The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Lacey Gordon
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'D' Company 16 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Cannington, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Jabez Gibbs
- Mothers's Name:
- Florence Adeline Gibbs (nee Becke)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Market Gardener
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 27.
- Selarang Camp Changi, Tamarkan, River Valley Road Transit Camp
- 'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Camps Burma:
- Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km and Khonkan 55km Hospital Camp
- Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 37
- Cause of Death:
- Lost at Sea
- Place of Death:
- South China Sea
- Date of Death:
The above and below photo are from Gibbs Family Collection.
2/4th Marching through Perth, 1941.
Lacey Gibbs was younger brother to William Herbert Gibbs WX8958 known as Jim or Jimmy. The Gibbs brothers were lost at sea when ‘Rakuyo Maru’ was torpedoed by the American Fleet in the south China Sea on journey from Singapore to Japan.
Lacey Gordon Gibbs, William Herbert Gibbs and Percival Gibbs WX8607 are first cousins, their fathers Jabesz and Frederick Gibbs are brothers.
Percy Gibbs survived and returned home. The extensive Gibbs family are pioneers of early Western Australia; many including Jim and Lacey lived in the Wanneroo region, 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. Jim and Lacey’s sibling include Edward, Norm, Charlie, Albert, Daphne, Violet and Linda. Their mother Florence died January 1932 at the age of 41 years not long after giving birth to her youngest child Linda.
Jim and Lacey were competent horsemen and enjoyed riding and hunting around the family Wanneroo property.
Read about D Company.
Both Lacey and Jimmy were originally in No. 13 Platoon under CO Lt Wankey. However at Singapore it was decided to create a further platoon to operate a vickers machine gun – the Australians were very thinly spread around the 9 miles of north west coast of Singapore. 16 Platoon’s new CO was Sgt Arbery who had also been moved from 13 Platoon.
In Les Cody’s bopk ‘Ghosts in Khaki’ P. 107 is a copy of Lacey’s description waiting for the Japanese invasion.
Lacey Gibbs, 16 Ptn – 2 February 1941
“We are getting ourselves dug in waiting for the Japs and they tell us it won’t be long now. We were working late, till one o’clock in the morning getting out gun pit ready, up to our knees in mud and water. we are sleeping in the open and after knocking off were just going to open some iron rations when down came the rain. It was a real tropical downpour and you couldn’t see much more than 10 yards. We are working at night because we are under observation by the Japs over the Strait in daylight.
My bed, made out of a piece of wire netting is up a tree to keep me out of the mud – my hole (slit trench) is right below me. I have made use of it already; since I started to write this we have had two waves of Jap bombers over and the ack ack fire has been pretty heavy. We are set up in a coconut grove and there are plenty of nuts but they are hard to get down. Maybe the Japs will help by lobbing a few shells amongst them – as long as they give us time to get out!
We have been scouting the area looking for pigs and anything else edible but had no luck. There are some beautiful homes about here, all abandoned. It is sad to see so many groups going along the roads with their belongings on their backs. One lovely home near our position, set in lawns and gardens must have cost thousands to build. I found a very good fishing rod in one of the houses but it is pretty risky going fishing in daylight with the Japs camped across the water you could catch more than a fish.
We have to be careful with water, there is plenty about as the water table is pretty high but it all has to be boiled.
Now we just have to sit and wait.”
Newspaper October 1943
The West Australian – Thursday 23 November 1944
GIBBS, William (Jim), and Lacey, late of Wanneroo – In proud and loving memory of my two dear Sons and our Brothers, taken POW, Singapore now presumed dead. Inserted by their loving father, Jabez, brothers, Edwin, Norman, Charlie and Albert; sisters Daphne, Violet and Linda. Always remembered.
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.
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.
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 at the Wanneroo family home.
Jabez was a committed community man. He was also a member of the Wanneroo Shire.
- River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
- Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
- Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - Burma
- Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - 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