Jack Leahy survives boating tragedy 1952

WX 9312 Michael Joseph Leahy enlisted AIF from Pithara 30 Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Coy 7 Platoon


Jack was a talented cricketer and golfer.  He played cricket for Pithara with his three brothers and a mate Ted Bonney.


Leahy was officially reported KIA at Singapore 1942.    Devastating news for his family.  His mother Mary didn’t quite believe this and quietly hoped and prayed it was not so.
Jack’s estate was settled.
Suddenly out of the blue, the Leahy family are informed Jack is in fact alive and a POW of Japan.  Could we even begin to imagine how they felt?
Jack had left Singapore with ‘J’ Force on ‘Wales’ Maru to  Kobe Japan. A campaign of heavy bombing of Japan’s 6 large cities began with Kobe in beginning in Feb 1945.    Kobe House where the POWs were accommodated was destroyed 5 June 1945 with many loss of life and shocking injuries including extensive burns.  The 2/4th men were fortunate to all survive.    The POWs were now broken down into smaller working numbers and dispersed to nearby locations to work.
Jack, Mick Wenn from Bunbury and Lance Parkes were unfortunate to be sent to Notogawa where they worked until the end of war.  Notogawa was hellish.  POWs stood in water all day to work, reclaiming land for the local prefecture so they could expand their food growing.  Jack was recovered from here by the Americans at the end of the war.
Please read further about Notogawa.
Initially Jack’s name was omitted from the list of survivors to arrive from Japan!
In October 1952 former Pithara boys and cricketers Jack Leahy from South Perth and his mate William Edwin (Ted) Bonney from East Victoria Park,  planned a day fishing at Mandurah.  Terror struck when their small boat was swamped by a wave at the sandbank at the mouth of the Peel Inlet.   The men now in the water were unable to climb back into the overturned boat because the motor was still running and it was taken away from them.
Leahy swam for shore in an attempt to get help.   Exhausted he was taken to Pinjarra hospital.  Bonney’s body was found the following day off the coast at Safety Bay.
Ted Bonney left a widow and young son.  He had also enlisted:
Cpl William Edwin (Ted) Bonnie WX21470 served with 8th Mechanical Equipment Coy, Royal Australian Engineers.
What began as a happy day’s outing for two mates ended in a terrible tragedy.
Jack and Ted were from farming families at Pithara.  Left armed bowler Ted played in the local cricket team with Jack and his three brothers, forming a formidable and mostly  winning team. Ted’s father Alex, would often umpire the cricket matches.