Editor's note: Eight sailors of the Royal Australian Navy were dining at Menzies Hotel, Melbourne. Their host was a young officer who had issued the invitation under such strange and terrible circumstances that the odds were a million to one against them ever being accepted.
Half-way through the meal someone suggested that they club together to take a ticket in a Tattersall’s Sweep.
‘Let’s call it the South-east Syndicate,’ said the officer, and the name was unanimously approved.
These men were the Melbourne survivors of an Australian corvette which had been torpedoed by a Japanese plane in the Timor Sea. How they came to be dining together, and why the name ‘South-east’ was considered appropriate for their lottery investment, is disclosed in the following narrative, written by a member of the party.
Simply but graphically Mr. Caro relates in his own words a tragic but magnificent story of heroism and endurance. Perhaps his style is a little too restrained, and he does not give us a full picture, complete to the last horrifying detail, of the sufferings of men compelled to spend day after torrid day and night after sleepless night up to the waist in water, with little food and practically no water. But if you have insight enough to read just a little of what the author has left unwritten, you will realise to some slight degree what these brave men went through.