The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Ronald Duncan
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- Headquarters Company
- Place of Birth:
- Narrogin, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- James Owen McCracken
- Mothers's Name:
- Dorothy Kathleen McCracken (nee Holdaway)
- Roman Catholic
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Radio Dealer
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 24.
- Selarang Camp Changi, River Valley Road Transit Camp
- 'A' Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Camps Burma:
- Victoria Point, Tavoy, Kendau 4.8 km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km.
- Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 37
- Cause of Death:
- Lost at Sea
- Place of Death:
- South China Sea
- Date of Death:
Soldier was involved in the bayonet charge at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan where he was wounded in action. Admitted to 2/10th Australian General Hospital with a gunshot wound to his right foot. Discharged to unit on 28.2.1942.
Kings Park Honour Avenue.
Ron McCracken had one brother Leonard and two sisters Vera and Betty. Ron’s mother was born Wandering 1896 and died in 1984 aged 88 years. She asked her family to scatter her ashes at sea in memory of her first-born son Ron who drowned in South China Sea in 1944 when the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ was hit during an American submarine attack on their convoy, and sank 12 hours later. Her family fulfilled her wish and her ashes taken to sea by her grandson Ronald Moir (named after his uncle).
Following the end of the war and notification of Ron’s death, Dorothy received a visit from Ron’s mate Harry Pickett (who had returned to Australia about November 1944 – but was ordered not to have contact with families nor talk of his time) who was one of the very fortunate few to survive long enough in the water without water or food, following the sinking of ‘Rakuyo Maru’ and miraculously picked up by US submarine ‘Pamanito’. Harry returned home to Western Australia in November 1944.
Mates Ron McCracken and Harry Pickett were with Headquarters Company and both Signallers. Sent with ‘A’ Force Green Force from Singapore to Burma, they survived working on Burma-Thai railway – and were both included in the selection of ‘fit’ men to work in Japan with what was known as ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party.
With the Rakuyo Maru slowly sinking Harry and Ron had scrambled onto raft with 12 other POWs – each new day the men desperate with thirst, hunger and fatigue would quickly establish which one of their mates/companions had been unable to make it through the night. It was so easy to fall asleep and drift away. The POWs were covered in oil, their faces and upper bodies burnt with sun, wind, salt water and oil. Hoping and praying they would be saved the men were desperate with thirst and knew they should not drink seawater. However as the days dragged on many succumbed, others drifted into a weary sleep and slipped away from the raft. We believe Ron died on the 3rd day of this shocking incident having succumbed to his dreadful thirst.
Drinking seawater could result in hallucinations; an inability to think rationally and at worse, men could become physically aggressive to the point of endangering other lives. Finally Harry was alone on the raft.
Pampanito picked up survivors on the 4th day after their attack on the Japanese convoy.
The above is from Beattie Collection. This story was in The West Australian, 8 March 1985
- 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
- Tavoy (Dawei) - river port - Burma
- Saigon - French Indo China
- Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
- Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma