Chapter 24.


While poking round the hut they heard someone call from the nearby bush.  Sam pricked up his ears and said it sounded like a Dutchman calling.  Black, the Dutchman, said it sounded like one of the lost party.  He called out in Dutch and told the man to come forward as they were friends and were looking for him.  Out he came, rather warily, and when he saw his friend Black, called to the other missing members of his party and they followed.

They were a pretty woeful sight, only partly dressed and two were even without boots.  Quite obviously they had been in a very relaxed and unguarded state when jumped by the Japanese patrol and had fled the scene post haste.  Four of them had managed to retrieve their rifles before taking to the trees but the other three were unarmed and partly undressed as well.  All in all they appeared a sorry and woebegone lot and had almost given up any hope of re-uniting with the rest of their party.  Luckily, in the distance, they had heard Neville firing and had decided to investigate.  Very carefully they had searched the general area and found the old hut but were still worried that the shots had come from a Japanese patrol.  But, after further investigation, had finally seen the native constable standing guard near the hut.  Still not totally convinced and rather than reveal their whereabouts they had decided to call out from the cover of the bush and were over-joyed when answered in their own language and to finally know it was safe to venture out.

Because of the suspicion that the two dead Nips had been members of a larger patrol caution dictated they get out of there in a hurry so, in all haste, back they came to the Nawa River base and the Shark patrol was reunited, all thirteen of them.  In the meantime, more good news had come when I received word there was to be the promised drop at our present position, the next day, with the rest of the equipment and food for the Dutch party.

On the 20th April, two Mitchell bombers duly arrived and dropped the storepedoes.  All eight landed safely in the marked area and were quickly gathered and examined.  It was, for once, almost an exact supply of all requirements.  Among the stores was a spare radio battery, which I quietly claimed without anyone seeing me.  I felt we had gone out of our way to help the Shark party over the last week or so, and had no qualms in relieving them of the battery when I knew that, being without a radio, they had no use for it.

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