The Graves at Muntok

Abandoned Cemtery at Muntok 1968 for web
The Abandoned Civilian Cemetery at Muntok in 1968

One hundred and two British and Australian internees (sixty-two men and forty women) died at Muntok between October 1943 and March 1945. In the same period over three hundred Dutch men died. Records of how many Dutch women died have yet to be consulted.

In the early 1960’s, Dutch authorities moved all their military and civilian graves to War Cemeteries in Java. Likewise some of the British and Australian dead were moved to Java, but only if their employers moved them or if they had military sounding roles in the Volunteers. These included people who were on the crew of the Empress of Asia, members of Cable and Wireless in Singapore, and a few members of the Volunteer forces.

However, for the most part, the British and Australians civilians were not moved and their graves remained at Muntok. Their respective governments said that they had no duty of care for civilian dead.  As a result, the graves of those who were left behind began to deteriorate and the wooden crosses which bore their names and dates of death started to rot away.  As a result of this lack of preservation, the vast majority of the civilian internees had no named or identifiable grave and soon the local population began to build over the grave yard.

Muntok Graveyard Bamboo Coffin for web
An exposed bamboo coffin at the Muntok cemetery soon after the war

The coffins for the dead were crudely made out of bamboo and often too small to accommodate the entire body and so the corpse had to be broken in places and made to fit. Also, because so many of the civilians’ deaths were caused by wet beriberi, when the coffins were lifted on to the shoulders of the pall bearers the fluids retained by the bodies of the deceased flowed out through the bamboo cracks and over the pall bearers.

One of the first to die at Muntok was a young Chinese boy – Daris Chan – who was on board the Vyner Brooke with his mother and brother. He died soon after the family was interned in February 1942.

A list was maintained, perhaps by William McDougall, of the deaths of each male internee, the date of death, and cause of death. This list can be read HERE (<- PDF).

The Muntok Graves Plans

Although the conditions were harsh, meticulous records were kept of where each individual was buried and as a result we have plans of the grave site which have allowed us to reconstruct approximately where many of the Australian, British, and other Commonwealth civilians were buried.

The British and Australian men were buried in the top left area in rows  1- 27  and columns A – I. This areas is shown in more detail on the plan below. The identities of those in the graves that are filled in on the plan below are known. 

For each man we have placed his initials on the plan below indicating who is buried in which grave. For example in row F column 7 the initials GR appear which stand for Gordon Reis.

Plan of Muntok Graves
D2ALAlgernon Neville Laybourne 5428/07/1944
D5MEMichael Francis Enright 30/06/1945
D6JCSir John Bruce Stuart Campbell 14/10/1943
D8GSG. C. Spandau / Spandaw  30/05/1944
D9LJLeslie G. Jeffrey5202/05/1944
D10GGGeorge Basil Warburton Gray6212/02/1944
D12HWHubert Victor Miles Woods4321/11/1943
D13GHGeoffrey Holderness4528/05/1944
D14RMRobert Wallace Morris4208/06/1944
D15FFFrederick Fletcher7009/06/1944
D16FLFrederick Lagharne Llewellyn4813/05/1944
D17X X X X
D18CACharles John Arnold7009/06/1944
Graves D19 – D27 we do not have records yet – Probably Dutch (?)
E1FBFrederick Victor Boswell5110/07/1944
E2HHGeorge Henry Hallam?18/07/1944
E3JEJohn Samuel Evans3717/07/1944
E5WPWalter Penrice4720/07/1944
E6DEDr. David Richard Evans6030/07/1944
E7CCColin Douglas Campbell5302/08/1944
Graves E8 – E10 we do not have records yet
E11FBFrancis Grainger Brown,4415/11/1944
E12VPVincent Bristow Pybus5711/11/1944
E13RSRobert Stephenson4708/04/1945
E14WVW. Vorlauf?05/02/1945
E15DPDonald Frederick Pratt3701/05/1945
E16JSJames Hendry Stanners3222/01/1945
E17JAJohn C. H. Aitken5425/11/1944
E19RMRiley Llewellyn Morgan2824/03/1945
E20RSReginald Joseph Strong*55 21/02/1945
E21JMJohn McGuffin5208/03/1945
E22GBGordon Burt4628/01/1945
E23CAC. H. Adam?05/10/1944
E24LB Leslie Robert Blake4723/03/1945
E26AWAlfred Herbert Wright4409/02/1945
E27HZHerbert Zimmerman4311/06/1944
F2AWAlbert Victor Wardle4704/01/1945
F3RMRobert Meldrum4913/12/1944
F4FTFrederick Thompson3627/11/1944
F6GRGordon Stanley Reis5502/11/1944
F7HTHenry Stanley Tisshaw5624/11/1944
F9WDWalter Pattison Douglas5523/11/1944
F10RCRichard James Potter Clarke5619/11/1944
F11TWThomas Kinnear Wilson5322/11/1944
F12HWHarry Leonard Watson3102/11/1944
F13CJCharles Martin Jenkin5117/11/1944
F16CRC. G. Rebel?10/11/1944
F17LBLindsay Burn5814/11/1944
F19SMStephenson Messenger4502/11/1944
F20CGCecil Reynold Grixoni4328/10/1844
F21KDKenneth Godfrey Arthur Dohoo3825/10/1944
F22TBThomas Burns5022/10/1944
F23VCVernon Rowe Conolly4917/10/1944
F26JDJohn Gallagher Dominguez6511/09/1944
F27RPRichard Henry Cozens Prior6115/08/1944
H20EME. H. M. Manden?23/07/1944
I27EDE. A. M. Dumas?01/12/1944
Muntok Graves
The British and the Dutch graves. Gordon Burt is to the left of OMW (Okke Meinard Willem) Bekker. Directly behind Bekker is John McGuffin and then R. J. Strong to the right. Behind Strong is C. R. Grixoni. Behind Burt is Thomas Burns.
Abandoned Graves at Muntok for web2
The abandoned Civilian Internee Graves at Muntok

The Women’s Graves
British and Australian civilian internee women who died in Muntok were initially buried under the trees near Kampong Menjelang, then moved to the Muntok town cemetery after WW2, as shown on the plan below. This site was directly below where the men had been buried. 

However, to make way for the new petrol station, in the early 1980’s the women are believed to have been reburied in 3 communal graves in Muntok Catholic Cemetery.  Australian army nurses, along with other military personnel, were moved to the Jakarta War Cemetery after the war.

 33 graves (name/age/date of death). 

Mrs Theresia ‘Resie’ Armstrong (51), 7 February 1945
Miss Dixie Armstrong (32), 5 April 1945
Mrs Mary Awmack Battensby (51), 11 February 1945
Mrs Edith Florence Bedell (65), 19 January 1945
Mrs Mary Elizabeth Brown (67), 17 January 1945
Mrs Edith Evangeline Castle (50), 19 November 1944
Mrs. Marjorie Hindhaugh Cocke (53), 5 March 1945 [Not all the lists indicate where Marjorie died but one states at Muntok]
Mrs Mary Louise Day (53), 16 December 1944
Ms. Ruth Hannah Dickson (50), 24 December 1944. Grave moved to Jakarta War Cemetery (DWC-1 Plot 5 Row H Row 7).
Mrs Helen Dixey (48), 28 February 1945
Mrs Agnes Gertrude Dominguez (63), 9 November 1944
Miss Dora Shirley Gardam (AANS) (34) 4 April 1945 (Grave moved to Jakarta War Cemetery)
Mrs Marjory Gray (55), 13 January 1945
Mrs Muriel Gregory (43), 5 November 1944
Mrs Rena Rosie Haynes (49), 10 January 1945
Mrs. Pauline Blanche Hempsted (36),  19 March 1945 (Grave moved to Jakarta War Cemetery DWC-1  Plot 5 Row 6  Grave 5)
Mrs Kathleen Mary Hutchings (46), 12 April 1945
Mrs Blanche Lucy Jones (58), 8 December 1944
Miss Sabine Elizabeth Mackintosh (57), 27 December 1944
Mrs Dorothy MacLeod (59), 1 April 1945
Mrs Joan May Maddams (36), 19 December 1944
Mrs Evelyn Mary Parr (38), 11 January 1945
Mrs Olga Mary Neubronner (39) 2 March 1945 (Grave moved to Jakarta)
Mrs Isobel Veronica ‘Mo’ Pennefather (48), 15 March 1945
Mrs Sylvia Plummer (42), 19 November 1944
Miss Eva Prouse (49), 2 February 1945
Miss Wilhemina Rosalie Raymont (33) 8 February 1945. (Grave moved to Jakarta war cemetery DWC-1 Plot 5 Row F Grave 5.)
Mrs Lillian Rodrigues (46), 1 January 1945
Mrs Ruth Russell-Roberts (36), 20 January 1945
Mrs Claire Sammy von Salehn (52), 18 November 1944 (reburied Leuwigayah /Cimahi).
Mrs Amy Alexandra Mary Simmons, (30),  26 February 1945
Miss Irene Ada ‘Rene’ Singleton, (36), 20 February 1945 (Grave moved to Jakarta DWC-1 Plot 6 Row F Grave 6)
Mrs Louie Sinnatt (32), 23 February 1945
Mrs Esme Barbara Skinner (38), 27 March 1945
Mrs Emily Elizabeth Smith (72), 9 November 1944
Mrs Nellie Ellen Tay (40), 21 November 1944
Miss Lottie Regina Wales (48), 3 January 1945
Mrs Cevia Deitch Warman (25), 9 March 1942
Mrs Marion Galloway Langdon Williams (46), 7 February 1945
[Mrs Johanna Kobus the Dutch mother of Marie Reid and grandmother to the five Reid children. Johanna died on 18 February 1945. For details see the Reid family page here.]

Ruth Russell Roberts Grave at Muntok
Mrs Ruth Russell-Roberts

British, Australian, and New Zealand men who died in Muntok jail and were buried by their friends in the Muntok town cemetery (Dutch or Civil) . Their graves were not moved by their governments and are now built over by houses. 55 graves:

The area today where many of the men were buried

Mr C. H. Adam, 5 October 1944
Mr Frederick Marshall Adam (38), 25 January 1945
Mr John C. H. Aitken (54), 25 November 1944
Mr Charles John Arnold (70), 9 June 1944 (Grave D18)
Mr Leslie Robert Blake (47), 23 February 1945 (Grave E24)
Mr F. V. Boswell (51), 10 July 1944 (Grave E1)
Mr Francis Grainger Brown (44), 5 November 1944 (Grave E11)
Mr Lindsay Burn (58), 8 November 1944
Mr Thomas Burns (50), 22 October 1944
Mr Gordon Burt O.B.E. (46), 28 January 1945
Mr Colin Douglas Campbell (53), 2 August 1944
Sir John Bruce Stuart Campbell (66), 14 October 1943 (Grave D6)
Mr Richard James Potter Clarke (56), 19 November 1944
Mr Vernon Rowe Conolly (49), 17 October 1944
Mr John Gallagher Dominguez (65), 11 September 1944
Mr Kenneth Godfrey Arthur Dohoo (38), 25 October 1944
Mr Walter Pattinson Douglas (55), 23 November 1944
Mr E. A. M. Dumas, Unknown, 1 December 1944
Mr Thomas Efford (59), 24 November 1944
Mr Michael Francis Enright (63), 24 January 1945 (Grave D5)
Mr David Richard Evans (60), 30 July 1944 (Grave E6)
Mr John Samuel Evans (37), 17 July 1944 (Grave E3)
Mr Frederick Fletcher (70), 9 June 1944 (Grave D15)
Mr George Basil Warburton Gray (62), 12 February 1944 (Grave D10)
Mr Cecil Reynold Grixoni (43), 28 October 1944
Mr George Henry Hallam, Unknown, 18 July 1944 (Grave E2)
Mr Geoffrey Holderness (45), 28 May 1944 (grave D13)
Mr Leslie Gordon B. Jeffrey (53), 2 May 1944 (Grave D9)
Mr Charles Martin Jenkin (51), 17 November 1944
Mr Algernon Neville Laybourne (54), 28 July 1944 (Grave D2)
Mr Frederick Langharne Llewellyn (48), 13 May 1944 (Grave D16)
Mr E. H. M. Manden, Unknown (23), July 1944
Mr John McGuffin (52), 8 March 1945
Mr Robert Meldrum (49), 13 December 1944 Sgt 529 JVE to 101 STS
Mr Jack Stephenson Messenger (45), 2 November 1944
Mr Riley Llewellyn Morgan (47), 20 July 1944 Major 2SSVF
Mr Robert Wallace Morris (42), 8 June 1944 (Grave D14)
Mr Walter Penrice (47), 20 July 1944 (Grave E5)
Mr Donald Frederick Pratt (37), 1 May 1945
Mr Richard Henry Cozens Prior (61), 15 August 1944
Mr Vincent Bristow Pybus (57), 11 November 1944
Mr C. G. Rebel, 10 November 1944
Mr Gordon Stanley Reis (55), 2 November 1944
Mr G. C. Spandaw, 30 May 1944 (Grave D7)
Mr James Hendry Stanners (32), 22 January 1945
Mr Robert Stephenson (47), 8 April 1945

Mr Reginald Joseph Strong, (55), 21 February 1945 (Grave E20*)
Mr Frederick Thompson (36), 27 November 1944
Mr Henry Stanley Tisshaw (56), 24 November 1944
Mr W. Vorlauf, 54, 5 February 1945
Rev. Albert Victor Wardle (47), 4 January 1945
Mr Harry Leonard Watson (31), 2 November 1944
Mr Hubert Victor Miles Woods (43), 21 November 1943 (Grave D12)
Mr Thomas Kinnear Wilson (53), 22 November 1944
Mr Alfred Herbert Wright (44), 9 February 1945
Mr Herbert Zimmerman (43), 11 June 1944

Mr Vivian Gordon Bowden (57), Australia’s Official Representative to Singapore, killed by two Japanese guards outside the Muntok cinema, 17 February 1942. The exact site of his grave, dug by Mr Bowden, is not known.

We know the following also died at Muntok but do not appear on the list above:

NESFIELD, W. A. [William].  Died in captivity 2.8.44 [53] Muntok of latent beriberi.

STEVENS, Mrs Edith Christie. Died in captivity 22.6.45 [65] Muntok.

* STRONG, R. J. [Reginald Joseph]. Died in captivity 21.2.45 [55] at Muntok, his grave does not appear on the original schematic plan indicating where each internee was buried. However, looking at the photograph of O.M.W. Bekker’s grave we can see that Gordon Burt (Row E Column 22) is two graves to the left of Strong in the same row (E). Thus Strong is in row E20 and we indicate that on the list above.

Bekker’s grave obscures who is between Strong and Burt but the schematic plan tells us that it is John McGuffin (Row E Column 21). Also, looking at the photograph one can just make out CR Grixoni’s grave (Row F Column 20) .

TAYLOR A.J. [Arthur John]. Died in captivity 26.6.44 [50] Muntok. (Noted in Reis’s diary)

TICKLE, W. [William] ‘Bill’.  Died in captivity 15.9.44 [37] Muntok.

The Memorial Plaque placed on the Women’s Grave at the Catholic Cemetery – Muntok:



Some examples of persons who died and were buried at Muntok but who were later reinterred at Jakarta by their employer (e.g. Cable and Wireless) or because they had volunteered for the military before the war include:

Philip Christian Barnes, died 7/11/44  Singapore LDC (Volunteer Forces). He was reinterred in the Jakarta War Cemetery.

Bernard Medlicott Bree, died 14/11/44 Empress of Asia. His body was reinterred at the Jakarta War Cemetery. His gravestone is shown below:

Alexander Park Cranna, died 4/1/45 Planter and Sergeant Selangor LDC (Volunteer forces). His body was reinterred at the Jakarta War Cemetery

Thomas Abraham Curran-Sharp. Private in Selangor LDC (Volunteer Forces) He died on 4.2.45 aged 56 at Muntok of dysentery. His wife died at Palembang on 11.5.44 [57]. His grave today is at the Jakarta War Cemetery.

John Sharpe Elliot, died 4/7/44 Public Works Department and Naval Base Engineer

Ralph Samuel St George Johnston, died 6/10/44. Captain in Selangor LDC (Volunteer Forces). Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

Neil Seward Killick, died 11/1/45   Planter and member Selangor LDC (Volunteer Forces). His grave today is at the Jakarta War Cemetery.

Richard Frederick Lionel La Nauze, died 28/7/44   Cable and Wireless radio broadcasting. His body was reinterred at the Nederlands Ereveld Leuwigajah, in Cimahi, West Java, Indonesia. Grave VI 213.

William James Marlow, died 11/8/44. Waiter on the Empress of Asia. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

Harry Ernest Monk Mason, died 15/11/44   Perak LDC (Volunteer Forces). Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

William A. Nesfield died 2/8/44  Harbour Board, Penang. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

George Oliver Roberts. died on 16.6.44 aged 29 at Muntok of beriberi; Assistant architect, Sergeant in ISSVF(uniformed officer in Volunteer Forces); later re interred at Jakarta War Cemetery.

Thomas Henry Roberts who died of beriberi on 25.6.44 [37] and was buried the same day at Muntok. His grave is today at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.  McDougall in By Eastern Windows refers to Roberts as ‘Flash’. Waiter and merchant Seaman on the Empress of Asia.

Herbert Smallwood, died 29/3/44  Kitchen Porter on the Empress of Asia. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

Salvatore Stellini, died 21/1/45 Merchant Navy. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

Reginald Joseph Strong, 21 February 1945, planter. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

Hugh Brown Sym, died 10/1/45  Assistant Superintendent of Police, Singapore. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

William Tickle, died 15/9/1944. Assistant engineer. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

George Bate Edmund Truscott, died 12/8/44  Merchant Navy. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

Ernest Henry Tunn, Chief Inspector of Police, Malacca, Malaya, who died of dysentery on 13.1.44 [57] and was buried the same day at Muntok. (Noted in Reis’s diary and by McDougall). After the war his grave was moved to Jakarta.

British Women whose graves were moved from Muntok to Jakarta around 1961

Mrs Claire Sammy, died 18/11/44. Husband was a Judge in Singapore. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

Mrs Marjorie Hindaugh Cocke, died 5/3/45 had worked for St John’s Ambulance. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta

Mrs Olga Neubronner, died 2/3/45   In charge of St John’s Ambulance, Singapore. Commonwealth War Cemetery at Jakarta.

The charter of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) allowed for the care of military graves and those who wore uniforms and who were in some style of forces, e.g. St. John’s Ambulance, the Police, etc. Why the CWGC only moved a very small number of Volunteers, no one knows. Margie Caldicott’s mother [Sehelagh (Brown) Lea] battled the CWGC for years to have the remaining graves cared for and later, when they were in disrepair, to have a memorial placed in Muntok.

At first, CWGC seemed somewhat interested but later, wrote to say that she would need to do it herself! As a former internee, whose Mother [Mary Brown] and so many friends had died and then herself married to a Minister in rural Canada, she had no resources to fund a memorial in far-off Indonesia in post-War days.

There is a folder of letters at the National Archives in Kew, UK, from Margie’s Mother to the British Home Office etc. (with replies) asking for the Muntok graves to be cared for or for a memorial to be placed – both requests declined. There is another folder labelled Muntok graves with a cover but all correspondence inside is missing! One wonders ….

Margie’s description of the graves at Muntok can be read here. It is a real credit to Margie Caldicott and all involved today (2015) that a memorial plaque has finally been placed on a site at Muntok.

Mango Tree at Muntok Graveyard
Mango Tree at Muntok Graveyard

Below, the graves of Colin Campbell and Gordon Reis showing their row and column numbers – E7 and F5 – respectively. They were buried close to where the Mango tree above now grows.

Grave of Colin Campbell died Muntok 1944gordon stanley reis grave 150A
Muntok War Graves 9 November 1948

In 1981 the remains of 25 people were uncovered during the building of a Pertamina petrol station. On the first cemetery plan (above) this location is indicated as ‘Women Graves’ .

Petramina-petrol-station for web

After their disinterment, the remains were given to the local Catholic priest and re–buried in a group grave in the Muntok Catholic Cemetery. In 2005 a photograph was taken of the grave as shown below:

The grave at the Catholic cemtery

After funds were raised in 2015, the grave was repaired and a plaque listing the names of all those who had died at the Muntok camps was added as a ‘headstone’. In January 2016, a photograph was taken of the newly-restored grave by a nephew of one of the AANS (Kath Neuss)  who lost her life at Radji beach.

Catholic Cemetery Grave 1

On a visit in September 2015 Anthony Pratt (son of Donald Pratt [Row E15]) and David Man (grandson of Gordon Reis [Row F16])) looked at a plan of the graveyard held by Diane Whitehead. Behind, wearing a hat, is Judy Balcombe whose grandfather Colin Campbell was also buried at Muntok [Row E7].

Looking for the Graves at Muntok Man and Pratt

Notes on McDougall’s view on dying and death: [See McDougall ‘If I Get Out Alive’, p. 231]

MacDougall offers a number of descriptions of how the men died at Muntok. For example, he lists hours of spasming but when patients were given Prontopon injections & saltwater by mouth they were able to be calmed. The spasms were often accompanied by crying out loudly and hoarsely, body rigid, eyeballs turned sharply down and lids drawn back, mouth twisted, giving a ghastly cast to the face. Throat muscles taut, breathing cramped. For some there was relief in sliding into a coma never to come out. Indeed very few were conscious shortly before the end and fully aware. Others, except heart attack victims, in apparent good health when seized were conscious from 8 to 24 hours and 48 hours before death

McDougall is harsh when he blames a man for his own death for lack of spirit. He identifies those who are: ” … convinced they [were] going [to] die  –  and eventually they invariably did. A man’s spirit certainly plays a large part in whether he lives or dies — the quitter always losing, the fighter frequently fighting his way back to life and health. ” We beg to disgaree with McDougall: the prisoners died because they were sick, starved and physically exhausted. They had.worn themselves out looking after the other sick prisoners and themselves. Even people like Sir John Campbell who tried to take their own lives had the balance of their minds disturbed by starvation induced psychosis, a well – recognized medical condition. It is not the spirit that was brocken but the body and nobody should be blamed for their own deaths under such terrible conditions.

In Jakarta, Menteng Pulo Cemetery, a memorial bench funded by The Malayan Volunteers Group and Nurses’ families has been placed in memory of Civilians and Australian Army Nurses killed after leaving Singapore, those killed on Radji Beach, Bangka Island and all prisoners in the Muntok, Palembang and Belalau Camps, Sumatra.

The craftsmen making this bench have incorporated curved sections to represent the waves of the South China Sea and Bangka Strait where the many boats carrying evacuees from Singapore – now estimated by Michael Pether to be up to 140 vessels – had been bombed and sunk by Japanese planes and warships.