Jungle Rescue

Jungle Rescue

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WWII has broken out and the Japanese are sweeping down through the Pacific Islands towards Australia and are seemingly unstoppable. Utilising the specialised skills in tracking and bush survival Joe had learnt in his youth going walkabout with the aboriginals on his fathera€™s 4 million acre cattle station in far north Western Australia, Joe is made an officer and put in command of a team of twelve highly trained men. These men are part of an elite force called the a€˜Australian Jungle Survival and Rescue Detachment.a€™ Their missions are to rescue any Allied airmen shot down by the enemy over New Guinea and surrounding islands. They are flown to the crash sites in a C47 transport plane with an escort of fighter planes, and under cover of night parachute into enemy held territory to search for and rescue any survivors, who they then take to the coast for extraction by submarine. The night was so sultry and humid I could have cut it with a knife, and so dark it was impossible to see my hand in front of my face as I parachuted towards the invisible jungle somewhere two thousand feet below me. My chute was made from black silk and it was invisible against the night sky above me, and with no moon and stars to illuminate the night, I felt like I was falling down a bottomless, black well. The drone of the perfectly good aeroplane we had just jumped from was gradually diminishing into the distance, until the only sounds were the sigh and rush of wind passing through the many cords attached to the parachute. Somewhere above and behind me were twelve other men, my team of highly trained specialists in jungle warfare and survival, and in all likelihood experiencing the same emotions and trepidation as I was. Our mission was to locate and extract any survivors from a crashed American bomber that had been shot down by Japanese zeros yesterday. If any survivors were found, we would make our way to the coast for extraction by submarine that was hopefully heading towards the coordinates of the pickup point at this very moment. Since I had jumped from the C47 I had been mentally counting down the seconds, and with the jungle canopy now racing towards me at break neck speed, I braced myself as I stalled the parachute to lessen the impact of colliding with the trees and branches any second. As the sudden and violent impact drove the wind from my lungs I was unaware I had been holding my breath until I exhaled loudly. I tried to curl myself into a ball to avoid injuring myself as I fell through the tree canopy with a loud crash and crack of breaking branches and covered my face with one arm as I was whipped and slashed by the passing branches and leaves. The parachute finally became snagged in the high branches and I jerked to a sudden stop and hung suspended from my harness. I fumbled for the quick release catches on my pack strapped to my front and letting it fall listened intently for the sound of impact with the ground. Counting the seconds I was surprised to only count to five before I heard the dull thud. I was closer to the ground than I would have thought and thanked my lucky stars the chute got caught up just when it did. My next task was to release the chute harness and climb down the tree I was caught in without falling and injuring myself. I had a small torch in one of the pockets of my flak jacket and when I shone it around and below me, I saw what I was looking for. Just off to my right, and ten feet below, was a stout branch that I hoped would support my weight. I took a deep breath and then put the torch between my teeth before punching the quick release catch of my harness. As I fell the branch flashed past me and I grabbed at it with both hands and hung onto it tightly for dear life. My arms felt like they had been ripped from their sockets and I quickly swung a leg over the branch and hauled myself up onto it and sat astride it while I caught my breath and tried to calm my madly racing heart. I adjusted the straps securing the Sten gun to my chest then began to slide and pull myself along the branch to the trunk of the massive rainforest tree. Ten minutes later I was safely on the ground, none the worse for my descent except for some skin missing off my left knee, which must have happened when I first hit the branches plummeting through the canopy. I removed the gun from around my neck and cocking it held it at the ready as I shone the torch about in case I had fallen into the midst of a Japanese patrol, as had happened on one of my rescue missions several months ago. Luckily the six Japanese soldiers at the time were so startled and terrified by my sudden and noisy appearance from above, I had been able to quickly despatch them with my machine gun before they could even get a shot off. Luckily I was alone, and breathing a sigh of relief I then searched for my survival pack with my spare ammunition, medical kit, water and food rations. Quickly locating it near the trunk, I put it on my back then pulled my compass out from beneath my shirt. I always hung it from my neck on a strong piece of leather thonging so I didna€™t lose it, as it would be easy to get hopelessly lost in the dense jungle, especially when it was overcast. From the coordinates sent out to base by the radio operator of the mortally hit bomber, I knew I had to maintain a course of 280 degrees from my location, and walk for at least a mile or so before hopefully finding the wrecked plane and any survivors. But first I had to find all of my team members before beginning the search. That was usually a difficult and time-consuming task, as we would be scattered across the jungle in a long line. We had a method of finding each other that had worked perfectly on the hundreds of missions we had so far accomplished. We each had a small, round, tin fox-whistle hanging from the dog tags around our necks, and when it was blown it made the sound of a rabbit in distress. To the enemy it would be just another of the hundreds of animal noises to be heard in the jungle at night, but to us it was like a beacon in the night as the shrill, distinctive sound carried a long way.Whilst I was reminiscing I had made two snares that were hopefully strong enough to catch a wild pig or deer if it should happen along one of the game trails that criss-crossed the jungle. I knew I would have to make more snares to ensure Ianbsp;...

Title:Jungle Rescue
Author:Robin Freeman
Publisher:Xlibris Corporation - 2014-05-27


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