Written and donated by The Sphinx And Dragon
.....There is no moon so keep close
together. I will lead; then Wells; then Seaby - three to five yards apart.
No shooting unless shot at. No other friendly patrols will be out. Speed and
silence will give us the best chance. Enemy vehicles, if any, will be some
500 yards into the position. We start at 2000 hours so get some rest. If I
get hit, our compass bearing is 120 degrees out and 240 back. Password is Muddy
Waters. Time is now 1630. Any questions?'
.....Lt Whittingham-Jones made both men realise that if the information was not obtained and reported to Company HQ by Sam they would have failed. Their return journey would be easier in the lightening darkness before first light around 4.30am. Both men returned to their sections to prepare themselves for another 'routine' patrol to wash and to reorganise their kit and weapons.
.....Still savouring their bully beef 'suppers' and feeling refreshed by three mugs of extra sweet tea, they made their way eastwards out into the scrub and trees on the compass bearing 120. The last glimmer of daylight was already turning into a dark grey hot tropical night.
.....Ken's mate Crooks whispered: 'Good luck Kenny,' as they passed the last perimeter post. Each carried a sub machine gun with two reserve magazines and two '36' grenades on their belts. A water bottle slung over their shoulders; a first field dressing in their pockets completed the picture.
.....Ken's natural superstitions crept up on him and made him feel that this patrol might be more eventful than some. The orchestrated noises of the cicada insects seemed louder than usual as they passed the silhouette of a plantain tree with its drooping banana shaped leaves looking like witch's fingers reaching down to them.
.....He was almost surprised to get passed as they brushed his head and shoulders. Ken was number two in the patrol, Lt Jones' map case, compass and small torch draped around his broad back. He moved ahead with Jimmy Seaby some five yards behind him. Crawling, walking, pausing to find the way, they progressed slowly, if surely, pushing aside green lentana bushes and other fauna and flora growing in abundance in their path. Moving parallel to the Irrawaddy bank some 200 yards from the river glinting in the hazy light the noises of stray shots and the muffled sound of shell fire ahead grew louder. The faintly seen tropical moon shone down emphasising every shadow, decreasing the pace of their cautious advance.
Pte. Kenneth James Wells