Brisbane Courier Mail
newspaper report in 1992
Gagliardi, there is a photo of Sydney
Stocks and a woman whom he had "rescued
from a Japanese
POW camp in Indonesia, July
The article reports
that in July 1945 Stocks landed his
Beaufort bomber next to a Japanese
prison camp in Banjuwangi Indonesia and
amid chaos and bullets rescued Nicoline
Van Den Hurk, he snatched
her up, together with
maps documents and
took her to
Darwin. The lady was
sent back to Holland and the documents
he gathered were found to be important
to the war effort. For this escapade he
was demoted and charged by the RAAF but
subsequently awarded the Dutch War
Commemorative Cross of Honour by Queen
Beatrice of the Netherlands.
As a lead up to
on 24 April 2004 Sydney Stocks
gave an interview to Glenis Green of
the Brisbane Courier Mail . It is a
long interview that disclosed many more
facets of Syd's "heroic" RAAF service.
We have been unable to locate a copy of
the actual newspaper report however we
present a transcript of the report
Stocks , a
distinguished bomber pilot and one of
the few to escape from Changi, are a
stirring story of courage and grit.
Glenis Green reports
Burnett war veteran went into hospital
for major intestinal surgery last month,
the last thing his doctors expected to
see on his X-rays was a bullet lodged
near his spine.
Even as astounded
medical staff at Kingaroy's community
hospital looked at the amazing discovery
on film, Stocks was being his usual
After carrying the 307 snub-nosed bullet
around for more than 60 years, the World
War II Digger had almost forgotten about
it -- except when it made his lower back
ache if he ``mucked about'' too much.
Nestled next to his spine, the bullet
had never been removed for fear of
putting the 88-year-old in a wheelchair.
So Stocks learned to live with what he
described as ``the wearying pains'' if
he stood up for too long or did too much
Such silent stoicism is typical of
Stocks, who was up and about just days
after his surgery, living independently
again in the Yarraman home he shares
with Tommy the cat.
Watching Stocks as he bustles about in
his old-fashioned kitchen making coffee
and shuffling through scrapbooks
decorated with his own artistic water
colours, it is hard to reconcile the
slightly built, softly spoken man with
his rugged war hero reputation.
This, after all, is a man who not only
risked his life a hundred times over to
fly behind enemy lines performing daring
rescues and bombing raids, but was also
one of the few POWs to escape from
Singapore's notorious Changi Prison.
He has so many medals it's hard to lift
the jacket he wears to Anzac Day
marches. They include his US
Inter-national Cross of Honour, the
Dutch Commemorative Medal of Honour, a
Star of David presented by the Jewish
community, an Order of Australia medal
and a recent honour as an Honorary
Knight of Malta.
But back to the bullet. For Stocks it's
the lasting reminder of one of his
regular 1942 sorties piloting a
two-engine Wellington to bomb the Krupps
Ammunition Factory at Hamburg.
``We blasted it night after night and
their fighters were always chasing us,''
he says.``Well, this night we were
coming back, outside Belgium, when the
tail gunner said, `There's a bandit
following', and we copped a blast.''
Stocks tried to out-manoeuvre the
fighter, doing a quick inside turn
(``the blokes were yelling a bit'') and
the fighter made a pass and overshot
before turning to close the distance
between the two aircraft, approaching
``He was keeping his guns going -- he
was within 400 yards -- and he peeled
``The last shot went through the
fuselage, underneath Mitch (Gordon Symes,
the front gunner), missed the centre
post and hit me in the lower right
``I told `Flaps' Crawford (the second
pilot) `I've been hit, I think'. He took
it (the plane) from me and I lay on the
fuselage, all cramped up and half out of
it until we got to the base at Silsden.''
When Stocks recovered from his wound, he
realised the bullet was still in there
when he felt a bump beneath his skin on
his lower back.
While living with a bullet is just one
of Stocks' amazing stories of survival,
he's a reluctant hero, saying he's no
different to any else who fought.
Stocks' story began when he joined up on
January 6, 1940 aged 25 -- so old for a
new recruit that he quickly earned the
A FRENCH polisher by trade, he'd been a
foreman in a furniture factory which was
ordered into military production when
the war began.
When first he went to enlist, he was
knocked back, because his job was deemed
a protected industry.
``So I waited for a few days, changed my
name (calling himself Syd Nelson --
Nelson being his middle name) and
enlisted in the RAAF.''
He was put straight on the SS Manundra
sailing to England, ending up at Silsden,
a medium bomber base near
Leicestershire, where he was trained as
a pilot and wireless air gunner. ``They
(pilots) were always getting shot so
they always needed more pilots,'' he
It was two years years later when Stocks
was a member of four bombing squadrons
sent to Siam (now Thailand) to head off
the Japanese forces joining the war that
the die was cast for his incarceration
They had fought from Siam back to the
causeway joining Malaya with Singapore
when they were ambushed after the
Japanese broke through an Indian
``The first thing they (the Japanese)
did was go straight to the hospital and
shoot every patient and medical orderly
because they didn't want to look after
injured people,'' Stocks says.
``Then they drove up and down and
disabled the aircraft. I remember I was
sitting with my CO on a kerb in
Singapore in a monsoon with our feet in
a drain, eating our last meat pie.
``He said, `What are you gonna do
Stocksy?' and I said, `What can we do?'
``He said, `I appreciate what you've
done, hopefully you'll get through this.
It's every man for himself'.''
Stocks says there was nothing to do but
wait to be picked up by Japanese troops
and be thrown on a truck.
``Any sign of resistance and you were
gone,'' he says.
Stocks and the rest of the captured
Allied troops were taken to Seleta.
``We had to stand for 72 hours upright
on a parade ground -- in the rain and
the heat. The Japs made us stand in our
faeces and urine -- blokes were
collapsing everywhere. We lost 304 men.
They were dropping at our feet.''
Those who survived were taken to Changi.
There Stocks was put in charge of a
small working team of army and air force
At one point he was interrogated and
when he feigned ignorance was struck on
the head with wooden bats, which
permanently damaged his hearing.
That was in February, 1942. On April 11,
the next year, he escaped.
His plan for freedom was hatched when a
big stir went through the camp about the
imminent arrival of Japanese General
Shimperi, the overall head of prisoner
of war camps at the time.
Prisoners were told they must be at a
special parade for the general, and that
they had better behave themselves.
Instead Stocks put himself on penalty
duties for the big day, wearing his
baggiest pair of shorts, worn-out
sandshoes and no shirt and carrying two
old potato bags which he used to put
rubbish in as he traversed the perimeter
of the prison.
Enduring the taunts, insults and kicks
from guards, he eventually got to the
main gates where a rubbish truck with an
armed Japanese driver was waiting.
Because his captors refused to touch
rubbish, Stocks was ordered into the
truck so he could unload it at the dump.
As the truck headed for the causeway,
Stocks overpowered and ``dispatched''
``I won't tell you what I did . . . I
dug a hole and buried him just inside
the entrance to the Kranji Cemetery,
then I took the truck across the
causeway to a small court outside the
Temple of Johore where I knew the Sultan
-- he had been a member of our Lodge.''
Stocks had become friends with a local
magistrate, who put him in prison and
told the Japanese who had come to take
him away that he would have to remain in
jail in Malaya for driving without a
licence and stealing a vehicle.
HE WAS held in the Johore prison until
he could be picked up by a fishing boat
and taken out to sea.
``They covered me in coconut oil and dye
and gave me an old straw hat so I looked
like a fisherman,'' he says.
Eventually Stocks made it to Ambon and
As well as leaving behind so many mates
in Changi (to whom he did not even
reveal his escape plan in case they paid
the price for their knowledge), one of
Stocks' biggest regrets was saying
goodbye to a loyal four-footed friend,
``Butch'', the fox terrier.
Wearing his own
little parachute, Butch had been on
every flying mission with Stocks, once
even using that parachute to glide to
safety when their aircraft was shot
down. Despite the experience he lined up
the next day for his usual seat on the
plane -- never missing a beat.
So when Stocks was dragged off to
Changi, Butch went too. But, sadly, he
didn't see freedom again like his
Stocks finally found out during a 1992
reunion of POWS on the Gold Coast what
had happened to his little dog.
Furious at Stocks' escape, one of the
nastier Japanese sergeants killed the
little dog, then cooked him and fed him
to the unwitting prisoners.
chuckles at the memory of the brave
little dog, which incurred the CO's
wrath after seizing the opportunity to
mate with the CO's wife's pampered
shi-tzu -- a tryst which produced a fine
litter of pups, all looking just like
``He (Butch) was confined to barracks
for a week for that,'' he said.
Stocks has a thousand more war stories
-- and as a keen writer he has told some
of them himself in many stories and
books. He has written several novels,
including Plenty Makes Me Poor, a story
centred on his former home town of
nearby Blackbutt, which is tipped to be
made into a movie.
He's such a wealth of knowledge that
archivists are gathering his
recollections for an official history
for the War Memorial in Canberra.
Living alone since his wife Val died in
1991 after 58 years of marriage, (they
met when she was a concert pianist for
the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and he
played the violin), Stocks holds on
fiercely to his independence.
Even while he was still doubled over
from the aftermath of his recent
he managed to
add a fresh shine to the French polished
war memorial in the main street of
Yarraman. And that's where he'll be
marching again on Anzac Day this year --
exactly three weeks before his 89th
birthday. As an RSL life member, he'll
again be the toast of a town which is
more than proud to call him one of their
What was Sydney Stocks really
doing during WW2
We have the complete service record of
Sydney Nelson Stocks – 174 pages - and we
know exactly where he was from 1942 when he
first joined the 1st Battalion of the
Volunteer Defence Corps (Queensland) VDC
(Q) until 1960 when he
left the RAAF. We also know where he was
the RAAF in January1940.
Not ever in the Pilot's
seat of a Bomber aircraft or any other
aircraft flying operational missions
rescuing Dutch Damsels from Japanese Prison
Camps in July 1945
Never in Europe during the
war, bombing the Krupps Ammunition Factory
wounded by a snub-nosed 307 bullet now
lodged near his spine.
a prisoner of war nor incarcerated in Changi
gaol in Singapore.
stood for 72 hours in Changi and never lost
304 of his comrades
escaped from any POW camp.
killed a Japanese guard .
had a dog with parachuting skills.
Never knew a Sultan in
Malaya who gave him refuge.
Never escaped from Malaya
in a local fishing boat, to end up in
Following the 24 April 2004 story Glenis
journalist with the Brisbane Courier mail,
"cottoned" on to Stock's embarrassing lies
and in a follow up story on the 24 May 2004
shot down this "Bomber Pilot" in flames. She
said about Stocks in the Courier Mail ;
"Not quite so
blatant was Yarraman old-timer Syd Stocks,
whose story about his brush with a bullet as
a fighter pilot, his parachuting fox terrier
"Butch" and escape from the notorious Changi
prison also made it into print.
remains convinced his stories are true,
backed by scrapbooks of clippings; letters,
X-rays of his bullet injury, faded
photographs and medals.
Stocks had been
fooling almost everyone in the Blackbutt and
Yarraman area for decades with his tales of
derring-do. Sadly it appears that his only
gong was the OBE he was awarded last year
for his services to the community.
writer and historical consultant Lynette
Silver says fabricating stories about his
service is insulting to all who did
participate in the armed services. After
consulting a senior historian at RAAF
Historical Section, Silver says Stocks could
not have served with an RAAF bomber squadron
in the UK in 1940, as our only squadron
there at the time was 10 Squadron
(Sunderland flying boats).
Silver also confirmed
that, despite Stock's assertions, there were
no RAF or RAAF bomber squadrons stationed in
Thailand and there was no S Nelson or S
Stocks listed among the 229 RAAF personnel
from the RAAF's Far East Squadrons taken
prisoner in 1942. And no POW ever escaped
successfully from Changi, although some
Silver points to a
string of other inconsistencies in Stocks'
account and notes that records do show a
Sydney Nelson Stocks, born in Toowoomba on
May 14, 1915, who, after being discharged
from the militia, enlisted in the RAAF at
Windsor in Brisbane on Jan 6 1944."
On 31 March 2006
Sydney Nelson Stocks flew back into the
ANZMI radar with a story in the South
Note in the article
that Stocks says, "I was a bomber pilot
and this fellow was a fighter pilot and I
got to know him well and I wanted to write
his story". Note also that on the cover
of the book that Stocks is pointing to,
there is a photo of him as a young man
together with his parachuting canine.
One would think that after the "drubbing"
Stocks got from Glenis Green and
Lynette Silver in their article of the
24 May 2004 that Syd would come down to
earth, pack up his "pilot wings" and retire
to a camouflaged hanger instead of
continuing his farcical lies.
Real Service Career
Sydney Stocks "heard
the bugle" rather late as he enlisted as a
part time soldier on the 16 Nov 1942 and
served in 1 st Battalion,
Volunteer Defence Corps, Queensland (VDC
(Q)) employed as a Signaller. He elected to
be discharged from the VDC (Q) in November
1943 for the purpose of joining the
Citizens' Air Force (Full time duty)
Sydney Stocks has a
genuine RAAF service history that would be
the envy of many. He was always described by
his Commanding Officers as being exemplary
and his work outstanding. During WW2 his
rank was initially aircraftsman, then on the
1 December 1944 he was promoted to leading
aircraftsman (LAC) (The equivalent of a
senior private soldier) After the war – 1
Feb 1946 – he was promoted to acting
corporal. Between 1946 and 1960 he rose to
the rank of warrant officer in the trade of
armourer. Sometime after 1952 Stocks applied
unsuccessfully, to be selected for an RAAF
Commission. Below is one page of the
Notice on the
application that Stocks, in his own
handwriting, lists his locations from the
time he first joined the RAAF until after
the end of the war
On the 6 Jan 1944 he
was a recruit in Sandgate Qld
10 March 1944 he was a
Trainee Tech at Sydney, NSW
5 June 1944 he was a
trainee Armourer at Nhill in Vic
27 August 1944 he was
an Armourer at Amberley Qld
19 December 1944 he
was an Armourer at Sandgate Qld
19 January 1945 he was
an Armourer at Townsville Qld
5 March 1945 he was an
Armourer in the Pacific with 6 Sqn RAAF.
Stocks did not join 6 SQN until 5 March 1945, this
was his first and last participation in
overseas WW2 service. When he joined the
unit it was located at Dobodura New Guinea,
Stocks arrived holding the rank of LAC
Armourer. This rank and trade would scarcely
qualify him to be flying Beaufort Bombers
around Asia and rescuing Dutch damsels from
POW camps. It is also very clear by his own
handwriting that Stocks was never in Europe
and was never a prisoner of war in Changi
Prison, Singapore. When the war ended, 6
Squadron RAAF relocated to Kingaroy in
Southern Queensland where the Squadron was
During his WW2 service in New Guinea Stocks
earned the following medals:
1939 –45 Star –
Pacific Star –
War Medal 1939/45 –
General Service Medal (Malaysia) for service
between 1951 and 1952.
Order of Australia medal presented in 2003
for his service to the community of
Glenis Green reported on the 24 April 2004 "Syd
has so many medals it's hard to lift the
jacket he wears to Anzac Day. They include
his: US Inter-National Cross of
Commemorative Medal of Honour, Star of
David, Honorary Knight of Malta"
Stocks is entitled to wear six medals, the
wearing of the self-purchased trinkets
described above is just another example of
his quest for fame through blatant lies and
Stocks is an enigma. He is a man with an
excellent service record and he has
earned an Order of Australia Medal for
his services to his local community.
These two things should make Stocks a
satisfied man but he seeks further
veneration from his community by
extolling deeds of great "derring do"
and mixing purchased "trinkets" with
his issued medals . He has a penchant
for using newspapers to broadcast his
Sydney's problem is that he writes works of
fiction and then begins to live the fiction
or reads stories of war time feats then fits
himself into the action. This strange, long
term Wannabe has no excuse for his bizarre
behaviour. He is a returned serviceman who
would have been very much respected for the
genuine service he gave.
We hope this exposure will stop Sydney
Stocks, spinning his yarns about his
imagined heroic deeds. His antics negate his
exemplary RAAF service and are an insult to
veterans everywhere. If he wants to indulge
in works of fiction he should write about
his life as a confidence trickster, who has
conned the people in the South Burnett
region for decades.
One of the newspaper articles said
"As an RSL life member, he'll
again be the toast of the town, which is
more than proud to call him one of their own"
27 June 2007
entry about Stocks was dated 31 May
2006, an update was added 8 July 2006.
In mid March 2007 we received a
newspaper clipping with Stock's
smiling countenance showing him to be a
current and long term member of the
Yarraman Queensland Returned Services
original report and you will understand
that Stocks is a liar of breathtaking
proportions. To this date he still
maintains his claims of being an heroic
WWll bomber pilot, Changi escapee and
rescuer of damsels in distress. Stocks
has never apologised and shows no
remorse for his insults to the
intelligence of the veteran community
or for the
disrespect he shows to the memory of
veterans and the families of those real
heros who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
aided and abetted in his continuing
deceit by the Queensland RSL, starting
at the very top down through a district
president to where the "buck stops" with
the Yarraman RSL thumbing its nose at
On the 14
March 2007, we enquired directly to the
current president of the Queensland RSL,
about the Stocks situation, he advised
that he would look into the matter. On
the 8 May 2007 we again enquired as to
the situation with Stocks. The
Queensland RSL president advised that he
had no news and was awaiting for advice
from the Moreton district president. How
long does it take to establish that
Stocks is - or is not - a full member of
the Yarraman RSL, or whether he should
remain a member in view of his
comes to wannabes of the calibre of
Stocks the veteran community must not
tolerate procrastination and stalling
from those who lead us.
If the RSL is
determined to welcome disgraceful people
like Stocks in their midst - it is
indicitive of why so many genuine
veterans will not join the
RSL and why so many have resigned in
This is published in the
public interest, particularly that of the
Veteran Community. All information presented here is
fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are
supported by statements of fact and statutory