A.I.F. 2/30 Bn.
5 ft 6 inches, eyes Blue, complexion fair , hair brown, marks of scars appendix scar.
Thomas enlisted in the army on the 5 July 1940 at Newcastle, New South Wales and was assigned army number NX46265 and was allotted to the unit D.Coy 2/30th infantry battalion. He embarked for Singapore on the 29 July 1941, in the next few months he wrote several letters to members of his family, one of these letters dated 21 Oct 1941 from Malaya to his sister and brother inlaw, Dorrie and Earl Ellem.
Dear Dorrie and Earl,
I received your letter yesterday & pleased to hear from you & very sorry to hear that you are having a bad time of it with the dry weather we get more than our share of rain here since we have been in Malaya it hasn't gone any longer than two or three days with out raining & the wet weather hasn't started yet, the wet season starts about the end of November, we would be pleased to get a bit of dry weather here.
Norman had a letter from Charlie yesterday he seems pleased with his new job in the box mill at Woolgoolga getting 4 pounds a week & he said Dad was a lot better off now with Hockey Featherstone it looks as if they will sell the plantation now, it was a bit hard for Dad.
I enjoyed my self last week end I was in town Friday Saturday & Sunday night
I went to the pictures on the Friday night & saw a pretty good show their are two picture shows in this town one for the Indians & the other shows English pictures, on the Saturday night I went to the Circus it was a pretty good show it is showing here for a fortnight, their were some pretty good acts in it, their was a big crowd there on Saturday night & us troops were the only white people there & we got first class seats for half price it only cost us 40 cents, & on Sunday I met a chinese photographer he took us through the Indian & Chinese temples the Indian Temple was the most interesting they told us to take our boots off before we went in side we went in our bare feet when we got in side & having a look around the Indian preist asked the chinaman the ask us if we would like to be blessed the Indian preist couldn't talk English but the Chinaman could we said we didn't mind wanted to see what it was like you know their was a bowl of ashes in side the door we had to rub some on our forehead when that was over he blessed some flowers buds which had a very strong cent & gave them to us & some bananas also the god they worship was made of gold & silver I wouldn't mind having it.
The other day when we arrived at our training area about four miles from the camp the Tamil Indians came along with bananas & paw-paws for us & they also brought a dish of cakes along I beleave this is supposed to be their christmas any how they are having a great time at present also the Malay's they have been firing off crackers for the last week or so.
By the way Earl this tiger beer isn't bad stuff but you can only get bottle beer here as a rule I never drink much bottle beer so I don't think I will be having very much this christmas but wait till I get home I will make up for loss time. well Dorrie & Earl I will sign off now as I can not think of any thing more to write about remember me to Bill & Max, & the rest cheirio to you all, write soon.
I remain your loving brother,
The 2/30 Battalion was the first complete Australian unit to clash with the Japanese after their landing at Kota Baru on the north-east coast of Malaya. Advancing rapidly down the peninsula, the Japanese troops received a great shock when they met B Company of the 2/30 Battalion at Gemas on January 15, 1942, and lost more than 600 men.
The 2/30th battalion was involved in the subsequent 31 days of fighting as the battalion made its way back to Singapore.
The 2/30th infantry battalion was captured by the Japanese in Singapore on the 15 February 1942.
In 1943 Thomas was was in the group of men which was sent to Thailand to work on the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway.
18th November 1943
Thomas died while working on the Thailand-Burma Railway of Beri Beri, ten days before his 37th birthdaywhile working on the Burma,
Son of William and Rebecca Margaret Lee, of Woolgoolga, New South Wales, Australia.
Brother of Norman, who was a survivor of the Japanese Camps.
A14. D. 17.
THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY
A MOTHER MOURNS HER SOLDIER SON
In a prison war camp far away, across the Asian sea a mother's weary heart cries out for her beloved son
He was not a first born son he was her third born son, sent away to an alien shore.
This mother with all her heart loved her son.
She tried hard with brave weak heart to hide
swelling tears that poured like persistent monsoon rains
When her heart was breaking and feeling like giving in she closed her eyes at night and asked god to help her hold his hand a hand so soft and gentle she thought her heart would burst,
So wildly did it beat no other hand unto her heart could greater solace be than that soft and gentle hand she held through the night her Australian soldier son.
A victim of the construction of the infamous world war II Burma-Thailand railway her Australian soldier son.
All around him his Australian solder mates they suffered malaria, dysentery, cholera, tropical ulcers, beri-beri, malnutrition from an inadequate diet, and brutal beatings and dying from their Imperialist Japanese Captors,
This Australian soldier son laid down beside is mates and died in November 1943.
Defeat of Japan 1945 the end of this cruel war and release of imprisonment was a great feeling for many Australian mothers of their Australian soldier sons.
But for this mother her third born son, sent away to an alien shore would never return to the shores of his native land of Australia, He shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary him, nor do the years condemn him.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember him this Australian soldier son.
Pain, tears, emptiness, and loving memories is all this soldiers mother has left of him her broken heart grew weaker 1945
This Australian soldier son's mother died
A nation grateful For the Australian Soldier who fought for our way of life at his countries request
Remember you're Australian and when you reach your heights,
Remember Our country at its best and the men who died for our Australian way of life
Author: Rod Kennnedy 11 November 2002 Veteran’s day USA
Dedicated to my Uncle Tom Lee and Grandmother Rebecca Margaret (McGregor) Lee
Email from Nola ALLETSON
I went to a memorial service in Sydney with Rebecca and her boyfriend for the 60th year of the ambush at Germas in Malay it was the battalion that Tom and Norman lee were in during the war Colin [Rebecca's friend] is also attached to that unit in the army the service was for the returned prisoner who are still alive as the ambush was the last before they were taken by the Japanese I met an old man who knew both Tom and Norman when I asked him if by chance he
knew Tom he said he knew Tom well and his brother from Woolgoolga I was rather thrilled and he went on to say he was with Tom the night he died and had kept in touch with Norman until his death, his name is Arthur Isaac from Bankstown in Sydney he was Tom's corporal so he may have been the last to speak with Tom I thought he may just thought he knew tom but when he said he knew Norman also that confirmed he remembered the boys.
Arthur Isaac mentioned in the above email is ISAAC ARTHUR WILLIAM JOHN : Service Number - NX51730 : Date of birth - 05 Jun 1920 : Place of birth - ERSKINVILLE NSW : Place of enlistment - SYDNEY NSW
Arthur Isaac has commented that during P.O.W. days he was able to fix himself up with a fresh pair of socks, by sewing the ends of the khaki sock coverings, which went down to the ankles, and which had been sent over by the Comforts Fund.
Family web page site:-