Excerpt from “Ordinary Heroes” by Barry Dickins ~~Ray Wheeler~~

picture-OrdinaryHeroes-DickinsWe worked around the docks for a while. We actually met up with a German submarine that came in, and they were quite free with us, talked all about the war. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them how we’d been treated. They believed the propaganda – they’d been shown some propaganda films. I took part in two of those films up the railway. They issued us with new clothes and filmed us in a room with a table full of fruit. Then, as soon as we went out of the room, we had to give the clothes back, and even the fruit. We weren’t allowed to eat it. So I ate my banana as I walking past the camera – they couldn’t stop me then! (Triumphantly.) Another time the Japs issued us with good-quality utensils like shovels, and we had to march past out the gate singing cheerfully. And the song we sang was the unexpurgated version of ‘Bless Them All!’ About two days later they were back for a re-shoot, and they were hopping mad . . .

Anyway, one day one of the German officers came over and looked at what we were eating at lunchtime – it was about half a cup of rice with a bit of dried fish, complete with various insects that were around in the rice – and he just tipped it over the end of the pier, went back and came back with dark bread, brown bread, coffee – stuff that we hadn’t tasted for years. They fed us for about two or three days while we were working unloading ships for the navy.

Then this day one of their crew members was sitting on the mooring bollard down near the submarine, just dressed in a shirt and a pair of khaki shorts, and down the wharf, coming towards us, was a Japanese major – only a little bloke; his sword was that long it was nearly draggin’ on the ground – and he goes up to this German bloke and tells him to get to work! He said about twenty or thirty words in Japanese, but this bloke off the submarine didn’t understand what he was saying. He just sat there and looked at him. He said. ‘Perdon? I’m on the sub!’ And the Jap went whack! whack! on both his cheeks. And the German stood up and let one punch go and decked ‘im! It was beautiful to behold (beams) but the next day the sub was moved somewhere else, and we had to go back to our old rations.

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Ordinary Heroes” by Barry Dickins ~~Ray Wheeler~~

  1. Ray Wheeler (VX61409) was born in Swan Hill, Victoria on 30 July 1922. He enlisted in the Australian Army on 11 August 1941, aged 19 years, and trained in the Armoured Division.
    He was posted to Singapore, where he became a prisoner of war of the Japanese. He did manage to ‘escape’, being rescued by an allied submarine after the Japanese transport he was on, was torpedoed in late 1944.

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