August. While going through a mangrove swamp towards a hill, Gillon got hit and then Butler received a fatal shot to the chest, killed by Moros. After the Australian's had disposed of the Moros, McLaren went back to get Butler's possessions but could not take the body.
Later the surviving Moros went back and cut off Butlers head and took it to the Japanese garrison on the island of Jolo, to the north of Tawi Tawi.
It was sold for 2000 pesos so the Japanese could mount it on a pole as a public warning.