2 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections
WITH THE R.A.A.F. 'BISCUIT BOMBERS' IN MALAYA -
Fire-bombs or food— it's all
ONE Australian Dakota will fly food and equipment to re- lieve K---- n police depot. "Load will consist of .303 rifles, tinned
food, fresh vegetables, beer, camp stretchers, and bedding." Those were our orders at R.A.A.F. No. 38 Squadron's Changi (Singapore) base. There was an added instruction: 'The freight is to be dropped from the air." K----n police depot is deep in the Malayan jungle north east of Kuala Lumpur. A tiny clear ing on a river bank, it is one of Malaya's hundreds of lonely outposts in the war against terrorists
bandits. The depot must be sup- plied from the air. Para- chuting supplies down to it is a job for a DC-3 Dakota transport plane — from either the Australian, New Zealand, or Royal Air Force. I flew the K— n supply dropping mission with Flying Officer A. F. Tafe, a young Sydney man, with thousands of R.A.A.F. fly- ing hours in his log book.
Australian Digger Ps.O.W. helped build during the Japanese occu- pation in Malaya. We skimmed over the infamous Changi gaol; instead of Australians, Changi now houses Communist outlaws and Japanese generals. We looked down on the Johore Causeway across which the in- vading Japanese swarmed to capture Singapore Island just nine year ago. Our Dakota took an hour to reach Kuala Lumpur. A few min- utes later we sighted our drop- ping zone. The 'DZ'' was marked with a ring of smoke signals. As we dropped height in a tightening circuit round the police depot, Verey lights shot up from the clearing's edge— the final signal of friendly recogni- tion. Our radio operator opened con- tact with the depot below — 'O.K. to drop!' Tree-tops were close
PILOT Tafe gave three warning buzzes on the aircraft alarm — 'Prepare to begin jettisoning cargo. The soldiers tied a parachute's static line to the aircraft frame. One opened the Dakota's great door. The plane suddenly leaned heavily to port. It was a sicken ing bank that seemed to bring the jungle tree-tops almost through the yawning doorway. Two men heaved, and a bundle of stretchers disappeared with a loud "slap." That was the para chutes opening. Another bundle followed. We straightened out. Through the doorway I could see two para chutes, blossoming like daisies and floating gently into the clearing. They drifted gently on a slight breeze. Down below, Malayan police men rushed from the clearing's, sides. The bundles touched down with a slight bump. The police- man collapsed the billowing para- chutes and carried the cargo from the field. We did about ten dropping runs like that before our aircraft was empty. Then, on our radio, a European police officer announced: 'Fine dropping. One hundred per cent, recovery. Thank you. 'By the way, do you happen to know the latest on the Singapore Rugger competition?' Our Tommy soldiers were able to answer that one. Just a routine job
In World War II, exciting grocery-run flying was called 'biscuit bombing' in New Guinea. In the Malayan anti-bandit war, it is routine for Australian airmen. Other routines for 38 Squadron Aussies in Maiaya: * Dropping smoke bombs on bandits' jungle strongholds— guides for Lincoln bombers flying thous- ands of feet above the pathfinding Dakotas. This calls for fractional, timing. The Lincolns must strike within 30 seconds after the Dakotas smoke bombs explode * Hurling "firebombs" on bandit clearings. These are simply 44
* Australia's No. 38 Squad- ron is the most efficient air unit in Britain's Far East Air, Force. Its Australian Dakota transport crews travel thousands of miles every week — supply dropping in the jungle, troop-carrying, and evacuating wounded.
Staff reporter Alan Under- wood flew with No. 38 Squadron from its Singapore base. Here he describes a typical jungle supply drop. No. 1 (heavy bomber) Squadron and No. 38 Squad- ron comprise the R.A.A.F's No. 90 Wing in Singapore.
gallon drums of flame-thrower fuel. - Dakota crews drag them to the doorway and roll them out. They hit the ground with a whoosh of flame half the length of a golf-course fairway. Fire bombs wipe out bandits' crops, and burn the 'lallang'— long grass where Communists shelter from infantrymen and police. * Spraying the jungle with leaf lets telling bandits, in Chinese and Malay print, that they may as well quit the struggle. Then there are long 'milk runs' tying the Australian Dakota crews to this schedule from Singapore Iwakuni (Japan) and Korea, twice weekly. Hong Kong, weekly. Colombo, fortnightly, to take Eng- lish W.A.A.F.'s from Singapore on leave to a Ceylon rest centre. Car Nicobar (Bay of Bengal) to supply an isolated R.A.F. air field outpost. Butterworth (Malaya) and Kuala Lumpur, twice weekly. Taiping and Ipoh (Malaya) weekly to evacuate English and Ghurka soldiers wounded in jungle fights with bandits. The Reds try sabotage OUR Aussie Dakota crews get into some strange places — Sourabaya, Djakarta, Calcutta, Rangoon, Saigon and Bangkok. There is invariably an international problem linked with taking a military aircraft into a non-British airfield. And they have to watch their step. A typical warning I heard before one of our Dakotas took off for a foreign airport last week: 'Don't take any oil at -------- .' Two French planes topped up their oil tanks there the other day and crashed with burnt-out- motors.'
A Communist sabotage wrinkle in Asia is to dope aircraft oil with powdered carborundum. Bad weather and bad aero dromes were factors the Austra- lian airmen had to tackle when they began flying in Asia. Getting into Hong Kong's hill bound Kai Tak airfield is 'like trying to land on a suburban ten nis court,' pilots say. For Kai Tak, an Australian pilot worked out this bad-weather ap proach : 'Immediately you cross the Kowloon hills, set course for the big block of flats, turn toward the next beacon light, switch course to the Coca Cola sign, do a rate-one turn toward another block of flats, straighten out — and the runway is right in front of your nose — you hope.' Squadron's proud record THIS is the squad ron that flew the first British troops into Pusan ? (Korea) in September. When the Australians landed their Dakotas at Pusan they could see fighting still rag- ing on the aerodrome perimeter. Last week, two Australian crews left Singapore to shepherd back the first jet fighters for the Malayan war. Five years ago, one of the first aircraft to land at Singapore for Australian prisoners-of-war was a No. 38 Squadron Dakota. Wing Commander J. F. Lush, a tall Melbourneite from Kew, led No. 38 Squadron to Malaya. 'Ginty' Lush, an R.A.A.F. cadet in 1938, flew bombers, transports, and flying-boats during the war. He temporarily commands the
R.A.A.F.'s No. 90 Wing in Malaya — comprising No. 38 Squadron and No. 1 Squadron of Lincoln bombers. ' The Dakotas' commander now is Squadron-Leader Peter Birch, a former Spitfire pilot and leader of an R.A.A.F. fighter squadron in the Pacific. Stocky, decisive, and popular, Birch has the most efficient air squadron in the Far East. The R.A.F. admits it. Some of No. 38 Squadron's men flew in the Berlin airlift— Pilot Larry Blackmail (Sans Souci, N.S.W.), Signaller Paddy Grant (Sydney), Navigator A. Tapp (Blacktown, N.S.W.), Navigator Bob Bray (North Sydney), Pilot Gus Swinbourn (Sydney), and the Intelligence Officer, Flight-Lieut. Frank Bell (Croydon, N.S.W.). They're bound for Korea No. 38 Squadron also holds the Far East Air Force serviceability record: last month, 91 per cent, of its planes were continually in flying shape. Leading the tarmac mainten- ance team is Flight-Lieut. K. N. McRae, of New Lambton, N.S.W. McRae was engineering officer with the Duke of Gloucester's Australian aircraft flight. The axe fell heavily on 38 Squadron early this week. Of its eight planes *and crews four were transferred to Japan to support the Australian brigade in Korea. They will fly with the Australian No. 91 Wing from Iwakuni and Northern and Southern Korean bases. The four crews are looking for ward to the move. They like the idea of being the supply line to the Australians in Korea. But they do not like the Korean win- ter. The last time a 38 Squad- ron plane flew to Korea the Da- kota's wings 'grew' ice four inches thick.