Thomas, Edward Llewellyn Gordon

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Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Thomas, Edward Llewellyn Gordon

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Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Gordon Thomas

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Description area

Dates of existence

1890 - 1966


Edward Llewellyn Gordon Thomas, known as Gordon Thomas, was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1890 and died in Sydney in 1966. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1917 but was discharged as medically unfit in 1919. After schooling abroad and working in newspapers in Canada, he moved to New Guinea in 1911, taking on a variety of jobs, including editor of the Rabaul Times from 1925-27 and 1933-42. He was living in Rabaul in 1942, the capital of the Australian United Nations Mandated Territory, when it was invaded by the Japanese and all civilians and military personnel were interned as POW's (Prisoners of War). Some soldiers and civilians managed to escape, but 106 Australians were executed in horrific circumstances in the Tol and Waitavalo plantations. Arrangements were made to ship the remaining POW's to Hainan, but Thomas and three others were retained to run Rabaul's commercial freezer and ice plant. Most of the remaining civilians and military personnel imprisoned in the town were doomed when they were put on board the Japanese ship Montevideo Maru, a freighter requisitioned by the Japanese navy. They were on their way to Hainan when the unmarked POW ship was torpedoed by an American submarine off the coast of the Philippines with the loss of 1054 lives. Thomas Gordon and the other men spent the next three years as POW's in Rabaul. Thomas' skills as a journalist became very useful to the Japanese, writing news stories and propaganda to assuage the locals into accepting Japanese rule.

The massacres that took place at the Tol and Waitavalo plantations have been described as the "one of the most callous atrocities of the Pacific War". (Max Uechtritz,, 5 February 2017). The remains of some of the executed Australians were recovered post-war and buried in Rabaul's Bita Paka war cemetery.


Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

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Functions, occupations and activities

Editor, Prisoner of war

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Created by Stacey Herder on 30 September 2016.




National Archives of Australia B2455 Edward Llewellyn Gordon Thomas.
PAMBU Collection MS 600 - Correspondence, diaries, notes, articles, speeches

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