A Story of the War in the Pacific


by Captain W. E. Johns


First printed October 1945



I.         A SIGN FROM THE PAST  (Pages 7 – 20)


Squadron Officer Joan Worralson, W.A.A.F., lands in a Spitfire and is told by her friend, Flight Officer Betty Lovell, more commonly called “Frecks”, that Squadron Leader Marcus Yorke of Air Intelligence is waiting to see her.  Yorke shows Worrals a torn photograph and asks if she knows the girl in the picture.  Worrals does, it is Julia Carson, and they were at the training depot together.  Worrals thought she had been killed in Singapore.  Marcus tells Worrals and Frecks that three months ago a British flying-boat pilot found a dead native in a canoe.  Around his neck he had the lid of a fruit can on which had been punched a message: “ Help.  Nine British girls.  Alive.  Island. South-East Singapore.  Reward this man”.  The native also had a piece of bamboo in which was the photograph with a written message on the back.  The message was a list of names, but it has been partially consumed by a beetle and it now just shows the one surname “Carson” and the services to which the girls belonged, “four members of the W.A.A.F., two of the A.T.S., two W.R.N.S., and a member of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service.  Other information tells Yorke that a Wren named Angela Wishart got together a party of girls and sailed in a small boat from Singapore to prevent capture by the Japanese when Singapore fell.  Yorke says if the girl’s boat was wrecked in that area, there are some ten thousand islands and although recognisance flights have been made to try to find them, there has been no luck.  There are also Japanese on many of the islands, as well as natives.  Worrals says “Don’t you see, that belief that help is on the way will keep them alive and fighting?  If they ever learned that you had chucked up the sponge they’d die of heartbreak and shame – and so would I”.  Worrals says she wants to be allowed to take over the search for the girls.  Yorke says he doesn’t suppose that the A.O.C. will let her go.  “Won’t he,” broke in Worrals hotly.  “Won’t he?  You wait and see”.