With less than three months of the Second World War remaining, the tragic death of Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN came to pass on the 22nd of May, 1945. The war in Europe had already been won. And sadly, Claude was just one of many Allied soldiers who needlessly lost their lives in those last few months of the conflict.
One of his grandchildren is desperately trying to recover these missing war medals which were posthumously awarded to Claude Anthony GILLIGAN. Can you help?
Claude Anthony GILLIGAN was the son of James Gilligan and Maud Eliza Gilligan, of Coonamble, NSW. Born on the 5th of June, 1910 – he would answer the call and enlist into the Second AIF (Australian Imperial Force) on the 2nd of July, 1940.
NX52439 Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN would enter service with the 2/20th Battalion, Australian Infantry – as part of the Australian 8th Division. He would become one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo during World War Two. Having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of ‘E Force’, his battles did not finish with his capture by the Japanese. His struggle against brutality and starvation would be the longest and hardest fight of all.
The 500 Australian and 500 British POW’s, who made up ‘E Force’, left Changi on the 28th of March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk. They arrived at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on the 15th of April, 1943. The POW’s were held there until the 5th of June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the ‘B Force’ compound. Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN, aged 34, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on the 22nd of May, 1945. He left behind his wife, Mercia GILLIGAN and a nine year old daughter.
IMAGE LEFT: Australian War Memorial photograph number P09076.001 showing Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN whilst in camp in Australia, prior to his deployment to Malaya. Note his combination of Pattern 37 equipment (gaiters) with the Pattern 1908 webbing.
The descendants of Claude Anthony GILLIGAN would dearly love to locate his missing war service medals. His daughter searched unsuccessfully for them for over fifty years. That search has now been taken up by his grand children. Claude was entitled to the 1939-1945 Star, Pacific Star, 1939-1945 War Medal and the 1939-1945 Australia Service Medal.
If you could assist this family in any way, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator via this website.
Lest We Forget, NX52439 Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN
IMAGE RIGHT: The medal entitlement of Private Claude Anthony GILLIGAN, 2/20th Infantry Battalion, AIF. From left to right: 1939-1945 Star, Pacific Star, 1939-1945 War Medal and the 1939-1945 Australia Service Medal.