Sunday morning, south west of Lardak. I had a platoon of mixed capability and rather dubious merit. In general a rather odd Independent platoon with a mix of Indians and Australians, of which the Australian contingent had liberated several crates of the Amber Nectar, thank god they hadn’t found my stash of Pimms! Attached two Lancester armoured cars with a Sergent chap of little consequence, and rather more attachment to his machines’ paintwork than his own appearance.
At about 0800hrs, an Indian post heard some rather disturbing rustling from the surrounding jungle. At first I thought some of the Australians were returning from their nocturnal excursions to a local, friendly village (the increased demand on the company doc for penicillin and prophylactics had been a rather embarrassing note of banter at the officers mess) but the rather animated arm flailing and wide-eyed expression from the Indian corporal rather gave the impression of a pending attack, that and the large numbers of Japanese soldiers marching in column down the road.
With no close support and my chaps billeted in the village, the initial idea was to hold until the Japs had entered a little nearer to the village. This was scuppered, as the Australians fearing for their stash of courage, opened up rather too eagerly on the advancing platoon of Japs. A rather fine swath of Japs soon fell, leading the others into disarray as half their number littered the track leading from the river.
However mortars and bombing runs on the village and Lardark road had started in earnest. The latter indicated reinforcements were on their way, the former and a rather worrying flutter of movement, seen from the east of our position, seemed to indicate a pending assault.
Graciously it became apparent that the Argylls had set up a supporting line west of our positions. It was my intension to leap frog from the village to join them behind an artillery barrage covering our withdrawal.
As our call for artillery was met with no apparent effect, and as we waited the impending Jap assault. I called forward the surviving Lancaster to aid us in our defence.
[Background noise: “Banzai-ai-ai-ai!”]
Pretty much died then!