To Brooke’s Point, now hurry up and wait

Posted by Rebekah
Aug 23 2010

Sorry about last night.  Our wireless router decided to bite the dust, so we were offline for quite a while.  Thank goodness for my genius husband, he rigged the desktop to hardwire into the the Internet so I’m back, but it did screw up the timeline a little bit.

So we left the Flier survivors asleep at Rio Tuba, and by sunrise the next morning, they were treated to another meal by their gracious hosts, who turned out to be a married couple with their daughter who had recently married a young man from Brooke’s Point area.

The daughter and her husband planned to leave that morning on foot to walk the fifty plus miles to Brooke’s Point,but when the family discovered that was where the kumpit was heading, they asked if there would be room for the newleyweds…and all the bride’s dowry.

On a sixteen foot boat that was already hauling twelve people, there wasn’t really, but custom dictated that they agree, and so the Fliers found themselves sharing the little deck space with two more bodies and all the bride’s worldy goods including sacks of rice, bundles of clothes, kitchen goods, and live chickens.

The kumpit was so weighed down that she only cleared the water by a few inches and could only sluggishly lumber through the waves.  In fact, she was so slow, Sailor opted to leave her in the care of de la Cruz and the two deckhands and run north for a couple hours to visit his wife and kids, then swim out to the kumpit later.

They spent a cramped night aboard, and the following they got to Brooke’s Point, where they met the Captain of the guerillas based at Brooke’s Point, Captain Nazario Major.  As it turned out, the abandoned house they sheltered at on Bugsuk Island belonged to Major before the war, and he was the one who poisoned the cistern in case the Japanese landed.

Brooke’s Point had been a small coastal village before the war, but now appeared bombed and burnt, with little sign of its inhabitants.  Posters looking for American and Scottish families Edwards and Sutherland were scattered around, dropped by planes, offering significant monetary rewards for turning them in to the Japanese.  Only Major’s home remained near the beach.

Mrs. Major invited everyone in for a meal, and while they were eating, Mr. Edwards and Captain Armando Corpus, the leader of the American Army Coastwatchers came in and introduced themselves.  Due to the fact that Mr. Edwards was being hunted by the Japanese and there were too many Coastwatchers to stay on the beach, they lived a few miles inland on the slopes of Addison Peak, where the Fliers would be taken after the meal.

Captain Crowley asked during this meal if the Japanese knew there was such a large contingent of guerillas here, and everyone laughed.  They knew all right, and had actually landed a group of 20 soldiers on the beach on July 20, looking to quash the rebellion.  The official report of that day read like this:

“Enemy casualties-20.  Our casualties-sore trigger  fingers.”

They hadn’t been back.  Nonetheless, if the white skin of the Fliers happened to be seen by a passing patrolboat, the chances of another landing would be high, along with larger numbers of soldiers.

After lunch, Edwards and Corpus took off for the mountain camp  on foot, but the Fliers were in no condition to take that hike, so a carabao cart had been sent for them.

Before leaving however, Howell, the Radio Technician, discovered that the Coastwatchers beach radio was broken and unable to work, limiting the Coastwatchers ability to contact the outside world.  Howell asked and received permission to stay on the beach to fix the radio there.  Thankfully, there was another one on the mountain, but having the second one was important.

The carabao ride was fairly funny to Al.  The carabao decided to wallow in every mudpuddle it found, and there were a lot of puddles.  The young boy entrusted with bringing the Fliers to Addison tried to encourage the carabao to move in every way he could including beating it with a stick, but the carabao moved when it wanted to, and no sooner.

They finally reached the encampment near sunset.   There were two houses there, once built by Mr. Edwards  for his family, and one built by Captain Major for his if the Japanese invaded the beach.  The Coastwatchers stayed in the Major home in the meantime.

The enlisted guys were invited to stay at the Coastwatchers house and the officers to stay with the Edwards house, which already included Harry Garretson, an American salvage diver who was trapped in the Philippines and now bedridden with malaria.

It was a good camp, and now came the hard part: waiting to see what HQ would do.   Would they be rescued, or would they be asked to wait behind enemy lines for a while–or until the end of the war?

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