There’s no doubt that the most famous tale of crucifixion was of Jesus of Nazareth. But, still, another crucifixion that inspires a story of bravery when a man fought for his comrades in war. 

Edwards and His Crew

Australia entered WWII on September 3, 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany. Nearly one million Australian men and women joined the war; 39,000 died while fighting the Axis forces, while some 300,000 became prisoners of war. Among the latter was Herbert James Edwards.

Edwards was born in Fremantle, Western Australia. There, he spent a considerable chunk of his adult life working on cattle stations. This was where he also got his nickname “Ringer,” referring to someone who works as a stockman on cattle stations and would usually ring mobs of cattle to make them easier to manage. He was herding cattle in Queensland when World War II broke out. And since he was there, he was posted to the 2/26th Battalion. Unfortunately, the Japanese forces would later capture the whole 2/26th.

But before their capture, Edwards’ battalion was assigned to the 8th Division as part of the 27th Brigade. The British Colony of Singapore sent a division to consolidate its forces, and the Australian military was assigned to assist. 

Edward and his comrades fought with all their might against the Japanese troops in the Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore. Unfortunately for them and the forces of Britain and India that accompanied them in the battle, the reinforcements were already exhausted when they faced the Japanese, who were feeling the exasperation of the war.

On the other hand, Edwards’ battalion had just entered the war and was eager to win. There were also less experienced compared to the Japanese. Because of these factors and Britain’s poor strategy, Japan easily won the confrontation. On February 15, 1942, the Japanese took some 130,000 Allied troops, 15,000 of which were Australians, Edwards included.

The Gallopers

Edwards already knew from the moment they were captured that life as a POW would be challenging, but nothing prepared him for what was to come. They spent the next 3 ½ years of their lives suffering in prison. Most of them did not make it until the surrender of Japan.

Abandoned section of Death Railway in Thanbyuzayat, Burma (Myanmar).

The 2/26th was named “the Gallopers” because they were given a weekly cross-country training run. They were also assigned to the Burma Railway built by the Japanese using the hands of the POW laborers. Along with the others, Edwards worked all day to cut through the thick jungle between Thailand and Burma to construct the railroad.