A tribute by Pamela Dorrizi to the Dorizzi Family, the only Australian family to lose 3 sons on the infamous Sandakan-Ranau Death March
Tom, a married man, at the back who died at Ranau age 31. Left is Bert, 26, a single man who passed away at Sandakan and right Gordon, 28, who was engaged to be married who died at 8 mile.
The three Dorizzi men – Tom 31 years, Gordon 28 years and Bert 26 years are my uncles that I had not had the privilege of getting to know as they died on the Sandakan – Ranau death march in 1945.
Gordon died at Sandakan Feb. 11th 1945.
Herbert died at Segindia Feb. 11th 1945.
Tom died at Ranau March 11th 1945.
I was born in 1946 and at the age of 14 years, my father gave me a small tin containing my uncles’ war medals. My parents and grandparents never discussed their loss.
Since then I have endeavoured to follow their lives until their deaths in Borneo. The family consisted of five boys; my father, Edgar, was the oldest, the other being Robert and the three who went to Borneo.
The Dorizzi family were long term residents of Toodyay. In 1929 they were the last family to live in the old Toodyay Gaol, where my grandparents lived in the main building and their five sons in the cells behind.
This was a comfortable home with rose gardens and vines growing over the trellis at the front. There was a big kitchen to accommodate traditional cooking as well as the home curing of bacon. They lived well.
The family owned a woodyard adjacent to the Gaol, and in the 1930’s established a cartage and contracting business known as T Dorizzi and sons in which all five sons worked in. They built it up over ten years to include as well as collecting the white gum which was sawn into blocks for firewood, general cartage and the school bus run.
They were popular and lived a very active life. As young adults they were prominent in the football and swimming clubs, the fire brigade and were keen on whippet racing as well as all of the usual activities of the town. Tom married a local girl, Nellie Smith and had a daughter Geraldine whom they called “Tiddles”; Bert had a steady girlfriend but Gordon was still unattached.
When war broke out, the business, like many at the time in country areas, was under stress, and the three brothers, Tom, Gordon and Bert were working away from home with their trucks on contracts carting gravel for the Main Roads in Nungarin.
All three enlisted from there into the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Reg Ferguson, very good mate with the Dorizzi boys, grew up and worked with them in Toodyay and died alongside them in Sandakan on 23rd March 1945.
May they Rest in Peace.