Sunday Territorian 18 May 2014
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
SUNDAY MAY 18 2014 LIFESTYLE 19 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA The body of the dead crocodile, which provided so much entertainment for Sgt Cliff Taylor and his colleaguesA snap shot in time CROC stories are alwaysa good yarn, especiallya swashbuckling military prank on a superior officer to go with this wartime photograph of a crocodile taken more than 70 years ago. Sergeant Cliff Taylor was a 19-year-old gun position officer stationed at East Point when Darwin was levelled by Japanese bombers in February, 1942. It was something to see: 50 of ours and 50 of theirs battling it out up in the sky, the 90year-old said. One time, a strike of bombs went off just along the beach. But it was pretty boring if there was nothing going on. However, there were a few happy snaps to lighten up the mundane moments during World War II. The croc and the wallaby the real Australian photo, Mr Taylor, who now lives in Panania, NSW, said. A FRIGHT IN THE NIGHT The story behind the photo goes like this: soldiers accidentally caught a croc in a fish trap, which they had rebuilt with chicken wire in the mangroves at Fannie Bay in the dry season of 1943. The food was dreadful to say the least. Vegetables and bully beef. Powdered eggs and meal. There was no bread, and hard biscuits, Mr Taylor said. We decided to repair a huge fish trap that crews from another battalion had put in. Whatever way fish approached it, they got caught. The men had to crawl through the mud and empty the trap which was about 5m long and 1.5m wide of fish, crabs, and debris, at low tide for a week. This particular night a chap went down with a lantern, he said. He used to get into the trap and pick up the fish, which were still flapping. We had to share them with the other battalion. Their food was crap too. The orders were to remove logs and other rubbish that could damage the pretty ordinary netting. He was not far from the entrance of the trap when he saw a log submerged and thought hed lob that out, Mr Taylor said. He had the lantern in the mud and reached down and tried to lift this bloody log up, and there was a croc trying to get out of this trap. The thing reared up in between his legs and he flew back to ground and nearly took the trap with him. THE JOKES ON HIM Two men came down and shot the croc. It was carted back to the camp where some mischievous soldiers hatched a plan. Outside each hut was a pissaphone - a ramshackle toilet that emptied into a gravel pit. The boys dragged this damn croc up to the hut and put it alongside the sergeants quarters, Mr Taylor said. They put it so the sergeant would have to step over it. This was all after 2am. And this bloke was frightened of anything that crawled. Everyone on watch was aware of the prank. This guy got up and he walked toward what he thought was a log to go for a piddle, and then he stepped over the log again. He didnt recognise it, Mr Taylor said. We called out to him and said: Youd best watch your orchestra stalls. Thats rhyming slang for balls. He said: What are you talking about?. We said: You just stepped over a croc. He took off in the nude and kept going. They yelled out that it was dead and he stood about 20 yards away to make sure it was dead. He saw the funny side of it not long after and called everyone a bastard. AN UNHOLY STINK The next morning, they skinned the croc and preserved it with salt. The country boys loved skinning things, Mr Taylor said. The stink I simply couldnt believe it you couldnt get near it. And it was so heavy it took three blokes to lift it. Sgt Taylor managed to score some of the leather to make a watch strap. It wasnt very successful. As soon as I bent it over it snapped, he said. And what about the joey who was photographed beside the dead croc? The joey didnt know what to make of it, he said. The camp had adopted the orphaned marsupial after a guard shot the mother. Lovely little thing, Mr Taylor said. We fed him three times a day with powdered milk. One guard shot the mother, which was unfortunate because we were told not to shoot wallabies. We got the joey out and looked after it, and had a jar of By CONOR BYRNE An encounter with a croc in the middle of the night turned into a piece of unplanned theatre for this former sergeant and his colleagues as they sweated out WWII in Fannie Bay I didnt like crocs and I still dont like crocs. The smell of them. Holy hell they smell Sgt Cliff Taylor (retired) Sgt Cliff Taylor (retired) during the official opening during the official opening of the East Point Military of the East Point Military MuseumMuseum powdered milk and water. While it may have been 70 years ago, the soldiers were still somewhat crocwise. At night time you could hear the crocs roar like a bear, Mr Taylor said. I never went into mangroves without a rifle. 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