Jack Thomas's story
Jack Thomas was born in Broken Hill on 4 November 1919. He worked as a grocer's assistant before enlisting in Broken Hill in June 1940.
During the war, Jack served with the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion as a gun number and later as a range-finder. He served initially in Syria before being moved to Java.
Reflecting on his overseas service, Jack recalled that he was ‘moved mostly by the history and geography of the places visited'. He also remembered fondly the life-long friends he made.
He remembered being drawn to one friend in particular, whom he looked up to as a mentor, although he was quite unlike Jack. During the war, the two men became separated. Although they never met again, Jack named one of his sons after his mate.
It was in Java in March 1942 that Jack became a prisoner of war (POW). At first, he was interned at Java, before being moved to Singapore for a brief time between January and February 1943.
In February 1943, Jack was moved to Thailand, where he worked on the Burma-Thailand railway. In July 1944, he was taken to Japan, where he spent the remainder of his time as a prisoner.
After the war, Jack resumed his duties at his father's grocery store, which he later managed until the business became untenable and he was forced to walk away. Offered a job as the secretary/manager of the Broken Hill Club, Jack prospered until his retirement in 1983.
He moved to Adelaide where he often meets with ‘the handful of those of us still left, and members of their respective families'. He is the proud caretaker of the battalion flag, which members of his battalion use ‘to see each other off respectfully when the time comes'.