Don’t mess with us at night mate...
Remember [this is another golden rule] children when you go out together always hold hands, look both ways when you cross the road and then walk quickly. And what ever you do don’t talk to strangers, and oh yes, be home before dark!
When you are in the South-East Asian jungle lights out generally starts at 1800 hours…right on the button! I am sure God turns the lights off personally. In the South-East Asian jungle at night you can literally not see your hand in front of your face…most times.
We were settling in for a normal night’s routine in our harbour position when, I saw muffled lights and heard the radio hissing. The boss was talking frantically and I knew something was up. It was... 'us'...up, literally. Once again we were to hot foot it from point A to B then to C to intercept the dreaded enemy, only this time at night!
Plan A was to have us navigate to a grid reference where we would marry up with the remainder of the company. And then as a company, in single file navigate to another grid reference at C to act as a cut off and ambush a most inconsiderate VC. They were in for trouble from us fearless night navigating keenly alert Kiwis…those b******s, how dare they disturb our night's rest… boy….were they in for it!
The marrying up part of the move was a rather trying exercise, as any movement at night was considered dangerous. Obviously there would be but two choices, either it was us or them! And there would be no ‘who goes there’ type challenges. If it turned out to be the enemy it would be a case of shoot first and ask questions later. So here we were the whole company heading [once again] on foot following directly behind the man in front. Each of us literally holding onto the others pack straps so we would not lose him.
Eventually we ‘married up’ with the remainder of the company and after some considerable time sorting ourselves out we set of in the general direction of point C. Now I don’t know about anyone else but if a photo could have been taken of my face, more particularly my eyes, they would have looked rather comical, as my eyes were WIDE OPEN like saucers!
I have to admit we were all getting very tired, as this particular operation had been long with a number of contacts, including the dreaded bunker battle and lots of bloody hard slogging. So, to be deprived of sleep and to be out at night was a bit of an ask! I remember it was early in the morning when we halted…one of many halts. The scouts at the front of the long line were checking out a safe place to cross stream, apparently they had heard some noises, so we all lay down and faced our arcs and waited.
I have to say at this point, each person’s snore has a very individual and distinctive retort. And, with a whole company in a line stretching some distance in the rubber and jungle the sound emanating from us was horrific. Had the enemy heard us [and I am sure they did] they would have bolted! How do I know? I woke up. With a fright I might add [the very thought of sleeping at a time like this was unnerving] and all I could hear was the sound of many contented soldiers snoring. So much for sneaking up and ambushing the enemy, they would have been long gone.
How dare they trifle with highly trained soldiers like us! Especially at night…So remember always hold hands, rest…
Read more Lloyd Roberton memories here.