The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Harold Thomas
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
'A' Company
Place of Birth:
Mount Barker, Western Australia
Father's Name:
George Edward Bunker
Mothers's Name:
Annie Ansit Bunker
Pre-war Occupation:
Selarang Camp Changi
A Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 35 (rescued by USS Queenfish)
Return Details 1945:
Saipan-Guadalcanal-Brisbane-Perth by aircraft 1.11.1944

General Description

Harry Bunker was one of the extraordinarily fortunate survivors of the sinking of ‘Rakuyo Maru’ by US Submarines 12 September 1944 and rescued four days later in South China Sea in a rescue led  by USS ‘Pampanito’. Harry was picked up by USS  ‘Queenfish’. He was one of 11 men from 2/4th rescued from a total of 159 POWs.  A further 85 or so POWs were rescued by the other submarines in the vicinity.  As well some POWs were picked by a Japanese ship, including three from 2/4th.

Read about others rescued.

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

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


Read the letters written to the mother of Vern Trigwell (Triggy) who died at sea following  ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Sinking.



Above Harry marries in 1940 to Doris spears at Albany.  Harry was attended by his brother-in-law Don ross.

Harry’s sister Ada married Don Ross WX9253 of 2/4th  who perished 23 May 1945 Sandakan.

Whilst the Bunker family considered themselves fortunate their son Harry miraculously survived sinking of the ‘Rakuyo Maru’, their relief was short-lived when they learnt the death of their son-in-law Don Ross WX9253  husband of their daughter Ada.  Ross was also in 2/4th however was sent to Sandakan, Borneo with ‘E’ Force Borneo.  He was one of about 2,000 Australian POWs who died in inhumane and brutal circumstances at the hands of their Japanese and Taiwanese guards/soldiers during 1945.

The Bunker family was to endure further loss and tragedy when in February 1947, Alan William Bunker aged 31 years,  brother of Harry and fourth son to George and Annie Bunker, died following an accident leaving behind his wife and 3 children.

Read the connections/marriages of the 2/4th

Harry Bunker died 2 March 2000.

The Return Home of H. Bunker – Escapee POW of Japan 1945

He’s coming up the street,
As yellow as a Chow.
He walks with weary feet,
But he is happy now.
He went away to fight
‘Gainst the aggressive Japs,
Because he thought it right
He went with other chaps.
They were all in their prime
When they reached Singapore,
A lot before the time
To make successful war.
They were not well equipped,
Were ordered to give in,
Much bitterness was sipped,
And they grew very thin.
A ship with him aboard,
Was sunk and left him free;
Away the Jap boats roared,
Free on a raft was he.
With others on that raft,
They spent four dreadful days,
Rescued by Yanks at last,
Who served them well always.
He’s coming up the street,
His people by his side,
Happy once more to greet
And in him they show their pride.

The above was read at the funeral of our Late Member, Harry Bunker, and published in ‘Borehole Bulletin’ April 2000. (author unknown)


Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore