One of the best bluffs of World War II
Harry Purvis was co-pilot to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, carried out one of the more impertinent acts of World War II and was chief pilot for the Herald Flying Services, which made large scale country delivery drops of The Sydney Morning Herald.
Purvis later joined the RAAF, where he trained pilots of transport aircraft. He earned the Air Force Cross for his efforts in New Guinea.
But one of the most remarkable achievements of his career came during World War II, when he flew into Bali in 1945. The Japanese surrender had reached Tokyo but word had not got through to the 10,000 armed Japanese troops on the island.
Wing Commander Purvis and his crew based themselves at the Hotel Denpasar, where they learnt that the Japanese general was at his headquarters in the city.
Purvis messaged the general requiring his presence at the hotel, stating that he was acting on authority of the Supreme Allied Commander in the South-West Pacific Area and required his surrender, the handover of his sword and the release of all Australian prisoners.
The bluff also included a demand for a suite at the hotel for each Australian officer and 10,000 rupees for their use while on the island. An entourage from the general duly arrived and, with much bowing and ceremony, handed over the general’s sword. Purvis, realising the lack of English language among the Japanese, chose to sign their surrender agreement as one ”Franklin Delano Roosevelt”.
After the war Purvis was co-pilot on the first crossing of the South Pacific to South America, which was made in a Catalina from Rose Bay to Valparaiso in Chile.
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