Wednesday, November 23, 2011


We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia, so I thought I would blog about a lucky charm, a magic silver boomerang (a boomerang is an Australian aboriginal hunting weapon), that brought my father home from war.

I always scoffed at magic or lucky charms. If I couldn’t see it, I didn’t believe in it. Well, that is not until I visited my Dad’s sister, a sprightly old dear in her nineties. It was the 30th anniversary of my father’s death.

After a watery, milky cup of tea and some stale cake, that Aunty said she had baked the previous day, but I think it could have been the previous week, she started telling me about the silver boomerang, which we had found many years ago amongst my late father’s war medals.  The boomerang bore the words “I go to return.”

It was a good luck charm, and my father apparently wore it throughout the 2nd World War.  There was magic in the boomerang, the lady who had given to him was convinced of it, as was my aunt. Whether Dad believed in it or not, I have no idea.

The original owner apparently survived the carnage of the 1st World War.  So, did the good luck charm live up to its name the second time around?

In March 1940 Dad felt duty bound to answer his country’s call to war. When the Japanese poured into Malaya he was there as a member of the 2/29th Battalion of the Australian 8th Division, (most of whom ended up dying as Prisoners of War).

Wounded in action in Malaya, and transferred to an Australian Military Hospital in Singapore, my father was blown out of bed, but survived the Japanese bombs which took the roof off his ward.  The British forces fell back across the causeway into Singapore. Day and night the fires burned.  The bombers came over spreading their destruction. Shattered shops were left to the mercy of looters, bodies rotted in the streets, and packs of marauding dogs gorged themselves with little resistance, as a pall of black smoke hung over Singapore. The giant British guns that might have saved Singapore were embedded in concrete and pointing out to sea. Useless to quell the invaders who came over land through the jungle.

All aircraft and ships had departed loaded with civilians, nurses and wounded, and after this desperate flotilla sailed off, those left behind could only await their fate.

In the last terrible days before Singapore capitulated in February 1942, trapping 80,000 Australian and British troops, a small boat braved the might of the Japanese air force and navy, and set off, crammed with wounded.  Only soldiers who were too incapacitated to fight yet could somehow mobilise themselves, were given the opportunity for this one last chance of escape.

With a piece of his back bone shot away, and weakened from attacks of malaria, Dad had somehow made it to the wharf, with a rifle and the clothes he stood up in. As the boat wended its way out of the Singapore harbour, littered with the smouldering debris of dying ships, a Japanese bomber dived low over them, but the pilot obviously had more important targets on his mind.

They drifted around in the sea for several days until they were finally rescued by a passing allied ship and after another couple of weeks, Dad finally made it home.

Thank you magic boomerang for helping my Dad make it home. 

Margaret Tanner is a multi-published author of historical romance with Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press.

I am giving away an e-copy of my WCP novel, Savage Utopia, to one lucky commentator.

Savage Utopia Blurb:
On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.
On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?


Barbara Edwards said...

Your father's story is both touching and horrible. His survival was certainly. something to be thankful for. Lucky charms were common and many men carried a cross.
Thanks for sharing,

Alison H. said...

Margaret, I love the story of the lucky boomerang and all it symbolized, and Savage Utopia sounds fascinating!

Margaret said...

This sounds like a great story. Thank you for the giveaway!


Jannine Gallant said...

I'll say that boomerang was lucky! I'd hold tight to it, Margaret. Thanks for sharing your dad's story.

Jerri Hines said...

Thanks for sharing the story of your father. I also enjoy reading from another perceptive about your history. Savage Utopia sounds fascinating.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jerri, Jannine,Margaret, Allison & Barbara,
Thank you so much for dropping by. The boomerang is treasured and closely held by our family.