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15 October 2014
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Under Fire at Katha

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
George Edward King
Location of story: 
Katha, Indonesia
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A7160447
Contributed on: 
21 November 2005

On the 12th of March 1944 a group of Japanese fighters attacked the strip at Katha. They bombed and strafed the base, and the radar and some light planes were damaged. The Japanese managed to get entrenched on the other side of the strip and monotonously during the night and day sent over mortar bombs. One night it was really hot in the foxhole trench so we decided to sleep on top under a very large tree and said if anything happened in the night, whoever woke up would wake the other.

About 1.30am the Japanese decided to attack over the wire. We had Gurkhas with us and I always felt safe with them. I was awakened by noise and looking up to see tracers going overhead, I somehow felt calm. I felt for my friend and he wasn’t there so I decided to keep on my back and edge my way to the trench, looking at the continuous tracers going overhead and into the tree, as we saw in the morning.

Some Japanese had managed to get over the wire from one side and had got into a tree over the ammo area but were brought down by the West African troops. Another that we hadn’t realised had come in crept unnoticed up to the next slit-trench. He didn’t know that a Gurkha was waiting with his kukri drawn when the Japanese asked for a light. Many Japanese died that night.

One of our chaps was up top — we stayed down but he didn’t, and got hit. We had the job of burying him. We managed to search the Yanks’ quarters and found a brand new toilet seat, took it apart and then carved his name, number and rank.

On a patrol, one of our men was captured. The bayonet was used on him four times, but a very brave man that night, he led the Japanese toward the wire. He had his wounds bandaged and as he got near to the entrance, well in range of the gunners, he ripped open his jungle top, shouted and fell to the ground. The Japanese, suddenly taken by surprise, felt the full impact of Brens and Vickers, and the squaddie, realising they had all died, got up and made a run for the entrance. He was awarded an immediate MM and flown out to hospital.

This story was added to the People’s War site by Melita Dennett on behalf of George King, who understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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