Discovered off the coast of the Philippines on 18 April, the Montevideo Maru sank with nearly 1000 Australian troops and civilians aboard – almost twice as many Australians killed than during the Vietnam War. Carey alum, Frank Pascoe, was among those killed.
Frank Pascoe was a 1923 Foundation Scholar at Carey. He left school in May 1933 when he was 16 to tour Europe and attend the World Scout Jamboree in Hungary. Returning to Australia, his family was unable to send him back to Carey due to the Depression.
Frank was a conscientious man and, during these difficult times, worked as a clerk by day and completed his Year 10 Certificate by night. He then successfully studied for his Leaving Certificate and pursued work in Accountancy. He married Sadie Copeland in June 1940 and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force after a brief honeymoon.
After enlisting, Frank did a short course at Melbourne University and qualified for entry to the Royal Military College at Duntroon. However, he was unable to take up the place at Duntroon and subsequently left for Rabaul as a Corporal in April 1941, passionate about serving his country. He earned the respect of his colleagues in the Army and led by example, whilst facing some of the worst conditions imaginable.
When Rabaul fell to the Japanese in 1942, Frank Pascoe was captured. Amazingly, a letter written by him from the Prisoner of War Camp in Rabaul survives today. It was found in a mail bag drifting in the sea, having been dropped by the Japanese in a bombing raid in April 1942.
Frank was one of more than 1200 prisoners on board the Japanese ship Montevideo Maru, sailing to Japan, when it was torpedoed by an American submarine on 1 July 1942. This remains the greatest loss of life in a single tragedy by Australia in any war.
News of the tragedy and loss of life remained a secret for over 3 years. Meanwhile, Frank’s wife and daughter (Suzanne) lived in the false hope that one day he would return.
Corporal Frank W Pascoe was a member of the 2nd
/ 22nd Infantry Battalion and died when the Montevideo Maru was torpedoed in July 1942. He was only 25 years old. He never got to see his daughter.
You can now explore Carey’s history online through Carey Collections. This digital archives project has been years in the making, and provides the opportunity for anyone in the Carey community to find out more about the 100-year history of our school. There is currently over 2600 photos, documents and multimedia resources for you to explore, with many more on the way.Explore Carey Collections
Archivist, Community Engagement