August 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
For anyone interested in the American element to my book, Rescue at 2100 Hours, then have a look at this video –
The “Silent Service”, a television series in the late 50s, dramatised scores of submarine stories to emerge out of World War II. The Searaven Story focuses on the rescue of 29 Australian airmen who were trapped on Japanese-occupied Timor for 58 days. My grandfather, Flight Lieutenant Bryan Rofe, was the officer in charge of the group.
The real rescue was, in fact, more dramatic than is represented here. Over two nights, the malaria-stricken airmen were forced to swim through a 16-foot surf in the dead of night through shark-infested waters. They were aided by three exceptionally brave American submariners. One of those men, Ensign George Cook, would be awarded the Navy Cross, the highest decoration in the United Staves Navy.
July 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
February 1942. The Japanese invasion of Timor has begun and attempts to evacuate a group of 29 Australian airmen, charged with keeping an airfield operational until the last moment, are thwarted.
Under the leadership of Bryan Rofe, a 24-year-old meteorological officer, the airmen make for remote jungle along the northwest coast. All attempts to rescue the group fail. Malaria-ravaged and starving, these men are taken to the limits of their endurance for 58 days. When a 300-strong Japanese patrol is sent to hunt them down all hope seems lost, until they receive a strange signal from sea – an American submarine has been dispatched to their position. With the Japanese closing in, only courage will keep them alive.
Using diaries of the airmen and wartime records, Rofe’s grandson Tom Trumble brings to life one of the greatest stories of survival and escape of the Second World War. From the young man who stepped up to bring his men home and the Japanese soldier sent to hunt down the Australians, to the American submarine captain and the Timorese fisherman who saved them, this is an insight into the extraordinary things that happen to ordinary men in war.