Posted by: Gregoryno6 | May 25, 2014

World War 2 has not given up all its secrets yet: A story for Memorial Day..

Sydney columnist Piers Akerman has highlighted another forgotten story from World War 2.

In a column that criticises the anti-American demographic here PA offers another reminder of the friendship that reaches across the Pacific:

One story which could not be told during the war, and which was lost in the aftermath and has only recently been pieced together from wartime diaries and service records, highlights the special bond that tied Australians and Americans then and serves to illustrate the shared values which unite our people today.

Melbourne author Tom Trumble has published a truly remarkable account of the survival of a group of Australian airmen stranded in Japanese-occupied Timor after the bombing of Darwin and later Broome destroyed the Australian flying boats which might have been able to extract them.

Their leader was 24-year-old meteorological officer Bryan Rofe, the author’s grandfather. The young man’s attempts to keep his band alive and rally their spirits are heroic, but that is just part of this extraordinary story.

After evading Japanese patrols, living off the land, assisted by some but by no means all Timorese, and ravaged by ­malaria, the small group was effectively abandoned by the Australian military.

However, the US navy overheard their radio transmissions and launched a rescue. The submarine USS Searaven was sent to the area and after several frustrating days managed to make contact with the survivors.

Members of the US crew swam ashore at night so as not to alert Japanese spies.

The men were weak, barely able to stand. Getting them off the beach could not be completed in one night and, at huge risk, the US submarine stood off for several days until all the men were aboard.

Five days after they had left, a fire broke out in a main power unit and another US submarine had to take it in tow on the surface, vulnerable to aircraft attack, to Fremantle.

The full story is contained in Trumble’s book, Rescue at 2100 Hours, and it is gripping.

US Lieutenant Commander Hiram Cassedy, captain of the Searaven and Ensign George Cook, who repeatedly swam through shark-infested waters to reach the men, received the US Navy’s second highest decoration for valour, the Navy Cross. Two crewmen were awarded the Silver Star.

The book is called Rescue at 2100. Published locally by Penguin, it’s available through Amazon as an e-book. For paperback or hardback copies look online for Australian retailers.

Thanks again, guys. We’ve fought side by side in a few wars now. I’m sure we’ll do the same again in the future.

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on et cetera* and commented:
    Australians and Americans..Heroes All!

    Damn right on the “do the same again”!

  2. […] World War 2 has not given up all its secrets yet: A story for Memorial Day… […]


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