Legendary World War II veteran who became a prisoner of war dies in his sleep aged 99 – as his final message to Australia is revealed
- A legendary Australian World War 2 veteran has passed away in his sleep
- Private Wal Williams was one of the final surviving Aussies from ‘Death Railway’
- Despite enduring ‘hell on earth’ as a war prisoner, his attitude was ‘inspiring’
A legendary Australian World War II veteran has died at the age of 99.
Private Wal Williams was aged 99, and passed away in his sleep at the Narrabeen RSL Village in Sydney on Saturday.
He was one of 13,000 Australian soldiers sent to work on the Thai-Burma Railway in October 1942 after they became prisoners of war after the Fall of Singapore during World War 2, which became known as the ‘Death Railway’.
Around 2,600 diggers were killed, and Williams was one of the final surviving Australians from the Death Railway.
Private Wal Williams (second from the right) has passed away at the RSL Village in Narrabeen on Saturday night, aged 99.
Private Williams was one of the last surviving Australians from the Death Railway.
Private Williams final message to Australia was short yet sweet, when speaking to 2GB host Ben Fordham (pictured) on Anzac Day, ‘you have got to have a sense of humor’.
Private Williams final message to Australia was inspiring, despite enduring ‘hell on earth’ as a war prisoner.
He said: ‘You have got to have a sense of humor,’ when when speaking to Ben Fordham on Anzac Day.
Private Williams said it is vital that the stories of Prisoner’s of War (POW) are told.
‘My philosophy has been since I came home from the war is that the story of the POW’s should be told,’ he said in an interview with Ben Fordham.
Mr Fordham paid tribute to Private Williams in a post to Facebook saying despite seeing horrors we will never be able to understand, his attitude was inspiring.
‘One of the lucky ones who made it home was Wal Williams’, he said.
‘We were privileged to be able to speak with him on Anzac Day.
‘He had seen horrors we will never be able to understand.
‘But his attitude was inspiring’.
Ben Fordham’s tribute to Private Wal Williams
We’ve received some very sad news.
One of our listeners Geoffrey has been in touch.
He says “Ben, you aired an interview on Anzac Day with Private Wal Williams, a World War 2 veteran. “It is my sad duty to inform you that my dear friend Wal passed away in his sleep on Saturday night at the RSL Village in Narrabeen. “Wal would have turned 100 on October 10th. RIP Wal.”
Wal Williams was one of the last surviving diggers from the Thai Burma Railway.
On February 15, 1942 – with the stroke of a pen – 15,000 Australians became prisoners of war after the Fall of Singapore.
13,000 were sent to work on the Death Railway.
By the end of 1943 – more than 2,500 of our soldiers had died during construction.
It was hell on earth.
One of the lucky ones who made it home was Wal Williams.
And almost 80 years later – Wal was one of the last surviving Australians. Sadly – he has passed away.
We were privileged to be able to speak with him on Anzac Day. He had seen horrors we will never be able to understand.
But his attitude was inspiring. He told me- “you’ve got to keep your sense of humour.”
We send our thoughts to the family of Private Wal Williams this morning. He’s died the age of 99. RIP Wal.