Whose crazy idea was it anyway, lets sail to PNG, the town of Rabual in New Britain and Kavieng in New Ireland and some outer islands.
Once there we will tell the story of "Murray" Capt Murray of the special and secretive M force, a pivitol character in the war against Japan and the defence of Australia in the Pacific,. we will only detail one short episode in his war but this will take 8 men and 1 women months of preparation, a good amount of money and on many occasions almost our lives.
I had sailed my yacht to Queensland in 2016, but now I was confined to my house with chronic headaches, vomiting, vertigo, blackouts and a brain condition that was slowing killing me. Why was I was confined to my house, simple I was waiting for brain surgery, whilst I waited it appeared every day I was getting worse, falling over slurring my words forgetting appointments. even getting lost on the odd occasion I went for a drive. life was shit.
I had spent the last 29 years in Australia's special forces, The Australian Special Air Service Regiment, I am a veteran of many wars, no hero but I tried to do my job well and ensure all our young men and women came home from ops in one piece and alive.
I was not used to being confined to my house and I had recently lost my son to a neurological disease and my mother in law had suffered a horrible aneurysm. I had no intention of waiting for that outcome. My thoughts were getting darker, my health worse. even a 500m walk was a challenge as there was no warning to a blackout, I would just wake on the ground, my dog standing next to me, on occasions waking unable to move for what seemed like an eternity which I am sure was only seconds.
It was when I was feeling crappy and sorry for myself that Paul a bloke I had recently met said I should read Murrays Book on coastwatchers. I had watched every shitty TV show and any decent doco on Netflixs, I needed new material to keep my mind active, I found Murrays book in Perth as it is only in hard back, I obtained a copy and started to read,
Reading was hard as my attention span was challenged, but I kept reading and reading and often had to reread to make stuff stick, this guy had a really interesting story a heroic story. A story that needed to be told, the pacific war, the war for Australia a story most Australian know nothing of, sad. Murray lucky to have survived the first year let alone the war.
His story is written and told by his wife, I find that fascinating having spent my whole adult life in Special Forces most wives knew very little of the jobs conducted or places visited apart from areas of operation, todays missions sworn to secrecy for the next thirty years unless some general or politician thinks they can get some mileage from making it public. Too often to destroy the soldiers they ordered into battle to conduct acts of war.
War is really not pleasant it is only measured by success and those success's are only relivent for a very short time. A blink of the eye in a mans life, most stories never told unless you are with your unit mates, too much booze and the stories slowly find their way to the surface, some so real you can still taste the moment.
To have survived the war in the Pacific whilst operating in small SF patrols for extended periods showed great professionalism and sound leadership, the story of the coastwatchers is a story of Australia's early Special Forces origins. Developed through trial and error and with the assistance of Z Special, or Z Force personnel from Britain and Australia, US submarines and US PT boats, much of what they learnt is still taught today as foundation skills to young men and women in our Special Forces in Australia. The secret to good soldiering is not a secret its staying alive, fit, healthy and keeping all your people the same, the most value resource we have. Sexy ideas dreamed up in Canberra don’t win wars.
During the course of reading this book an ideas was born, how about we sail to PNG with a bunch of bent and broken ex SF dudes and then find a resupply and weapons cache left for downed American and Australian pilots over seventy year ago.
We had a huge area to search but also clues to the caches location.
This now consumed my thinking I researched and forgot and then researched more, so as I would not forget I created note books of information. Started planning spreadsheets and lost them as I would save it to a random spot. However the important thing for me is I now had a purpose that made sense, something I could own, develop and move forward.
When I was sick and unwell I had something to focus on, it kept my mind from dark places.
I generated loads of work, most of it a waste of time but it kept me occupied. I was used to solving problems in SF and finding workable solutions to a project, sailing to PNG not really that big a deal for an SF guy who had planed hundreds of water op missions over a lifetime. I would find out if was going to be a significant challenge for a guy post brain surgery.
I developed passage plans, food plans, weather plans, crew lists, crewing options.
With Paul we developed marketing and advertising plans. Admittedly I put most of that on Paul. I had never marketed anything, but I had sold my plans to my management over a number of years and many projects took years to develop and cost millions to build.
This story is being written on my yacht and when time and my headaches allow, as the yacht gets prepped for another adventure, it you stay still to long your dead...
I stayed at the Rabual Hotel, its a classic from pre WW2, Remember to visit the Japanese command bunker on the grounds. You can see the location in the top right of the graphic above, the Rabual Yacht club is 1km south of the Hotel.
I used Agoda to secure my booking, they are good for deals
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