Can you help identify these soldiers?

TASMANIAN historian Peter Henning is seeking help in identifying the soldiers in this picture for a revised edition of his history of the ill-fated  2nd/40th Battalion that was published in 1995.

Henning's book Doomed Battalion  is the story of the mostly Tasmanian battalion that faced an overwhelming enemy force of about 5000 hardened Japanese soldiers in then Dutch West Timor during World War II.

This photo is of reinforcements sent from Tasmania to join the 2nd/40th Battalion in Timor in January 1942.  

It does not include men who went with the main battalion group in December 1941, but consists of nearly 100 of the 728 Tasmanians who fought in Timor and then became prisoners of the Japanese. 

 A number of men in this photo were killed in action or died as prisoners of war.

The revised edition of Doomed Battalion includes new information from archival and other sources, particularly in relation to war crimes.

The 2nd/40th Battalion was forced to abandon an airfield it was defending and retreat on February 23, 1942, with the bulk of the battalion was  taken prisoner.

 A few escaped into the jungle and a few managed to join up with other Australian units but most were taken prisoner and sent to Java, Sumatra, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and in some cases Manchuria, Saigon and Borneo,  where they endured appalling conditions.

Some eventually were taken to Japan to work in mines.

 The 2/40 Battalion consisted of 919 men, of whom 264 were killed during the war. Many died young after returning home due to the effects on their health from being POWs.

If you can identify any of the men in the photo please contact Peter Henning by email at henning@vision.net.au.

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