Chapter 16.


Now, the next task was to get in touch with base and Bob asked me to set up and send a message advising them we were still in the land of the living.  Our normal scheduled time was past but I knew they would be keeping a continuous watch.  I sent LF, the callsign, three times, switched to receive and got an instant reply to go ahead.  Obviously they had been listening on our frequency and were worried that something nasty may have happened. I was able to assure them of our safety and signed off, promising to keep the afternoon scheduled transmission with an explanation of our absence. The date was the 25th. March.  During the later transmission we asked for a food drop for the 27th, two days away, near a small village named Hiwagen (one of the villages in the group of photos) situated about two thirds of the way to Lereh.

All our messages were sent in a code consisting of groups of five letters.  This code was changed daily and, of course, both parties were required to have access to identical code books and naturally all messages dealing with the progress of the operation were sent in this code to prevent the enemy from gaining information of our whereabouts and actions.  It is not unusual, in well run areas, for the enemy to intercept, or at least be aware that messages, other than their own were being transmitted.  Because the code was changed every twenty-four hours a possible decoding of a single message was largely negated.  There was also the outside chance of the enemy using direction finders to pinpoint the location of our transmitter, and to minimise this, transmission times were kept as short as possible and care taken that no two messages were sent from the same location.  Continual movement, no matter how unnecessary it may have seemed at the time, was easily the best method of hiding our location and preventing a follow up surprise attack.

However, besides coded messages, there also existed a Q code, consisting of collections of three letters, in which information concerning the sending of the actual message could be sent.  For example the letters QSA asked what strength the other party was receiving our transmission.  QRK meant are you reading me?  QSK did you get the message etc?  These and many more combinations are normal operating procedural codes and it is possible, and often necessary, to pass a great deal of non-secret information using only this Q code.

Next day, about 3pm, Bob and Yaru visited the native village and found another Dutch patrol, a much smaller one this time, under the command of a Lt. de Bruina, had arrived. This patrol went under the name of "Shark" and had landed in the swamp two days before us and had had even more trouble in getting to dry land and by great good fortune had also picked up our tracks and followed them to the village.  They were exhausted and filthy from the swamp mud and we knew just how they were feeling!

To Chapter 17 ->