2/4th Boys from Koorda and surrounding areas
WX9129 OVENS, Enest Jesse
Ovens was KIA during the Battle for Singapore on 12 Feb 1942 at Ulu Pandan. aged 24 years. He was one of five sons born to Thomas and Lily Ovens of Koorda. The five Ovens boys enlisted with AIF – sadly Jack was the only one not to return home.
Ovens was named after his uncle, i.e. his mother’s brother Ernest Jesse Cole who lost his life WW1.
A talented footy player, Ovens was included in the 2/4th team.
BACK ROW: WX8374 Con Ryan – Norseman, WX3440 Frank McCaffrey (NSW), WX 8778 Lou Daily played Subiaco, Collingwood and Geelong, WX8407 Snow Newby was Manager WA State team 1921, WX9327 E. Hunt – Quairading, W9289 R. Anderson – Swan Districts, WX7714 F. Clark, —, WX7996 T. Tompkins – Toodyay.
MIDDLE ROW: WX8638 Clive Hellmrich – Swan Districts, WX8729 Ron Badock – Norseman, WX9268 Joe Pearce – Swan Districts, WX8952 R. Riebe – Metropolitan, WX7715 C. Spackman – Kalgoorlie, WX8617 J. Dore – Perth also State Footballer.
FRONT ROW: WX9129 J. Ovens, Unknown, WX9143 J. Smith – Fremantle, WX8753 J. Wheelock – Norseman, WX9552 W. Innes – East Perth and Cyclist, WX1002 H. White – Swan Districts, WX9887 A. Mussman – East Perth.
Ernie or Jack, as he was known, had married 1941 to Margaret Edith Joan Cole of Goomalling. Best man was Jack’s 2/4th mate, Harry Pickett.
WX9282 SKINNER, Francis Kenneth Herbert aka Ken
Ken Skinner was the only son of Frank and Alice Skinner of Koorda. His father Frank died
at Northam Hospital during 4 May 1949 following a car accident. Ken was an accountant at Koorda and an active community member.
He enlisted AIF 30 October 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘D’ Company 14 Platoon becoming a Platoon Sergeant under Commanding Officer Lt Tompkins.
Skinner left with the first Work Party out of Singapore ‘A’ Force Burma. 3,000 Australian POWs sailed in several old ships to south west coast of Burma where they repaired and enlarged 3 airfields before heading to the Burma end of the Burma-Thai Railway to start work 1 October 1941. ‘A’ Force finally left the railway at the end of 1943 and several months later in Thailand, those who were deemed fit by the Japanese were selected to work in Japan.
He became of a work party which would become known as ‘Rakuyo’ Maru Party.
On board the same ship was Harry Pickett, Best Man for Jack Oven’s wedding. Miraculously Pickett was one of the survivors picked up by the Americans 4 days after ‘Rakuyo’ was torpedoed.
Skinner lost his life after their ship was torpedoed and sank in the South China Sea12 Sep 1944. He was 40 years old.
Koorda men with 2/4th who survived
WX7709 FOGARTY, Cyril Alban Lance Corporal
Cyril Fogarty farmed at Mollerin. He was a keen football player for Koorda and competed in Rifle Shooting.
Fogarty left Singapore with ‘A’ Force Burma with Skinner and Harry Pickett.
He was wounded in an Allied bombing
raid 15 June 1945. His name was included on a list of wounded cabled from the Red Cross Committee Geneva via Japan.
He was recovered from Thailand at the end of the war.
WX9136 CLARKE, Basil William James Lt-Cpl
Born Northam 1915 to William Jess and Daisy Linda Clarke he enlisted AIF 30 Oct 1940, later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘C’ Company 12 Platoon under CO Lt Mick Wedge. Clarke also went to the Burma end of the Railway with ‘A’ Force, Fogarty and Skinner from Singapore in 1941.
Clarke was one of endless
numbers of POWs to be
evacuated from his work camp
with advanced tropical ulcers.
His right leg was amputated
through mid thigh 22 Sep 1943 at Khonkan Hospital Camp,Burma. The miracle was he survived – most patients did not as they were malnourished and often suffering other illnesses such as dysentery, malaria, etc.