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  • Claire Jordan

For Keith

Also for Anzac Day, a mention in (my) despatches today for this special gentleman, Keith Botterill.

As NX42191 Pte Botterill of the 2/19th Australian Infantry Battalion, he was taken POW by the Japanese when Singapore fell and eventually held at Sandakan on Borneo, along with around 2000 other Anzacs and 641 British POWs (two of whom were my own cousins Alec & Bert).

At Sandakan and on the specially designed marches of extermination to Ranau in early 1945, everyone was killed, everyone except six men, all Aussies, and Keith was one of them.

He had escaped into the jungle and was recovered by the Australian 9th Division more of a ghost than a man, after the Japanese capitulation in August 1945.

Keith survived and was one of the very few who lived to bear witness to what happened on Borneo.

I don't think any of us can know the terrible weight it must have been for him his whole life through, to become a living memorial to 2000 of your mates, to still be here when they are not.

An extraordinary man, not forgotten on Anzac Day, or ever.

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