Letter written by Private Costley to his mother Bertha, Malaya 1941

Historical note: 

Private Rod Costley wrote this letter to his mother Bertha from Malaya in days before Christmas 1941. 34 year old Costley was a truck driver with 2/3rd Reserve Motor Transport Company. Costley and his mates were providing support for British and Indian troops as they fought their way back to Singapore in the face of an overwhelming Japanese force. In the letter Costly shares none of the tension and terror of enemy attack or dismay at the discomfort of his circumstances. 

Costley and over 400 men of the 2/3rd Res MT Coy made it to Singapore. From Singapore they were ordered to Java where they fought on until captured when the island fell in March 1942.

Pte Costley and his mates were sent to the Burma Thailand railway construction camps by their Japanese captors. They laboured in dangerous conditions with meagre rations under brutal guards. In August 1943 36 year old Pte Rodney Costley succumbed to disease and died in a camp by the railway in Burma. 

Category: 
Diaries and personal papers
Conflict: 
Second World War
Story: 
Private Rodney Marwood Costley
Production Date: 
December 1941

On this day

On this day
24 June

1927 — Opening of the MENIN GATE Memorial at YPRES, Belgium. This Memorial records the names of over 56,000 Allied soldiers, including 6176 Australians, missing in the battles around YPRES in World War 1

1940 — The British Government requested Australian support in the provision of military assets to assist in the garrisoning Malaya

1942 — Rommel’s Afrika Corps attacked Egypt, forcing the Allied troops back to El ALAMEIN

1942 — Maroubra Force was formed from the 300 strong Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 39th Battalion, an Australian militia unit. Its job was to defend Port Moresby