The first Japanese groups were approaching from the south through the
morning fog. The advance guards were marching at extraordinary speed,
not bothering about the possible menace from an ambush in the thickets.
They were conscious about the fact that a good posted ambush was
difficult to recognize. Their calculation was therefore very simple.
Were they advancing rapidly, they would possibly die fast of an enemy
bullet, but not going forward (or not fast enough) meant death by the
hands of their own officers ... When there was enough daylight to
see a few meters in front of him, the officer stopped. It was so
common that he was stiffened by the night's coldness and the whole body
was full of tiredness, that he wouldn't think about that when he was
noticing a strange taste in his mouth. He got hungry too. He rushed to
the next creek to quench his thirst at least. His seargant was ordered
to lead his men towards the path, whilst he went to the dark spot on
the dusty path, of which he already knew from last night, that it
was a dead English soldier. Perhaps in the jungle around them there
were more of their bodies.
Simply because of his habit he drew his revolver, despite that he was sure
that there were no enemy alive in the vicinity. He turned the stiffend
body on its back, inspected it thoroughly, and put all the things he
found of value into his knapsack. Then he followed the bloody tracks into
the jungle, but didn't find anything. His men, already waiting, bowed
to him. With indifference they listened to his orders. When he
finished, he moved to the column's head to lead them onto the height.
His men were of no special selection to get a higher wage, but
nevertheless their task was more dangerous than those of average
Japanese infantry unit. In spite of this, there was enough envy amongst
other units. According to their common view, they inflicted greater
bloodshed on the enemies back with the effect of becoming an anxious
enemy, when finding their bloody track. It was astonishing and funny to
see how the Englishman dies in the same way, how to hear in which way
he kneels in front of you and pleads for mercy, pleads for the
disgrace named captivity. On the Japanese side such a man would deserve
... After half an hour the main work was finished. The two cooks have
made some tea and brought it to the two gravediggers which ditched some
heap of earth here and there. In the meantime the driver was successful
in opening the door of the forester's chat. He walked into the dark
rooms, where sometimes sunbeams shone in through the small windows.
Only some old furniture was in it, somewhere lay one old, ripped
edition of the Blackwood magazine dated from 1926! On the veranda he
sat in the armchair, sipped tea and smiled as he read the old
articles. He heard some noise and looked in direction of the truck. He
thought that one of the injured said a word, but there wasn't
anything like that. He went on reading until he noticed, that there was
some movement beyond his Blackwood. Immediately he looked up ... In
front of him 3 men in uniforms appeared, of whom the one in the middle,
a young man, had a revolver in his hand. At once he saw that those were
Japanese and he stood up, happy to have left his rifle on board of the
truck. They would not shoot on an unarmed man. In these moments he felt
no grudge against the enemy, but against his own people, who had left
him to drive with a lorry full of dead and injured without preparation
on the way, … and now had fallen into captivity. The officer placed
himself on the lowest step of the veranda and said something to him.
The driver shook his head: "Don't understand Japanese".
After they watched themselves a few seconds, the officer showed him with his head to step forward.
After he stepped forward, they showed him to walk in front of them.
They made their way to the group at the graveyard. Dobson looked at
them astonished and for a moment he thought that it was probably
forbidden to dig graves in the garden of the foresters chat. Perhaps
those are policemen ...
"What is happening ?", he asked.
"Don't know", replied the driver. "They are Japs".
What followed was a moment of silence, after which some heap of dry
earth fell into the grave. Then one of the two cooks turned around and
hurried in the direction of the trees which hid the river. He ran
straight forward and everybody gathered to him. He reached the trees
when it cracked. He fell forward and rolled to the stem of a palm. Now
the officer growled something and pointed to the truck with his
revolver. They were too confused to resist. Their rifles were very
near to them, but any move would mean death and dying
would be without sense in this situation.
Burns died because he tried to escape, but they will not try to escape
and will live for that. They heard cries and watched more Japanese
soldiers appearing behind the truck throwing a human body to the
ground. They approached and noticed that it was Rasby whose bandages
were ripped off and who was pricked with sort of short sticks. One
pierced his mouth with a long piece of bamboo and pressed it through
his throat. Rasby cried. The officer gave them an order and they
stopped, they withdrew some steps and watched Rasby who rolled on the
ground. After that the officer again said something and one of the
soldiers grabbed the driver's shirt and undressed him. After that he
wrapped the shirt lengthwise, wound it around his open mouth and tied
it together. Some Japanese climbed up on the lorry and started to throw
everything out that came into their hands. Others began to rip blankets
in strips and bound the captives. Myler's and Rasby's uniforms were
torn from their bodies and both were chained to a thick palm, behind
the truck. No one resisted, because they really thought they were not to be killed.
Dobson was convinced that the Japanese didn't know that they are deep
behind the British lines and that they wouldn't have time to bother
with prisoners when they will meet infantry on the way.
He couldn't explain why the Japanese had undressed two of them and
tied them to the trees and why this didn't happens to him. In the
meantime the truck was completely cleared out and the Japanese were
busy with the preserved meat, which quickly went into their knapsacks.
Then they grabbed Dobson and pushed him very hard to climb in the truck
where he had to lie down and was soon followed by the others. Before
they realised what was going on the Japanese threw the ripped
blankets on them, followed by other heavier things, finally the boxes.
They tried to free themselves from the load and succeeded in rolling
away to the sides, where it was easier to breath. After that they heard
whispering, laughter and someone unscrewing the cover of a ten litre
fuel canister. The driver first realised what would happen, but when
they started to douse the truck with fuel, he didn't suspect that they
would roast them alive. Then great fear overcame him, he cried and his
fear spread to the others. The explosion showed them that this was
the end of all and flames surrounded and overwhelmed their bodies. In
his last attempt to escape the flames the driver succeeded in
moving out from this hell. In spite of his hands and body burning like
torches, he tried to get out, but he stumbled and fell down. This was
the last thing Myler saw, because the fuel tank of the truck burst in
the very next moment and the flames reached the tree above him.