Today, author Margaret Tanner visits Terry's Place. Thanks to the magic of cyber-space, she's dropping in from Down Under.
You be the judge. Do lucky charms work?
I always scoffed at magic or lucky charms. If I couldn’t see it, I didn’t believe in it. Well, that is not until I visited my Dad’s sister, a sprightly old dear in her nineties. It was the 30th anniversary of my father’s death.
After a watery, milky cup of tea and some stale cake, that Aunty said she had baked the previous day, but I think it could have been the previous week, she started telling me about the silver boomerang, which we had found many years ago amongst my late father’s war medals. (A boomerang is an Australian aboriginal hunting weapon). The boomerang bore the words “I go to return.”
It was a good luck charm, and my father apparently wore it throughout the 2nd World War. There was magic in the boomerang, the lady who had given to him was convinced of it, as was my aunt. Whether Dad believed in it or not, I have no idea. The original owner apparently survived the carnage of the 1st World War. So, did the good luck charm live up to its name the second time around?
In March 1940 Dad felt duty bound to answer his country’s call to war. When the Japanese poured into Malaya he was there as a member of the 2/29th Battalion of the Australian 8th Division, (most of whom ended up dying as Prisoners of War).
Wounded in action in Malaya, and transferred to an Australian Military Hospital in Singapore, my father was blown out of bed, but survived the Japanese bombs which took the roof off his ward. The British forces fell back across the causeway into Singapore. Day and night the fires burned. The bombers came over spreading their destruction. Shattered shops were left to the mercy of looters, bodies rotted in the streets, and packs of marauding dogs gorged themselves with little resistance, as a pall of black smoke hung over Singapore. The giant British guns that might have saved Singapore were embedded in concrete and pointing out to sea. Useless to quell the invaders who came over land through the jungle.
All aircraft and ships had departed loaded with civilians, nurses and wounded, and after this desperate flotilla sailed off, those left behind could only await their fate.
In the last terrible days before Singapore capitulated in February 1942, trapping 80,000 Australian and British troops, a small junk braved the might of the Japanese air force and navy, and set off, crammed with wounded. Only soldiers who were too incapacitated to fight yet could somehow mobilise themselves, were given the opportunity for this one last chance of escape.
With a piece of his back bone shot away, and weakened from attacks of malaria, Dad somehow made it to the wharf, with a rifle and the clothes he stood up in. As they wended their way out of the Singapore harbour, littered with the smouldering debris of dying ships, a Japanese bomber dived low over them, but the pilot obviously had more important targets on his mind than a small overcrowded boat.
They drifted around in the sea for several days until they were finally rescued by a passing allied ship and after another couple of weeks, Dad finally made it home.
So, was their magic in the boomerang? I don’t know, but my aunt’s story certainly sent shivers down my spine.
Margaret Tanner is a multi-published author of historical romance with Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press. Her website is: http://www.margarettanner.com/
Margaret’s latest release is Frontier Wife from The Wild Rose Press.