Chapter 19.


After waiting in vain all day for the promised drop, the Van de Vien party, to our delight, decided at long last, on the 7th of April, to leave and strike out on their own. This was good news indeed though we were still left with the much smaller Shark party.  We parted company, trying not to appear too pleased, and went on our way, glad to be rid of Van de Vien's party.  I was elated to see them go because, due to their radioman's incompetence, I had been lumbered with quite a lot of their signals, as he seemed most of the time to be unable to gain contact with their base at the Idenberg River and was quite happy for me to relay his messages!  Their radio did not appear to be nearly as good as ours which seemed to be part of his problem but I had the feeling, while watching him operating, that most of his difficulties stemmed from his own lack of ability.  But, that was his problem from now on.  Unfortunately though, I was still saddled with all the radio messages of the Shark party still with us.  Amazingly they did not have a radio as part of their equipment and why anyone would venture into this wilderness without some means of communication was beyond comprehension! All told I sent 27 and received 32 messages for them over a period of 2 weeks.  It was work that I could have well done without!

Patrolling went on and almost immediately we found evidence that a Japanese patrol had visited a small deserted cluster of huts, which we thought may have been a village named Japsi, but were not sure.  There were many of these huts dotted around the countryside but almost all of them appeared to have been unoccupied for a considerable time and we began to wonder where the occupants had got to.  A few days later, when we did come across some natives, we were told that the enemy had forbidden them to travel any further south.  When we did eventually make contact it was very difficult to gain their confidence and we thought, perhaps, that their lack of friendliness was largely due to the fear of reprisals by the enemy.

After leaving Japsi we experienced a few close shaves with Nip patrols but, although lucky a couple of times, successfully kept out of serious trouble.  One of the police boys, Sabokinya, got a slight wound in the forearm late one afternoon when a Nip patrol, who had wandered into our path, began firing blindly in our general direction before beating a hasty retreat.  But the wound was not serious and only needed a bandage and a couple of stitches.   Mostly we were successful in keeping out of their way and I think we were doing a good job in tricking them into thinking we were a much larger party and this was probably the reason they did not make any serious attempts to locate us.  The enemy's seeming lack of hostile intent was quite puzzling, as we had on numerous occasions, been told by natives of threats coming from their patrols, as to the unmentionable things they would do to us if we were caught!  Personally, I thought the threats were mainly made to impress the natives and an attempt to deter them from helping us in any way.

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