Sound: John McKay describes the war in the Pacific

Hear John McKay talk about his experiences.


Third time was lucky, she steamed in at high speed and our mess deck was right up forward and you could see the seas crashing against the bows. Normally you didn't, but she was steaming in so fast that you could hear the seas crashing against the bows and we were all a bit, you know, so action stations...

A bit what?

Oh, a bit nervous as to what was going to happen, because we were told that it was a strongly fortified, strongly defended area. So morning came, action stations, and they took off. It was a good morning and away they went and we retired a wee bit out of the road. And after quite a long time because the fighters were carrying extra petrol tanks, they came back. Most of them came back, but not all of them. Quite a few were lost.

Was that the first time?

That was the first attack on Palembang.

But was that the first time that fighters had been lost in those numbers or not?

Oh yes, with us, yes.

And how did that feel?

It didn't feel good at all. I thought, I know some of these. As it turned out, the next night I did. So then we thought, Oh that's good we?ve finished, but no we were going to have another go. It wasn't completely destroyed. So in they went again the next day and next early morning and pretty well destroyed the whole thing but in the course of that action others were lost including the chap whom I got to know fairly well, Churchill, who disobeyed orders and took two runs at a target and, of course, with the second run he was shot down.

A New Zealander?

He was a New Zealander, yes. And then they came back, landed on, and we took off at high speed because Japanese planes came after us but none, none reached us. Any that came after us were shot down by our own fighters. So we took off at high speed. I remember thinking every, every time that propeller turns we were getting further away and we did. We got, finally we got out of it and we were pretty safe then.

John McKay

John McKay

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