John Abraham - Experience in Calcutta, Madras and Colombo
We were mobbed because the people want to know, did their sons get to where they were supposed to go? And we could say "Yes, they got there safely."
What we would do, we were taking them from Calcutta to Rangoon. We were feeding them in to get on the Burma road, to get in the back of Singapore, to help Singapore. Some of them were good ... they were very good. We had a lovely time with them. We didn't have many on our ship, but they were nearly always in ...
Our ship, we kept mainly not too many troops on, in case we got into action. And, Gurkhas... mainly just Indian troops that were ... Very well behaved and we took quite a few and every time we'd go back to Calcutta ... I think it was only three times we went to Calcutta anyways, so I'm saying every time. Parents wanted to know.
Then we started picking up troops from Madras, from Colombo, taking them across to Burma, Rangoon. And we were losing ships right and left because the submarines were active. And to our surprise, some of them were German submarines that were acting in there. And so, they were working very close with the Japanese, which we didn't know. I didn't know till after the war anyway. So, we lost a lot of ships there.
Just outside of Colombo, they sank three oil tankers and Colombo ... The oil was, I suppose about 12 to 18 inches thick, right in the harbor, all the way up the harbor. And we happened to be in Colombo at the time, and somebody, we believe deliberately set fire to the oil up the river, trying to drive the shipping out of the harbor. And so, all Navy personnel from our ship and other ships, all firefighting equipment experience. We were sent ashore to kill this blaze so that it wouldn't get down into the harbor and set the harbor alight which we succeeded in doing