Soldier stories

EXPOW'S MANILA FLIGHT. Submitted by WX16572 Neil MacPherson (William's Force, Burma Railway, 2/2 Pioneer Battalion).

Manila, Philipines October 1945. Another B24 bomber was ready to take off with a full load of ex POWs recovered from Japan and heading for Darwin. As it trundled down the runway, the pilot found that the tail of the aircraft was very slow to lift off the strip but eventually it struggled free and became airborne. Once at altitude, the pilot asked the second pilot to check the tail section for any malfunction, imagine his surprise to find six ex POWs crouched in the tail area. On further investigation, it was found that the navigator on the previous day had met a mate in a bar. One of hundreds of Australians who were waiting repatriation to Australia, he was well back in the queue. It was arranged that when the B24 was doing the pre take off checks at the end of the runway, the navigator would leave the rear door unlocked for his mate to run across and hide in the tail. Unfortunately, his friend had several mates in the same boat, so he invited them to join him in the tail of the aircraft.

Sadly, a number of ex POWs who cadged lifts in aircraft returning empty to Australia after surviving three and a half years of captivity were lost when their aircraft crashed.

I was one of the more patient, probably because I was enjoying the night life of Manila and waited patiently to come home on the H.M.S. Formidable, the crew treated us all as royalty, we arrived in Sydney 13th October 1945. Seven days later after travelling by train with leave in Melbourne and Adelaide, I arrived back in Perth on the 21st October, my motherís 45th birthday, she claimed it was her best ever birthday present.