The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Thomas Rantoul
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'B' Company, No. 8 Platoon.
- Place of Birth:
- Newcastle, England
- Father's Name:
- John Rantoul Fotheringham
- Mothers's Name:
- Annie Fotheringham
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Wire Drawer
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 24.
- Selarang Camp Changi, Johore Bahru, Adam Park
- 'B' Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan-Ranau track, 2nd Sandakan-Ranau march.
- Date of Death:
WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX10803 Private Thomas Rantoul Fotheringham, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of B Force. The 1494 POW’s that made up B Force, were transported from Changi on 7 July 1942 on board the tramp ship Ubi Maru, arriving in Sandakan Harbour on 18 July 1942. Private Fotheringham, aged 24, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 7 June 1945. He was the son of John Rantoul Fotheringham and Annie Fotheringham, of West Perth, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 18. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)
Tom’s parents John and Annie Perry married in 1920. John had served from 1915 to 1919 with Northumberland Fusiliers, enlisting when he was 22 years of age. John’s brother Thomas Rantoul Fotheringham also enlisted and tragically died aged 21 years on 20 October 1917 in France. John named his first-born son after his brother. Twenty eight years later, the death of his son Tom aged 24 years in 1945 in Borneo would have torn John and Annie’s hearts.
Tom departed London on-board “Esperance Bay” on 22 April 1924 for Australia with his father John, a miner and his mother Annie. Tom aged 2 years was accompanied by his sister Norah aged 1 year and brother David aged 2 months.
The family took up land with Group Settlement No. 52 Lennox, Loc. 2395 near Busselton in 26 May 1924.
It is not known how long the family remained on this property before moving to Perth. The family grew to include another 5 children – Jack, Jim, Bill, Nancy and Florence.
The Electoral Roll for 1931 has the family residing on the No 523 Lennox. Tom’s father died in 1954 in Perth.
This whole Group Settlement scheme was far from satisfactory, the settlers unprepared for the harshness of Australia and the Scheme itself was fraught with failure. It left many 100s of settlers destitute.
The Fotheringham family, including Tom was residing in West Perth when he enlisted.
Tom enlisted in 24 April 1939 with the 28th Battalion Militia.
He enlisted AIF 15 Jan 1941, later joining 2/4th’s ‘B’ Company as a Rangetaker with 8 Platoon.
Whilst at Northam Training Camp, Tom was a regular visitor to the family home of Tom Lewis and there is a notice above from Mr and Mrs Lewis. Please read about Tommy Lewis.
Tom was selected in Singapore to sail with ‘B’ Force’ where they were to construct an aerodrome at Sandakan. Read further.
He died (beri beri) on 7 June 1945 aged 24 years on the Sandakan to Ranau Track at Murawatto, in vicinity of 42 mile peg, near track to Beluran on Second March.
Please take a look at map of Sandakan to Ranau and photographs of all West Australians who perished at Sandakan.
Below: Tom’s father John died in 1954. His mother Annie died in 1966 aged 71 years at Subiaco.
- Adam Park Camp - Singapore
- Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***