February 2, 2008
BORNEO BOOK SERIES 1: The First Survivors
Judith M. Heimann, The Airmen and the Headhunters, Harcourt Inc, New York, 2007, pp. 209, 15 pics, 2 maps. Tagline is A true story of lost soldiers, heroic tribesmen and the unlikelest rescue of World War II.
Three months ago I was lent this book to read by a old friend of the author. It was a autographed copy of the author sent from New York. I came to meet the Judith when she dropped by my office in Kuching many years ago and gave me her earlier book on Tom Harrisson, The Most Disgusting Man Alive; my much earlier predecessor.
I enjoyed reading the book. It turned out there was not much of a war after all in this remote jungle of Borneo. The plane flying from Morontai got shot by the Japs in the Brunei Bay and crashed somewhere in the Sarawak and Kalimantar Timur, upper reaches of the Kayan River. They were rescued and cared by the Lun Dayeh. They were the real survivors and experienced near death fall, diseases and the Japs. They survived and fell in love with the wild people and their wild culture of Borneo. They were finnally rescued by a guerrila outfit led by none other than the disgusting man, Tom Harrisson and flew out from Long Bawan.
It is interesting to note that there were alread Americans there long before the war as missionaries who brought along earlier converts from Menado. They introduced the bamboo band culture in Sarawak. Also there was a plane that came down at Kampung Talahak, Limbang. This confirmed my earlier information as I am interested in salvaging these wrecks for the museum.