- Bee, W.A. ("Buzzer")
- Biographies and personal histories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Perth I
- September 1987 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
We remained huddled together on the upper platform for a few hours while the destroyer patrolled seemingly aimlessly back and forth across the approaches to the Strait, sometimes going close to the scene of our earlier action. It made one feel better to see some of the evidence of damage that we can credit having inflicted on the enemy for there were a number of sunken ships including what appeared to be an aircraft tender, lying at various depths of submersion. A Jap sailor with a smattering of English was heard to remark that we must have been a battleship. That pleased us too. During this time we were continually being counted; somehow the Japs never seem to get a head count or ‘tenko’ as they call it, correct the first time and sometimes it takes three or four attempts to get it right.
About mid afternoon we dropped anchor off the town or Merak near some transports which we observed to be unloading supplies onto barges. It was not long before our destroyer’s boats were lowered into the water and the first party, of which I was one, was led away to the ship’s side. I literally tumbled into the bottom of the boat after which I somehow managed to drag myself onto a thwart. With the boat loaded, a Jap sailor on the tiller and another one sitting next to him as guard, we were ordered to take up oars and row ourselves in the direction of one of the transport vessels.
Tired and fatigued as we were, rowing a boat was no easy matter, nevertheless we made it drawing up alongside the companion ladder of a vessel which bore the name Somedong Maru. Our arrival was accompanied by much shouting, waving of hands and brandishing of weapons. At first it appeared as though we had picked the wrong vessel but the Jap Navy remained resolute and so our transhipment was allowed to proceed. With wry grins and unintelligible utterances we then parted company with our Navy hosts for all time. Thanks to the assistance of my mates, I managed to climb the ladder and onto the deck where we were counted once again and then pushed and prodded towards our new quarters in the forward hold. Anyone ignoring the order for ‘speedo- speedo’ or loitering for any reason at all, was helped on the way with a bash from a rifle butt. This was our introduction to the hospitality of the Imperial Japanese Army under whose dubious care we were to remain for the next three and a half years.