Surname: Stocks
Christian Names: Sydney Nelson
Country: Australia
State or Province: QLD
City or Town: Burnett
Service: RAAF
Case Notes:


Stocks is well known in the South Burnett region of Queensland as a heroic World War 2 bomber pilot but being exposed as a wannabe on more than one occasion has not stopped him continuing the charade

He is a 90-year-old author  who is well in command of his faculties, so the fiction that he has been spreading for decades about his WW2 exploits cannot be blamed on his age.


In a Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper report in 1992  by Jason Gagliardi, there is a photo of Sydney Stocks and a woman whom he had "rescued from a  Japanese POW camp in IndonesiaJuly 1945".

The article reports that in July 1945 Stocks landed his Beaufort bomber next to a Japanese prison camp in Banjuwangi Indonesia and amid chaos and bullets rescued Nicoline Van Den Hurk,  he snatched  her up, together with maps  documents and photographsand took her to Darwin.  The lady was sent back to Holland and the documents he gathered were found to be important to the war effort. For this escapade he was demoted and charged by the RAAF but subsequently awarded the Dutch War Commemorative Cross of Honour by Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands.

As a lead up to ANZAC Day, on 24 April 2004 Sydney Stocks gave an interview to Glenis Green of the Brisbane Courier Mail . It is a long interview that disclosed many more facets of Syd's "heroic" RAAF service. We have been unable to locate a copy of the actual newspaper report however we present a transcript of the report below.   

Flight to freedom

The exploits of Sydney Nelson Stocks , a distinguished bomber pilot and one of the few to escape from Changi, are a stirring story of courage and grit. Glenis Green reports

WHEN South Burnett war veteran  went into hospital for major intestinal surgery last month, the last thing his doctors expected to see on his X-rays was a bullet lodged near his spine.

Even as astounded medical staff at Kingaroy's community hospital looked at the amazing discovery on film, Stocks was being his usual chipper self.

After carrying the 307 snub-nosed bullet around for more than 60 years, the World War II Digger had almost forgotten about it -- except when it made his lower back ache if he ``mucked about'' too much.
Nestled next to his spine, the bullet had never been removed for fear of putting the 88-year-old in a wheelchair.

So Stocks learned to live with what he described as ``the wearying pains'' if he stood up for too long or did too much physical work.

Such silent stoicism is typical of Stocks, who was up and about just days after his surgery, living independently again in the Yarraman home he shares with Tommy the cat.
Watching Stocks as he bustles about in his old-fashioned kitchen making coffee and shuffling through scrapbooks decorated with his own artistic water colours, it is hard to reconcile the slightly built, softly spoken man with his rugged war hero reputation.

This, after all, is a man who not only risked his life a hundred times over to fly behind enemy lines performing daring rescues and bombing raids, but was also one of the few POWs to escape from Singapore's notorious Changi Prison.

He has so many medals it's hard to lift the jacket he wears to Anzac Day marches. They include his US Inter-national Cross of Honour, the Dutch Commemorative Medal of Honour, a Star of David presented by the Jewish community, an Order of Australia medal and a recent honour as an Honorary Knight of Malta.
But back to the bullet. For Stocks it's the lasting reminder of one of his regular 1942 sorties piloting a two-engine Wellington to bomb the Krupps Ammunition Factory at Hamburg.

``We blasted it night after night and their fighters were always chasing us,'' he says.``Well, this night we were coming back, outside Belgium, when the tail gunner said, `There's a bandit following', and we copped a blast.''

Stocks tried to out-manoeuvre the fighter, doing a quick inside turn (``the blokes were yelling a bit'') and the fighter made a pass and overshot before turning to close the distance between the two aircraft, approaching head-on.

``He was keeping his guns going -- he was within 400 yards -- and he peeled off.
``The last shot went through the fuselage, underneath Mitch (Gordon Symes, the front gunner), missed the centre post and hit me in the lower right torso.

``I told `Flaps' Crawford (the second pilot) `I've been hit, I think'. He took it (the plane) from me and I lay on the fuselage, all cramped up and half out of it until we got to the base at Silsden.''
When Stocks recovered from his wound, he realised the bullet was still in there when he felt a bump beneath his skin on his lower back.

While living with a bullet is just one of Stocks' amazing stories of survival, he's a reluctant hero, saying he's no different to any else who fought.

Stocks' story began when he joined up on January 6, 1940 aged 25 -- so old for a new recruit that he quickly earned the nickname ``Uncle''.

A FRENCH polisher by trade, he'd been a foreman in a furniture factory which was ordered into military production when the war began.
When first he went to enlist, he was knocked back, because his job was deemed a protected industry.
``So I waited for a few days, changed my name (calling himself Syd Nelson -- Nelson being his middle name) and enlisted in the RAAF.''

He was put straight on the SS Manundra sailing to England, ending up at Silsden, a medium bomber base near Leicestershire, where he was trained as a pilot and wireless air gunner. ``They (pilots) were always getting shot so they always needed more pilots,'' he says.

It was two years years later when Stocks was a member of four bombing squadrons sent to Siam (now Thailand) to head off the Japanese forces joining the war that the die was cast for his incarceration in Changi.

They had fought from Siam back to the causeway joining Malaya with Singapore when they were ambushed after the Japanese broke through an Indian battalion.

``The first thing they (the Japanese) did was go straight to the hospital and shoot every patient and medical orderly because they didn't want to look after injured people,'' Stocks says.
``Then they drove up and down and disabled the aircraft. I remember I was sitting with my CO on a kerb in Singapore in a monsoon with our feet in a drain, eating our last meat pie.
``He said, `What are you gonna do Stocksy?' and I said, `What can we do?'
``He said, `I appreciate what you've done, hopefully you'll get through this. It's every man for himself'.''
Stocks says there was nothing to do but wait to be picked up by Japanese troops and be thrown on a truck.

``Any sign of resistance and you were gone,'' he says.
Stocks and the rest of the captured Allied troops were taken to Seleta.
``We had to stand for 72 hours upright on a parade ground -- in the rain and the heat. The Japs made us stand in our faeces and urine -- blokes were collapsing everywhere. We lost 304 men. They were dropping at our feet.''

Those who survived were taken to Changi. There Stocks was put in charge of a small working team of army and air force men.

At one point he was interrogated and when he feigned ignorance was struck on the head with wooden bats, which permanently damaged his hearing.

That was in February, 1942. On April 11, the next year, he escaped.
His plan for freedom was hatched when a big stir went through the camp about the imminent arrival of Japanese General Shimperi, the overall head of prisoner of war camps at the time.
Prisoners were told they must be at a special parade for the general, and that they had better behave themselves.

Instead Stocks put himself on penalty duties for the big day, wearing his baggiest pair of shorts, worn-out sandshoes and no shirt and carrying two old potato bags which he used to put rubbish in as he traversed the perimeter of the prison.

Enduring the taunts, insults and kicks from guards, he eventually got to the main gates where a rubbish truck with an armed Japanese driver was waiting.

Because his captors refused to touch rubbish, Stocks was ordered into the truck so he could unload it at the dump. As the truck headed for the causeway, Stocks overpowered and ``dispatched'' the driver.
``I won't tell you what I did . . . I dug a hole and buried him just inside the entrance to the Kranji Cemetery, then I took the truck across the causeway to a small court outside the Temple of Johore where I knew the Sultan -- he had been a member of our Lodge.''

Stocks had become friends with a local magistrate, who put him in prison and told the Japanese who had come to take him away that he would have to remain in jail in Malaya for driving without a licence and stealing a vehicle.

HE WAS held in the Johore prison until he could be picked up by a fishing boat and taken out to sea.
``They covered me in coconut oil and dye and gave me an old straw hat so I looked like a fisherman,'' he says.

Eventually Stocks made it to Ambon and then Darwin.

As well as leaving behind so many mates in Changi (to whom he did not even reveal his escape plan in case they paid the price for their knowledge), one of Stocks' biggest regrets was saying goodbye to a loyal four-footed friend, ``Butch'', the fox terrier.

Wearing his own little parachute, Butch had been on every flying mission with Stocks, once even using that parachute to glide to safety when their aircraft was shot down. Despite the experience he lined up the next day for his usual seat on the plane -- never missing a beat.
So when Stocks was dragged off to Changi, Butch went too. But, sadly, he didn't see freedom again like his master.
Stocks finally found out during a 1992 reunion of POWS on the Gold Coast what had happened to his little dog.

Furious at Stocks' escape, one of the nastier Japanese sergeants killed the little dog, then cooked him and fed him to the unwitting prisoners.

Stocks still chuckles at the memory of the brave little dog, which incurred the CO's wrath after seizing the opportunity to mate with the CO's wife's pampered shi-tzu -- a tryst which produced a fine litter of pups, all looking just like Butch.

``He (Butch) was confined to barracks for a week for that,'' he said.
Stocks has a thousand more war stories -- and as a keen writer he has told some of them himself in many stories and books. He has written several novels, including Plenty Makes Me Poor, a story centred on his former home town of nearby Blackbutt, which is tipped to be made into a movie.
He's such a wealth of knowledge that archivists are gathering his recollections for an official history for the War Memorial in Canberra.

Living alone since his wife Val died in 1991 after 58 years of marriage, (they met when she was a concert pianist for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and he played the violin), Stocks holds on fiercely to his independence.

Even while he was still doubled over from the aftermath of his recent surgery he managed to add a fresh shine to the French polished war memorial in the main street of Yarraman. And that's where he'll be marching again on Anzac Day this year -- exactly three weeks before his 89th birthday.  As an RSL life member, he'll again be the toast of a town which is more than proud to call him one of their own.

What was Sydney Stocks really doing during WW2


We have the complete service record of Sydney Nelson Stocks – 174 pages -  and we know exactly where he was from 1942 when he first joined the 1st Battalion of the Volunteer Defence Corps  (Queensland) VDC (Q) until 1960 when he left the RAAF. We also know where he was not.   


He was....

Not in the RAAF in January1940.

Not ever in the Pilot's seat of a Bomber aircraft or any other aircraft  flying operational missions

Not rescuing Dutch Damsels from Japanese Prison Camps in July 1945

Never in Europe during the war, bombing the Krupps Ammunition Factory

Never wounded by a snub-nosed 307 bullet now lodged near his spine.

Never a prisoner of war nor incarcerated in Changi gaol in Singapore. 

Never stood for 72 hours in Changi and never lost 304 of his comrades

Never escaped from any POW camp.
Never killed a Japanese guard .

Never had a dog with parachuting skills.

Never knew a Sultan in Malaya who gave him refuge.

Never escaped from Malaya in a local fishing boat, to end up in Darwin.



Following the 24 April 2004 story Glenis Green ,  journalist with the Brisbane Courier mail, "cottoned" on to Stock's embarrassing lies and in a follow up story  on the 24 May 2004 shot down this "Bomber Pilot" in flames. She said about Stocks in the Courier Mail ; inter alia


"Not quite so blatant was Yarraman old-timer Syd Stocks, whose story about his brush with a bullet as a fighter pilot, his parachuting fox terrier "Butch" and escape from the notorious Changi prison also made it into print.


The 88-year-old remains convinced his stories are true, backed by scrapbooks of clippings; letters, X-rays of his bullet injury, faded photographs and medals.

Stocks had been fooling almost everyone in the Blackbutt and Yarraman area for decades with his tales of derring-do. Sadly it appears that his only gong was the OBE he was awarded last year for his services to the community.


Author, investigative writer and historical consultant Lynette Silver says fabricating stories about his service is insulting to all who did participate in the armed services.   After consulting a senior historian at RAAF Historical Section, Silver says Stocks could not have served with an RAAF bomber squadron in the UK in 1940, as our only squadron there at the time was 10 Squadron (Sunderland flying boats).


Silver also confirmed that, despite Stock's assertions, there were no RAF or RAAF bomber squadrons stationed in Thailand and there was no S Nelson or S Stocks listed among the 229 RAAF personnel from the RAAF's Far East Squadrons taken prisoner in 1942. And no POW ever escaped successfully from Changi, although some tried.

Silver points to a string of other inconsistencies in Stocks' account and notes that records do show a Sydney Nelson Stocks, born in Toowoomba on May 14, 1915, who, after being discharged from the militia, enlisted in the RAAF at Windsor in Brisbane on Jan 6 1944."

On 31 March 2006 Sydney Nelson Stocks flew back into the ANZMI radar with a story in the South Burnett Times


Note in the article that Stocks says, "I was a bomber pilot and this fellow was a fighter pilot and I got to know him well and I wanted to write his story". Note also that on the cover of the book that Stocks is pointing to, there is a photo of him as a young man together with his parachuting canine.


One would think that after the "drubbing" Stocks got from Glenis Green and Lynette Silver in their article of the 24 May 2004 that Syd would come down to earth, pack up his "pilot wings" and retire to a camouflaged hanger instead of continuing his farcical lies.


Stocks' Real Service Career


Sydney Stocks "heard the bugle" rather late as he enlisted as a part time soldier on the 16 Nov 1942 and served in 1 st Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, Queensland (VDC (Q)) employed as a Signaller. He elected to be discharged from the VDC (Q) in November 1943 for the purpose of joining the Citizens' Air Force (Full time duty)   



Sydney Stocks has a genuine RAAF service history that would be the envy of many. He was always described by his Commanding Officers as being exemplary and his work outstanding.   During WW2 his rank was initially aircraftsman, then on the 1 December 1944 he was promoted to leading aircraftsman  (LAC) (The equivalent of a senior private soldier) After the war – 1 Feb 1946 – he was promoted to acting corporal. Between 1946 and 1960 he rose to the rank of warrant officer in the trade of armourer. Sometime after 1952 Stocks applied unsuccessfully, to be selected for an RAAF Commission. Below is one page of the Application.



Notice on the application that Stocks, in his own handwriting, lists his locations from the time he first joined the RAAF until after the end of the war


On the 6 Jan 1944 he was a recruit in Sandgate Qld

10 March 1944 he was a Trainee Tech at Sydney, NSW

5 June 1944 he was a trainee Armourer at Nhill in Vic

27 August 1944 he was an Armourer at Amberley Qld

19 December 1944 he was an Armourer at Sandgate Qld

19 January 1945 he was an Armourer at Townsville Qld

5 March 1945 he was an Armourer in the Pacific with 6 Sqn RAAF.


Stocks did not join 6 SQN until 5 March 1945, this was his first and last participation in overseas WW2 service. When he joined the unit it was located at Dobodura New Guinea, Stocks arrived holding the rank of LAC Armourer. This rank and trade would scarcely qualify him to be flying Beaufort Bombers around Asia and rescuing Dutch damsels from POW camps. It is also very clear by his own handwriting that Stocks was never in Europe and was never a prisoner of war in Changi  Prison, Singapore. When the war ended, 6 Squadron RAAF relocated to Kingaroy in Southern Queensland where the Squadron was disbanded.  


During his WW2 service in New Guinea Stocks earned the following medals:

1939 –45 Star –

Pacific Star –

War Medal 1939/45 –

Australian Service Medal

General Service Medal (Malaysia) for service between 1951 and 1952.

Order of Australia medal presented in 2003 for his service to the community of Blackbutt Qld.


Remember Glenis Green reported on the 24 April 2004 "Syd has so many medals it's hard to lift the jacket he wears to Anzac Day. They include his: US Inter-National Cross of Honour,  Dutch Commemorative Medal of Honour, Star of David, Honorary Knight of Malta"


Stocks is entitled to wear six medals, the wearing of the self-purchased trinkets described above is just another example of his quest for fame through blatant lies and fantasy.   

Stocks is an enigma. He is a man with an excellent service record and he has earned an Order of Australia Medal for his services to his local community. These two things should make Stocks a satisfied man but he seeks further veneration from his community by extolling deeds of great "derring do" and mixing purchased  "trinkets" with his issued medals . He has a penchant for using newspapers to broadcast his lies.

Sydney's problem is that he writes works of fiction and then begins to live the fiction or reads stories of war time feats then fits himself into the action. This strange, long term Wannabe has no excuse for his bizarre behaviour.  He is a returned  serviceman who would have been very much respected for the genuine service he gave.


We hope this exposure will stop Sydney Stocks, spinning his yarns about his imagined heroic deeds. His antics negate his exemplary RAAF service and are an insult to veterans everywhere. If he wants to indulge in works of fiction he should write about his life as a confidence trickster, who has conned the people in the South Burnett region for decades.


One of the newspaper articles said

"As an RSL life member, he'll again be the toast of the town, which is more than proud to call him one of their own"

   27 June 2007

Our original entry about Stocks was dated 31 May 2006, an update was added 8 July 2006. In mid March 2007 we received a newspaper clipping with Stock's smiling countenance showing him to be a current and long term member of the Yarraman Queensland Returned Services League (RSL).  

 Read our original report and you will understand that Stocks is a liar of breathtaking proportions.  To this date he still maintains his claims of being an heroic WWll bomber pilot, Changi escapee and rescuer of damsels in distress.  Stocks has never apologised and shows no remorse for his insults to the intelligence of the veteran community or for the disrespect he shows to the memory of veterans and the families of those real heros who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

Stocks is aided and abetted in his continuing deceit by the Queensland RSL, starting at the very top down through a district president to where the "buck stops" with the Yarraman RSL thumbing its nose at veterans everywhere.  

On the 14 March 2007, we enquired directly to the current president of the Queensland RSL, about the Stocks situation, he advised that he would look into the matter. On the 8 May 2007 we again enquired as to the situation with Stocks.  The Queensland RSL president advised that he had no news and was awaiting for advice from the Moreton district president. How long does it take to establish that Stocks is - or is not - a full member of the Yarraman RSL, or whether he should remain a member in view of his disgraceful conduct

When it comes to wannabes of the calibre of Stocks the veteran community must not tolerate procrastination and stalling from those who lead us. 

If the RSL is determined to welcome disgraceful people like Stocks in their midst - it is indicitive of why so many genuine veterans will not join the RSL and why so many have resigned in disgust.


This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the  Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.


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