Winston Phillip James "Blow" Ide
- 317Wallaby Number
‘Blow’ Ide was a versatile inside back who became the first player of Japanese descent to represent the Wallabies in a Test match. Unfortunately, like many of his contemporaries, Ide’s career, and sadly his life, was cut down in its prime by World War II. Born and bred in Sydney, Ide developed a passion for rugby at North Sydney Boys Technical High School. He played in the school’s 1st XV and after graduation linked up with the Northern Suburbs club. In 1935 his devastating tackling and speed off the mark saw him win a debut at fly half for New South Wales against Victoria and later that season he was part of the Norths side that won the first grade premiership.
The following year he played in four of the seven state matches however when Cyril Towers returned from his sojourn to South Africa in 1937 Ide was the unfortunate casualty. As a result, at the end of the season, Ide moved to Brisbane and linked with the GPS club where ‘Wally' Lewis was the club and State five-eighth. So impressed were GPS by their new acquisition they soon chose Ide at five-eighth and shifted Lewis to inside centre. When ‘Dooney’ Hayes withdrew from the first interstate match of 1938 against New South Wales, Ide was called into the team at fly half and Lewis moved out one spot. Queensland won 17-9 and Ide retained his place in the team for the rest of the series.
Ide was then chosen as the first reserve back for the opening match of the Test series against New Zealand with ‘Shirts’ Richards at fly half, and Hayes and Lewis in the centres. A shoulder injury to Richards ruled him out of the second match however Easts’ Paul Collins was called in as his replacement ahead of Ide. Nonetheless Lady Luck shone when Lewis withdrew after he pulled a leg muscle at training and Ide was named to make his debut in the unfamiliar position of outside centre. His all-round abilities clearly impressed the Australian selectors who chose Ide for the Second Wallabies tour to Great Britain. Unfortunately the team arrived for the ill-fated tour the day before war was declared. The tour was subsequently abandoned without the opportunity for the Wallabies to play a single match on British soil.
Upon his return to Australia Ide joined the Second Australian Imperial Force where, with a number of his Queensland teammates, he was posted to the 2/10th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. Demobilised to Singapore, Ide saw action in early 1942 during the successful ambush of Japanese forces near Mersing, Malaya. Soon thereafter Singapore fell to the Japanese and Ide became one of 45,000 British and Australian troops captured during the surrender. As a POW he was sent to Changi prison and then dispatched to Burma to work on the construction of the Thai-Burma railway where he was ravaged by disease, malnutrition and overwork.
Once the railway was completed, the survivors returned to Changi. In September, 1944 the remnants of “A Force” embarked upon the Rakuyo Maru and Kachidoki Maru, bound for Japan. On the 12th of September, the convoy was mistakenly attacked by American submarines. The Rakuyo Maru, on which Ide sailed, was hit by a torpedo from the USS Sealion. It took 12 hours for the ship to sink. No prisoners were seriously hurt and an orderly evacuation was made. Some managed to board lifeboats but many were left in the water clinging to debris. A total of 1,559 Australian and British prisoners perished.
Ide was among the missing who died at sea. He was last seen by one of his mates, who called out for Ide to join him on the safety of a raft. Ide shouted back that he was okay but “some of the boys had been hurt… [so] he would stick by them for while”. He was never seen again. To honour his memory the ‘Blow' Ide Memorial Cup was established in 1947 and awarded to the winners of the combined North Sydney v. South Sydney trial game until the 1970s. In 2013, there was also a Last Post Ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial in his honour. A memorial written by his friends reads: “Blow Ide died as he had always played - for his team”
Ide won his first Test cap at outside centre, paired with ‘Dooney’ Hayes, in the 2nd Test, 14-20 defeat to New Zealand at the Exhibition Ground. Ide and Hayes were retained for the 3rd Test, 6-14 loss at the S.C.G