Thank you to my wife Jane and my sister Cheryl
for their help and forbearance.
The Japanese Imperial Forces, after bombing Darwin, Cairns, Broome and Townsville have invaded Australia and established a foothold in the States of Queensland, the Northern part of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Their main objective, of obtaining access to the mineral wealth of northern Australia, has been achieved.
The Allies have fallen back to ‘The Brisbane Line’ and a stalemate has now existed for the past three years with only occasional forays by both sides into each other’s territory.
Australian civilians in the occupied territory withstood some harsh treatment from the Japanese in the early phase of the occupation and a kind of malaise has struck the majority of the population, thinking that the rest of Australia and their Allies considered them unimportant.
Small bands of resistance fighters still struck at their captors from time to time but their efforts were largely uncoordinated and after three years most groups had absorbed themselves back into the general population.
By 1945 it was apparent to the Allies that the Japanese had stretched their supply lines too far and for too long and were therefore ripe to be driven from Australia. This saw the formulation of a plan to involve Australians in the occupied territories in the attempt to drive the Japanese from their homeland. To this end it was necessary to install agents into many communities and this is the story of two of those agents and the difficult and dangerous journey they undertook and their interaction with Australians and Japanese along the way.
It also gives an insight into the lives
of the civilians in a local community, their interaction with the Japanese, and
highlights their desire to see Australia fully free once again.
Harry Radcliff – leader, tall, brown hair, brown eyes, foreman Peak Downs Station, 3 years, 43 years old.
Arthur Benn – owner of Eastleigh, uncle of Susan, married to Marge
Len Bridger – short, bad leg, 31, property owner
Bill Brennan – ex rodeo rider, 50, no family, jackaroo
Fred Smallacombe – 28, wears glasses, bad eyesight, works at local store
Wally Smith – 17, does odd jobs, lives at home with mother
Jim Gordon – railway station, married, 3 kids
Connor Ryan – works at grocery store, married, 3 sons.
Colonel Hiro Yamaguchi – Area Commander, engineer, studied in Australia, married, 2 children.
Peak Downs Station
Ben Murdock – 55, owner of Peak Downs
Elizabeth Murdock – 54, wife of Ben
Frances Currie – (nee Murdock), 32, widow, daughter of Ben and Elizabeth
Men – Donny, Bluey, Jim
Captain Robert (Bob) James – Intelligence Officer, single, 26 (alias Bob Clark)
Major Clem Lang – Intelligence Office, Brisbane
Colonel Jack Bushing – American, Head of US Intelligence in Brisbane
Susan Benn – 28, niece of Arthur Benn, single, fluent in Japanese
Clarry – Aboriginal tracker
Keith & Malcolm – army drivers, both Corporals
Alison & Timmy James – mother & son, Emerald, friend of Frances
Dan Powell – Alison’s father, Emerald, solicitor
Constable Percy Valentine – local policeman, Capella, married to Merle
Reg & Addie Cullen – owners of Adavale Station
Alf & Stella Benn – Susan’s parents, trucking business, Jericho
Mrs Campbell – Nurse, Emerald
Dr Moloney – Emerald Doctor
Doug – Santa Claus, lives at Doris Milne’s
Vince Moran – Lucknow Station halfway to Emerald
Rod – district postman
Gordo – fencer, in custody over .303
Mary – Aboriginal girl
Gloria – Aboriginal lady at Adavale
Mrs Maloney – teacher
Frank Maloney – guarding the kids
John & son Jake – guarding the children
Ralph & Tony (Bren gun) – from Arundle Station
George – hotelier
Chapter 1 - sample
The dry grass and trees at the side of the orange/white gravel road were coated in a mixture of dust from both the road and the coal trucks that regularly used this route on their way to the railway siding. It had been three months since any significant rain had fallen and the heat continued to build each day, turning the sky into a vivid blue in the absence of cloud of any kind.
Lying in the shade of a patch of stunted trees, some 100 yards from the road, a mob of grey kangaroos were conserving their energy in the worst of the midday heat, preparing them for the forlorn task of feeding at the dry and tasteless grass in the cool of the evening.
The big male kangaroo sensed far off sound but recognised this as a normal part of life and felt no need to alarm the mob and move unnecessarily. Experience had shown that they had little to fear from the big trucks at this distance from the road.
The convoy that moved up the road consisted of a ragtag of trucks, some obviously military in design and others, built during the 1930s, of American and British origins. Leading the convoy was a military scout car with a single heavy machine-gun protruding from the turret and a whip aerial from which fluttered a white flag with a single red sun at its centre.
Because of the heavy dust and the varying ages and reliability of the machinery, the convoy moved slowly through the stunted bush. The slight rise to a sandy ridge allowed the scout car to move ahead of the first truck by 60 yards, laden as it was by four tons of crushed coal.
The kangaroos, as if sensing the sound before it reached them, arose as one, ready for flight and as the scout car disappeared in a roar of flame and dust they bounded away from the scene in complete panic. The next discernible sound was that of small arms fire as two of the three-man crew attempted to escape from the now burning vehicle. Both the men were visibly burnt and their clothing still smoldering when they were cut down as a number of .303 bullets relieved them of any further pain. The driver of the scout car had obviously died in the initial bomb blast and now the only sound was that of the trucks pulling to a halt as the realisation of what was occurring began to enter the conscious thoughts of the drivers.
Still hidden in the bush at the side of the road, eight men remained motionless for 60 seconds until sure that no further resistance was likely from the now stalled convoy. The dynamite, stolen from one of the mine sites in the region, had done its work. Exploding upwards from the road, the bomb packed tightly in a biscuit tin together with small off-cuts of iron found on any rural property, was enough to completely disable the scout car and start a small fire which had died as quickly as it had started.
The men rose on a signal from their leader and, brandishing a variety of weapons, mainly .303 and .22 rifles, began to move towards the truck drivers. Of the six trucks, the drivers were four Malays and two Chinese obviously from the work camp at Lilyvale waterhole where many of the imported labourers lived in squalid conditions. None of the drivers offered any resistance when motioned to get down from their cabs and shut down the engines of those trucks that had not already stalled in their fright to stop suddenly.
The drivers, clearly frightened for their lives, were herded into a group, while two of the masked ambushers went among the trucks splashing kerosene into the cabs and over part of the coal load in the hope that some of the coal would burn and be unusable. However their main aim was to disable the trucks as without them the coal could not leave the underground mine site some 20 miles distant.
As the kerosene was lit and the trucks began to burn, the shortest of the men who had been guarding the truck drivers said, “What do you want to do with these blokes now?” obviously directing his question to a tall man whose face, like the rest of them, was hidden behind a cloth covering his nose and mouth and with an old grey felt hat pulled down low over his eyes, impossible to identify.
“Give ’em a bit of water and send ’em on their way, but do it quickly, we need to get out of here,” he replied.
The drivers were given a half billycan of water and with flourishes from their captors’ rifles, were pointed back in the direction they had come. The drivers, still fearful that they would be shot down when they turned their backs, moved away slowly at first but then began to run when they realised that no harm would come to them from their temporary captors.
“Where do you reckon they’ll end up?” asked the short man to no one in particular.
“I dunno Len, but I expect the Chinese will try to reach the coast and blend into their communities in one of the towns. The Malays I’m not sure about, they will probably just go back to the camp,” mused Harry Radcliff.
As the leader of this group, Harry felt some compassion for the drivers but knew that the alternative was to kill them all. Better to let them take their chances in the bush or back at the camp where just maybe the Japanese would not kill them following interrogation about the raid. The shortage of labour was a constant problem for the Japs and they could ill afford to lose good drivers at this time. Harry knew that the drivers would have no chance of identifying any of his group, the combination of fear, lack of English and their disguises had seen to that.
The trucks were in various stages of burning and Harry was quite sure they would be off the road for a long time.
“Pity we don’t have the dynamite to completely blow the buggers up, but that will have to do. Now let’s get the horses and get out of here,” ordered Harry.
Moving quickly they all left the road and travelling further up the ridge, came to a thicker than normal clump of trees where they had left their horses about 45 minutes before. Mounting up, they could all see the plume of black smoke from the scene of the ambush and knew it would not be long before the Japs became concerned about the lack of communication from their scout car and sent others to investigate.
The plan was to ride hard up to their base in the foothills of the Peak Range, about 20 miles away, leave their equipment, change clothes and go their separate ways.
As they rode off Harry wondered how long they could keep this up. In the past three years their group had been successful on five separate occasions but this was the first time they had actually managed to kill any Japanese. Their previous raids had all been on ordinance or supply dumps and mostly at night when the risk of a firefight or capture was far less. The entire group knew that they had upped the ante today and things would become more difficult for everyone in their small community.
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