- Contributed by
- BBC Southern Counties Radio
- People in story:
- Captain Norman Cook; Flying Officer Clark
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 September 2005
This story was added to the People’s War website by D.G. Schofield on behalf of Norman Cook, who has given his permission to add his story to the website and understands the terms and conditions.
I joined the 58th Field Regiment in 1935 when I was 20 years old and I served in France and Belgium and survived Dunkirk. I spent 4 years in Burma in the 14th Army, and below is a one memory of my time in the Burmese Jungle. In 1946 I returned to command R A Battery at Bexhill.
In June 1943, I was a Captain in the 160 Jungle Field Regiment Royal Artillery, and had been allotted the task of leading a Task Force of 100 men into Jungle country, to find pockets of the enemy, shoot them up, and move on again with as much speed as possible.
We were on foot, and our guns were the 3.7 Mountain Gun, which could be broken down into parts and carried by the men, some with shells strapped to their legs. We were now in deep jungle with our base some 80 miles behind us, and three weeks into the operation. We had stopped for the night on the edge of a small clearing about the size of a tennis court, with about an hour of light to go.
The Japs had a habit of getting close to us, and calling out such things as "What's the time?" and when a soldier answered the Japs would hurl grenades into the area from where the voice had come. To counteract this, the orders were that no reply was to be made if such a thing happened.
Having posted my sentries and whilst I was checking my maps, one of my sergeants came to me and said that someone was calling from the jungle, and it sounded like an English voice, so I said to him that he knew what the orders were, and to ignore it, and if anything moved to shoot it.
He came back a few minutes later, and asked me if I would go to the perimeter, as he felt certain that the voice was English. What I heard was very obviously an English voice, saying "I say, is there anybody there?"
I took two soldiers with me and posted others at the edge of the clearing, and walked forward, instructing my men to open up if anything untoward happened. So there I was in the middle of a Burmese jungle, bush-hatted, bearded, armed to the teeth with a sten gun and grenades, backed up by armed troops, when out into the clearing stepped a man, and I swear this is true, no hat, a khaki shirt and shorts, and would you believe it, carpet slippers! ! !!
We met with outstretched hands as I said "Captain Cook", and he replied "Flying Officer Clark." He was a fighter pilot lounging in his hut at Doazhari, when he was scrambled and took off in his plane, dressed as he was, but crashed in the jungle, and was walking out.
We fed him, found him some boots and a hat, and shipped him out next day when the food truck arrived. This humorous incident relieving an otherwise exacting day!
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