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Sainfoin’s War
By W.J. Mitchell and Colin Buckenham


A Nice Little Earner

On our first visit to Java, we'd gone to remove some unwelcome temporary tenants from Nippon who had overstayed their welcome. Now we had a further task delivering troops to help put down the Indonesian rebellion in co- operation with the Dutch Forces, and being rather ignorant of international politics, this was just an extension of our other war. Early morning we arrived in Surabaja, and started to transfer the troops over the side into our landing craft. As the lads went over the side they were issued with a bag containing new jungle kit, i.e. Trousers, Shorts, Shirts, and Underclothes. Most of the troops however felt they were carrying too much gear as it was and slung the bags back onto the deck. So there we were with a situation resembling the Slop Chest (Clothing Store) in Chatham Barracks. The following morning we were still pondering over what we were going to do with all this gear. None of the officers seemed interested, in fact they were ignoring it in the hope that the stuff would just disappear. The answer came in the shape of a native canoe pulling alongside. One of the little Javanese shouted up to us to ask if we had any old clothing for sale. Here it was! The answer to our problem. Holding some of the jungle greens we asked "What you pay Johny?", thus bringing a look of sheer ecstasy to his face. In fact he nearly fell out of his canoe in his eagerness to buy. And so we became the `Moss Bross.' of Surabaja. It did our hearts good to think that we were helping to clothe these poor people who had gone without for so long, AND make quite a bit of the folding stuff at the same time. A couple of weeks later we held another sale further along the Island. Two of our junior engineering officers had now joined our sales team, and as they were always skint, this gave them a bob or two to spare, as by now we were all `Rajah Sahibs' rolling in Dutch Guilders, and these clever officers found out that when we got back to Singapore we could convert the Guilders to Malayan Dollars and bank them. Unfortunately the bank cottoned on to us and that was that. Some weeks later an Admiralty signal went out that someone was supplying jungle kit to the Indonesian Rebel Forces, and so the Java Branch of the `Army and Navy Stores' went quickly and quietly into liquidation.


Captain A. Longmuir D.S.C. R.D. and a fellow Officer on deck

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Sainfoin Takes a Rest

We were on passage through the Andaman Sea, Sainfoin was cruising steadily along on a calm sea under a clear cloudless sky. Jim Key and myself had the middle watch (Midnight till 4am) on look out duties. Earlier in the evening we'd picked up picked up a signal warning us of submarine activity in our area, so everyone on the bridge was on their toes and seeing periscopes on every lazy swell of the sea. Night look out is an eerie experience. Every now and again some sea creature will stir the water leaving a disturbed phosphorescent glow which to the tired eyes becomes a torpedo track. So nerves do tend to tighten up a bit. Suddenly the old girl slowed down, the throb of the engines stopped and she was then dead in the water. Up the Engine Room voice pipe came the dulcet tones of Engineer Officer `Yorkie Pye', "Cripes! The old Girls thrown a Wobbler"
(That's the only printable translation)
So now everyone up top was creeping around and the Officer on watch was urging the Look Outs to stay alive and on the job. After a few minutes, from somewhere deep down in the Sainfoin innards, all hell broke loose. It sounded like someone was trying to hammer his way out through the ships side. If anyone was due a heart attack, then was the time. After jumping at least six feet we were then frozen, the hair on our heads stood stiffly to attention, and the hammering carried on. By then we could imagine Jap subs coming up to see who the hell had disturbed their sleep. Then, thank God, all went quiet and after thirty minutes or so the old girl gave herself a shake and a slow pulse echoed through her body. We were off and slowly building up revs. It was a unanimous vote on the bridge that the stoker (who shall remain nameless) never knew who his father was. Strange to say that not long after this incident he was promoted to Acting Leading Stoker. We thought it was because he was the only man to wake up Tokyo with a seven pound hammer.

Ray Self.

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