The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Ronald Arthur
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
‘C’ Company, 12 Platoon
Place of Birth:
Athelstone, South Australia
Father's Name:
Albert Page
Mothers's Name:
Bessie Lloyd Page (nee Kenack)
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 26.
Selarang Camp Changl
‘B’ Force Borneo
Cause of Death:
Acute Enteritis
Place of Death:
Ranau No1 Camp
Date of Death:

General Description

Ron Page enlisted AIF 23 Jul 1940 later joining ‘C’ Company No. 12 Platoon.  Please read further about this Company and Platoon.
Following the Allied surrender at Singapore Ron was ‘accommodated’ at Selarang Camp before volunteering to leave Singapore with ‘B’ Force Borneo.  Please learn more about ‘B’ Force Borneo.
Ron left Sandakan with the First March to Ranau in 1945. It was at Ranau where Ron died on 17 Feb 1945.
Page contracted disease on 3.2.1945 and died at 1230 hours on 17.2.1945 Death Certificate completed by Japanese Probationary Officer Ferai.
PAGE, Private, RONALD ARTHUR, WX4934, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 17 February 1945. Age 26. Son of Albert and Bessie Lloyd Page, of Welshpool, Western Australia. Panel 19.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.



Page Ronald


Please read below, the description of Grand United Order of Free Gardeners. ***





WA. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of WX4934 Private Ronald Arthur Page, 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 Page, aged 26, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 17 February 1945. He was the son of Albert and Bessie Lloyd Page, of Welshpool, WA. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 19. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)

Below:  Keith Aubrey Page.



Ron was the second of nine children born to Albert and Bessie Page (nee Kenack) who married 1912 Adelaide, SA and resided Welshpool.

Below:  Bessie Page – a remarkable Australian woman.



Below:  Bessie’s brother died in 1921.


Ron’s younger brother Keith Aubrey Page born 1920, also enlisted.  Tragically Keith did not return home.  He was KIA and  1942 buried Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, New Guinea.  His Service No. WX7492.  Keith with 2/16th Btn. died 8 Sep 1942 aged 22 years having served in Syria then sent to New Guinea.


Both Ron and Keith had their names inscribed and recognised on the Welshpool Mechanics Institute Honour Board

Another three brothers had also enlisted – Douglas known as Dough (AIF Borneo at that time) Ernest (Ern) who was with 44th Btn and Norm – serving at Wewak.


Below:  Many would have agreed with Ron’s mother then and today.  She had five sons serving Australia.  One wonders why the editor of this column “Opinion” responded in such a way.  Was it necessary?

Three further brothers had also enlisted


Below:  It appears Mr. H. Gilmour who took part in the proceedings – is father to John and Jim Gilmour from 2/4th who were also residents of Welshpool.



Below:  November 1944, Bessie’s sister Elizabeth, mother to Manson Butcher of 2/4th, died.

Please read further about cousins Page and manson.


Above:  We discover Manson Butcher is first cousin to Ron Page.  Manson Butcher was far too young to be KIA Singapore aged 19 years!  Francis Elizabeth and Bessie are sisters. (Francis Elizabeth first married Fitzell) .
Her daughter Valmai Gorringe (nee Fitzell) married 1942 to Stanley C Gorringe.  It is not known if he was related to the Gorringe Brothers in 2/4th.
In 1948 parents of Ron divorced.  Fortunately divorces are not featured in today’s newspapers – but were big news then.






Please read about Ron Page’s first cousin Manson William Frank Butcher WX1755 who enlisted 24 Nov 1941 and became a reinforcement to 2/4th, joined the battalion at Fremantle on board ‘Aquitania’ before sailing for Singapore 16 Jan 1942.
*** The Grand United Order of Free Gardeners was first established in Western Australia in 1898.  Ron was a member of the Wattle Branch, Victoria Park.



Image result for is The Grand United Order of Free Gardeners similar to Lodge?
The Grand United Order of Free Gardeners Friendly Society provided medical, funeral benefits, and loans for educational or housing expenses as well as providing a Fraternal Lodge for like minded men.
‘The Grand United Order of Free Gardeners & Other “Free” Orders
It may surprise many Freemasons to know that they are not the only “Free” Order based on old trades and guilds. Over the centuries we have seen the Free Shepherds, Free Gardeners, Free Colliers, and Free Carpenters among many others. Of these, the only one which seems to have survived the ravages of time are the Free Gardeners.  Among all the major Orders on this page, this is the only one which seems to pre-date Freemasonry, and one of the most difficult to gain information about. The earliest records of the Free Gardeners go back to a “Fraternite of the Gairdener’s of East Lothian” in 1676. This original Fraternity was to be joined by another “Fraternite” at Dunfermline in the early eighteenth century. Like Masonic Lodges, the Free Gardeners lodges began as operative bodies but soon began to accept nonoperatives. It was not until the late eighteenth century that the Gardeners began to take off as independent lodges. In the mid-19th century there were various attempts to form a national Grand Lodge, resulting in an Eastern and a Western Grand Lodge being formed but with many lodges remaining without the authority of either. The Free Gardeners spread into England and across the sea to the United States and Australia. In the early 1980’s the Curator of the Museum & Library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Robert Cooper, noticed that much of the regalia stored for the museum did not appear to be Masonic at all. After much research into the matter he wrote a book entitled “A History of the Ancient Order of Free Gardeners” which is taken as the authoritative work on this Order. Today, the Free Gardeners operate in Australia as a Friendly Society in Western Australia.’


Official information taken from only existing group remaining in Australia today, exists in Victoria:
‘The Free Gardeners originated thousands of year ago in the vineyards and gardens of King Solomon’s newly built temple on Mount Zion. As they gradually broke away from bondage and went searching for work they were often helped by colleagues encountered on their travels. Over time a bonded fellowship developed that enabled members to rely on other members for protection, assistance and benevolence. They became the Order of Free Gardeners.
In the 19th century bonded fellowship morphed into a concept known as mutual aid and was regulated by the Friendly Societies Act. They provided medical and funeral benefits, and loans for educational or housing expenses. They were able to help thousands of families throughout the turn of the century, the Great Depression, two world wars and into the 21st century. In 2006 the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority removed all of their financial responsibilities and with that, the majority of their members.
This group remain the only Free Gardeners in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only a handful around the world. In their 150th year in Victoria, they are still seeking opportunities to serve the community and continue their history of benevolence, friendship, belonging and community service.’


Camp Locations:

  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Ranau - Borneo