Robert Harby Gilbert Jelley
Royal Australian Artillery
Bob (a.k.a Tich or Squirt) Jelley 1940
“In height at 4 feet 10 and a half, Weighing in at 7 stone two,”
Values of Service and Self-Sacrifice
“The Sar-Major – a big, bellowing bloke eyed us all off and then roared at me”
“How tall are you – come on – don’t bleat!”
I stammered out,
“Oh I-I-I th-think I’m about f-f-f-five feet sir,”
“Yes! But whose bloody feet!”
On posting to the 4th Anti-Tank he met Campbell Smith and despite hailing from quite different backgrounds they became good mates. I think it was the first time that my Dad had had a truly close friend. They went through the fall of Singapore and entered subsequent hell of the Burma Siam Railway of Death together.
They both firmly believed that they would survive the war and made plans to do things together when they came back to Australia. “We were good cobbers, we were going to do things when we came back.”
When Dad went down with amoebic dysentery, he was down to 4 stone 3lb – “I was at my lowest ebb, a bag of bones” and close to death. Campbell Smith saved his life by “I don’t know how, but he got me some medicine. It was Japanese medicine. They wouldn't be giving it away to us, so he would have pinched it.”
This was an amazing feat of bravery as the risk of being caught was extreme. If Campbell had been caught, he would have been tortured to death. “That medicine pulled me through.” Sadly, Campbell Smith did not survive the war, he lost his life on the Rakuyu Maru whilst being transported to Japan . I think it fair to say that Dad felt his loss every day of his life.
Campbell’s photo had pride of place in our home. It was the first item that you saw on opening the front door. I was very little when Dad told me the story. When I was old enough to go to Sunday School, Dad explained Campbell’s actions in terms of "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13) as indeed Campbell was willing to do just that for Dad.
The values of service and self-sacrifice – “a love that seeks not to receive but to give, a love that seeks to bind up the wound of the other and to bear the burden of the neighbour” – underpinned my upbringing – values that Dad truly first experienced from his cobber Lt. Campbell Smith.