The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Gibbs
First Name:
William Herbert
Nick Name:
Jimmy or Jim
Rank:
Private
Regimental #:
WX8958
Company:
'D' Company, No. 13 Platoon
Enlisted:
25.10.1940
DOB:
16.04.1916
Place of Birth:
Cannington, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Jabez Gibbs
Mothers's Name:
Florence Adeline Gibbs (nee Becke)
Religion:
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Market Gardener
Memorial:
Epitah, Labuan memorial, Panel 18, Age 28
Singapore:
Selarang Camp Changi, Tamarkan, River Valley Road Transit Camp
Force:
'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Tamarkan
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Tavoy, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km
POW#:
3110
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

WX8959 William Herbert Gibbs
WX8959 William Herbert Gibbs

Below:  Jimmy with 2/4th mates.  Brothers Lacey and Jimmy were in ‘D’ Company No. 13 Platoon.

 

William (known as Jim) was older brother to Lacey Gordon Gibbs WX16407. Tragically they lost their lives in South China Sea when their POW transport ship ‘Rakuyo Maru’ headed to Japan from Singapore sank following a torpedo attack by US submarines.

Brothers Jim and Lacey Gibbs were first cousins to Percival J. ‘Percy’ Gibbs WX8607. Their fathers are brothers. Percy Gibbs survived and returned home.  The Gibbs family is extensive and pioneers of early Western Australia; many including Jim and Lacey lived in the Wanneroo region, farming and market gardening.

Jim and Lacey were No. 2 and 3 sons of Jabesz Gibbs and
Florence Adeline Becke who married 1913 at Canning.  In total Jabesz and Florence had a family of 9 children, 3 daughters and six sons.  Florence died January 1932 aged 41 years, not long after giving birth to her youngest child, Linda.

 

 

 

 

Above:  Jimmy with Daphne and below with Violet.

Jim and Lacey were competent horsemen and enjoyed riding and hunting around the family property.

Read further about D Company.

 

Above:

Newspaper October 1943

 

The West Australian – Friday 24 November 1944
GIBBS, William (Jim) and Lacy – In proud and loving memory of our two dear Nephews, taken POW. Singapore now presumed dead. Inserted by their loving aunt Susie, uncle Charlie, Arnold, sister Linda. We will always remember two brave boys
The West Australian – Saturday 2 December 1944
GIBBS (Jim and Lacey) – In loving memory of two fine boys. Inserted by aunt Ethel and cousins. Ethel, Herb and Bob. Always remembered.
GIBBS – In proud memory of Jimmy and Lace., taken POW, Singapore. now presumed dead; lifelong friends of Mr. and Mrs, Brady-and family (Wanneroo). Sweetly they sleep while others sigh. Softly their heads doth lie.
GIBBS (Jim and Lacey) – A sincere tribute to two great friends, taken POW Singapore, now presumed dead. From their old Pal. Stanley Mclntosh, Brookton. I’ll never forget them.
The West Australian – Wednesday 6 December 1944
GIBBS – A tribute to the memory of Jimmy and Lacey, taken POW, Singapore, now presumed dead; and sincere sympathy to their loved ones. Inserted by Rose and Santo Crisafull. They died that we might live.

 

 

The West Australian – Friday 1 December 1944
GIBBS – In proud memory of William (Jim) and Lacey, taken prisoner, Singapore now presumed dead. Inserted by Mr and Mrs E. Ashby and family. Sadly missed by us all.
GIBBS – In loving memory of two dear pals William (Jim) and Lacey, taken POW, Singapore, now presumed deceased. Inserted by Irene. Cheerio and not good-bye.
The West Australian – Saturday 25 November 1944
GIBBS – In loving memory of Jimmy and Lacey, taken POW Singapore, now missing, presumed dead; loved nephews and cousins of aunt Emma, uncle Aub, Ruby (Mrs McGarry). Charlie (AIF). Ken and Derek. We will always remember them.
GIBBS – In ever-loving memory of Jimmy and Lacey, taken POW. Singapore, now missing, presumed dead. Ever remembered by Harry and Edie and family. Two of the best.
GIBBS – In proud and loving memory of Jim and Lacey (taken POW, Singapore), now presumed dead; lifelong pals of Doris and Ken. For ever we’ll remember.
GIBBS – In proud remembrance of Jim and Lacey, POW Japanese hands, now presumed dead. Inserted by Nancy and Cecil Cockman. Sadly missed.

Gibbs Jim and Lacey

 

 

Please read further about the Gibbs brothers

And ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion

 

These were sent by Jimmy to the Gibbs family.

They were from the Official Australian Forces Cards.

 

From Singapore Lacey and Jimmy were selected with ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion to work on the rail link from the Burma end.

They were amongst 3,000 POWs who departed Singapore on 14 May, 1942 on three ships to sail to south west coast of Burma.  Green Force sailed to Victoria Point where they were to repair and enlarge the aerodrome.  This would take some months before they made the journey to their first rail work camp, Kendau 4.8km Camp on 1 October 1942.

Green Force would remain working on the rail link in Burma until near the end of 1943.  The Japanese then brought all POWs in Burma south to Thailand to one of 4 or 5 large camps.

At some time probably from Aunggaung 105 km Camp between 11 May and December 1943, Lacey was evacuated sick to Khonkan 55m Hospital Camp.

He recovered sufficiently  to be sent south to Thailand.  It was at one of these larger camps in Thailand, that Lacey and Jimmy were selected as fit to work in Japan.

They became known as the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Group.  It would be many months before they would their ship.  They underwent inoculations and were prepared to send by train via Bangkok to Saigon, from where the Japanese intended to ship the POWs to Japan.

Please read about Rakuyo Maru

At Saigon the POWs were accommodated near the docks where they would work whilst waiting.
There were many false starts i.e. they packed and prepared to leave only to be told ‘No – back to camp’.  Eventually the Japanese came to the only logical conclusion, the POWs had to be sent back to Singapore to leave for Japan from there.  The American submarines had affectively blockaded the waters around the coast of Saigon – the river to Saigon was filled with sunken ships.

In Singapore the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party was accommodated at River Valley Road Transit Camp.  However the POWS were again sent out on daily work parties, including to the wharf.

It would be early September before they would make moves to board ‘Rakuyo Maru’.

 

 

In 1954 Jabez Gibbs died.  He was an active community person, was on Wanneroo Shire.

 

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
  • Tavoy (Dawei) - river port - Burma
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma
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