John Abraham - Coastwatcher saves the day

Running time
2 min 47 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We had a skipper on the ship. Look, he was a shocker. When I spoke to him, we only had one officer, the rest were all just men on there, we were delivering these goods. He used to get lost time and time again, up and down the coast. Now, we'd been up a few times. So, you'd think they'd know it.

Anyway, we were supposed to go to Langemak the PT base moved from down ... we were supposed to go and load the stuff on there and go there. We overshot Langemak which none of us knew. And we're sailing down this bay which we thought was Langemak.

All of a sudden, a light flashes out the bush. I run and grab the Aldis lamp. I answered the challenge, gave the letter of the day, and he wanted further identification. He could see the white ensign flying. I told him we were going to Langemak. He said, "You're in French Harbour, the Japanese are still here." I told the skipper, we turned around, got out of there, went back to Langemak. But we could have been POWs. Only for that coastwatcher or whoever he was. I don't know who he was. He flashed, we saw the signal, answered the challenge, got out of there.

Oh no, we had a lot of ... There was another one, another funny one. We were ashore at Oro Bay again it was. And we got hit again, and this time we were ashore. They used to use daisy cutters. Daisy cutters, what it is, it's a shell, when it hits the ground it fragments out and cuts everything off it. So, if you were laying in the open ground, you can't miss it you, know? Any near miss.

So, what we did, we built underground shelters out of air force landing strip gear and dug down, and we used to use that for the shelter so that you weren't up on the surface. At any rate, we dived into this air-raid shelter. It hit us without warning, and a Yank behind me hit the ... I knew what he did, he hit the corner and skinned himself on part of the thing. After the raid was over, they gave him a purple cross for being injured in action. But we knew what he did, he scratched it on the ... Us, you wouldn't get a thank you. But anyway, that was the Yanks.

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