Roy Cornford - Sinking of the Rakuyo Maru - Part 1
Department of Veterans' Affairs
Then the next day it was all men, pack and they marched us down to the docks. And when we got down to the docks there was two ships there. And one ship was to take 1500 prisoners, another was to take the other 800. Well there was about 750 Australians I think. And we were supposed to go on the ship that was to take the 800, but they marched us onto the wrong ship. So they had to make up the number of Englishmen on the same ship as us. And the other ship just had the 750 Englishmen on it.
When we eventually sailed, when we went aboard, we had to go up the gangplank and first they took on heaps of young Japanese people, injured Japanese soldiers, and then a heap of Geisha girls, and then they took us up. As we were going up the plank the Geisha girls were spitting at us.
We were taken on board, and first they put us all down in the hold. But as you went on board you had to carry a big tube of rubber. This was about 18 inches by 18 inches and it had a handle on it and they told us that was our life preservers. But as you went up they packed all them down in the hold. Of course that hold was full of rubber.
They put us all down below, and you had about two foot square for each prisoner and the bit of gear that you had. But after the ship sailed they relented and allowed so many hundred up on deck and I was one of the lucky ones that was up on deck. Well, you never got any better treatment or anything. It just meant more room for those down in the hold.
And you only got one cup of water a day, but luckily on the second night it poured rainin', it just fell down. Everyone caught rain in their dixies and had a good wash and a good drink of water. And other days, to have a wash, they had a salt water hose going all the time and you'd go over there and get under that.