Maureen Devereaux

‘I had this terrible feeling sort of went right around my heart that I knew I was never going to see him again.’

23 July 2020

Today we remember Maureen Devereaux, whose brother, John Barnier, was taken prisoner of war (POW) by the Japanese on the ill-fated Sandakan Death March. Maureen shares the goodbye that would last forever.

Maureen Devereaux — I had this terrible feeling sort of went right around my heart that I knew I was never going to see him again.

Maureen Devereaux audio file (MP4 23.96 MB)

Maureen Devereaux audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia remembers Maureen Devereaux, whose brother, John Barnier, ended up as a prisoner of war of the Japanese on the ill-fated Sandakan Death March.

Despite her being quite young, she remembered the last time she saw John, and the feeling of extreme unease that came over her.

Maureen Devereaux

I often think of the last time I saw John — perhaps I didn’t see it very clearly because it was as if I was looking through a waterfall of tears. It was at South Grafton railway station — his final leave had finished and he was going back to Sydney to join the Queen Mary, of course, to sail-out overseas. And at the station were just our little family group, at one stage just before the train pulled out — I had this terrible feeling sort of went right around my heart that I knew I was never going to see him again. And we kissed goodbye and then the train pulled out; chugged out of the station. And, well, John was leaning far out of the window waving his army hat, until finally the train just curved around and he had gone.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.