The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Francis Kenneth Herbert
- Nick Name:
- Sergeant (Promoted on 11.2.1942)
- Regimental #:
- ‘D’ Company, 14 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Melbourne, Victoria
- Father's Name:
- Francis Edward Skinner
- Mothers's Name:
- Alice Marie Skinner
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memroial, Panel 18, Age 40.
- Selarang Camp Changi, River Valley Road Transit Camp
- ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Camps Burma:
- Victoria Point, Tavoy, Kendau 4.8km, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km, Aungganung 105km
- Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 36
- Cause of Death:
- Lost at Sea
- Place of Death:
- South China Sea
- Date of Death:
Skinner enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940 later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘D’ Coy 14 Platoon becoming Platoon Sergeant under Commanding Officer Lt Tomkins.
As a POW Singapore Ken Skinner sailed to SW Burma coastline with ‘A’ Force Burma where 3,000 Australian POWs were split into various parties to work on 3 aerodromes before arriving the Burma end of the Railway to start work on 1 October 1942. Believed to be with Green Force No. 3 Battalion, Ken and other Koorda boys Basil Clarke and Cyril Fogarty were sent to Kendau, Thetkaw, Meiloe and Angganaung Camps. By the end of 1943 the railway was completed and the Japanese began sending all POWs (except the very ill) south into Thailand to one of about 4 large camps, or if sick to one of several large hospital camps. Clarke and Fogarty survived to return home, Clarke had his leg amputated above his know in a very crude POW Hospital camp and was lucky to survive.
Skinner was selected as fit to work in Japan, and was sent by train to Saigon to sail to Japan. The party was to be known as ‘Rakuyo’ Maru Party. Unable to safely exit Saigon because the Americans had successfully blockaded the port the Party was sent by rail to Singapore, to wait for their ship.
The ‘Rakuyo’ Maru with about 1,000 POWs was torpedoed by a submarine wolf pack on 12 September 1944. Most POWs perished during the next few days, having attached themselves to makeshift rafts. Skinner did not survive.
SKINNER, Sergeant, FRANCIS KENNETH HERBERT, WX9282, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 12 September 1944. Age 40. Son of Francis Edward and Alice Mary Skinner, of Koorda, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Ken Skinner was one of several young men from Koorda and nearby areas who enlisted with 2/4th. Others included Basil Clarke, Ovens, Cyril Fogarty.
Ken’s father died in 1941 at Northam Hospital following a motor vehicle accident, aged 70 years. Ken was the only child of Frank and Alice Skinner. The Skinner family were great contributors to the community of Koorda – Ken and his mother were often mentioned in the local town news. Ken was involved the Tennis club, Young Batchelors, Koorda Centennial Hospital their local agricultural shows etc.
Below Fogarty and Skinner are mentioned.
Above from Dowerin Guardian and Amery Line Advocate Wyalkatchem WA Saturday 4 November 1944
Ken Skinner – Northam to Bassendean March by 2/4th in March 1941. Newspaper describes Skinner as having torn his sleeves off his shirt to keep cool!
- River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Tamuang, Tha Muang 39k - Thailand
- Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
- Kendau, Kandaw, 4 Kilo - 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