The Wagin WW2 Memorial includes two men from 2/4th:
WX17039 ELLIS, RONALD EDWARD at the age of 21 years died of wounds received on 11 February 1942 during the battle for Singapore.
The previous day, he received a gunshot wound to his right arm and shrapnel wound to his chest. Ron Ellis was admitted to 2/13th Australian General Hospital. Suffering severe shock he underwent amputation of his arm below the shoulder joint but succumbed to his injuries.
Ron Ellis was the eldest of 6 children born to George Christie Ellis and Olive Ellen King of Wagin. George and Olive married 1917 Katanning. They had fours sons and two daughters.
Ron enlisted 17th May 1941 with 2/4th Reinforcements boarded the ‘Aquitania’ at Fremantle, sailing to Singapore on 16th January 1942. He joined ‘D’Company.
He was buried at Marita Road Military Cemetery, Katong and after the war, his body was interred and moved to Kranji War Memorial.
WX5584 MCCRACKEN, RONALD DUNCAN was born in Narrogin 11 December 1920. Ron enlisted 11 December 1940, and joined Headquarters Company as a Signaller. He was involved in the bayonet charge at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan and wounded in action, receiving a gunshot injury to his right foot. Singapore fell to Japan and whilst in hospital Ron became a POW. He was discharged to his unit and to Selarang Barracks 28 February 1942
From Selarang Camp Changi Ron was selected to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘A’ Force Green Force No. 3 Battalion. Please read further
Ron was one of the few lucky POWs who did not get ill whilst working on the railroad – that is not to say he did not suffer starvation, long working hours and ill-treatment at the hands of his Japanese or Korean guards. It simply mens he was not recorded being a patient at a so-called camp ‘hospital’ (which were always without medicines or medical equipment). When the railway was completed the Japanese transported those working at the Burma end south to one of the large camps in Thailand – many died on their journey due to ill-health, those too weak to be moved from Burma remained behind to die in peace nursed by dedicated voluntary POW medical staff.
A few months later Ron was rated ‘fit’ by the Japanese and selected to work in Japan in what would become known as ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party. Between December 1943 and March 1944 the men having been innoculated twice against cholera, twice against pestis (plague) and once against tuberculosis departed their camps at either Tamarkan, Banpong or Non Pladuk by train in groups heading to Bangkok with their final destination Saigon, French Indo-China where it was planned the POWs would be shipped to Japan.
In Saigon the POWs worked on the docks, go-downs and other jobs at Tan Son Nhut civil aerodrome north of Saigon while waiting for a ship. Several attempts were made to leave Saigon, but the POWs returned. Any Japanese plans for their ships to depart Saigon were finally realised to be futile. They suffered huge losses of shipping to the Allies. American submarines patrolling the South China Sea had now successfully blockaded the harbour and port. The POWs were to be returned by rail to Bangkok and finally Singapore to wait for a ship. On 4th July the train carrying the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ party as they were now called, arrived at Singapore and moved into River Valley Road Transit Camp. Until their departure on 4 September 1944, the POWs worked at various places, including the docks and excavation of the dry dock opposite Pulau Damar Laut, known as Jeep Island from 7 July to 3 September.
Finally the ill-fated ‘Rakuyo Maru’ crammed with 718 POWs in its hull moved out of Singapore harbour to the roadstead and anchored for 36 hours to wait for its convoy. On 6 September the small convoy headed north east into to South China Sea.
On Tuesday 12 September 1944 at 0530 hours the convoy was attacked by three US submarines.
Although a few very fortunate POWs were found by the same submarines which attacked their ship, Ron did not survive, he was one of a very large number who perished.