Roy Cornford - Sinking of the Rakuyo Maru - Part 4
Department of Veterans' Affairs
The [USS] Pampanito happened to come up to have a look around and spotted these rafts with people on them. They didn't know who they were or what they were. They came up and they mounted machine guns on the deck and they came over close to one of the rafts. By this time all the rafts were five and six hundred metres apart, or two kilometres apart, and we're all black with oil of course. One bloke had fair hair and he sung out "You sink us and now you want to shoot us!" And the sailor sung out "Who are you?" And he says "We were Australian and English prisoners of war." And he sung back "Well, we'll throw a rope and the man with the white hair only grab it".
He grabbed the rope and they pulled him aboard, and they were smartly satisfied that they were prisoners and they radioed, and another submarine surfaced straight away. The submarine that first spotted us, it cruised around picking up prisoners. It had a crew of 72, and it picked up 73 [survivors] and I was one of the prisoners that it picked up. I was on the second-last raft that they came to. We had two rafts joined together and we did have 18 prisoners on the two rafts but eventually when we were picked up there was only nine of us still alive.