South, to Safety

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A British girl, a RAF trained Dutch pilot, an Australian truck driver, a flawed English fighter pilot and an American newspaper correspondent struggle through the Malayan campaign, the fall of Singapore, the invasion of the Dutch East Indies and – finally – the fall of Java. The novel is full of suspense, intrigue, drama and action and will keep you turning pages until the survivors escape to Australia.
Now “under construction“; to be released Q1 2019

— Text Fragment —

December 8, 1941
The first Japanese bombs hit Raffles Place exactly at 04.20 in the morning. There had been no warning, just a feeble air-raid alarm that nobody took seriously until its wail was drowned out by thundering explosions, the dry rattle of falling masonry and the shattering crash of bursting and splintering window glass.
The Japanese bombers unhurriedly droned on over the city, no doubt helped greatly by the street lights that remained switched on during the air raid. No one in the power station could find the keys to turn them off.

Mike Murdoch jumped out of his bed and jerked the curtains aside to see what all that noise was about. Right before his startled eyes, a parade formation of Japanese bombers almost lazily dropped their deadly load on Raffles Place and Chinatown and Keppel Harbor. Searchlights probed the sky, and anti-aircraft batteries on land and ships were blasting away with everything they had. But the Japanese bombers contemptuously ignored their fire  and sedately dropped their remaining bombs on Singapore’s airfields. Then, unscathed and still flying in impeccable parade formation, they made a wide circle over the harbor and disappeared to the north, out to sea, leaving in their wake sixty-one killed and one hundred and thirty-three injured.

“Son of a bitch!” Murdoch growled. He grabbed the telephone and frantically dialed a local number. It buzzed and buzzed until finally a sleepy voice answered.
“You awake, Helmut? Good, Mike here. Grab your goddam camera and plenty of film and get your ass over here, right now! It’s war!”

The Honorable Lun Yue Sheong watched some Air Raid Wardens dig out the body of another battered victim from under the rubble on Raffles Place. It was quickly wrapped in a piece of sailcloth and carried off on an unhinged door. Stretchers were obviously in short supply.  His wife had woken him up in the middle of the night with a crazy story about bombs falling on the town. At first he had scorned the idea, but she had persisted and there were unusual sounds in the distance. In the end, he had become worried and gone out to see for himself.

He had walked all the way to the “Happy World” amusement center at the junction of Kallang and Grove Road, which he and some fellow Chinese investors had put up. When he reached it, he found it reduced to nothing but a smoking heap of rubble. In a kind of trance, he had made his way back through the ruined North Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street, their buildings brought down and casualties still lying in the street. He had ended up at Raffles Place and, staring at the blasted buildings, he had been forced to admit that war had come to Singapore. And while he was wondering what a Japanese occupation would mean to him and his fellow Chinese, a round-eye approached him.

“Do you live around here, sir?” Murdoch asked, politely raising his hat.

“No, sir, I was just passing by,” Lun Yue Sheong answered evasively.

“Have you seen more bomb damage around here?”

‘This round-eye is obviously one of those reporters’, Lun Yue Sheong thought; one that would soon be asking too many questions. And there was this photographer too. How could he get rid of them?

“It seems the Tai Tong Restaurant has been bombed”, he answered.

“My God, did you say the Tai Tong? That’s only a block away! Thanks very much, sir” Murdoch blurted out as he hurried off, with Helmut in his wake.
The elderly Chinese man turned his gaze back to the rubble, silently contemplating his bleak future under Japanese rule. Finally, he turned away and, upset by the devastation he had seen, he went into his second cousin’s restaurant because it was time to confer with the family. The Japanese would be coming soon and he had no illusions about their behavior towards Chinese. His family would have to escape. But how would he get them out? And to where would they run?

— Read More in “South, to Safety” – coming soon! —

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