From the Diary Of Leading Telegraphist H. S. Young RANR; written while serving aboard M. V Krait during Operation Jaywick – 1943.
© H.S. Young
|1/9/43||Tail-shaft broke went alongside U.S.S. Chanticleer for repairs. Hit her a hefty whack in the process, had most delicious meals, turkey etc., and our first hot showers in 6 weeks, excellent.|
|2/9/43||Navy owes me 4 pounds back-pay. Weather bad, ship nearly foundered quite anxious few moments, thrown from my hammock, no bones broken.|
|3/9/43||Seas still heavy, Clear Lower Deck, Major Lyon ‘tells all’, not surprised as guessed as much.|
|4/9/43||Seas eased down, strict water rationing imposed.|
|5/9/43||Weather getting warmer as we approach tropics numerous turtles floating around, sea snakes and flying fish.|
|6/9/43||I hoist Jap ensign at approximately 0730 much cheering etc.|
|7/9/43||Use of paper forbidden in latrine, water only to be used, most uncomfortable but necessary.|
|8/9/43||Sight our first objective about 21 miles, Mt.Agung on Bali and Rinjanni on Lombok – much excitement. First glimpse enemy held territory -just ambling along waiting for sundown – 6 pm full speed ahead. We can plainly see fires and lights from native villages. A searchlight pokes its slender beam out towards us, all hold our breaths, ‘relief beam does not pick us up’. Numerous large sharks seen during course of the day; one particularly large one endeavouring to knock large black sea-bird off floating log, with its dorsal fin – no luck.|
|9/9/43||Anxious moments last night and this morning, ran into heavy current only making ¼ knot in spots. Sighted Malayan prau about 11 am off starboard bow – first ship since we left. I’ll bet he wouldn’t be steaming so peacefully along 2 miles away if he knew our cargo and identity. Weather can be quite fresh even in Java Sea. Weather warmer, all stained and wearing sarongs. Potential Dorothy Lamours, much ribald comment. We take first pictures of Java etc, under foreign rule. Sighted 2 more Malayan Praus passed normally. Sighted portion of Kangean Islands about supper time also some beautiful coloured butterflies followed us for some miles. Lieut. Davidson caught one and identified it by some peculiar title. It had a very definite perfume, possibly from some of its flowery haunts – up to 11 am no sign of shifting.|
|10/9/43||Plenty of flying fish. They prove very interesting – have examined a couple of specimens which came aboard during passage up the north east of Barrier Reef. They have 2 large fins which spread out just behind fish’s head when flying and close into the back when in water. Weather very oppressive and hazy.|
|11/9/43||Very quiet day – steaming parallel to south coast of Borneo – expect to make Tanjong Putting tomorrow. Sighted native prau heading towards Sourabaya. A towel and straw hat went overboard – had to put about and recover same incriminating evidence. Believed sighted twin engined bomber but lost in clouds – visibility very poor (luckily). Weather getting increasingly warm as we approach equator. Much interesting news over Italy’s capitulation. Native music and Jap propaganda predominate up here on radio although can still hear Australian short wave broadcasts when Japs don’t jam them.|
|12/9/43||Today is Sunday although not much different from any other day – it is interesting because we sight Borneo for the first time. We are only 4 degrees south of the equator and my God she is hot; the visibility is bad and hazy. Spent morning cleaning my Owen gun – Maj. Lyon clears lower deck over smoking – a lecture and finally permission to smoke during hours 6.30 am – 6.30 pm – much satisfaction.|
|13/9/43||Anchored last night received quite a bashing from a heavy swell running. Weather is extremely sticky and humid yesterday’s temperature being 82 degrees while humidity reached 83 degrees. Sunsets and moons are about the best part of these regions. Passed 2 more Malayan praus also a large Chinese junk – swung very close to us before the wind. I happened to be discussing our probable future if captured by Japs on way back, with Maj. Lyon, he explained he was in possession of a drug which would put us out painlessly rather than be used for bayonet practice. Still sailing off Borneo – sight land occasionally. Expect to turn West towards our target area tomorrow at noon.|
|14/9/43||Sailing in the teeth of a monsoon gale – seas extremely heavy but KFM (Ko Fuku Maru) riding them like a bird. Dawn finds us in the middle of an island group, one of the larger named Palapes. We sail right through the middle of several native fishing craft and can’t help noting how picturesque they look, typical of the East. Gale increasing to typhoon, anyone experiencing a typhoon in the China Seas can well imagine life on a 70 ft. Jap sampan.|
|15/9/43||Several more native shipping sighted. We are now approaching our first objective, an island in the Linga Linga group. Zero hour draws near. We are busily engrossed in staining ourselves brown. God, if only my wife could see me now. Mr. D took a photo – doubt whether it will ever reach a publisher as no one has a stitch on – this dye is most uncomfortable but necessary for tomorrow we land on enemy territory. Incidentally we crossed the ‘Line’ (Equator) about 7.30 am, no ceremony.|
|16/9/43||Back pay six pounds six shillings, observed peculiar coloured flashes of lightning late last night but paid no attention, barometer was reasonable. About midnight wind dropped and sea became oily calm. Approximately 1.30 am Sumatra hit us with full force. Major Lyon recognised symptoms and immediately ordered all hatches to be battened down and ship made ready for heavy weather. No sooner than he spoke a peculiar noise was heard and the works hit us. I sincerely hope I never witness another. The wind was terrific and I thought every moment the ship was going to be lifted bodily out of the water. The waves mounted and can well be imagined how we were treated – rain fell in torrents. It passed fairly quickly (about three quarters of an hour) leaving a very disturbed sea.|
|Entered Linga Linga island group approximately 60 miles from Singapore. Strange all the lads engrossed in a bitter discussion on the English language and how it should be spoken. All around us are hundreds of islands also passed by some fine native sailing ships. Evidently busy in rich fishing trade around island group. They pass close – we may observe native crew at the job, also noticed many native villages on some of the larger groups. Very heavy vegetation on all – profuse in coconut palms. We gaze longingly but unsafe to land our objective being Pompong island – a place of gruesome history (story), better it were named horror island, or finally may land at Temerang. Black dye most uncomfortable and rubs off on clothes, ruining all as it doesn’t wash out. Spent the afternoon hunting for a suitable place to conceal KFM – so far unsuccessful. Received quite a rude shock when Jap floatplane dived out of the blue and went winging off towards Singapore also saw a large stingray swimming nearby.
Saw what we thought to be the mast of a large ship – turned out to be a large vessel lying on the bottom only mast showing; ship was lost by Jap bombing with heavy civilian loss of life (according to Maj. Lyon)
|Spent afternoon cruising around for suitable hide-out for Krait – unfortunately water too shallow and too many coral reefs. At 2.25 pm a Jap floatplane came swooping along at about 2000ft, no one noticed until he was right on top of us. We all dived for cover trying to look as unconcernedly as possible – shock passes so does plane. I guess our flag did the trick. In the evening we notice searchlights in the middle of a group of islands. Led us to believe we are in the heart of an enemy seaplane base. We anchor as close to shore as possible and prepare to get operational party gear out and the mast also comes down with a ‘crash’.|
|17/9/43||We wake to the sound of Jap seaplanes flying right over us and very low – no one even dares to look at them. Lookout states he heard aero engines warming up about 4 am. Sound carries for miles across these lagoons etc. About 8.30 am three natives in a canoe try to pay us a call but we up anchor and sail. I wonder what they think of our manners.
Have been sailing in and out of the group all day waiting for night to put the party ashore – stage is all set. Many native villages and their fishing grounds sighted.
We pass so close to one that we could see a large black dog with a white front walking up and down.
These huts are built in the water on long sticks. A storm is approaching and down it comes plenty of rain. Observation Post, steam launch etc. heavy swell running and we stand in about 50 yards off island beach – appears to be uninhabited, we sincerely hope so.
|18/9/43||1 am – the canoeists are landing with their equipment – heavy swell running and we stand in about 50 yards off island beach – appears to be uninhabited, we sincerely hope so.
4.30 am – landing successful. We weigh anchor and go for our lives to Borneo coast. Have to sneak pass O.Ps and they boast some damn powerful search lights.
8 am – we have shaken off our islands etc., and a group of 4 enemy planes pass overhead.
|19/9/43||All yesterday uneventful, all dog tired – only eight of us left so we have to work pretty hard. My principal job now is to monitor all Jap press transmissions so we may learn if our boys have been captured. 24th is going to be Guy Fawkes night – we will hug the radio from then on. Curious to know what Japs will have to say – probably say it is internal sabotage and shoot a couple hundred chinks.|
|20/9/43||Passed Chinese junk about 4 miles abeam. Nothing much of interest today. No news of the boys and no enemy planes sighted.|
|21/9/43||Passed large group of islands late in the afternoon – heavy seas running. Some of group, according to Dutch report, are inhabited so we sail on ever onwards.|
|22/9/43||Sight large vessel on port, we alter course as intelligence reports say Jap similar types for island patrols. No incident all day seas getting worse.|
|23/9/43||Had to turn about and run before sea as things a little dangerous. Going half-speed. Wireless reports indicate things not going too well for Axis – after tomorrow night things will be going a lot less well, for the Nips in particular.|
|24/9/43||K.F.M. nearly went to the port of missing ships – nearly mistook coast of Borneo for low lying cloud. Finished up only 200 yards from the shore. Struck bottom 3 times, finally had to anchor and did we get a pasting. K. F M. rolled dangerously all night – nobody had any sleep – gale blew all day – had to turn around and run before it nearly all day. Cleared large group of islands off Borneo coast.|
|25/9/43||On way back to Singapore enroute for home, thank god. Food is a problem – for lunch I had a handful of raisins, 1/2 cup of water and one biscuit. Will certainly make up for lost time when I get back. So far Japs haven’t mentioned our attack on Singapore – weather fine.|
|26/9/43||Sighted a suspicious vessel which on seeing us changed course towards us. Skipper thought it may be Jap patrol vessel as intelligence reports say the Nips are using several types – 2 cases pineapples (hand grenades), Owen guns and other machine guns made ready in case. I reckon he’d get a hell of a surprise – we could dispose of him all nice and quiet as we are just out of sight of Borneo coast (10 miles).
Today has been extremely calm – it rained last night thank god. I’ll never curse the rain again. Am having a little trouble making water ration spin out owing to excessive heat – you can’t walk on wooden decks. My behind is severely sunburnt so much so I can’t sit down which is most uncomfortable – the rest of my body is nearly the colour of a native I have browned so.
|27/9/43||Real Krait weather, so beautiful and calm so we stopped in middle of Java Sea and proceeded to scrape the side and did a spot of fishing. So far Tokyo radio hasn’t mentioned our raid on Singapore.|
|28/9/43||One of the best days of the trip. It rained this morning and how everyone rushed out in their birthday suits, even the Skipper, for a lovely shower. It was worth more than a fiver. We put everything capable of holding water out to catch a few precious drops, water is more precious than gold to us – it is the key to our very existence. The sea is very calm but the sky is still overcast. Tonight at midnight we turn about and dash full speed to Singapore, pick up the lads and full speed for home – god it will be grand to see Aussie again and get a decent feed.|
|29/9/43||On our way home via Singapore – unfortunately we have to get blackened up again tomorrow which is most uncomfortable but a necessity. We are to attempt to break into his front door and rescue our canoeists. Time will tell if we are successful. So far Japan has not mentioned a thing about the raid on the wireless so we don’t know whether our boys have been captured and we may be sailing into a well prepared trap however we will be prepared for emergencies.
At present, sitting on top of the wireless equipment is enough plastic explosive to blow half of Sydney up so the ship will be blown up and we take to the bush to sell our lives at the best possible price as no one cares to be taken prisoner, the Nips are much too generous.
9.40am – Several islands are on either side of us. Native fishermen are proceeding about their normal duties while we sail in and out amongst them – makes me feel like the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
|30/9/43||Last day of the month – Navy owes me eight pounds eight shillings. It will come in very handy when I get back. Nothing much of interest sighted still steaming west nor west.|
|1/10/43||Today is a memorable day filled with a certain amount of anxiety – we are nearing Singapore and should pick up party about 7 pm. Dawn broke an oily dead calm which boded us evil.
Sure enough a storm struck whipping seas and as we are running to a split second timetable its not too healthy. Sight a dark object on the surface about 5 miles away, unidentified.
The time now being 6 pm and we are in the island group of our rendezvous – we are 5 hours late thanks to the storm and we should be in Temiang Strait shortly. We give our Owen guns and pistols the final once over and check 2 magazines each – all set in case he tries any funny business – its remarkable the absence of reconnaissance aircraft, last time we were up here there were quite a few. If we survive tonight OK we should be back in Aussie in a fortnight, whacko.
|2/10/43||We arrived at Pompong approximately midnight where Lieut. Davidson and Poppa Falls were awaiting us anxiously. You can image the relief on both sides when we met. So far the other canoes have not turned up and we, after waiting off the island until 6 am proceeded to sea. The water was extremely deep where we anchored and our main anchor was lost during weighing. The absence of the other two canoes is causing a little worry as they had the least distance to travel. However Maj. Lyon was last reported to be weakening rapidly. We learnt first hand details of the attack proper.
Lieut. Davidson and Poppa attacked the Roads and harbour area, sailing right into Keppel Harbour itself through the boom in the wake of a vessel. Seeing only small ships in the harbour they left passing out again through the boom in the wake of an ocean-going tug and proceeded to the Roads attaching their limpets to 3 large ships totalling at least 15,000 tons. Three very large oil tankers had to be left untouched owing to impossibility of sinking tankers with limpets. A total of nine ships is believed to have been sunk. Although the reports have not yet come in at least 6 explosions were heard.
|3/10/43||After steaming all night out to sea we turned about for Pompong in an endeavour to pick them up. If they are not there by tomorrow morning we will steam up to Panjang, our advance base and see if they have been there. Failing that we will have to consider them lost and return to Aust which will be hard to do under the circumstances. We take a fair amount of risk steaming back all the time as natives may get suspicious – exit Krait.|
|4/10/43||Last night a very momentous occasion, the other 2 canoes had arrived. We picked them up amid much excitement – all exchanging views and adventures. A total of 7 ships were sunk aggregating approximately 40,000 tons – in all a very successful expedition and now for home sweet home – never to see Pompang again, we sincerely hope.|
|5/10/43||Yesterday afternoon a large four-engined Kawanisi flying boat flew over evidently enroute for Singapore. He paid us no attention though. I resume W/T watches and all has settled down to more or less routine – we are headed back to Borneo.|
|6/10/43||Pass a large group of islands on our way home just off Borneo coast. We are racing flat out for Lombok Straits and should pass through them on the night of the 10th.
It’s grand to think that Australia is only nine days ahead of us although we still have danger area of Lombok to contend with. I feel quite confident that we will pass through OK – the only worry is the strong tide flowing the straits have – time will tell.
|7/10/43||Fairly quiet today – very high seas running and visibility bad, will probably set us back a couple of days if it keeps up.|
|8/10/43||Seas very heavy – W/T office flooded out in fact all pretty miserable, still good times coming.|
|9/10/43||Weather is still bad – worse if anything. Lad caught asleep on watch – placed on a diet of 3 days water and dry biscuits besides additional punishment. Passed very close to island at night – all aglow with camp fires.|
|10/10/43||This time next week should see us enjoying luxuries of civilised life again – iced beer American food etc. Weather exceptionally calm, visibility bad in fact an excellent day for us. Tomorrow is danger point number one as we attempt to pass through Strait (Lombok) once more. I have got out an extra Jap flag in case of aircraft.|
|11/10/43||Mt.Rinjani in sight since 8 am – much excitement as day draws on and Lombok Island shows up. We ease down about 2 pm and increase again as we approach strait. By 9 pm we are going hell for leather. Then the worst shock of the trip. About midnight each man was silently awakened to the words of a ‘sail bearing down on us‘. We immediately change course and headed for Bali about 6 miles abeam of us.
Unluckily for us our ‘sail’ turned out to be none other than a Japanese light destroyer. She raced up and ran alongside us from about 100 yards away abeam of us and our hearts stopped. Still we stood by action stations with our light machine guns feeling pretty helpless but all determined to sell pretty dearly seeing we were this close from home. To our amazement he turned about and slipped away towards Lombok just as rapidly as he approached. I can’t describe the sighs of relief and speech that followed. We are battling through tremendous seas and rips all night and morning.
|12/10/43||So far (6 pm) day has passed uneventful thank God. We expected to run across reconnaissance aircraft all day but didn’t see one – relief – if we receive the same attention up to this time tomorrow night, I think we can say we have won through. Seas still very high.|
|13/10/43||Calm sea fairly quiet day. I endeavour to raise Darwin to pass message to Admiral Christie about Lombok Strait being patrolled but unable to raise Darwin. Cannot call him for long because we are still only about 200 miles from Jap.|
|14/10/43||Navy owes me ten pounds ten shillings up to today. Sea calm, weather overcast.
The grand old Aussie climate hits us in the face and we bring out our cockroach ridden pullovers.
|15/10/43||Important day today as I pass the following message to the U.S. Navy station at Fremantle (VIX/O) ‘A.C.N.B. from Krait – mission completed stop for Admiral Christie Lombok now patrolled stop E.T.A. pm seventeenth‘. It gave me quite a kick talking to folks back in Australia again. All on board were quite excited about it. Another cause for uncertain excitement was the cry, ‘aircraft’, one we all dread. Fortunately it happened to be one of our old ‘cats’ on a lonely patrol, he never saw us though.|
|16/10/43||Today being Saturday brings us to within 200 miles of Exmouth Gulf. Also can listen to local stations on the wireless which is pretty good. We should hit E.G. tomorrow evening and how we are looking forward to it. Plenty of fresh food, a bed to sleep in, beer etc., and above all tons of fresh water and showers to wash in. Its just going to be like waking up from a nightmare and we can say “thank god that’s over and done with’.|