Lieut to colonel in 3 weeks British North Borneo

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by Assam, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    A friend of mine is fortunate to have in his collection a group of medals to:

    Frederick Walter Pinnock formerly of the British North Borneo Company.

    His service with the chartered Company started in the early 1920's & he was by the time war came to that part of the world a relatively senior member of the Administration.

    He was to spend time in the UK After the invasion & was Comissioned in early 1945, within 3 weeks he had gone from Lieutenant to Acting Colonel. It is known that he attended Biggin Hill to lecture pilots during his time in the UK (presumably to provide intell for missions in or near Borneo upon deployment)
    He went back into British North Borneo in April 1945 & stayed there.

    His group consists of:
    1939-45 Star
    Pacific Star
    1939-45 war Medal
    1935 Jubilee Medal
    1937 Coronation medal
    BNBC General Service Medal (1 of only 37 awarded).

    It is his wartime service that has us stumped, as we can't find out what he did apart from the fact that he probably had command of the Administration unit, but what exactly did they do?

    From Lieut to Colonel in 3 weeks must have a story attached.

    If anyone is able to preovide a guide as to where we should be looking it would be greatly appreciated.

    He is not listed on any census forms for the UK & no death certificate can be found for him in the UK so it may well be that he died in that part of the world.


  2. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I suspect that he was probably part of one the the SOE Missions, they were the organization that accelerated promotion for mission structure purposes. I believe the N Borneo area came under the Aegis of the Australian SRD.
  3. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Thank you for that.


  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    The only hit I could find in the London Gazette is his commissioning to the General List in March 1945 as a 2nd Lt.

    I tried the National Archives here in Australia and got a couple of tantalizing hits, nothing digitized unfortunately:

    Correspondence - Colonel EW Pinnock (50 CAU [Civil Affairs Unit]) and Signals
    Contents date range May 1945 - Nov 1945

    (NB - no Pinnock with initials EW served in the Australian military in WW2)

    Contents date range 1945 - 1946

    (nice, blunt file titling)

    Signals - Troopers - Colonel Pinnock

    Contents date range Jul 1945 - Jan 1946

    I also tried the newspapers of the day plus the AWM collection but no hits, unfortunately.
  5. Assam

    Assam Senior Member


    Thanks, but he was not an Aussie, he was British, his initials are F.W. but the Pinnock family was well established in British Malaya & North Borneo. He was (drom about 1924-25) a member of the Legislature of BNB, president of the CVhampber of commerce in Sandakan & head of the rubber producers lobby.

    I have had word that he was in a volunteer rifle company during WW1 in BNB, which of course did not attract service medals for WW1. He would have been a fair age at time of commisioning, it was research from the groups owner that I found out about him attaining the rank of colonel soon after his commision in March '45, as by April he was back in borneo.

    I think what Jedburgh was getting at was that although British Army, control of British North Borneo in terms of SOE & special forces was under Australian command. I know that we had Z force in there training the locals (former headhunters who again practiced their craft on the Japanese).


  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Fair enough, silly me

    I just presumed that a reference in Aussie files to a EW Pinnock of 50 CAU [Civil Affairs Unit] which was active in British Borneo might lead to some info on a FW Pinnock who had an interest in British Borneo Administration

    Especially since “Several British officers served with the Australians in BBCAU”

    (Commonwealth Government to Cranborne)

    Attached Files:

  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Extracts from NAA file - Borneo Civil Administrative Unit, copy I [British North Borneo] [Contents different from 'copy II'] - concerning FW Pinnock

    Attached Files:

  8. Assam

    Assam Senior Member


    That is fantastic, I did the ANA route to with nil results, tyhank you very much, you have :

    1; confirmed his colonelcy
    2: confirmed he was involved with the re establishement of the civil population & commerce within BNB.

    As an aside, I should have realised the "EW" was in fact my man, if one looks at the 'straights times" thee are about 40-50 references to him with a number of different initials being reported,(probably the journo had too much cheer & couldn't read his own shorthand) namely, PW,VW TW.

    Thanks again


  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Fantastic indeed, why does this sort of thing never happen to me???:)

    Brilliant work Dave B.
  10. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the thanks

    It is amazing what can be found on-line, it just takes a bit of searching as in between war-time expediency by the originators of the files and post-war work overload by archives staff who catalogued it all, errors creep in a fair bit.

    My next query revolves around the use of the term "Troopers" in my first email from an NAA file header - searching the NAA using that term and the time period we are interested in provides half a dozen hits (see attached). Nearly all of files hold message traffic concerning known 50CAU / BBCAU senior British personnel.

    I wonder what it means? It can't have anything to do with the army (cavalry) rank of Trooper.

    Has anyone seen this as a signals corps term??

    Attached Files:

  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Dave,

    On the two Chindit operations there were Other Ranks in some units named as Troopers.

    But, I have never seen Signalmen stated as such. Most of the men were involved loosely speaking in special services, units such as 142 Commando, Recce units etc. I suppose the Chindits were a special service in their own right.

    Attached is the only example I can find, it is a Japanese POW index card to a Devonshire regiment man who was placed with the 45th Recce Corps on operation Thursday in 1944.

    Not sure this helps much.:unsure:

    Attached Files:

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