'Remember my mates'

BADEN Jones' story is one of triumph through adversity.

Having spent time as a prisoner of war in Changi Prison in Singapore during World War II, he knew the meaning of endurance.

Working in Thailand on the notorious “death railway”, he was one of 3400 Australian soldiers to suffer the extreme hardship and brutality of which killed 1050.When war broke out in 1939, Mr Jones was 19 and was not called up for active service until September 3, 1940.

Originally thinking he would go to North Africa, Mr Jones was deployed to Malaysia after initial training in Tamworth and Bathurst.

He was a member of the Second 30th Infantry Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel (Blackjack) Callaghan.

Mr Jones went into captivity with 22,000 other Australians where his time on the “death railway” began.

He spent his 21st birthday on Singapore Island and received a cigarette as his birthday present.

The cigarette was shared among his mates and when Mr Jones' turn came only the butt remained.

Survival as a POW was almost impossible and Mr Jones faced daily challenges including cholera, malaria, dysentery, starvation and brutality.

He improvised by making pig-weed soup and boiling peanut shells.

Every grain of rice counted and men even ate meat complete with maggots for a source of protein.

With no medical supplies and long, arduous days, Mr Jones attributed his survival to the power of mateship.

Freed at the end of WWII in 1945, he arrived at Sydney by boat before travelling to a military camp at Liverpool.

Wishing to return home, he tried to board a train but wasn't allowed to get on.

His iron will would not accept the porter's demands and he threw himself on board where he was reunited with his mother.

Raised in Mullumbimby in northern New South Wales, Mr Jones moved to Ipswich in 1950 after marrying Shelia in 1948.

They had two children, Janice, now 59, and Peter, 50.

Friends remember Mr Jones with high regard - a generous man who never said a bad word about anyone.

He wanted his legacy preserved to honour his fallen comrades and took his family back to Thailand for several remembrance ceremonies over the years.

His funeral was held last Thursday at the Salvation Army Church in Ipswich.

Do you have or know someone who has a remarkable story to tell? We would love to hear your thoughts. Contact reporter Kate Lemmon on 3817 1724.

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