The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Harold Thomas
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'A' Company
- Place of Birth:
- Mount Barker, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- George Edward Bunker
- Mothers's Name:
- Annie Ansit Bunker
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp Changi
- A Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Camps Burma:
- Victoria Point, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganaung 105km
- Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 35 (rescued by USS Queenfish)
- Return Details 1945:
- Saipan-Guadalcanal-Brisbane-Perth by aircraft 1.11.1944
Harry Bunker was one of the extraordinarily fortunate survivors of the sinking of ‘Rakuyo Maru’ by US Submarines 12 September 1944 and rescued four days later in South China Sea in a rescue led by USS ‘Pampanito’. Harry was picked up by USS ‘Queenfish’. He was one of 11 men from 2/4th rescued from a total of 159 POWs. A further 85 or so POWs were rescued by the other submarines in the vicinity. As well some POWs were picked by a Japanese ship, including three from 2/4th.
Read the story Members of 2/4th nominated for Medal but not awarded.
And the story Surviving the Sinking of the Rakuyo Maru written by Roy Cornford NX44955 of the 2/19th Battalion, courtesy of Peter Winstanley.
Read the letters to the mother of Vern Trigwell (Triggy) who died at sea following ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Sinking.
The Bunker family lived and farmed at Mortigallup.
When the Bunker children reached their early teen years, they attended Albany High School
Harry’s parents move from Mortigallup/Kendenup to Albany in 1934.
Above Harry marries in 1940 to Doris Spears at Albany. Harry was attended by his brother-in-law and close mate Don Ross.
Harry’s sister Ada married Don Ross WX9253 of 2/4th who perished 23 May 1945 Sandakan – so whilst Harry was very lucky Don Ross was very unlucky to join the Work Party to go to Borneo.
Whilst the Bunker family considered themselves fortunate their son Harry miraculously survived sinking of the ‘Rakuyo Maru’, their relief was short-lived when they learnt the death of their son-in-law Don Ross WX9253 husband of their daughter Ada. Ross was also in 2/4th however was sent to Sandakan, Borneo with ‘E’ Force Borneo. He was one of about 2,000 Australian POWs who died in inhumane and brutal circumstances at the hands of their Japanese and Taiwanese guards/soldiers during 1945.
The Bunker family was to endure further loss and tragedy when in February 1947, Alan William Bunker aged 31 years, brother of Harry and fourth son to George and Annie Bunker, died following an accident leaving behind his wife and 3 children.
Ada Ross (nee Bunker) remarried 1947 to Irene Bunker’s (nee Duff) brother Edward Duff.
Harry’s father George Edward Bunker died Albany August 1950.
The Return Home of H. Bunker – Escapee POW of Japan 1945
He’s coming up the street,
As yellow as a Chow.
He walks with weary feet,
But he is happy now.
He went away to fight
‘Gainst the aggressive Japs,
Because he thought it right
He went with other chaps.
They were all in their prime
When they reached Singapore,
A lot before the time
To make successful war.
They were not well equipped,
Were ordered to give in,
Much bitterness was sipped,
And they grew very thin.
A ship with him aboard,
Was sunk and left him free;
Away the Jap boats roared,
Free on a raft was he.
With others on that raft,
They spent four dreadful days,
Rescued by Yanks at last,
Who served them well always.
He’s coming up the street,
His people by his side,
Happy once more to greet
And in him they show their pride.
The above was read at the funeral of our Late Member, Harry Bunker, and published in ‘Borehole Bulletin’ April 2000. (author unknown)
Harry Bunker died 2 March 2000.
- 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
- Saigon - French Indo China
- Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
- Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma