Harold Robert McCormick was born in Taree on 3 October 1911 to parents Robert and Margaret.1 After school he went to Rotorua, New Zealand for three years before returning to Taree in 1933.2 Living with his family at 33 Albert Street, Harold worked as a motor driver and trimmer at the Manning Motor Company.3
Harold enlisted in WWII in 1941 and by August that year he took his first step on Singaporean soil. In just a few months he had risen to the rank of Corporal.4 Although allied forces outnumbered the Japanese in Singapore, the Japanese had trapped one million citizens in the city and water supplies were critically low. On 15 February 1942, the allies surrendered in what is now known as the ‘Fall of Singapore’. More than 15,000 Australian soldiers were captured including Harold.5
Harold’s parents received a card from him in December 1943 saying he was a POW but that he was unwounded, in good health and spirits, and not to worry about him.6 His family heard nothing else until June 1945 when they received the shocking news that their only son had died in a POW camp on 15 June 1943 from malaria. He had already been dead for six months when they first received information that he had been taken prisoner. The Japanese Government had failed to comply with the terms of the Geneva Convention to provide prompt interchange of information regarding POWs.7
Harold was cremated and his remains are in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Myanmar.8 His name is recorded on the Taree War Memorial in Fotheringham Park.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BDM, Birth Index for Harold R McCormick, No. 46093/1911.
2 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 5 April 1933, 2.
3 Ancestry.com.au, Electoral rolls for Taree 1934, 1937.
4 NAA: B883, NX4643, MCCORMICK HAROLD ROBERT.
5 National Museum Australia, Fall of Singapore, viewed on 2 November 2020, https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/fall-of-singapore.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 8 December 1943, 2.
7 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 9 June 1945, 2.
8 Ancestry.com.au, UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1939-1947, Burma, Thanbyusayat War Cemetery, plot A6.C.19.