Colin F. Jones

CAPTAIN W. SHERLOCK
(A true story of an Australian action in New Guinea during WWII)

Captain W. SherlockUnder the salvos of battleship shell fire,
At Salamaua and at Lae,
The Japanese wreaked their havoc,
for they had landed there to stay,

To besiege the Wau-Bulolo goldfields
And the Valley cut by streams,
Below the formidable mountains,
Of steaming jungle trees.

The air-strip in the Valley,
Was eleven hundred yards in length,
and three hundred feet higher,
From the bottom to the top

Precipitous mountain trails wound,
As “switch back” pads of mire,
Across steep razor back ridge lines,
And along ledges even higher.

Sheer cliffs that drop to mist holes,
Formed through the jungle rot,
The cold rain ever falling,
That never seemed to stop

‘Twas Kanga force they sent there;
made their fighting base at Wau,
Comanches and volunteer rifles,
Tough blokes that’s for sure.

Two trails or tracks were measured,
to launch the Jap attack,
One trail was called Crystal Creek,
The other trail “Black Cat”.

Along these trails the Japanese,
Hardened infantry troops,
Stormed towards the airstrip,
Mud clinging to their boots.

An Australian Company searching,
encountered a Jap patrol,
and Captain Sherlock leading them,
Was firmly in control.

They had met them at Wandumi,
Where they stood and held their ground,
To give the Garrison back at Wau,
Time to re-enforce their small compound.

They were forced back from Wandumi,
And they made another stand,
Against massive greater forces,
That were gathering all around.

They were bombed with shell and mortar,
with machines guns they were killed,
But they kept mounting bold attacks,
and more Japanese blood was spilled.

The company now was so depleted,
that they radioed “Kanga” for some aide,
Never had they once retreated,
But now their hopes began to fade.

The composite relief force was moving to help,
From 2/5 Battalion Major Duffy’s force,
With “Kanga” force leader Muir himself,
Along the “Black Cat” trails meandering course.

The Japanese assiduously pounded those left,
Just forty brave soldiers bloodied and worn,
Withdraw, withdraw came the orders from Muir,
And the company battered withdrew from the storm.

Like a plague of Locusts the Japanese swept,
Towards Crystal Creek a vanquishing hoard,
As Sherlock met forces from Duffy’s advance
As along Wandumi Track the enemy pored…

Sherlock’s soldiers were killing the Jap’s,
Taking up a new position to halt the attack,
Disposed in a triangle the apex of which,
Was on a small pimple hill above Wandumi track.

The Bulolo ran swiftly nearby and below,
Where enemy soldiers had settled to fight,
And the battle went on blow meeting blow,
For the rest of the evening and all through the night.

At daybreak hundreds of Japanese stormed,
The point on the pimple where fire was held,
To the very last moment then Sherlock yelled Fire!
And the first phase of the attack was somewhat repelled.

But from the left flank they gathered under support,
Of heavy mortars firing from the river based troops,
Muir and Sherlock without much ammo now caught,
Withdrew from the Pimple in a series of groups.

They shot their way out into the Jungle beyond,
Crossing the river a little further upstream,
Hammered by machine gun fire from both of their flanks,
They ran a gauntlet of fire intense and extreme.

Most of them returned to the “Kanga” HQ,
Dodging dogs and patrols through the jungle clad hills,
But with three of his men trying to get through,
Captain Sherlock was one of the Japanese kills.

This marked the beginning of the Battle of Wau,
Which was eventually a victory to the Australian coups,
For reinforcements were able to land at the strip,
Thanks to Sherlock and soldiers who knew not how to quit