World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                                        Edmund Cross

Don’t look back - (Its not there any more) - Part 1

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Edmund Cross
Location of story: Ceylon, Malaya, Singapore
Background to story: Royal Navy


Doreen Partridge- The disclaimer
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Doreen Partridge of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Edmund Cross and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Don’t look back - (Its not there any more) - Part 1
Edmund Cross

It was early in 1944 when down in the dockyard things began to change. For one thing we were being given different jobs. We had been seeing strange barges, can you believe it, made from concrete of all things. They would never float, we thought. When we saw them being towed around the harbour but we were proved wrong. They did.

There were other type of craft too. They looked like landing craft but from stem to stern were rows of what looked like stool slides set at an acute angle. They were thick with grease so it was pretty sure that something had to slide on them, but what?

Finally we found out. One Monday morning we were marched down to the Marshall Sault as usual. but when we were given our duties it was the same for all of us. Marching into a warehouse we saw a huge stockpile of rockets. They were about five feet long and about a foot across. There were large tail fins on the rear. They looked formidable when stacked in their thousands.

Our task was to load them on to a low bogey and transport - them two at a time and wheel them to the first of these landing craft.

With two men to a rocket we had to hoist them to the top of a slide and carefully allow them to slide to the bottom. They were quite safe we were told. They could only be detonated by an electrical charge. Each one was filled with high explosives.

Our group was at it for months. There didn’t seem to be anyone else with this task. At the end of each day we would be aching all over and would have loved to have laid in a nice hot bath. Alas that wasn't to be. A shower was all we were allowed. Baths were at a premium because of the need to conserve fuel.

This operation went on until the middle of May 1944,then stopped and we didn’t go down to the dockyard again for any type of work. We were in the doldrums wondering why. We did feel that it was odd after all the work we had put in. We weren’t stupid not to realise that something very big was being prepared.

John and I had discussed this at length and came to the conclusion that whatever it was we would not be involved with it unless we were drafted because we were in transit waiting for a posting.

Because it is on record I can say this with certainty that the morning of the sixth of June that year we woks up to a violent rainstorm. The officers were rushing around and the morning muster for duty failed to be sounded. We couldn’t think what could he wrong but it wasn't long before we knew.

That morning the invasion of the continent had begun. All the months of work we hoped would pay off. The term used in the future was ‘D’ Day. D for Deliverance.

The operation was mainly army and marines with aircraft carriers and warships. In fact that day there were a total of 700 warships of all types including 23 cruisers and 5 battleships.
There were also 2,727 merchant ships.2,500 assault crafts and would you believe it.. 12,,000 aircraft and 3,000 servicemen. This operation was called operation Overlord.

We were hardly told anything. Our dockyard duties were suspended for about four days. We just hung around not knowing what was going to happen. Eventually the whole story came out over the wireless.
The invasion of the continent had begun.

With nothing better to do some of the higher officers thought that it might be a good idea if we experienced the gas chamber. Sounds awful, and it was.

We were taken to a remote spot in the barracks where we were told about this clever idea.
They had a room with no windows and only a dim electric light inside. It had a door at each end. It was more like a corridor than a room, it was about twenty feet long.

One by one we were sent inside to make our way to the other end as best we could whilst experiencing the effects of poison gas. The first one I remember was tear gas. We emerged eyes streaming as we hit the fresh air again. We had to feel our way out because we had lost our vision owing to our watery eyes.

When everyone had been through we had a lecture about poison gas in general. when we had finally recovered we were taken back for another taste. This time we had to endure another gas. I think that it was mustard. I don’ t think that it was phosgene, that was deadly.

Then we were sent in with a gas mask on and told to remove it and count to ten before replacing it again. We were a very unhappy crew I can tell you. I found out much later that it was a common practice to do this exercise for every recruit in the navy.

Because of the invasion we thought that the war would soon be over but really it was only just starting. As Churchill put it.
“It was not the end of the beginning but the beginning of the end.”

Things did seem to be happening though. For a start many of the men were being sent on a week's leave. This was because they were going to be drafted somewhere when they returned. Of course they were not told where they would be going until then. The authorities didn't want us to tell our kinfolk.

I had still been having the occasional long weekend at home. The journey was free we were given a travel warrant for the railway but had to pay when using the underground. To get from Waterloo to Kings Cross meant a change of trains and none of us fancied paying. We soon solved the problem. As we went through the barriers passing the ticket collector we would wave our ticket and say "Navy, travel warrant. We were never stopped. In fact, the ticket collectors who were either women or elderly men had plenty of sympathy for the service personnel and often let them through without even a ticket.

I recall one of the journeys home on the Leeds train that someone had one of the new fangled portable wireless, it was really heavy. Nowadays we are back again to the heavy ghetto blasters. There had been some quite dinky ones in the interim period.

This wireless was on the whole of the four hour journey and one of the songs was the Andrews Sisters singing, “Drinking rum and Coca Cola”. Another one was “Besame Mucho”. Music often stirs the memory and whenever I hear either of those two songs I am suddenly back on that train again.

Once all my messmates and myself were rounded up and taken to the armoury. There we were issued with a 343 rifle apiece. We thought we were going to do a stint of drilling-After all they loved to keep us occupied.

Although we were billeted in the Convent we still had to march to the main barracks.
With our rifles we were ordered on to open lorries. There was a convoy of them and we set off north. Later I found out that we were circling the huge harbour to the town of Gosport. This was on the opposite side of the harbour and only about half a mile across the water.

On the winding roads of those days it took some time. The distance would be about fourteen miles. We wondered why we didn't use the ferry.

Waiting for us was a sight I would not forget in a hurry. There stood a crowd of German prisoners of war.
With eight men to a lorry they were bundled on board and sat opposite each other, four on each side. There was one sailor to each lorry and had to stand facing these pitiful men. I had my rifle but we were not issued with any ammunition. l suppose it was just a sign of authority really.

I had plenty of time to look at them as we made our way in convoy back to Portsmouth again. They looked a sorry lot but at least the war was over for them and with luck would be able to return home when it was all over. They were all in their late teens or early twenties and at times they would glance at me and give a wistful smile. I often wondered what was going through their minds as we drove along.

Ashore from QE Battleship in Trinlomalee Ceylon

More food although it would have been mainly for a cool drink. Having said that the word cool should be in apostrophes because there was no refrigeration available for the drinks. What was available would have been used for food. We did always seem to be hungry. Well we were growing lads weren't we?

The casual walk back to the jetty would have been about half a mile. The air was hot and the moon as bright as could be. It seemed so near in the clear sky. There was the sound of a thousand and one different noises and yet it seemed so quiet it was positively eerie. That smell I mentioned earlier drifted around and had it not been for the true reason that we were there, would have been positively romantic.

In the late evening the crowds of naval personnel would have started gathering at the jetty waiting for their appropriate liberty boat calling to take them back to their individual ships. The whole fleet was there which meant that there would have been hundreds of sailors waiting for a passage back. What a target if the Japs could have got to us.
Everything was organised, even though many of the men were drunk, (on one pint of beer). I had since wondered if they had been drinking the local brew even though we had been warned not to.

Barriers were on the jetty to enable the men to line up for individual ships.

As the various boats came alongside somebody would shout out the name of the ship they had come from and there would be a sudden rush. Some of the ships there would have been identified by calls Sussex, KGV {King George the Fifth), Richeleu. As soon as the boat was filled, it would be away and another pull in. They would return if there was anyone adrift, as it was called.

Once aboard it would be out with the hammock and sleep. Personally I slept on a rush mat with my lifebelt blown up for a pillow. The hammock was too warm for me and anyway it took too much effort tying it up each morning. It always had to be done in a special way. Seven turns round and had to be secure enough so that it could be thrown around when being stacked in the rack. Our blankets were always inside them.

The place where I slept was the projection room floor. It was cooler there than the mess deck. Although there was plenty of cool air blowing m all the time it still was inadequate. I preferred my own company and most of my few possessions were there. Even though I only had the rush mat between me and the steel deck it was surprising how quickly I would fall asleep.


One morning after first muster I could tell that there was something afoot. For one thing there was a considerable amount of smoke coming from the stack and all the other ships were showing that they too had steam up.

About ten thirty that morning we were nosing out of the harbour with the rest of the fleet following . This time we were told and finally we knew, that we hadn't escaped the war. We were on our way to attack the Japanese installations in the Andaman Islands.

Looking back I can now admit that 1 was terrified. I had heard so much about war but seen none, unless you would call being bombed in Britain war, which of course it was. I had thought that I was the only one afraid. I have since found out that almost everyone from the top officer to the lowly seaman were s**t scared. After, about an hour, our ship, ship, the Q.F. began the traditional zig-zagging, and the rest of the others followed suit. They were all in line ahead playing follow my leader. The zig-zagging was an evasive action before the event. Even without a warning of an attack, by using this method it was possible to harass the enemy subs.

Torpedoes tended to travel in a straight line in those days, not now of course with their heat seeking devices and other instruments to target their goal, but that was in the future.

At about the same time we were called to Action Stations, colour yellow. This meant that no action was expected but lo be on the ready. Anti flash equipment was donned and we were ready and waiting. Notice that I missed out the willing. The gear consisted of a balaclava helmet with a neck and shoulder piece and large gloves all made from asbestos. At least in the event of a fire or an explosion we would be partially protected from burning of the skin in these vital areas.

Meals were taken in stages so that all parts were manned continuously. Each evening the paravane exercise would take place so that it would become second nature.

Finally came the morning of the first contact with the enemy. A call went out that aircraft were approaching, they had been packed up by the RADAR thirty miles away. We were ready.

They were fighter planes, Zeros, and they were homing in on us but our fighters from the aircraft carrier the Ranee were already in the air.
To see battles being fought between small aircraft was so different to seeing it enacted on the cinema screen. Men were actually dying out there.
After about half an hour the few planes which had survived our onslaught turned tail and fled back to base, the very place we were visiting.
Another call went out for everyone to prepare for broadsides. This meant that the ship would turn so that its side would face the target, this time a shore base. Shells were loaded into the 16" guns and I was scared to death. I had never experience them firing before. Everybody needed to take cover. I didn't really know what to expect.

I didn't hear the order given to shoot because that instruction went to the gunners in the huge gun turrets. There were four of them, two on the fo'csle and two an the quarter deck. Each had two enormous gun barrels. As I had mentioned earlier each of the shells weighed about ½ a ton.

When the guns went off, the noise of the blast was unbelievable. We had to hold out hands to our ears and open our mouths slightly to compensate for the sudden change in air pressure. The sound of the explosion was unbelievable. The ship heaved in the opposite direction as it used the ocean as part of their recoil.

Then everything which hadn't been secured or fastened down started to fall. Rust, and dust which had been hidden came down as well as tins, pots, plates etc., and that was only the first shot. After waiting to see where the shell had struck the new range would be supplied.
After about four shots, the Q.E. had found its target, a railway marshalling yard and an oil dump.

Shell after shell went whistling across the water. Although I wasn't on deck, had I been there I wouldn't have seen the strikes because the target was about twenty miles away. It was the aircraft radioing back which told of the hits.

Slowly the ships formed a circle about a mile and a half across. The one nearest the land lined up and a full broadside was sent off. This kept up a continuous barrage and yet gave the others time to recoup.

We weren't immune however, because the Japanese had been sending out their fighters and bombers. Most of the bombs missed their targets and certainly none of the ships were seriously damaged.
The gunners on the oerlikons and pom-poms were heroes blasting away at the planes as the huge guns gave out wave after wave of blasts. If there had been hits there had been no time to cheer because the next plane would have been homing in.
This went on for the best part of the day. There was obviously no breaks for meals or rests. Everybody was on duty until one way or another the task had been completed.

The fire fighters were kept on their toes and were at it all the time. No sooner had one fire been extinguished than another would start up again after the enemy bombs came crashing down. Fire on a ship is its' worst enemy.

The cooks were heroes too. They kept us all fed with corned beef sandwiches and mugs of tea. They had to take them to the men since nobody could leave their posts. I can't remember what we did about the toilet. Considering that there were about 1,400 men aboard it must have been some task for the cooks to take on.

Everybody were all in, totally shattered when the action came to an end. That was late the same day. We were standing off from Port Blair in the Andaman Islands off the west coast of Malaya.

Towards evening when our surviving planes had returned to the carrier, the admiral spoke over the tannoy.

Everybody lay around exhausted but rest was not to be. All the mess which had been caused by the enemy action had to be cleared up. We had to be prepared for any further action. It wasn't a nine to five job.
"After all, next time it could be us who were attacked. The war didn't stop at tea time."
Yellow alert was back with us throughout the night. Breakfast was a specially good cooked meal. Once again provided by our over tired cooks. We had looked forward to a day of rest but that wasn't to be.

We had been sailing further south and overnight we had approached the Nicobar Islands.

This time all Hell was let loose and we didn't have it all our own way.
We were attacked before any guns were fired and shrapnel rained all around us. They must have had advanced warning from the previous bombardment.
I had to work hard repairing the phones which seemed to be always breaking down. Most were from the gun turrets. I would take a handful of fresh ones and race back to my little caboose to get started with the repairs.

Smoke filled the air and the smell of cordite was one which I couldn't forget. My throat stung with it.
It was about noon that day that the first kamikazi plane came at us. Fortunately it went straight into the drink.
Kamikazi, or suicide planes were loaded with high explosives with the pilot fastened in. He would be in disgrace if he should return to his base, none were expected back.
Our seaplane deck had a hit by one of them and a couple hit each other because they were both aiming for the same spot. To them I don't supposed that it mattered, they got the result they expected, death. It was a very scary situation.
After some time everything went quiet. I guess they and all destroyed themselves one way or another.

BOOM, BOOM. Straight away the 16" guns began pounding the shore base. This time it was an air field and once again we were successful.
There was a huge pall of smoke rising above the horizon for all to see and I could envisage the chaos we must have caused.

Although I didn't like the Japanese, I couldn't help but think how sad it was that people who had never known or seen each other should set out to destroy each other. All the time the ones who started it all would have been reasonably safe back home directing everything from a deep shelter.

It was obvious that our officers knew more than we did, ( It was to be hoped so) because we continued to circle with the other ships round and round chasing our tails. Firing broadside after broadside with each ship taking turns.

Around 4pm. A new wave of fighters came from further south. They must have been reinforcements from another base.
The pom-poms and oerlikans started up again and this continued well into the night. As the darkness fell around, the tracers could be seen racing towards their targets.

Tracers are shells which burn up as they streak out, showing the path the gunners arc following, they are interspaced amongst the barrage of normal ones. Ships were being hit but not crippled. So far I seemed to have been leading a charmed life but I had begun to think that it was finally going to catch up with me at last.

We only had minor injuries aboard. Some of the other ships were not so lucky. Two of the smaller ships were sunk in that action.
This sort of thing went on and on. I thought it would never end. How the ships were able to take the battering they did without going down I would never know.

This action lasted an and off for about a week. In all that time we only had one cooked meal, though that was the last thing on our minds. Our hearts went out to the cooks who had to provide sustenance to keep us all going. Without them and their courage taking food and drink to everyone aboard things could easily have been different.
Eventually the fleet turned and made its way back to Trincomalee our home base.

Arriving before lunch and only a couple of hours after anchoring, the lighters came alongside with food, water and ail for the boilers.
Immediately after our meal when we would normally have been relaxing since we usually had what was called Tropical Routine, came a massive clean up of the whole ship. It was in a terrible state. Officers did a patrol to assess the damage we had sustained. Welders were aboard in no time as I 'm sure they would have been on the rest of the fleet.

On board the small ship “The Kedah” all been involved with the same actions around the coast of Malaya and the islands in the Indian Ocean. The strain of battle fatigue had been there but only others saw it. Now we began to realise the condition we had really been in.

On the last night we had a sing song. I don't know how it started but somebody must have thought it might be a good idea. It was.

Late on it was the turn of the two lads who gave us a joke session. Most of them were straight forward dirty but maybe they did make it to the theatre after the war. They could have been Bernard Manning types except he wouldn't have been around then.

Although we were reluctant to return to the Kedah, the silence and inactivity was getting to us. This was a sure sign that things were getting back to normal.

On our return the next day the other half of the ship's company proceeded to the same camp in the afternoon giving the working party a chance to clean up the mess we might have left.
We had filled in all the details to them before they left and all our adventures we had and adding not just a little in the telling. Our duties from then on kept us busy.

Finally everybody was back on hoard and settling down to our routing and everybody felt good.

The news was exciting. The European war was building up to a climax. Everyone was talking about it. The radio was on all the time for the off duty men. We were taking it reasonably easy, our only chores were the usual ones of running a half asleep ship. I suppose we could call it, an tick over.

The following few days we were involved with storing ship. Our supplies must have been very low and the heavy lighters (a contradiction in terms) were along both sides A lighter is a vessel which carries supplies to the ships when they are at anchor and are unable to go alongside a jetty.

This storing ship went an for about three days. It was round about this time that the tannoy blasted out requesting silence. My mind worked overtime wondering what had gone wrong. We were all very apprehensive.
The captain came out on to the bridge and down on to the upper deck gathering us all together. All, meant officers and ratings alike. His face looked grave, my heart was in my shoes. I thought that maybe we had lost the war. What could it be?

When we were all assembled he made matters worse by asking if everyone was present. As if anybody knew without a roll call.
It was then that his countenance changed into a big broad smile, "Wonderful news." he shouted. " The war in Europe is over."

It was then that he had to stop and allow us to cheer, shout and scream with delight. We hugged each other and danced around. Finally we quietened down and he went on.
"The king has seen fit to send a message to all the ships of his fleet wherever they be and announce an extra issue of rum. Splice the main brace."
Another cheer rang out. Oh happy day. Victory in Europe at last. That was the first time and even now, it is still used when recalling that event.
"I would ask your forbearance and leave the celebrations until this evening so that we can store ship throughout the afternoon as well."

That was unusual to say the least, because we were on tropical routine (because of the heat) and work usually stopped at lunch time.
At that time I didn't drink alcohol but is meant a lot to me to know that no more bombs would be falling on England again. What a relief.

During the lunch break, feelings were running high about our future. There were always those who were in the 'know' and would come up with the latest buzz. There were plenty on offer. Most said that we were storing ship to return to the U.K. We'd have to wait and see.
The derricks on both sides of the ship were working flat out hoisting stores and swinging them aboard and down the hatches into the hold. By the time it was finished the Plimsol Line was just above the water line.

The next morning clouds of smoke was issuing from the stack and we knew that steam was up and we were ready to move on. We had been told to be in out positions for leaving port and we were in our best whites even though there were nobody ashore to see us leave. We were too far away.

When secure had been sounded and the men had repaired to their individual jobs the captain made another announcement.
"You will all be pleased to know that we are going to see our friends in Singapore."
We gasped at this. Singapore was still in the hands of the Japanese. He went on.
"We have every reason to believe that Japan will capitulate in the next few weeks or so and we have to be ready."

I couldn't see it because they had been doing so well.
"We will be going down the Mallacca Straits between Malaya and Sumatra. I must point out that the whole area is heavily mined. Everybody must do their bit to see that we get safely through. It is also the time of storms so be prepared. All hatches will be battened down and all watertight doors secured on two catches."

A watertight door had six catches, two an each side and one at the top and bottom. The two asked for will keep hold the door but when the other others are used then there is a watertight seal.

I had thought that sailing west would have been for us in the direction of home but it wasn't to be. When would I be able to go? The war wasn't over yet so it was south-south-east and into the gates of hell.

As usual the days were very hot and sticky, the humidity was very high. We only wore our floppy underpants, mind you they did tend to look like overgrown shorts. The modern men's underwear hadn't then been invented, or should I say ' Designed?

When not on duty we would just lounge about or wash our clothes, or repair them or even write letters. We would be listening to the steady ping, ping of the ASDIC as it was broadcast over the tannoy. At times we felt like screaming but I pitied the poor operators who had this noise going on all the time in his headphones. It was unwanted background noise.

Suddenly the tempo changed. Instead of the steady stream of pings with intervals of about two seconds they started closing in until it was a rapid ping, ping, ping.

The captain broke in and warned us that mines were close by. Look outs had been placed all round the ship and all with powerful binoculars scrutinising; the surface of the water.

"There!" a cry rang out as a man pointed slightly to starboard (right) it was just below the surface.

The engines were reversed and we came to a standstill with the mine slightly astern.

“Open fire." came the order from the gunnery officer to the man equipped with a rifle.

In a way it was a laugh, because being slightly under water vision had been distorted. It must have been nearly a quarter of an hour before the marksman managed to hit one of the spikes on the mine. It went up with a gigantic whoosh. There was no doubt it could have sunk us had it even stroked the ship's hull.

That was the only one we actually had to deal with. All the others were given a detour and left for the minesweepers to deal with they would come later.

The ASDIC operator continued the search for them and the pings were broadcast all the time. T have often wondered why unless it was to remind us not to become complaisant.

The ship was in convoy with some of the larger vessels. The Sussex was one. She was a three funnelled cruiser of the county class.
When the captain finally switched off the pings a great sigh of relief went all round the ship.

"It has been reported," he announced, "that we are on a collision course with two water spouts. We must make a change of course. We could shoot at them to make them collapse but we don't want the sound of gunfire whilst we are down the coast of Sumatra the whole peninsular is over run by the enemy."

As soon as he had finished there was total silence. It was the absence of the pings. I looked for'ad as everybody else did. There they were near the horizon. The sky in that direction was black and the two columns were of the same colour. The sea was dead flat and one could feel impending trouble ahead.

What had been said was quite true. The waterspouts were moving towards us and at the same time making a course which would make them collide with each other. It is freak weather when they are formed. It's stranger still when there are two but for them to move towards each other was uncanny. It was as though they were magnetised. There was no wind where we were but I also knew that there were strange forces at work and only extremely violent wind could cause a waterspout to develop.
With a flash of lightning and an almighty crash of thunder the storm began. We had seen it advancing, churning up the sea as it approached. Suddenly the spouts collapsed and a loud cheer went up from the soaking men. The storm was a bad one and many of the lads were violently seasick.

Eventually we were steaming close to the shore on our port side (left), this was the coast of Malaya, or as it was then, the Federated Malaya States.

In some places we could see the jungle which came right down to the sandy beaches. The jungle always fascinated me. I would sit staring at the distant palms wondering what sort people or animals lived there.

Ours speed had been very slaw for the past few days and it had caused quite a bit of curiosity throughout the ship. Originally we had thought that it was because of the mines but this was eliminated almost as soon as it was suggested. The ASDIC would detect their positions, no it was something else.

On this particular day the captain called all the off duty watches together. He looked jubilant. What could it be?

"It's the war," he shouted. "It's over!"
This was to be known as V.J. Day Victory over Japan Day but we didn't know that of course. We just shouted and yelled. We sang "For he's a jolly goad fellow." I don't know why because he didn't cause the war to end.

When the shouting had died down, he continued. "Ever since we left Ceylon we have been in contact with South East Asia Command and Admiral Mountbatten. We had known that the Japanese had been close to capitulating and we set off in advance of the anticipated armistice, to take over Singapore.

I had been informed that something was going to happen which would bring the war to a speedy conclusion. I didn't know what it was but I have found out now. Two big cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have each had a bomb dropped on it. They were special ones called atom bombs. Each one of these had more power than all the bombs dropped on Europe. Both cities have been wiped out."

Even after all these years 1 could sti11 feel the horror of that statement. Two cities gone with two bombs. What sort of a weapon was this? Surely that must be the ultimate one. Now we know that wasn't so. The cobalt then the hydrogen bomb came along with the power of more than a hundred atom bombs.

We broke away with mixed feelings. Yes the war might be over but at what cost? Hundreds and thousands of men, women and children dead from a single bomb. We had no idea either that radiation would continue killing for years to come. We were totally ignorant.

We had left Trincomalee in Ceylon on August 28th and dawn of September the 5th saw us off the entrance to Singapore's huge natural harbour.
Because our ship was the last to leave besieged Singapore the Kedah was allowed to nose her way into the harbour first.
As we entered, the ship's hooter sounded over and over again. The quay was a long way off but we could see crowds waving and heard the cheering.
Standing to attention in our whites on this our special day made us feel so proud. We had arrived to liberate the oppressed.

After riding at anchor for a while we docked at Keppel harbour wharf at 3.30pm. The first of His Majesty's ships to come alongside.

On board the Kedah was Rear Admiral J.A.V.Marse the flag officer of Malaya as well as senior officers of the British Military Administration. They were the first to disembark along with the armed guards of the Royal Marines.

Like most dockyards there were huge warehouses all over. Although the war was now officially over, it didn't mean that all the fighting had stopped, so all the buildings had to be searched thoroughly, The Japanese were notorious for setting booby traps so caution was the prime factor.