James Kerr's story
James Kerr was underage when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in March 1941. He was accepted, nevertheless.
Initially, James was drafted to the 2/4th Field Regiment, but when that draft was halved, he was sent to Malaya with the 2/4th Anti-Tank Regiment.
During the defence of Singapore, James was involved in fighting at Parit Sulong. He and 18 others were cut off from their units. After avoiding capture for almost a week, they decided to surrender, as they were short of food.
Initially, James was held in Pudu prison in Kuala Lumpur, then in October 1942 he was brought down to Changi, where he rejoined his unit.
In March 1943, James was sent to work on the Burma-Thailand railway as part of 'D' Force. He considered time spent in Changi as much preferable to the conditions endured on the railway.
From August 1943 to January 1944, James was hospitalised in Thailand – he had ear and skin infections, malaria and leg ulcers. He believed that the doctors were marvellous, attributing them and an exceptional Australian morale as helping in many men's survival in the prisoner of war (POW) camps.
After his release, James was discharged in December 1945. He went on to join the Royal Australian Navy. He served on HMAS Quickmatch for 2 years as part of the British and Commonwealth Occupation Force.