Friday, 17 October 2008

Is this the start of it?

Sunday, 1 March was a day of perfectly glorious weather. As was our usual custom at 'Sunny Corner', our house which was situated about 2.5 miles to the north of the town, we stayed at home enjoying the lovely view we had from the house and the restful peace of the surroundings.

This Sunday we had with us, as a guest for the day, three RAF lads with whom we had made acquaintance sometime during the previous week. I have forgotten the names of all but one, a Scot from Glasgow, Bill Wallace. We had arranged that they should spend a really lazy day with us and they had all managed to wangle 'off duty' time to this end.

Quite early in the morning I fetched them from their billet in town in the car and had them up for late breakfast. During the forenoon, we lazed about the lawn and managed to get rid of quite a surprising quantity of ice cold beer! For lunch we had an extensive 'rijstafel' (Indonesian rice dish with various side dishes literally translated 'rice table') which had the usual result of necessitating the partakers thereof to retire for 40 winks in the afternoon.

In due course, much refreshed, we re-assembled on the lawn for tea, feeling very much at peace with the whole world. It was indeed difficult to realise that anything untoward could be occurring in this fair island. Everything was so very peaceful and quiet.

About 5pm a car came up the hill towards the house and drove into the drive. To our amazement, out of the car stepped our old friend Lydia with her two children, her two sisters along with a native chauffeur and maidservant.

"The Japs are in Soebang", Lydia said simply.

We were stunned. Soebang was only a short 40 miles away on the other side of the Tangkoeban Prahoe mountain to the north.

"Where's Bill?" I asked.

"I don't know" Lydia replied wearily. "They were still fighting when we left".

Bill, Lydia's husband, who also hails from Aberdeen, was a member of the British unity on the local Home Guard in Soebang. Soebang itself a small town, the headquarters of the huge British concession in Java known as the P & T but more familiar in the UK as the Anglo Dutch Plantations of Java Ltd.

Our RAF friends immediately decided that the situation called for their presence at their HQ and while I drove them back to town Ena did all she could to make the refugees comfortable. We never saw the RAF lads again, and have often wondered since what became of them.

When I got back, Lydia and her sisters described to us how the Home Guard had been called out suddenly at 10pm the night before and how they themselves had been roused before dawn this morning, packed into cars and rushed off to a point somewhere to the south east, preparatory to necessary reconnaissance to the safety of the road to Bandoeng. They could only take with them what they could hastily pack and carry. Hand baggage was taken in the cars in which they travelled, but heavier suitcases had been put in a truck which unfortunately, as later transpired, was unable to get through.

They had been almost 12 hours on the road and were all dead tired so we got them all off to bed at an early hour. Fortunately, with, it seems, prescience of such a situation, I had some weeks previously, bought 6 camp beds so that we were able to make all reasonably comfortable.

**** to be continued


ZudaGay said...

Just so you know...I'm waiting for the next post...umm, patiently.

Debbie Gootter said...

Can't wait to see the continuation- please post on the blog love thread when it's up.

Brett Ward said...

I don't know what to say, actually. These posts are truly a work of art. They should have been shared with the world many,many years ago. I wish your father could be around to see this. I'm sure he would thank you immensely, what a beautiful sentiment.
I am at the edge of my seat awaiting the next post.
Thank you Pat.

Pamela said...

Thank you for sharing your father's story with us! I look forward to each new installment. What a different time that was, but this brings it so near. As my husband says, there is nothing better that a true story!

UniqueNurseGranny said...

What a frightening twist to a lovely day.What next?

Dena said...

Thank you Pat for sharing your father's story with us. Can hardly wait for the next post. Wonderful blog!