The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Baker
First Name:
Arthur Joseph
Nick Name:
Joe
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX8720
Classification:
Driver
Company:
Headquarters Company
Enlisted:
23.10.1940
DOB:
13.01.1914
Place of Birth:
Coolgardie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Arthur Cornelius Baker
Mothers's Name:
Ellen Maria 'Nellie' Baker (nee Vowels)
Religion:
Roman Catholic
Pre-war Occupation:
Truck Driver
Memorial:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 30.
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi
Force:
'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung, Reptu 30km Camp
POW#:
3076
Japan:
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 37
Cause of Death:
Lost at Sea
Place of Death:
South China Sea
Date of Death:
12.09.1944

General Description

Joe Baker was selected in Singapore to work on the Burma end of the railway with ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Battalion.

Please read further about ‘A’ Force Green Force

 

By December 1943 when Burma Thai Railway was completed the Japanese began moving all POWs in Burma south to one of the larger camps.  The very sick remained in Burma with the passionate care of POW nursing staff.

Joe was more than likely at Tamarkan Camp and selected by the Japanese as being fit to work in Japan.  This group, referred to as the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party were moved by train from Thailand through Bangkok to Saigon in French Indo-China (known as Vietnam today).  Whlle they were waiting to take a ship from here to Japan the men were accommodated in Saigon and worked around the docks.  Eventually the Japanese realised the American blockade of Saigon and surrounds was so effective, there was little or no chance of further shipping successfully leaving this coastal area.  The POWs were then moved again by train via Bangkok back to Singapore, where they were billeted at River Valley Road Transit Camp and were again working mostly at the wharves waiting for a ship.

Joe was one of many young POWs who drowned in South China Sea on 12 September 1944 following the successful American submarine attack on the Rakuyo Maru and the convoy she was part of.  He was 30 years of age.

Please read about Rakuyo Maru

 

 

 

The elation felt above when the family learned Joe was alive in October 1943, became grief when they learned of his young death in November 1944.

 

 

 

Baker A J P 1

Baker A J P2

Baker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joe was the fourth of five surviving sons born to parents Arthur Cornelius Baker and Ellen Maria Vowels known as Nellie who married 1905 Coolgardie.  A large Coolgardie family, Joe also had three sisters.

The Baker family also endured the tragic loss of a child.

 

Joe’s father known as ‘Muddy’ was employed by Coolgardie Water Board, and he was also involved in mining leases.

 

Below:  We have absolutely no idea if the Arthur Baker mentioned is connected to Arthur Cornelius Baker!

 

 

In about 1920 the Baker family purchased the ‘Residency’ for 150 pounds.  This home was built about 1895 of local sandstone for Warden Finnerty, the first Magistrate and Mining Warden of Coolgardie.  The house stands today as a historical building of great interest.

 

Joe Baker married in 1941 to Mavis.

He participated in the local Rifle Club.

 

 

Joe’s father Arthur Cornelius died in 1950 and Ellen died in 1954.  Both are buried at Coolgardie Cemetery.

 

 

 

Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
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