NotesBy the end of the War in the Pacific on 2nd September, 1945, the 'Sydney Morning Herald' newspaper office had five staff members held as prisoners of war. It had been thought that these men would have survived but the jubilation turned to sadness when, only a month later, it was learnt that Charlie Sellers had tragically died 10 months earlier in Thailand. The Herald's staff magazine, 'Boomerang', published during the War, devoted the front page of their last issue in June 1946 to Charlie Sellers and the other deceased POW, Charlie Jacobs. It noted that 'the career of Charlie Sellers (composing room staff) in the 'Herald' office had been one of unceasing service. A man of great organising ability ? he knew and was known by everybody in the House ? in his day there was scarcely a movement in the building of which he was not the head or a leading spirit'. Charlie organised outings, dances, and 'as Chapel and Union official, collector, or visitor to the sick, Charlie was perfectly in character.' The article goes on to note that the War Correspondent R. D. Rivett paid a glowing tribute to the late Staff-Sergeant Sellers 'I first met Charlie at the Bicycle Camp, Batavia, in April 1942. In October that year we were moved to Burma and, after the grueling on the Jap hellships, Charlie was put into the base hospital at Thanbyuzayat. Though very ill, he took charge of water distribution for the whole camp of 3,000 men, besides working selflessly in the interests of his mates in a hundred other ways.
'On June 15 in the second raid by Allied planes on the hospital a number of P.O.W.s were killed, and Charlie had a narrow escape, being blown through the air by a blast for some distance without suffering a scratch. The hospital was then abandoned and Charlie and thousands of other sick men had to carry their gear out into the jungle for six or eight miles to a ruined camp where we slept in the open without proper roofs, through two of the wettest weeks of the rains. I'll never forget staggering into this camp, and finding Charlie already there supervising the distribution of food to the exhausted men.
'Later, at the 30-km and 55-km Hospital camps Charlie again proved himself a bad patient but a sterling man by working ceaselessly to assist the M.O.s and camp staff in looking after the sick. At the end of 1943, just before we were brought out of the Burma jungle, Charlie was very sick with pellagra, chronic malaria and malnutrition. But in Thailand, at the Tamarkan camp, things were much better and for most of the next year, he was very bright and ceaselessly active looking after 'his boys' in the Tamarkan hospital. I said good bye to Charlie on January 5, 1945, when I was transferred to another camp a few miles away, [Charlie died three weeks later]. Charlie Sellers will not be forgotten by anyone who knew him. He has written his name on the history of the Australian forces in the Burma prison camps and his pals are immensely proud of him. He made me proud to be a fellow newspaper man and prouder still to be his friend.'
It is understandable that the staff of the 'Herald' were devastated to hear of Charlie's death and his widow, Margaret, and two daughters, Elaine and Marie, were made to know the high esteem in which her husband and their father were held. One of the more practical ways of showing this was the construction of this doll's house for Charlie's youngest daughter, Elaine, then eleven years of age. The doll's house was built by the men of the 'Herald' while the girls in the office put together the furniture. Elaine can just recall going into the 'Herald' office with her mother and sister when the presentation of the doll's house was made to her in 1946.
'The Sydney Morning Herald Boomerang', No.33, June, 1946.
Information provided by Elaine Molloy.