Written and donated by The Sphinx And Dragon
.....Now at some 1,000
yards from their starting point they heard the clear sound of voices ... short
staccato sentences ... both to their right by the river bank and ahead to their
left. His platoon commander indicated their new direction through the centre
of the two groups of voices. Jimmy Seaby closed up - now they were a yard apart
sweating profusely crouching and crawling forward. They could hear both sets
of voices to right and left and the rattle of tin cans - probably mess tins.
Japanese night discipline was not up to his company's standards and already
their strange body smells pervaded the air. A beam of light, dim but distinctive
shone down by the river to their right. Now they had bypassed these voices,
they were obviously through the perimeter of the Jap positions. Still no sight
of the enemy - more noises ahead - directly ahead. Lt Whittingham-Jones halted
and signalled that they should lie down - only noises and stray shots could
be heard in front - now to their left - now behind them. No enemy movement
to be seen.
.....The air was tense with expectation for Ken as they waited and listened, alert and sweating. Their mission had hardly begun. Where was the Jap transport they had been briefed to find? Was he beginning to fear what lay ahead-and all around? Rising to his feet the lieutenant whispered - 'Another 200 yards then we'll stop again. Absolute silence, ready, move.' Ken took a gulp from his water bottle - they crawled on.
.....Suddenly ahead, an engine started up, muffled metallic noises and voices urgently talking. Lt Whittingham-Jones led them to their left, encircling the enemy location. Two shadowy figures carrying bundles crossed in front. The three of them dropped to the ground. Following the direction of these two enemy they now saw under the palm trees just discernible in the dark to left and right, the outline of some lorries with figures moving around them. Two vehicles were being loaded. Some others had their engines running. Waiting and watching with hearts thumping for some ten minutes that seemed like ten long hours to Ken before his lieutenant whispered - 'No tanks, only six trucks. We'll head for home. Down to the river. They won't expect us from behind. Don't forget the password when we get back. What is it Seaby?'
.....'Muddy Waters, sir,' came the muffled reply. Ken thought how easy to remember as the Irrawaddy flowed past. So far their luck had held and now they were on their way back to report. Moving west on the new compass bearing, the river was now close to their left so that was a good guide for them.
.....Suddenly it happened. At ten yards range a weird staccato challenge. Two shots from the flashes of the muzzles of two weapons, ripped through the undergrowth past them. More voices now shouting from the transport they had seen. The three of them ran bent low towards the riverbank. Stumbling on, a fusillade of shots was directed at where they had been. The gaff was blown.
Pte. Kenneth James Wells