2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

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Muddy Waters
Written and donated by The Sphinx And Dragon
Regimental Journal
Page 6


.....To Ken's left a figure ran towards them. Ken emptied a full magazine from his SMG (sub machine gun) into him as they jumped down the bank into the river. Japanese were running around rather like disturbed ants as his Commander fired at another Jap. Ken pulled the dead body out of his way and slung it into the river. Not the first dead Jap in the Irrawaddy nor the last, he thought grimly. Below the bank the three waded through black turgid water up to their waists.
.....Against the skyline several enemy were visible above them on the hillside by the bamboo thickets as they moved through the water. Now to Ken's horror he saw the beam of a torch shining down behind them onto the river. Surely they had been seen. Were their worst fears about to be realised? The light beam somehow missed them but fixed itself where they had entered the river and Ken had thrown in the Jap body. To their astonishment shots from every direction were fired at the hardly visible corpse.
.....Again Ken thought they had been seen. The cracks of several shots crossed their direction in the air as they scrambled on. Now a distant voice in broken English called out in the dark, 'Come here Johnny, come here Johnny' - more firing behind them and into the river. Ken wondered where the Japs had learnt their English. Did they really expect a result? Stupid gits!
.....Lt Whittingham-Jones, pausing as he urged them on through the murky water away from the voices, now whispered: 'We're through - we've made it.' Ken thought, of all the words he wanted to hear none had sounded more welcome. Two hundred yards on, stumbling out of the river and cautiously up the bank, they lay exhausted, to recover themselves, to drink sweet warm water from their bottles and to listen to the shouts and crack and thump of bullets further back along the bank as the enemy attempted to find them. No Japs followed them up.
.....Lt Whittingham-Jones, Ptes Wells and Seaby maintaining cohesion and discipline, had succeeded in their mission. Their skill in evading the enemy had been formidable. It only remained to cross the remaining 1,000 yards to their defended area in the dark before exchanging the password "Muddy Waters' with an ever-alert sentry. Their stalwart platoon commander dismissed them with a laconic nod. Thanks both of you for a good night's work.' Their platoon sergeant, seeing them return soaked to the skin, asked facetiously if they had enjoyed the swim! Ken began to clean his SMG. His sergeant returned. 'Give it to me,' he said, 'we're off again in a few hours, use Brown's slit trench if we get shelled. Get yourself some kip, you need it.' So his sergeant did care about him after all. Not that Ken looked at it that way but he appreciated the thought.
.....Another 24 hours in the life of Pte K J Wells had passed. This time it was all in a night's work he mused to himself. If he even thought about medals, he would have had in mind the old soldiers he had seen in India proudly wearing their 'Rooti Gongs' as they were known, originally awarded for long service and good conduct (LSGC). He and other wags knew they had really been awarded for long years of undetected crime, or so they said! One thing was sure - medals were not for young soldiers like him.

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Pte. Kenneth James Wells
Pte. Kenneth James Wells

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