Clipped From Panama City News-Herald
Wavell. representative observance The Complete Story of Escape From Baatan Now Is (Continued From Page 1) on his feet. Everyone was soaked. Many of the party were violently seasick. The boats kept well together until early in the morning when, still before dawn, they separated one by one in the darkness. When the rendezvous was reached it an early hour of March 12, only one boat was there at the designated hour. The other boats pressed on individually in dangerous- daylight, open prey for enemy surface ships and planes. Mistakes Craft for Enemy As the "General's boat approached one of the islands in the rendezvous group, another which had arrived earlier was ' so convinced the approaching craft was the enemy's that it cleared its deck for action and "only the merest chance identified the general's boat in time to avoid opening fire with 50-caliber guns." One of the boats had to be abandoned to continue the voyage later. At the first rendezvous, where a submarine had arrived, many urged a transfer but MacArthur and Bulkeley pinned their faith on the speed boats. The party members, therefore, were distributed among three boats, two of which pressed on in the night of the second day while the third, a late arrival, left later. Jap Destroyers Sighted During the second night all three boats sighted Japanese destroyers but all slipped through by altering their courses and increasing their speed, thanks to the courage and skill of the navigators. The two leading boats reached the second rendezvous at daybreak but the third did not arrive until noon. The party assembled inland, awaiting planes from Australia, but the planes did not come that night or the next. Every moment party members feared some information of the desperate voyage would reach the enemy, whose planes were based only a half hour's flight away. Three nights and days were spent on the island rendezvous without enemy attack 0 materializing or rescue planes arriving. Planes En Route Finally, word came that the planes were en route. Three were expected but only two came so it was decided to the entire party in two planes, leaving behind baggage, arms and equipment. With little more than the clothes they wore, the party stowed away in the two B-17's and took off about midnight of March 16. They flew through the night but daylight still found the planes over Japanese-infested areas. Gunners and observers manned their stations, searching the skies for enemy fighters which, however, did not appear. Finally Reach Darwin The big bombers landed finally at Darwin, just after an raid alarm had sounded in northern Australian port. A hurried transfer was made there, the party had a quick bite to eat and was off 'again southward. "Few not on the voyage realize the fortitude, stamina and determination to get through with which the General imbued the entire group," Diller said. "Mrs. MacArthur was a splendid soldier. She stood the trip very well."