From Our Contribution
Western Mail photo
Army paybook photo
|Date of Birth||5 Nov 1913|
|Place of Birth||Narrogin, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||27 years, 4 months|
|Address||PO Byford, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Henry William Malarkey|
|Date of Enlistment||22 May 1940|
|Unit/Formation||2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||25 Oct 1940 ‒ 4 Nov 1940|
|Transport Details||HMT Aquitania Convoy US11A Fremantle to Bombay|
|Journey Dates||18 Nov 1940 ‒ 25 Nov 1940|
|Transport Details||SS Lancashire Bombay to Port Tewfik|
|Return to Australia|
|Journey Dates||30 Jan 1942 ‒ 6 Feb 1942|
|Transport Details||SS Île de France Convoy JS3 Port Tewfik to Bombay|
|Journey Dates||9 Feb 1942 ‒ 25 Feb 1942|
|Transport Details||SS Madras City Convoy SU 1 Bombay to Adelaide|
|2nd Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||2 Aug 1942 ‒ 13 Aug 1942|
|Transport Details||SS Canberra Brisbane to Port Moresby|
|Return to Australia|
|Journey Dates||20 Dec 1942 ‒ 20 Dec 1942|
|Transport Details||Unknown plane Port Moresby to Townsville|
|Post War Details|
Returned to Australia |
|Monument(s)||ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Enlisted 22 May 1940 and immediately identified for the 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion. Granted 8 days leave without pay, he was taken on strength on 30 May in Northam. From 24 Jun until 1 Jul 1940 he needed treatment at the Northam military hospital. Francis was admitted to hospital again from 21 - 29 Aug 1940, with influenza, before being granted sick leave at home from 3-11 Sep 1940. From 27 Sep until 4 Oct 1940 he was granted pre-embarkation leave.
On 25 Oct 1940 Francis, along with brother Clarence, embarked on the HMT Aquitania for the Middle East, disembarking in Bombay, India on 4 Nov 1940. Transported to camps, they remained ashore for up to 5 days before boarding much smaller ships, destined for El Kantara in Egypt. (The records for all members of the 2/16th Battalion only record embarkation and disembarkation, no names of ships are provided, nor mention of their transfer in Bombay). On 25 Nov 1940 they arrived at Kantara on one of the following four steamers: Christian Huygens, Lancashire, Dilwarra and Rhona.
The battalion undertook defensive duties along the Egyptian–Libyan border in early 1941 before taking part in the Syria–Lebanon campaign, fighting against Vichy French forces in June and July. At the conclusion of the campaign, the 2/16th remained in Lebanon, contributing to the Allied occupation force there. However, with Japan's entry into the war, they returned to Australia.
On 29 Jan 1942 at Suez, Francis embarked on SS Île de France a part of Convoy JS3, for Bombay. where they disembarked on 6 Feb 1942 and were sent to camps to await their embarkation on smaller, slower ships in the convoy that would carry them to Singapore. Clarence was allocated to the SS Madras City. The convoy set out for Singapore on 9 Feb 1942, and refueled at Colombo. When Singapore surrendered on 15 Feb 1942 the slow moving convoy was approaching the Sunda Straits, and given that the Japanese had already landed on many of the Dutch East Indian islands (Indonesia), the convoy's destination was changed on the orders of Churchill to Rangoon, Burma to assist with its defence. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin, however, was determined to bring every possible soldier home to defend Australia and demanded that the convoy , now redesignated as Convoy SU1, turn around and sail for Australian ports. On 25 Feb 1942 the convoy again refueled in Colombo, leaving there on 1 Mar 1942 for Fremantle which it reached on 15 Mar 1942. Around 350 of the members of the 2nd/16th Battalion from the SS Kosciusko failed to re-board when the convoy sailed for Port Adelaide which was reached on 23 Mar 1942.  While on the "Madras City" Francis was on 3 Mar 1942 charged with Neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, for which he was awarded 4 days Confined to Barracks B (extra duties).
Soon after arrival in South Australia, the battalion was sent to Queensland to prepare for a move to Papua New Guinea, and on 6 Aug 1942 they embarked in Brisbane on the SS James Fenimore Cooper for Port Moresby, arriving there on 13 Aug 1942. They were quickly sent up the Kokoda Track to assist militia troops then being driven back by the Japanese advance. Francis seems to have been one of the small number of 2/16th Battalion men to come through their time on the track without major injury. On 1 Oct 1942 he was evacuated to the 46th Australian Camp Hospital with a chronic cough, and he was then admitted to the 2/9th Australian General Hospital with synovitis. Francis returned to the battalion on 11 Oct 1942 in time to participate in the attacks on Japanese positions at Buna and Gona.
Soon after on 14 Dec 1942 he was evacuated, to the 2/9th Australian General Hospital, this time with asthma, and on 20 Dec 1942 he was evacuated by plane to the 2/14th Australian General Hospital in Townsville. Two days later he was transferred by Ambulance Train to the 2/11th Australian General Hospital in Warwick, inland from Brisbane. On 14 Jan 1943 he was released from hospital to the 102nd Australian Convalescent Depot in the same town. Next he was sent to the Ascot Staging Camp for forwarding to Western Australia on leave for 14 days. He entrained at Claremont on 5 Mar 1943 to return to Queensland where on 20 Mar 1943 he rejoined his battalion which was rebuilding on the Atherton tablelands.
The battalion embarked in Townsville on the SS Canberra on 2 Aug 1943 for Port Moresby, arriving there on 5 Aug 1943. A month later a Medical Board in New Guinea approved Francis's return to Western Australia for a Final Medical Board, with their recommendation that he was "Medically unfit for Military Service". On 28 Oct 1943 he was assessed by a Medical Board at 110th Australian Base Hospital (Perth) as "D" Unfit due to Asthma and Bronchitis. Francis was discharged on 19 Dec 1943 by the Western Command Recruit Reception & General Details Depot.
Three brothers also served. Clarence WX2165 born 7 Jul 1906; Thomas WX13810 born 5 Dec 1917; and Len WX10494 born 11 Dec 1920.
- Across the Sea to War, Peter Plowman, Rosenberg, 2003 pp 155-160
- Across the Sea to War, Peter Plowman, Rosenberg,2003, pp 325-364.