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Bamboo Traitor


While Guy N. Smith is best known as a horror writer, he did write one war novel. Bamboo Guerillas was published by New English Library in 1977 in two variant covers and is reasonably rare, possibly given that its subject matter lent it to be categorised in different shelves in book stores far away from where GNS fans went looking.

A comic strip version was later published in Adventure Strip Weekly, though this was just a beginning that was never continued.

Surprisingly, especially given his usual subject matter, Bamboo Guerillas is one of Guy's goriest reads. Many fans lusted after a sequel, but to my knowledge one was never written. However one was proposed and a synopsis exists.

British troops have been evacuated from Malaya prior to the fall of Singapore. However, some have elected to stay behind and form a resistance movement in the jungles. One such group has its headquarters in the jungle between Singapore and Kuala Lumpar. Captain Ross supplements his meagre force with Chinese and Malay bandits under the leadership of Yong, a notorious Chinese outlaw.

They fight a war of their own without outside help, blowing up bridges and railways and ambushing Jap patrols. Then, one day, a dozen of these jungle commandos are surprised by the enemy as they make an assault on a bridge. Only fore-knowledge on the part of the Japs could have brought this about, and Ross realises that they have a traitor in their midst. Is it one of the bandits earning blood money from the Japs or is it one of his own men? Do the Japs know the whereabouts of the guerillas hideout? If so, why have they not attacked before?

Ross realises that he must continue to fight his jungle war, and at the same time try and discover the identity of the traitor. He announces a secret mission, and hand-picks the men which he will personally lead. Eight of them set out: Ross, Yong, Sergeant Rhinehart, Corporal Richards and four bandits. Their first halt is at a Malay village, the occupants of which are friendly towards the British. Ross does not turn in with the rest of his men that night. Instead, he takes up a position from which he will be able to see if anyone leaves the village by night. In the early hours of the morning he sees a stealthy figure creeping away, and follows. Keeping his distance, Ross trails his man into the jungle, but about half a mile from camp a figure suddenly leaps on him out of the darkness. The man is armed with a knife and a desperate struggle follows. Finally, Ross overcomes his adversary, disarms him, and discovers that it is Corporal Richards. He takes him back to the village under arrest, and Richards makes known his hatred for the British army which conscripted him against his will. He had given the Japs the information which led to the capture of the twelve jungle commandos through a contact in the enemy force but had with-held the whereabouts of the hideout so that he could instil fear into his comrades who would be constantly fearing an attack and also to give himself time to escape before he finally parted with this information.

Dawn. Ross and his men, with Richards under close arrest, are bidding farewell to the villagers when machine-gun fire rakes the clearing in which the village is situated. The commandos dive for cover and a fierce battle follows. A chance patrol has stumbled on them, and perhaps others will hear the firing and come to swell the ranks of the attackers. Ross has to get his men out... quickly!

The mortally wounded headman confesses that the Japs have been forcing him to hide a consignment of armaments to be picked up at a later date. Machine-guns and grenades are stored in a hut on the opposite side of the street but to reach them will mean exposing the commandos to enemy fire. Suddenly, Richards makes a break towards this hut, running a gauntlet of fire. Wounded, he makes it, and begins flinging grenades in the direction of the enemy. The diversion enables the others to reach the hut. With ample armaments they drive the attacking patrol back into the jungle. The wounded Richards has stayed behind in the hut. Suddenly there is a terrific explosion.

Ross regards the wreckage of the hut wistfully. Richards has blown it up now that their task is accomplished, and himself with it. He was an expert in the use of explosives. His death could not have been an accident.

They set off back to their jungle headquarters in the knowledge that the traitor will betray no more of them.

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Last update: 4th June, 2019