The step-granny was over for lunch today, and much of the talk turned to the war years, when she was a child in Goa.
Her father, in charge of Burma Oil there, was also the Honorary British Consul. There were apparently many whispered conversations on the veranda of an evening as messages were decoded, then the replies coded and sent back.
As a child, the step-granny noticed one day that there were two German ships and one Japanese in the bay. She was shortly to go into the hills for the hot season, and thought no more about it until her return a couple of months later - when the ships were all sitting with just the tops of their masts showing. She was told they had scuttled themselves.
Many years later she discovered that the Calcutta equivalent of Dad's Army had come down from the north, donned goggles and flippers, pushed out explosives on little rafts, and blown chunks out of all three ships simultaneously.Bear in mind these where all elderly men and probably had to swim a couple of miles in each direction. We Brits are best when improvising and making do, and being amateur.
One day the Honorary Consul was visited by an attractive lady who asked if he could find out if her husband was dead or alive. He had been captured at the fall of Singapore, and she had had no word for over three years. In the bay were a Swedish and a Japanese ship that were exchanging prisoners. She had heard, from her post in Madras hundreds of miles away, that this exchange was to take place, and she wondered if the British being exchanged might have some word of her husband.
The HC told her to come back the next day, which she duly did.
She was told that he was not on the ship, but that one of the men on board knew her husband, knew he was alive, and thought he might yet be exchanged.
" Thank you" said the Lady " This is the 40th. exchange I have come to see, and the first word I've had."
" How marvellous " said the HC ." What devotion!"
The lady smiled.
" Not at all. When you truly love, nothing else means anything."