The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Ernest Jesse
Nick Name:
Jack or Ernie
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company No. 1 Platoon Signals
Place of Birth:
York, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Meshacha Thomas Ovens
Mothers's Name:
Lily Ovens
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Kranji War Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 11, Age 24.
Cause of Death:
Killed in Action
Place of Death:
Ulu Pandan
Date of Death:
Where killed at map reference 763132 by Major A. Cough Party

General Description

Jesse or Jack Ovens enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940 later joining  2/4th’s Headquarters Coy No. 1 Platoon, Signals – training as a signaller.  His Commanding Officer was Lt. Curnow.  Both Ovens and Curnow were amongst a large number of 2/4th KIA at Hill 200 Ulu Pandan on 12 Feb 1942 when they were eventually overrun and outnumbered by the Japanese about 4 days into the Battle for Singapore.
Jack Ovens aged 24 years was later interred at Kranji War Cemetery.

Please read further about this battle.


2nd4th Football team 1941
Back row L-R C Ryan , F. McCaffery, L. Daily (C), A Hewby (Manager), E. Hunt, R. Anderson, F. Clark, T. Tomkins
Middle row L-R C. Helmrich, R. Baddock, J. Pearce, R. Riebe, C Spackman, J. Dore
Front row L-R E.J. Ovens, J. Smith, J. Wheelock, J. Innes, H. White, A. Mussman .





He was a member of 2/4th Football team.  Read further.

Ovens married about 1941 to Margaret Edith Joan Cole.

His mate Harry Pickett  became a POW on ‘Rakuyo’ Maru transport ship to Japan was one of the fortunate to be rescued by US submarine ‘Pampanito’ following 4 days at sea, clinging to makeshift life rafts.  Harry Pickett was also a signaller with HQ Coy No. 1 Platoon with Ovens.

You can read about those POWs who survived the sinking of their ship Rakuyo Maru.

Jack Ovens was mentioned several times in the news of Koorda along with Ken Skinner, Basil Clarke and Cyril Fogarty.  The Ovens family made up of at least 4-5 sons moved to Koorda fronm Gwambygine (near York) in 1928.


Please read about the men of Koorda

Ovens and Skinner did not survive to return to Australia.

Below:  Ernie was one of six Ovens boys who enlisted into Australian Forces – Ernie was the only one not to return home – George, Arthur, Wally, Len and Eric returned at the end of war.








Below: Ernie’s cousin KIA New Guinea 1944.


Ernst Jesse Ovens was one of eight children and third of four sons born to Meshachan Thomas Ovens and Lilly Coles who married 1908 at York, where Lilly’s family resided.
Lilly Coles was born in York as was her mother below.  The Cole family residing at Mackie Bridge about 1900.

Below is death notice for Lilly’s mother and Ernie’s grandmother.


Below:  Lilly’s younger brother Ernest John Coles had died 1917 France.  We believe Ernest Ovens was named after this uncle and grandfather, Jesse Coles.



Ernie Ovens’ grandfather Jesse Coles died 1922.



Below:  In 1928 the Ovens farm at Gwambygine, York is sold and they relocate to Mollerin, Koorda.  With a family of 6 sons it was probably more viable to move further east into the wheatbelt area when they could look to purchase more land.








Below:  Ernie and his brother played in Booralaming  Football team against Koorda in 1939.  At that time, regional areas were more heavily populated and Shire areas were able to field sporting teams.


Map showing Booralaming in the Koorda Shire, is about 15 minutes drive to Koorda.



His mother died in 1988 and his father in 1962.
Widowed Margaret Ovens remarried 1947 to Terrence Millsteed at Northam.