The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Ronald Edward
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
'A' Company
Place of Birth:
Manjimup, Western Australia
Father's Name:
John Arthur Hughes
Mothers's Name:
Jeanette Hughes (Nee McAlister)
Pre-war Occupation:
Carpenter’s Labourer
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 24.
'Blackforce', attached to 2/2nd Pioneer Bn.
'A' Force Burma, Java Party No 4, Williams Force
Camps Thailand:
Kami Sonkurai, 122 Camp, Neikhe, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok
Camps Burma:
Tanyin 35km, Reptu 30km Camp (25.3.1943), Taungzan 57km, Apalon 77km, Kyondaw 85km, Payathonzu 108km,
Camps Java:
Bicycle Camp
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 38
Cause of Death:
Lost at Sea
Place of Death:
South China Sea
Date of Death:

General Description

Ronald Hughes was a former student of Como Primary School.
During 2015 the School erected a WWII Honour Board on which his name is included.


Ronald Edward Hughes was a pupil at Como PS
Ronald Edward Hughes WX10795 lost at sea Rakuyo Maru 12.9.1944. He is remembered by the Como Primary School.


Hughes R


Hughes R Elliott J McDonald G Raynor L, Woodside SA
Hughes R, Elliott J, McDonald G, Raynor L, Woodside SA


Murray L Raynor L Hughes R McDonald C McGhee A, Noalunga Beach SA
Murray L, Raynor L, Hughes R, McDonald C, McGhee A, Noalunga Beach SA


McDonald C Hughes R, Woodside SA
McDonald C Hughes R, Woodside SA


HUGHES, Private, RONALD EDWARD, WX10795, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 12 September 1944. Age 24. Son of John Arthur and Jeanette Hughes, of Maylands, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.




The above is from Enid Harvey, widow of Jack Harvey.

Please look at John ‘Jack’ Harvey WX10822.

The two men enlisted same day 15 Jan 1941, however were in different Companies.  It is possible Hughes and Harvey knew each other from around South Perth or earlier at Manjimup.  Hughes was born Manjimup – we dont’ know how long his family remained there.   Probably met up in Burma. They both perished when their POW transport ship ‘Rakuyo’ Maru was sunk by US submarines in South China Sea, 12 Sept 1944.


Ron Hughes enlisted AIF 15 Jan 1941 later joined ‘A’ Company No 5 Platoon under the command of Lts. Walton and Learmonth.


Hughes was AWOL from ‘Aquitania ‘when it departed Fremantle for Singapore16 January 1942.  He sailed a few weeks later with the other 90 men from 2/4th who were also AWOL.
You can read further about those AWOL
Initially the group were intended to tranship from Java to Singapore, however it was apparent Singapore was due to fall to the Japan and the men were landed instead at Java joining Australian forces gathering there.  They were taken POWs within two months.
He left Java in 12 October 1942 with Java Group 4 sailing to Changi, Singapore  joining up with first group of Australians sent by transport ships to Burma to work on Burma Thai Railway. They sailed to Rangoon then to Moulmain before arriving Thanbuzyat where they next sent to their first work camp on the the rail Tanyin.
Also read further about Java Group 4
Although sick several times with malaria and other tropical illnesses, Ron survived working on the railway and was selected to work in Japan.
Ron Hughes was one of 100s of POWs who tragically did not survive the sinking of  ‘Rakuyo’ Maru in South China Sea  on 12 Sep 1944.  His close mate Laurence Harvey also lost his life in South China Sea.

Read further about ‘Rakuyo’ Maru.




John Arthur Hughes and Jeanette McAlister married Boulder 1908.
The death notice from Ron’s mother and family state he was 22 years old when he died – this may or may not be correct.  He could well have put his age up to enlist.
The Hughes family were residing in the Manjimup area in the 1920’s.  Ron was one of six or seven children, in fact the second youngest.  Unfortunately we don’t have knowledge of when the Hughes family moved to Como.  His father died in 1932 at Como aged 55 years.  Ron would have been either 10 or 12 years old.
We believe Ron’s father’s work was somehow connected to the timber industry – Karrawang Siding was all about timber as was Manjimup.


We know Ron’s parents married in Boulder in 1908 and believe they may have remained living in the goldfields, at Kurrawang before moving to Manjimup at one time.  Kurrawang had a railway siding and was known for transporting wood/timber prepared and carted locally.
‘The townsite of Kurrawang is located in the eastern goldfields region, about 15 km south west of Kalgoorlie. The townsite was gazetted in 1910, and although in a gold bearing area, owes its existence to timber rather than gold. Kurrawang was first established as a railway station on the eastern line to Kalgoorlie in the early 1900’s, and was a junction with one of the main timberlines in the area. The timberlines were used by firewood companies to reach out into the forested areas to gather firewood for burning to condense fresh water from saline and brackish water. Kurrawang is an Aboriginal word of unknown meaning, perhaps related to “Currawong” the name of a common Australian bird.’
Ron’s mother Jeanette Hughes died Glendalough l967 aged 80 years.


She was born Ireland 1886 daughter of Thomas McAlister 1856 – 29 Mar 1947 Perth who married 28 Oct 1881 Belfast, Ireland to Mary Matilda Blackwell De Courcey b 1858 Ireland d. Jan 1933 Perth.  Mary and Thomas had a family of six children: Thomas (Jnr), Jeanette, Sara (1886-1886), Alexander Bert, Daisy, Lilian Sarah.
Daisy and Lilian were b. Broken Hill. NSW.  The older children born in Ireland. The McAlister family would have moved to the WA Goldfields after 1893 when Lilian was born.
Thomas McAlister (Snr) did military training at Currach, 10 Mar 1876.




Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Kami Songkurai, 299k - Thailand
  • Apalon, Apalaine, 80 Kilo, 337k - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Taungzun, 60 Kilo, 358k - Burma
  • Saigon - French Indo China
  • Tanyin 35 Kilo Camp - Burma
  • Mezali 70km Camp - Burma
  • Kyondaw 95 Kilo Camp – Burma
  • 122 Km Camp, Thailand (Sonkurai Region)