(Continued from previous post..)
'However it was stories about his life at sea that interested me most…
Before and during the War he was the skipper of his own lugger ‘The Black Pearl’ out of Broome, Darwin and New Guinea. Firstly as a Pearler, then during the war he became a Coast watcher in and around the Islands, pursued by the Nips as he called the Japanese.
One particular story I remember well was mainly about an old mate of his who had been a plantation owner in the Highlands of PNG, and also became a Coast watcher. Jock Mac he called him and the Captain had some nearly unbelievable adventures together.
Apparently the pair rigged up two big dugout canoes like a catamaran and fitted it with a large petrol engine and somehow fitted a suitable propeller, then added a .50 calibre machine gun from a wrecked warplane. Then with some other armaments and a crew of local natives, made several raids on Japanese-held ports and outposts, sinking several vessels and killing many soldiers.
Jock must have been a tough old bird, as the Captain told me, and after their last raid they split up to avoid capture. According to the Captain, Jock Mac went inland, into the mountainous and extremely remote country, while he crept around the coast with his local crew, travelling at night and laying up during daylight. Both men carried radios to keep in contact with the Darwin Intelligence Group.
The Captain was picked up by a Naval Patrol boat and was taken to Darwin for debriefing. His beloved lugger Black Pearl, was in a bad state due to Cobra worm and he had to leave her behind. The last he saw of the gallant little vessel was in the hands of his loyal native crew.
Jock Mac’s story after they parted was incredible, as told by the Captain:
The Japs were seriously after both men, with a large reward offered for their capture and while the Captain escaped unscathed, Jock had a much rougher time. With his trusted natives he continued reporting Japanese shipping movements, staying just ahead of the searching soldiers, by moving continuously. It looked as if he would be captured, then beheaded, when he came down with appendicitis, with the Japs only a few days behind the tired, hungry group.
Before taking on the PNG highland Coffee plantation he had worked, after training, in Australia and New Zealand as a veterinarian, so he had a fair idea of the situation and what he must do to survive. What happened next can only be described as the desperate actions of a brave and dedicated man.
Finding a dilapidated grass hut, his native boys repaired the roof enough to have a bit of protection from the rain. Jock calmly prepared a piece of broken mirror, a darning needle with a length of banana frond fibre and a cut-throat razor, then laying on a bed of banana leaves he carefully washed himself with fresh coconut nectar as a sterilzer.
He had taken the precaution of gathering the boys together and explained in pidgin what he was about to do. One can only imagine the shock and terror of those natives, but with their help he operated upon himself with the razor, removed the offending organ then managed to sew himself up! After convalescing for only a few days he had to move away with the aid of those reluctant theatre orderlies, just ahead of the Japs.
He recovered from the ordeal and continued sending vital information, and harassing the Japs whenever possible. Eventually he was returned to Cairns for debriefing and met up with the Captain again. What a reunion that would have been. Returning to his plantation after the war he was killed when a tree fell on him while driving his Jeep on a steep track.
The old Captain had a tear in his eye as he finished that story and I did not think it had anything to do with the rum he had evaporated that night.
Nearly every night he would talk about something out of his past life, especially if he had a little drink as encouragement....'