Bellingham C Thomas
Name Clarence Thomas (Tom) Bellingham Rank: Private
Battalion 2/22nd Infantry Battalion
Place of Birth Nerrena East 9 September 1908
Next of Kin Harry Bellingham, his father. His mother was Annie Bellingham nee Kuhne
Date and place of enlistment
2 July 1940 at Caulfield
Location on enlistment. Nerrena East via Leongatha
Occupation Farmer’s assisstant
Date and place of death 8 March 1942 Gasmata Beach, New Britain, Papua New Guinea, aged 33
Location of grave or memorial
He has no known grave and is on the Rabaul Memorial Papua New Guinea. He is remembered on the memorials at Leongatha and Dumbalk
Relationship to Woorayl Shire
Tom lived all his life with his family in Nerrena East
Tom was placed in the 2/22nd Battalion and trained at Mt Martha before going to Trawool near Seymour. The battalion then marched on foot from Trawool to Bonegilla near Albury for further training. Tom was in A Company with many other men from Leongatha and district and his commanding officer was Major Bill Owen.
Soldiers of the 2/22nd Battalion were given a few days leave to see their families and friends before returning to Bonegilla and going away to the war. On 11 March a selection of men travelled to Sydney by train and then boarded the Katoomba, an old liner. They stopped for a day in Brisbane before heading north past the Great Barrier Reef and into the Coral Sea. After a few days in Port Moresby they headed off to Rabaul arriving on 26 March 1941. The rest of the Battalion reached Sydney on 17 April and headed to Rabaul on the Zealandia. They sailed in to Rabaul on Anzac Day.
The men continued training and found themselves in a waiting game. Would the Japanese attack? Bombing started in late 1941 and the situation became very serious. The undermanned force was in serious trouble. The Japanese landed with a large force and quickly over ran Rabaul on 23 January 1942. Tom together with his brother Bill and others from A Company escaped into the jungle. The men were on the run until early March. We do not know how they became prisoners at Gasmata. Unfortunately, the men in this group were all executed by the Japanese on 8 March 1942.