Sketch by Jack Chalker

Conclusion

Conclusion

 

War Grave

I’d always intended to write this story fairly soon after returning from the Borneo trip.  Like many good intentions it came to complement the broken promises,  such as to complete the work “this century”.  No doubt I’d have drifted on in this situation, guiltily, for some more years beyond the current total of five and a bit since returning from Batu Lintang.  However Fate stepped in yet again, this time in the shape of a newspaper article from a more official and totally unexpected source.

In March 2002, the Greenock Telegraph carried an article sponsored by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in an attempt to contact any surviving family of David Tweedale Baldwin.  His nephew Duncan Baldwin read the article and told me about it.  I wrote to the CWGC.

Judith Donald of the CWGC explained in reply that their Dutch equivalent, the Oorlogsgravenstichting, had asked for any available details of relatives of  D. Baldwin, a British seaman recorded by them as husband of Mary Baldwin.  After the war David Baldwin’s body had been re-interred in the Netherlands Field of Honour in Tarakan, Dutch Borneo & then in 1967 was moved to the Kembang Kuning Netherlands Field of Honour at Surabaya in Java, Indonesia.

To mark the grave they had erected the simple cross used for all such official Dutch graves.  On it are recorded his name, rank, age and date of death (picture).

The Greenock Telegraph published a follow-up article reporting the successful tracing of David Baldwin’s descendants.

GREENOCK TELEGRAPH, Friday, 1 March, 2002

War Graves Commission search for relatives of seaman

David (70) died in POW camp

By MARYS1A MORRIS

 

THE War Graves Commission is looking for help in tracing the family of a 70-year old seaman who died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1943.

The Commission recently discovered the grave of Gourock-born Chief Engineer Officer David Tweedle Baldwin of the Merchant Navy in Indonesia and would like to inform surviving family members.

CEO Baldwin sailed on the SS Baynain and is believed to have been taken prisoner in the Far East in 1942. 

He died of sickness at the PoW camp at Tarakan, East Borneo, on 23 July the following year.

After the war, his grave could not be found and arrangements were made for his commemoration on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.

But last year his grave was discovered in the Kembang Knning Netherlands Field of Honour at Surabaya in Indonesia. It had been moved from the cemetery at Tarakan in 1967.

The Commission believes CEO Baldwin's wife Mary may have predeceased him and the last contact they had was with his daughter Janet Moffat in 1955 who was then living in Innellan, Argyll.

Judith Donald, from the Commission said: "When a grave is discovered for a war casualty who previously had none, the Commission makes every effort to pass on this information to the next of kin but, in this case, we have had no success in tracing family members.

"It may that no members of CEO Baldwin's family remain in the area, but if anybody can help with contacts we would be most grateful."

She added that it was that was not unusual for someone of 70 to be serving in the Merchant Navy during the war.

Judith can be contacted at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on 01628 507109. 

 

 

GHEENOCK TELEGRAPH, Wednesday, 20 March, 2002

 

THE grandson of a sailor, who died in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, has spent six years searching for his grave

.By MARYSIA MORRIS

Norman Morrison was so inspired by the story of Chief Engineer Officer David Baldwin of the Merchant Navy — who was captured by the Japanese when he was 69 — that he wanted to visit his last resting place. CEO Baldwin died in the squalor and horror of the camp at Tarakan, East Borneo, a year after his capture.

But his family did not know where the Greenock-born sailor's body was buried.

It was only after the War Graves Commission found the grave of CEO Baldwin at Surabaya in Indonesia and contacted the Telegraph In a bid to trace his family that they learned where he was laid to rest.

After an article appeared in the Telegraph a reader contacted the War Graves Commission and put them in touch with Mr Morrison, who lives in Plymouth.

Mr Morrison said: "It is the end of quite a long story for me. I have been pursuing the story for six years and I am now meaning to write something about my grandfather's history.

"I went out to Borneo in 1997 but I couldn't find his grave then, so I am thinking of going back out to see it."

David Baldwin was born in Greenock in 1873 and spent his life in the Merchant Navy. He and his Gourock-born wife Mary had 11 children — eight of whom survived.

The family lived in Innelfan but Mary joined her husband in Borneo in 1937, where Davfd worked on the SS Baynain.

When the Japanese entered the war both were captured and sent to prisoner-of-war camps.

Mr Morrison said: "The Japanese would have exploited his engineering knowledge to extract oil at the camp. He died of tropical diseases at the age of 70, a year later. Mary was taken to a camp on the other side of the island for women and children. She survived and was freed from the camp on 11 September 1945. She returned to Innellan and died in 1956. Life in the camp was featured in three books by American author Agnes Keith one of which, Three Came Home, was made into a film."

Mr Morrison added: "The only memento of my grandfather that granny had while she was in the camp was a bowling medal he received from Dunoon BowFing Club in 1915. She vowed to give it to the first soldier she saw when the camp was liberated. So she gave it to an Australian soldier who was first to walk through the gates. Years later the soldier got in touch and returned the medal.

" I have the medal now and would like to donate it to Dunoon Bowling Club."

 

The Medal

Such a reminder from Fate prompted me to think again about The Medal, in my possession since my mother’s death in July 2001, so I wrote to the Secretary of the Dunoon and Argyll Bowling Club offering to return it to their safekeeping.  Their reply, from Elizabeth Davies, was prompt and enthusiastic and we soon agreed a date for a small ceremony to mark The Medal’s return.  I arranged for it to be mounted in a small frame with the following text to relate its story.

This medal

is witness to

courage & tenacity

 

 

It was

-   won by David Baldwin, Marine Engineer,

at the Dunoon & Argyll Bowling Club in 1918.

-   carried by him as he sailed around the Far East.

-   saved by his wife Mary, 67 year-old mother of 11 children

from their home in Sandakan, British North Borneo

when the Japanese invaded in January 1942.

-   hidden along with other treasured jewellery

 throughout years of brutal imprisonment

at Berhala Island, Sandakan and Batu Lintang, Kuching, Sarawak.

-   presented to the young Australian “soldier with the red beret”

Denis Sheppard :  the first soldier she met on her liberation

at 1700 on 11 September 1945.

-  carried faithfully for many years on his keyring.

-   returned by him in 1993 to David & Mary Baldwin’s family

with the help of the Dunoon Observer & Argyllshire Standard.

-   presented to the Bowling Club on 2 September 2002.

 

David Baldwin died of disease in 1943 in POW camp, Tarakan, age 70.

His grave is in the Netherlands Field of Honour, Surabaya, Java.

Mary Baldwin died at home in 1956.  She is buried in Dunoon Cemetery.

 

 

DUNOON OBSERVER AND ARGYLLSHIRE STANDARD, 6th SEPTEMBER, 2002

And so the story ends ...

 

THE tale of a bowling medal, which was first reported in the Observer in 1993, has finally come to an end - exactly 57 years after it began

By   Michelle Robertson

The story of former locals David Baldwin and his wife Mary is legendary in Dunoon, and many locals have followed the continuing saga of how a bowling medal presented to Mr Baldwin in 1918 by Dunoon Bowling Club, travelled to the far corners of the world before being returned to Dunoon this week.

At a special ceremony held on Monday (September 2) at Dunoon Argyll Bowling Club, grandson of David Baldwin, Norman Morrison and his wife Sally, presented the medal back to the club.

The story began in 1943, when POW Mary Baldwin presented the precious medal, belonging to her husband, to the soldier who freed her from her despair.

In a moving speech, Norman told the story of how his grandmother and grandfather were separated during the Second World War.

He said: "My grandfather died in 1943 at a POW canp in Tarakan, aged 70, but my grandmother was kept in a camp in Kuching until 1945.”

"She had been locked up for three years and on September 11, 1945, Mary was finally released."

Norman went on to tell the story of how the unit of Australian soldiers rescued the women and children during an articulate operation.

He said: "Among the soldiers coming towards her, she spotted a man in a red beret - this was Set Dennis Sheppard, who had been fighting his way across the Indonesian Islands.”

"Mary produced the small medal from a little bag that she stored her valuables in, which she kept around her neck. She gave the medal to the soldier, as she had promised herself that she would give the memento to the first soldier who liberated her from her ordeal."

Mr Sheppard, who still lives in Australia, kept the medal on his keyring until 1993, when he decided to try and return the medal to Mrs Baldwin's family.

He eventually - through a number of enquiries - contacted the Dunoon Observer and with the help of our editor Marion Carmichael, the Observer put him in touch with Mr Baldwin's daughter, Kathleen,          Norman Morrison's mother.

In a letter from Mr Sheppard to the Morrison family dated August 4 1993, he spoke of his admiration for Mary Baldwin.

It said: "Unless we have experienced internment it would have been impossible to feel or comprehend, the fear and utter hopelessness that must have fallen like a heavy fog, saturating the will to exist and survive.”

"The inner strength to exist, to survive no matter what, was evidently Mrs Balwin's goal."

David and Mary Baldwin had a house in Innellan, but through his job as a marine engineer, David was stationed in British North Borneo. Mary stayed in Innellan until 1937 then joined her husband in the Far East, setting up home in the village of Sandakan. They were together until 1942, when they were invaded and then im-prisoned by the Japanese. Mary died at her home in 1956. She is buried in Dunoon Cemetery.

 

 

The presentation was made

57 years, almost to the day

after it was gratefully presented to the

Soldier in the Red Beret.

 

The Medal had finally come home

84 years after it left.

 

Tailpiece

 

 

Sharing information with others is rewarding in itself, the pieces from the jigsaw begin to fit together and a picture begins to appear. Improve your knowledge and help make the Fepow Story an everlasting memorial to their memory.

Any material  to add to the Fepow Story please send to:

Ron.Taylor@fepow-community.org.uk

and their story will live on.

 

[Baldwin] [The Beginning] [The Long Journey] [Settled at Sandakan] [War] [Release] [Last Words] [Re-Discovery] [Conclusion]

 

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