I pray we never have to face again all we went through in those savage seven months.
“Malta” – the realisation of what we were up against – just previous when we saw the Southhampton blow up it had not been nice but we were still an ‘audience’ watching the show so to speak – it hadn’t come into our own particular little back yard. Even when the Stukas came to Malta we still stood and watched them until they nearly hit us. They meant it with a vengeance and we were the legitimate target.
Then Matapan. Even that was not so bad and the air raid next day was mainly directed at the Formidable. Our first feeling of helplessness was in the night air attack a few days later. When Murdock jumped over the side we took stock of ourselves and found that our nerves were also getting a bit raw. We were so helpless against this foe and felt like an animal must when beset by a swarm of vicious mosquitoes.
Then the air raid on Pireaus – the blazing town and harbour – the detonation of the Clan Frazer as it all blew up – that sound will haunt me for all time. The flying horror of death all about the inferno of flame as ship after ship and building after building went up. The din of explosions, the dust smoke and flying debris. The nightmare march to safety and then the murky dawn with the pathetic streams of refugees.
Total war! Air raids on Alex. The evacuation of Greece. How we crawled in and out of islands of Greece on our mission of rescue. The gratitude of the soldiers and their sense of security once we had them in our care.
Then the hell that was Crete and our helplessness again against the swarms of aircraft – the sheer horror of it all and our despair when we had used up all our ammunition fighting dive bombers by rifle fire and manoeuvres. There are some things we can never eradicate. Our hit and my own particular luck – I can still see the flash of the bomb and now the smell of hot oil fuel will always carry to me the memory of mutilated flesh and violent death.
And one wonders what is all the use of this useless slaughter of pain and horror. The bungling of the powers that be the knowledge that so much is being hidden to cover up ‘big’ people in responsible places. The apathy of our own people in Australia about it all. I only hope to God war never does reach Australia’s shores but unless it does they will never realise it and what is going on in Europe today. The ships alone that have been damaged or sunk in the Eastern Mediterranean. A list showing the ships we were associated with and the number damaged and sunk far outstrips our own Australian Navy by a great number.