‘The way I look at it is this…When you’re behind the line and get yourself into trouble, you’ve got to get your bloody self out irrespective of anybody else. That’s why I like it.’
Jock McLaren was a true Australian hero. He escaped Singapore twice, participated in numerous raids on the Japanese in small, armed coastal vessels and was so successful in his land and sea guerrilla actions to disrupt enemy operations that the Japanese eventually placed a bounty on his head.
In command of a 26-foot whaleboat called The Bastard, McLaren sailed into Japanese controlled ports in broad daylight, shot up the the supply vessels and piers with machine guns and mortar, then turned tail and ran. He also made many solo forays into Japanese held areas to gather intelligence for the US and Australian high commands. Eventually he was transferred to the sabotage Z Special Unit, the joint Allied Special Forces unit formed to operate behind enemy lines. But his extraordinary feats and death-defying courage went beyond his secret missions. One of the many tales told of McLaren was the removal of his own appendix without anaesthetic and with the use of a mirror and an ‘ordinary knife’.
Action-packed and surprising, A Bastard Between the Lines gives rich life to one of Australia’s greatest World War II diggers.