A Letter from Tom's brother David.
June 11th '41
I wrote a letter earlier in the Day, so as to get it posted and away with the mail, just to let you know that I am still safe and sound. I have also sent a cable. Well I expect you will want to know what has happened in the last 3 months. We were sent to Greece, but for reasons witch I am not familiar with we had to evacuate, and our mob or most of them were on the ___ when she was bombed and sunk, put on destroyers and landed on the Island of Crete, which the Huns invaded shortly after, about 10 days fighting and messing about and getting out of thight corners. We were told - Every man for himself in getting off the Island. So off I set to the beach at Sparkia with the Hun in hot pursuit and eventually got to the beach in the early hours of June 1st where there was an invasion barge on the beach. 139 of us, a mixture of tommies, kiwis and aussies, rolled on barrel of crude oil, and set off for the shores of Egypt about 250 miles away. Joe Wishart was on the beach too, but he said he would not take the chance of being bombed during the trip, so he will be a prisoner of war. To the best of my knowledge we have all been reported missing but I know Joe is a prisoner of war, as the Island had capitulated, before we left. So off we set on our somewhat adventerous journey at 9:15 in the morning of June 1st, and landed on another Island about 20 miles from Crete, where we hid our barge in a cave at 12:30, found a well and took as much water in our water bottles and tins and casks. Then we made the somewhat startling discovery that our engines burned petrol and not crude oil, of which we had 280 gallons of, and the only petrol we had was in the tanks, and as it took us about 6 gallons to go 20 miles our chances were rather slim.A Hun plane flew over the Island several times but he never saw us, much to our relief. At dusk we left the Island for Egypt, broke our steering about 4am, repaired it and ran out of juice at 10 o'clock the next day June 2nd and drifted about the ocean about 100 miles from Egypt. Our water and tucker was very tight, so we only had 1/3 pint per man per day and one army biscuit. So there we were drifting around the Meditteranean Sea with very little to eat and drink, no idea how far we were from land, and enemy bombers flying about only a few miles from us. At least we rigged up a sale and made fair speed, about 1 mile an hour in a south easterly direction. At 6:15pm on the day of June 8th we sighted land and landed at a place called Bug Bug in Egypt, 15 miles in front of the German lines, at 2:30am on June 9th in a pretty weak condition and very thirsty, but we landed not far from a well, which 2 Maoris found and filled ourselves with water. A tommy regiment had seen us out at sea the night we landed but could do nothing to help us, but they sent out a patrol to pick us up in the morning, so our luck held good. The tommies us up, fed us like fighting cocks gave us tea, cigs, and fruit and has us sent back to the rail head the same day. I cant speak too highly for those tommies as they done everything possible for us, and every man of them worked like a nigger to make us comfortable. To cut a long story short, we landed back in one of our own staging camps where we received every attention possible, given a bottle of beer and more cigs than we could smoke and I also met the Dunns and Ted Helyar and we had a real re-union last night. Jackie, Mickie, Charlie Dunn and Ted Helyar are all in the one mob and have only been here for a month and gave me a right royal time last month. The ones that escaped in the barge are to be given a few days rest and go on 12 days leave so I hear, but I don't know if that is right or not. A few days leave would not go amiss as we have had none to speak of since December. At present we are rosting and feeding up waiting to go further back and go on leave and the Dunns are only a few yards from where I am know, so you see I am as contented as can be. Well I think I have told you all for the time.
I am your loving son Jigger.