Name John Robert Field Rank: Private
Battalion 2/21st Infantry Battalion
Place of Birth. Fitzroy 11 September 1920
Next of Kin John Field, his father
He was the son of John Robert Alexander and Winifred Mary Field, of Balwyn, Victoria
Date and place of enlistment 10 June 1940 at Caulfield
Location on enlistment Ruby
Date and place of death 31 July 1945 aged 24 on the island of Ambon in present day Indonesia where he had been a POW since early 1942.
Location of grave or memorial
He is buried in Ambon War Cemetery Indonesia
Relationship to Woorayl Shire
He was associated with Ruby
The 2/21st Battalion was formed on 11 July 1940 at Trawool in central Victoria as part of the 2nd AIF. John was in this battalion from the start. The majority of the battalion’s initial intake of volunteers were Victorians.
The battalion undertook basic training at Trawool until 23 September, then moved on foot to Bonegilla, a march of 235 kilometres completed by 4 October. At Bonegilla, the battalion participated in more complex training. The Australian government decided to deploy to the islands to Australia’s north (Ambon, Timor and Rabaul) if war broke out with the Japanese. Within this plan, the 2/21st was assigned to reinforce Dutch troops on Ambon if the Japanese decided to attack. Therefore the 2/21st Battalion were moved to Darwin as the chance of war with Japan grew.
The battalion began arriving in Darwin on 9 April 1941. Following the Japanese attack on Malaya on 8 December the battalion prepared to move, arriving on Ambon on 17 December as part of Gull Force. Gull Force consisted of the 2/21st Battalion supported by anti-tank artillery, engineers and other supporting arms with a combined strength of 1100 men. Netherlands East Indies forces on Ambon numbered 2600 men consisting of both Dutch and Indonesian troops. The small Australian and Dutch force totaling just 3700 men was considered too small to defend Ambon. After much fighting the force eventually surrendered and the troops became prisoners of war.
Suffering from brutal treatment, malnutrition and tropical diseases would have made John weak and he struggled on into 1945 sadly passing away in July 1945 not long before the war ended.