11. Northern-Sumatra after the 1st Politionele actions
It was in those days that I learned what fear really was. I thought I knew all about fear having lived through the Second World War, but it turned out it was nothing compared to what was still to come.
One day, late in the evening on one of my trips from Medan to Siantar the battery of my vehicle died. That was us, standing there in the middle of the jungle and it took over an hour for the first vehicle to come past us. I did the dumbest I could have ever done and that was sending my mate with the other driver to get help. Whilst looking at the disappearing taillights of that car I realised that I was now left in the dark all by myself in hostile territory. I climbed back into the truck and sat down with the machinegun on my lap. I sat there for a while and realised that I could be approached from behind without knowing it. As quick as I could I jumped from the cab and slid under the truck, thinking I would be safe there.
You think that after having been in the jungle for a while you know all the sounds, but in the darkness by yourself all sounds are different and extremely scary.
Now I stressed out and thought, “I would be helpless if they discover the truck and started shooting” I slid from under the truck and crawled to the nearest ditch approximately 50 yards away. I was in this situation for approximately 2 hours and you can imagine my delight when I saw the headlight of one of our trucks approaching.
Silent Number Nine
In Medan I met a soldier named Dick, who was the armourer there. He was always very quiet and as a result ended up with the nickname: Silent Number Nine” He was one of those guys born to be unlucky.
At one point he had to issue a machinegun to the sergeant and it was standard procedure to hand the loaded magazines over separately just to make sure that if you got bumped or accidentally dropped the weapon it would not cock itself and go off.
Dick, not used to the procedure, pushed the magazine in to the weapon and the gun went off, shooting the sergeant in the upper leg. Dick had to appear before the military court, and lucky for him he was sentenced only to 10 days of light punishment.
Some time later, during the First Politionele Actions, he was standing in the trucks loading bay to catch the breeze whilst driving over the top of the cab. It was nothing strange as most guys used to do that. However on that particular day the enemy TNI had stretched a wire across the road just above the height of our trucks. The TNI were aware that our boys were doing that and decapitated some of them at times.
Silent Number Nine was lucky that day as the wire was slightly too high and just nicked him. He was knocked of the truck and ended up in hospital.
Whilst recuperating in hospital they came under fire probably by the TNI and he got hurt again.
A little later whilst being a pillion passenger on a military motorbike a Chinamen crossed the road. They hit him and the bike goes end over end injuring the Silent Number Nine. He slammed into a lamppost and broke his knee. Back to hospital.
The poor guy spend most of his military service in hospital. All I know is that he moved to Australia after the war.
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