To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

British Sumatra Battalion


The British Sumatra Battalion was formed on the 9th May 1942 with 20 officers and 480 other ranks. The service personnel were mostly escapees and considered to be trouble makers.

Leaving Padang, Sumatra by train they travelled to Fort de Kok. The next day a convoy of lorries took them to Uni Kampong Camp, where Dutch civilians were interned. On the 15th May they were packed into the hell ship England Maru bound for Mergui, Burma, to build new runways, the death rate at Mergui was twelve.

The 10th of August saw another move on the hell ship Tatu Maru to Ann Hestletine Home at Tavoy, where the death rate fell to five.

The next move to Thanbyuzayat in November was the start of a hard toil on the Thailand to Burma railway, the death rate being:








18 Kilometer Camp



30 Kilometer Camp



55 Kilometer Camp



60 Kilometer Camp



84 Kilometer Camp



105 Kilometer Camp



114 Kilometer Camp












Nakan Paton


After the railway was finished, March 1944, the British Sumatra Battalian were split up, 140 had died, 190 were at Kanchanburi Hospital and forty were still in camps along the railway line. The Japanese wanted parties for Japan and out of 2034 Dutch, Australian, American and British prisoners, seven parties (Kumis) were formed. Each kumis consisted of an officer, medical orderly and 150 other ranks. The British Sumatra Battalion helped form the 51 Kumi Party bound for Saigon, French Indo China.

Kumis 49 (Americans), 50 (mixed nationalities) and 51 (British) arrived at the Saigon Camp situated on the Rue Catinat where one death occurred.

The 200 left behind in Burma when the 51 Kumis left, were forced from the hospital camps at Kanchanburi and Tarmakan and helped build the Tavoy Road, whilst others formed maintenance parties on the railway.

For more detail read ‘The British Sumatra Battalion’ by A.A. Apthorp






Britain at War


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