Known as “Medan Force”
The British Sumatra Battalion consisted of 498 British 2 Australians from Sumatra. The Battalion’s commander was Capt. D.P. Apthorp, and also included Australian surgeon Colonel Coates.
These men were transported from Sumatra on the England Maru to Mergui in Burma and put to work on an airfield along with some Australians from ‘A’ Force.
On 10th August 1942 the airfield work was finished and the British Sumatra Battalion, along with the remaining Australians of ‘Ramsay Force’, were transported in the Tatu Maru to Tavoy, being accommodated at the ‘Ann Heseltine Home’, which was a large chateau-like building constructed of stone. Sgt. Bullock continued to operate a radio, which he had built at Sumatra.
On 21st October 1942 they were shipped to Moulmein and then by road to Thanbyuzayat. These were the first working parties on the Death Railway in Burma. The British Sumatra Battalion was the only British prisoner to start from the Burma end of the railway.
Their first camp was at 18-kilo camp, Helpauk.