Sketch by Jack Chalker


A week later they arrived on Sumatra just as the Japanese where about to invade. Everybody was trying to get away, No buses, trucks, or cars the only transport left were rickshaws (bicycles with a seat on the back) help was on hand again.

Fifty miles away the Australian cruiser Hobart was to call in after dark the following day. After a good meal of rice and beans they set off, Fifty miles on the back of a rickshaw not easy on rough roads, Dad was thinking how are we going to pay.

They had spent what money they had on food and water(the whisky was thrown over the side on the first night). When they arrived at the port dad went to find the British consulate, It turned out to be a big fat Dutchman who said you will get nothing from me, That was before dad reached into his vest and produced a smith and western service revolver and said give me the money, His reply was your government is going to hear about this as he paid over enough to pay the rickshaw men.

The night of the long drop

As dark approached in the chaos they had to find a boat to take them out to the cruiser when it arrived, there were two old destroyers there to take the troops out, As the light waned,  they went out and saw the cruiser coming in, as they got near to the cruiser it suddenly dawned on then that the cruiser was like a block of flats, At least 50 feet above them, all their was to climb aboard was a very  large boarding net hung over the rail.

The problem was that the cruiser could not stop; it was moving slowly so as to keep steerage. So the idea is that the two ships come together one coming up and the other going down. Dad said later that this was the worst night of his life, it was pitch black and the captain was using a speaking trumpet, shouting for them to hurry up as he wanted to get out of range of the bombers by first light.

As they prepared to jump they could hear cries from men who did not make it as they were crushed between the ships, one wrong move and it was curtains after all that way! The ships came together and they all jumped and held on for dear life.

Now hanging on to a boarding net with a fifty foot climb ahead after a week at sea two days on rickshaw, not a lot to eat and to put it short knackered, Dad got to the top because that was the only thing survival!!!

Thirty minutes later Hobart set off at full belt to get out of range of the Japanese bombers, imagine this old ship just smaller than a battleship, it was vibrating the only way to speed up was to pile on steam, with the extra heat from the boilers and the already  40 degrees outside and you got an impossible situation. All night she sped as fast as she could rattling and vibrating and all the time hoping they would be out of range by sun up.

Noon next day and they were out of range of the long range bombers, Hobart slowed down and everybody started cheering, what a relief.  Two of the pride of the royal navy’s battle ships had been sunk in recent weeks.


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[My Dad and Me] [Training for War] [Voyage] [Singapore] [Escape] [Columbo] [Bombay] [Swimming Tanks] [Ireland] [Next Step] [Sister Christine]


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