Title: War Graves Digger – Australian Graves Registration Unit – New Guinea – Cowra – Thai-Burma Railway – Japan
Author: Leemon, Jack
Edition: 1st Edition
Publisher: Australian Military History Publications
Publication Date: 2010
Cover: Hard Cover without Dust Jacket (Laminated Boards) – 220 pages
Comments: War Graves Digger is the story of a small group of World War two soldiers who had the onerous task of recovering those killed in battle, recording their details and giving them a proper burial in a war graves cemetery.
Jack Leemon led one of the small units and he and his men carried out their sad task at Buna and Lae, Markham and Ramu River areas and other places in New guinea.
When the Japanese broke out of their camp at Cowra, Jack was sent to handle those killed on the dramatic night of 5 August 1944.
At the end of the Pacific War, Jack was sent to Thailand and was probably among the first soldiers to travel the ‘death’ railway after the cease fire. He, his unit and a group of ex-POWs located the bush cemetries that were already becoming overgrown and recovered whatever information they could regarding the prisoners who had died during the building of the line.
In 1948, Jack who was then a civilian was sent to Japan with his new family to take charge of the Yokohama War Cemetery. He supervised the development of the grounds that held the remains of soldiers of the British Commonwealth who had been killed in Japan.
The second part of this book was written by Betsy Leemon (who served as an AWAS driver during the war) and her daughter Catherine Morgan. They describe life in defeated Japan and the many famous people they met at the cemetery. They spent several years in Japan and their recollections vividly describe life in those post-war years.