The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Frederick John
Nick Name:
Acting Corporal (Promoted on 14.2.1942)
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company, No. 2 Platoon Anti-Aircraft
Place of Birth:
Collie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Leslie Wenbam Annesley
Mothers's Name:
Janet Annesley (nee Devon)
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 28.
River Valley Road Transit Camp
Java Party No. 4. Black Force
Camps Burma:
Moulmein, Beke Taung 40km, Kun Knit Way 26 Km, Meiloe 75 km, Augganaung
Camps Java:
Not known
Rakuyo Maru Party. Kumi No. 37
Cause of Death:
Lost at Sea
Place of Death:
South China Sea
Date of Death:

General Description

Fred Annesley was living at Collie when he enlisted.  He was employed as a printer (with local newspaper).  He and his wife Madge resided in Coombe Street. Fred’s father was employed as a miner and his mother Janet, was a  tearoom proprietoress. Leslie Annesley married Janet Devon in 1915.

Annesley family came from Harley Vale, NSW.  Les had several brothers residing in and around Collie, however it is not known when the family members moved to WA.   Fred’s grandfather and father to Les, either returned to or remained living in Hartley Vale where he died.

Fred’s father Les was a talented sportsman representing the Collie district in rifle shooting and football.  He was also involved with the local Brass Band, as a player and active on the Committee.


The Annesley and Devon families were well known within the district of Collie.

Fred and (Madge) Margaret Boyle married in 1940.  The Boyle family was also well-known within the Collie district and at least one of Madge’s brothers died in France during WW1.

Fred and Madge’s daughter Lauris Mary was born 29 September 1941.  It is hoped Fred managed to meet his new daughter during AWOL from ‘Aquitania’  – there were other new fathers who also jumped ship to do the same!  (Or perhaps they managed to catch up with their families whilst waiting to leave WA several weeks later to Java, where the 2/4th men joined the Allied Forces to fight the Japanese.)

When ‘Aquitania’ sailed from Sydney to Fremantle, the men of 2/4th were advised shore leave at Fremantle was cancelled, resulting with the  Battalion feeling more than devastated.  They had been away training in SA and NT and had not seen their families; and now they were to sail to an unknown destination and would not see their families for how long?  They had not been informed of their destination.

Fred was one of a large number of men who ‘jumped ship’ and was AWOL overnight.  No doubt he wanted to see his wife Madge and baby daughter Lauria.    Many men managed to return to the ‘Aquitania’ before sailing for Singapore the following day on 16 January, however Fred was one of about 90 men who were unable to get transport out to their ship.

The group then left Fremantle a few weeks later, sailing to Java were they were to be transhipped to Singapore.  However, it was soon deemed Singapore was doomed to fall, and the men remained at Java where they joined other Australian Forces to fight along side the Dutch Force against the impending Japanese invasion.  The Dutch capitulated to the dismay of the Australians and were taken POWs.

Read about ‘Blackforce’ Java.

Fred was selected in Java with ‘A’ Force Burma,  Java Party No. 4, Blackforce to work on the Burma Thai Railway – they were to begin working on the Burma end of the Thai-Burma Railway and were shipped firstly from Java to Singapore, and then onto Burma.

Read further about ‘A’ Force Burma, Java Party No. 4, Blackforce

Fred became part of ‘Blackforce’ please read

Frederick John Annesley died 16/9/1944 when the ship ‘Rakuyo Maru’ sailing to Japan was hit by American Submarines.

Fred had fought so hard to remain alive whilst working on the Burma-Thai Railway in appalling conditions as slave labour, starved, deprived of medicines, overcoming tropical illnesses and beatings from the Japanese he survived to be selected to go to Japan.  His group were to be known as ‘Rakuyo Maru’ were initially sent mostly by train to French Indo China where it was intended their ship would leave from Saigon.  However by the time they reached Saigon, the American sea blockade was so successful, it was decided to send the POWs back to Singapore, and leave from there.  The conditions of their train travel to Saigon were hellish, being provided little food and being subjected to the terror of Allied air attacks.  They were not able to seek safety outside their railway carriages, and it was worse when waiting at the regularly targeted Railway Stations.

Life was not fair to Fred.   He survived the horrors of Burma-Thai Railway to lose his life with the sinking of ‘Rakuyo Maru’  on their journey from Singapore to Japan in the South China China after it was hit by American Submarine torpedoes.    Fred was 28 years of age and he left his widowed wife, little daughter and his siblings and parrents.

Read about the ‘Rakuyo Maru’


Annesley Fred

Annesley Frederick John

Annersley Pt 2 West Australian (Perth, WA _ 1879 - 1954), Monday 16 September 1946, page 1


Fred’s name is included on the Collie War Memorial.

Madge remarried in 1948 to Eric Eyre.

Lauris Mary Annesley married in 1961 to Stanley William Todd.

Camp Locations:

  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
  • Beketaung, 40Kilo, 374k - Burma
  • Kun Knit Kway, Kunhnitkway, 26Kilo - Burma
  • Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
  • Saigon - French Indo China