The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Alfred John
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
'B' Company, No. 8 Platoon.
Place of Birth:
Bunbury, Western Australia
Father's Name:
James Thomas Cocking
Mothers's Name:
Doris Maud Cocking
Pre-war Occupation:
Leading Hand at Wesfarmers
'Blackforce', attached to 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion
'A' Force Burma, Java Party No. 4 Williams Force
Camps Thailand:
131km, 133km, Kanchanaburi, Tamarkan
Camps Burma:
Kendau 4km, Thetkaw 14km, Beke Taung 40km Hospital, Khonkan 55km Hospital, Aunggaung 105km,
Camps Java:
Arinem, Leles, Bicycle Camp Batavia
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 38 (rescued by USS Pampanito)
Return Details 1945:
Saipan-Guadalcanal, Brisbane-Perth by aircraft 1.11.1944

General Description

Read the story Members of 2/4th nominated for Medal but not awarded.

Also read about Java and POW Camps and the group of men who delayed their surrender to the Japanese in Java.

And the story Surviving the Sinking of the Rakuyo Maru written by Roy Cornford NX44955 of the 2/19th Battalion, courtesy of Peter Winstanley.

As well as Jack Cocking’s story.


Jack Cocking with Americans well after being saved from South China Sea when Rakuyo Maru sank.


Jack married Doris Alma Frood in 1939.

He apparently re-enlisted with the Army and lived interstate before returning to WA.

Jack passed away aged 88yrs, July 26 2002, at Geraldton, WA.

He and his wife Doris had retired to RSL Village in Geraldton.  He was riding his gopher at a cross walk and hit by a vehicle and killed.

Read about Jack’s rescue by USS Pampanito.





Jack Cocking was amongst a large number of 2/4th men who went AWOL when their ship ‘Aquitania’ anchored off Fremantle on its journey from Sydney to Singapore.  Their original leave at Fremantle had been cancelled!  Jack was amongst the men who were not able to re-board before their ship left the next morning on 16 January 1945.

He was one of about 90 well-trained machine gunners who sailed out of Fremantle a few weeks later intending to land at Singapore. By this time it was anticipated Singapore would fall so the group went to Java where they joined forces with the other Allied troops and were to fight the Japanese prior to the Dutch surrender.

Following capitulation he met up with Col Blakeway, Hampson & others on 20 March 1942 at the tea plantation 7 miles from Lelles and intended not to surrender to the Japanese.

They were eventually taken POWs.

Between 23-28 September he was at Bicycle Camp Batavia Hospital as he fractured his hand.  He attended the funeral for Edgar Cheetham Jones who died at the hospital 6 July 1942 of bacillary dysentery.  Jones and Cocking had both enlisted into ‘B’ Coy, although Cocking was a reinforcement.

Cocking was selected October 1942 in Java with Burma Group No. 4, Williams Force to work on the Burma end of the Railway.  The Group sailed to Singapore then onto northern Burma before making their way to the beginning of the rail head.

Reads further about ‘A’ Force Burma Group No. 4 Williams Force

Williams Force was to become the major Australian rail laying party and they moved frequently.  Jack was hospitalised at 55km and 40km hospitals (although they had no medicines nor equipment).  When the rail was completed the Japanese moved most of the POWs working in Burma to Thailand.  Jack left 133km camp 12 January 1944 and arrived No. 1 Camp Kanchanaburi.

On 13 January 1944 he was selected as being fit, to go to work in Japan.  He was moved to Tamarkan Camp and the Party left here on 7 April 1944.  They were railed to Phom Penh in French Indo-China via Bangkok.  They the Group made their way to Saigon which is where they originally planned to depart from to Japan.The POWs were accommodated and worked in around the Saigon Docks for several months, until the Japanese decided the American sea blockade was too dangerous to attempt sea travel.

The group was  sent back to Phom Penh to get the train to Singapore via Bangkok.  All this time the men were subject to Allied Air attack and it must have been distressing particular when they were locked into rail carriages and sitting at stations such as Bangkok.

At Singapore  POWs were accommodated at River Valley Road Transit Camp and worked labouring and around the docks for months before their ship was available for transport – early September 1944 aboard the ‘Rakuyo Maru’.

They boarded their ship in early September and it was sunk by American Submarines about 12 September.

Jack Cocking was one of the very fortunate and lucky few to have survived long enough floating in the South China Sea and to be in the right place and the right time when the American submarines cruised back to the site when Rakuyo Maru had sunk and managed to save some lives.



Camp Locations:

  • Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
  • Nikhe Wood Camp, Ni Thea, 131 Kilo, 284k - Thailand
  • Onte, Yongthi, 213k - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Beketaung, 40Kilo, 374k - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
  • Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***
  • Leles - Java
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Arinem - Java
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
  • Nikhe, Ni Thea, 133Kilo Camp, 281.80km - Thailand