The Soldier's Details

First Name:
David Charles
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
'A' Company, Headquarters Reinforcement.
Place of Birth:
Geraldton, Western Australia
Father's Name:
David Williams Cripps
Mothers's Name:
Mary Grace Cripps (nee Ridley)
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 22.
Selarang Camp Changi, River Valley Road Transit Camp (prior to departure to Japan)
'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
Camps Thailand:
Camps Burma:
Victoria Point, Thetkaw, Kendau, Meiloe, Aungganaung
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 35
Cause of Death:
Lost at Sea
Place of Death:
South China Sea
Date of Death:

General Description

Cripps enlisted at Claremont on 13 Aug 1941, joining General Reinforcements.  He recorded his mother Mary Grace Ash as his NOK – originally residing Northampton, but soon after updated to 601 Murray Street, Perth.

He was granted pre-embarkation leave 27 Sep to 4 Oct 1941.  On returning to Northam he was Taken on Strength the following day 5 Oct 1941 to Woodside, South Australia,

He joined 2/4th MGB’s A Coy HQ with other Northampton boys and reinforcements Randall, Osborne and Don Sutherland.

Osborne (died 15 Feb Buona Buona Vista)  and Sutherland  (died 15 Feb Tanglin Halt, Buona Vista) were KIA at Singapore in 1942.

David Cripps’ war medals can be found at Geraldton RSL’s Collection.  Another soldier from 2/4th also has his medals with their collection:  WX8384 Robert Gordon Henderson who remained in Singapore throughout the war and died in Geraldton in 1980.


L-R back - Sutherland, Carlyon, Unknown, Front L-R E F Osborne, E E Randall, Dave Cripps
L-R back – Sutherland, Carlyon, believed to be Keith Mitchell, Front L-R E F Osborne, E E Randall, Dave Cripps, (mostly from Geraldton/Northampton area).



Read about ‘A’ Force Green Force No 3 Battalion

David Cripps was selected for Japan 27 March 1944 with Kumi 35 while he was at Tamarkan, Thailand.

The  ‘Rakuyo Maru’ party as they were to become known as, was sent by train from Tamarkan via Bangkok to Phom Penh, French Indo China. They made their way to Saigon and although the Japanese attempted several times to have them sail for Japan from this coastline, it took several months before the Japanese realised it would be futile with the American submarine blockade which had successfully sunk most Japanese shipping attempting to leave.

The POWs were put to work mostly around the docks and other areas of Saigon waiting for a ship.The Japanese eventually returned the POWs to Phom Penh to take train trip to Singapore via Bangkok.

At Singapore the POWs were accommodated at River Valley Road Transit Camp and  sent out to work, mostly around the wharves,  before they finally embarked on ‘Rakuyo Maru’ at Keppell Harbour and sailed about 10th September 1944.   The whole process from when the men were selected for Japan in March 1944 had taken about 6 months.



David Charles Cripps WX15783.

One or two days after ‘Rakuyo Maru’ sank in the South China Sea on 12th September 1944, and during a late afternoon, an exhausted David Charles Cripps aged 22 years, tragically lost his life when he slipped off the raft he managed to board having miraculously survived the sinking of the ‘Rakuyo Maru’.  He was 22 years old.

Peter Cripps nephew David Charles Cripps,  organised and held a service in Geraldton on 12 September 2013 in honour of his uncle and his service to Australia during WW2.   59 years previously his uncle, a POW on-board ‘Rakuyo Maru’ which was sailing in a convoy from Singapore en-route to Japan was torpedoed by US submarines. During the following days hundreds of POWs either perished or drowned in the South China Sea near Hainin Island.   The astounded crew of the very same submarines that had attacked the convoy picked a very fortunate small number of men up several days later.  The crews were completely unaware the convoy was carrying 100s of POWs to work in Japan.  The Japanese chose not to identify their human cargo.



CRIPPS, Private, DAVID CHARLES, WX15783, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 12 September 1944. Age 22. Son of David Williams Cripps and Mary Grace Cripps, of Northampton, Western Australia. Panel 18.

Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.


Read Rakuyo Maru story

Read about the enlistments from Northampton.




Above:  David W Cripps and Mary (Grace) Ridley.

Below: wedding announcement – Miss Grace Ridley known as Coonon .  Grace’s mother remarried following the early death of her father Edward Ridley in 1902.


Davey Cripps parents David William Cripps and Mary (Grace) Ridley married in 1919.  David William Cripps died unexpectedly in September 1924 aged 38 years.    Davey’s grandfather Thomas Charles Cripps had died the previous year, in April 1923.

David William Cripps enlisted WW1 however was invalided home with a serious allergy.  William’s two brothers were turned away from enlistment with illness, so their father Thomas Charles Cripps aged 61 years enlisted in their place.  ***



Davey Cripps – his father and grandfather were no longer alive when he enlisted.  He was only child of Mary (Grace) Cripps (nee Ridley)who later married Bertie Ash.

About 1927, Mary (Grace) Cripps remarried to Bertie Harold Ash.  Bertie Ash was brother of 2/4th’s WX16279 Eric Francis Osborne’s mother.     Eric ‘s mother Edith Beatrice Osborne (nee Ash) died  young in 1926, leaving 4 young children.  Eric was the youngest of four sons who were placed into care – believed to be an orphanage at Geraldton.  

Bertie Harold Ash’s wife had died 1926 leaving four young children.



Grace Cripps’ marriage to Bertie Ash ended in divorce June 1948 on account of Ash’s desertion.

Grace died in Geraldton 1961 – she had lived through much death and heartache.


Eric Osborne was KIA 15 February 1942 Buona Vista, Singapore aged 19 years.  He also joined ‘A’ Coy HQ with Cripps, Sutherland, Randall etc. from Northampton.


Mary (Grace) Cripps  (nee Ridley, aka Noonon) was born 1897 at Northampton to parents Edward Thomas Ridley and Beatrice Jane Sims who married 1892.  Edward Ridley died in an accident in 1902 leaving behind four young children.  Grace was about 5 years old.

Beatrice Jane Ridley remarried to James Pearce Coonan.  They had another three children.

Edward Thomas Ridley was born Greenhills, WA in 1870 to parents James and Charlotte Ridley.

Below:   A rift develops between James Ridley and his son.


We cannot be decisive about below notice – whether it is this Edward Ridley is one and same man or in fact another relative.



Grace Cripps’ sister Gertrude (Ellen) died 1931 aged 22 years, followed a few months later her mother Beatrice Coonan (nee Sims) died in 1931.


Below: Edward Thomas Ridley died in an accident in 1902 leaving his wife with four young children.



Below from Geraldton Advertiser 25 February 1902



Below, is a write up about the returning Private Charles Cripps from WW1. Charles Cripps died 6 years later.



Below:  the good news May 1943  – Cripps and Randall were reported POWs when previously it was reported Missing.



Below:  Their families learn the tragic news they will not be returning home.


Peter Cripps, nephew of Davey Cripps.  Peter Cripps arranged a memorial for Davey at the Northampton Cemetery in 2013.

Cripps David Charles P. 1

Cripps, David Charles P 2


Cripps, David Charles P 3.


***. Below and interview on ABC Radio with granddaughter of

The 61 year old farmer who enlisted in WW1


He was born in England in 1854 and was just 16 when he ran away from home to Australia.
It was a bold move that would eventually see him swap a team of horses for a 16-hectare farm lot north of Geraldton in Western Australia.
In August 1915 Charles signed up to serve in World War I. He was 61-years-old but told recruiters he was 45.
His great granddaughter Jenny MacKay has documented the Cripps family history.
“I don’t know how he got away with it because looking at the photos of him he’s got a little moustache, and some photos actually show that he’s got little grey sideburns. He certainly doesn’t look 45 in his photos,” she said.
Charles Cripps had three sons, but all were medically unfit to serve.
“My great-grandfather had gone into Northampton prior to going to war, but because the boys weren’t well, great-grandfather wanted to represent the Cripps family,” she said.
“Charles left Australia in 1915, basically on his 61st birthday was when he signed up, he went to Egypt and then was sent to the Western Front in France and Belgium. What he saw I don’t know, but we can just imagine.”
Two years later Charles Cripps wrote to his commanding officer and requested to be discharged and return to the farm. In this request he confessed he was 63.
“It wasn’t until late 1917 that he actually came back to Northampton,” said Mrs MacKay.
“As the generations have gone on and as I’ve done the family history, I believe that we’re all very, very proud of our great grandfather. The fact that we are now reaching the age that he was when he went away to war, so we sort of start to think, ‘Wow he went away at 61, that’s really amazing’.”
The original block of land purchased by Charles Cripps was expanded and became Mumby Farm, a well regarded land holding in the Northern Agricultural Region. It remained in the Cripps family for over 100 years.



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
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
  • Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma