Ralph Stobart Robson, signalman, life in the British Royal Navy World War Two, sinking of Prince of Wales and the Repulse, Singapore
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  1. Chatham to Gourock
  2. The Messman Discovered
  3. Life on Board
  4. Crossing the Line
  5. The Sinkings
  6. H.M.S. Sultan
  7. The Signal Office
  8. Left to Our Own Resources
  9. Colombo
  10. Drafted to Mombassa
  11. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  12. Sharks, Lobsters and Going Dutch
  13. Askari Skirmishes and Tea Making
  14. Tramp Steamer
  15. Molo
  16. Deer Hunting
  17. Ralph the Italian and off to Bombay
  18. Arrival in Bombay
  19. Vultures and Buffalos
  20. Poona
  21. Swimming Motorcycles and Monsoon Storms
  22. The Royal Corps of Signals
  23. 'Trixie' Vaughan Lewis and Drowning Men
  24. On Leave in the Himalayas

    Ralph as a telegram boy before the war

16 - Deer Hunting

There were other guests there that night and with leading signalman's chevrons on my right arm and three service stripes on the left I could imagine how old Jock would be. One of the guests was a leading aircraftman, stationed at Lake Victoria, who serviced twin-engined float planes being flown from the United States to India and landing at Victoria as a staging post.

He also had a burning ambition to bag one of the numerous antelopes that were in the vicinity and it so happened that our hostess, the lady of the hotel, had some three hundred and three rifles and ammunition for the use of the guests. She also had, by some extraordinary chance three of the very same creatures which came to the house every morning to be fed on slices of bread.

She warned us about shooting near the house and I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I wanted nothing to do with shooting animals, to which she seemed somewhat surprised but made no comment.

The aircraftman asked us if we would like to accompany him on a stalk he was about to undertake, to which I somewhat reluctantly agreed, and so we set out the next morning. My cockney naval companion was proving to be somewhat of a pillock. There was a large golf course attached to our hotel and all he appeared to do was punt a golf ball about - however, he agreed to accompany us.

So we set out first to a native village where we contacted the chief who gave us a small boy, about fourteen years old, to show us where the game was. We then walked through a huge valley filled with gigantic cedar trees where we found our first diversion.

Alongside a huge fallen tree the lad stopped and excitedly began pointing at the fallen giant and seeing our puzzlement he proceeded to find a sharp stick. After digging vigorously for some moments he produced a large fat grub with a small black head by which he held it securely before biting off the body and proceeding to chew it vigorously whilst rubbing his bare stomach.

He then indicated by gesture that he would like to dig for more and, although our RAF friend was impatient, I said yes and in an astonishingly short time he had dug out a considerable pile which he wrapped up in a huge leaf.

Ascending out of the trees we entered a moor of Pyrethrum bushes, once used as a garden pest killer, and came to a gully which ran away from the wood. There, to the delight of the airman, were three antelope - I was a bit suspicious but he assured me that they were not those of the house.

They never moved when he raised the rifle and fired. One of them fell down. We all rushed over and it turned out that he had shot one of the does through the shoulder, but he was too squeamish to finish off the job so I loaded the gun with a bullet from a bag the boy held and moved as if I was going shoot it through the head. An anguished squeal diverted me to a heart shot and after a few quivers the animal was dead. I walked off over the moor to leave them to their diversion.

After a mile or two I walked back to find they were still there, in a general air of merriment - they had cut off the head of the doe and were engaged in chattering with the natives for some gewgaws. We then returned to the hotel, still with some qualms but everything seemed to be alright.

However, just after dark a terrible noise arose. It turned out to be the hostess shouting at the airman. She turned him out of the hotel and added the coup de grace to her actions by throwing his clothes after him. She then stormed out of the hall and into our room demanding what I knew of this incident to which, after a lot of to and fro-ing, she became convinced that I knew nothing of what was alleged. The poor bloke had to walk back to Molo with his case and without his antelope head, but after a fairly lengthy grilling she was finally convinced of our innocence.

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